Pastoral Supermodels

Supermodels are super-paid because they are super-effective at making people copy them. Fashion and design gurus know that the way to sell their clothes is to get them on Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Giselle or whoever the latest coat-hanger is. Young (and not-so-young) people see the clothes on the model and say, “I want to be/look like that!”

So how would you like to be a Pastoral Supermodel? Well, if you’re a pastor, you already are. Your life, character, and conversation, are super-influential. And although you’re never going to get super-pay for it, to see people being impacted for good by our life, character, and example should be more-than-sufficient reward.

But that raises the question as to whether we are modeling for good or for evil. Just as many have followed Kate Moss into drug abuse, and Naomi Campbell into prima donna mood-swings, likewise many people have suffered by copying the bad examples of their pastors. So let me pose some questions:

  • Are you demonstrating the need for a weekly Sabbath rest from work? (Or does “six days you shall labor” only apply to non-pastors?)
  • Are you treating your body as a Temple of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are you drawing wise boundaries in your relationships with other women in the congregation?
  • Are you taking reasonable vacations and really vacating the office – leaving it behind mentally as well as physically?
  • Are you exercising wise time-management?
  • Are you setting reasonable working, resting, and sleeping hours?
  • Are you modeling a godly family by spending quality and quantity time with your wife and children?
  • Are you showing your spiritual need to hear good preaching and to read good books for the good of your own soul?
  • Are you guarding personal devotion time as jealously as you guard your children?

To put it bluntly, is the overall message of your life: “I am so indispensible, unstoppable, and incomparable that I don’t need to care for myself.”

Or are you communicating: “I am so dependent, so vulnerable, so fragile, so needy that unless I take care of myself and my family first, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” Now that’s a Supermodel.

Check out

How to Keep the Seminary Christian
Timothy Raymond’s answer is:

  1. A conservative evangelical theology with the Bible as the primary textbook
  2. A converted student body with fairly high spiritual and moral standards
  3. Godly professors who were experienced pastors or missionaries
  4. A commitment to train primarily pastors and missionaries, as opposed to scholars respected by the secular academy
  5. Tight accountability to and involvement with local churches
  6. Regular chapels which included sermons from pastors and missionaries on the frontlines

And he explains it in a three part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Leadership Core: Talents
Chad Hall explains this equation: Talent + Training + Tenacity = Ability

Avoiding Burnout
Part 3 of an excellent series

Five mistakes I continue to make in my marriage
And more positively, here are Ten lessons from ten years of marriage by Kevin DeYoung.

Three minute Theology: The Eschatology of the Old Testament

And the walls came tumblin’ down

The streets were mobbed yet hushed. Few people looked at me; no one spoke to me. Hundreds stood at car-less street corners, obediently waiting for “GO”. Clothes choice seemed to be limited to grey-brown or brown-grey.

For someone brought up in rambunctious, sociable, rebellious, colorful Glasgow, Hungary in the late 1980′s was a really weird experience. At least initially. But as I slowly got to know many Christians in the privacy of their own homes, I gradually came to admire the resilient beauty of the Hungarian character, and to love the people of that long-suffering country.

As some of these persecuted Christians shared their physical, mental, and emotional scars, I also came to understand the public hush, fear, suspicion, and desire to blend in with the crowd. Decades of communist oppression had done its personality-destroying work.

Eastern Europe Spring
However, I also had the privilege of living through the “Eastern Europe Spring” when countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary took advantage of the weakening Soviet Union to throw off the shackles of Communist party rule and embrace long-lost democracy and freedom. Heady, unforgettable, tear-filled days!

But, at least in Hungary, these days were also tinged with deep concern and fervent prayer for neighboring Romania, still under the iron fist and foot of Nicolae Ceauscescu. As Hungary’s freedom blossomed, my work focused more on helping the refugees who were fleeing Romania, and also to getting basic food and clothing into the country, especially the Western area of Transylvania (yes, it’s a real place), where many Hungarians had friends and family.

Eventually, after a year or so, I had to return to Scotland. But as I told the story back in Scotland, many churches and individuals pressed money into my hand and urged me to return to pass on their love-gifts. Thus in December 1989, two poor Scottish students jumped into an ancient mini-car and drove 1600 event-filled miles to the Romanian border.

From euphoria to depression to euphoria
But our euphoria at arriving intact was soon turned to depression as we were turned back at the border despite having all our visas in order. We tried two more borders with the same result. We noted that the guards seemed more jumpy and aggressive than usual – some of them accusing us of being Western journalists – but thought little of it. We did comment that almost everyone else was turned back too.

We left the money with a Hungarian pastor to pass on to his Romanian contacts, and started on the long, weary, quiet journey home.

As we drove off the ferry and on to British soil, we turned on the radio to hear: “Ceauscescu has fallen.” Shivers tingled our spines and tears washed our faces. As we listened, we realized that the place we were driving to, Timisoara, had become the center of the Romanian revolution. Unknown to us, in these pre-cellphone days, while God had mercifully shut the door on us (1000 people died during the uprising), He had powerfully opened the doors of freedom to the Romanian people. A few hundred miles later, we heard the never-to-be forgotten news: “Nicolae Ceauscescu is dead.”

Prayer-kindling memory
I often use that “God-of-the-impossible” memory to motivate prayer for the suffering people of North Korea. And I found my prayers further kindled this morning as I read New York Times editor Bill Keller’s piece, The Day After North Korea CollapsesKeller points to a number of factors that evidence widespread weakness in the present regime, and traces this to “human influences” like “market forces.”  However, as we survey some of the providential developments in and around North Korea over the past few years, including “market forces,” we cannot but conclude: “This is the finger of God.”

Friends, we may be on the cusp of great times for humanity, freedom, and the Gospel in North Korea. Let’s daily encircle that weeping nation with prayer until “the walls come tumblin’ down,” and another despot hears those irresistible divine words: “Let my people go!”

Check out

The fragrance of heaven arising from the stench of death
Moving video and powerful illustration.

A Theology of Reading
In the space of 11 minutes, Tony Reinke, author of Lit!,  discusses the role of reading in the Christian life, including some practical tips to become a better reader.

Stop working more than 40 hours a week
“There’s a century of research establishing the undeniable fact that working more than 40 hours per week actually decreases productivity.”

Head, Heart, and Hands
Wish I’d thought of this. “Thinkers need feelers. Feelers need doers. Doers need thinkers.”

The pastor’s wife is simply a wife
And here’s a series by Pastor Al Martin on the same subject.

Successful Ministry
“The person that reflects most of Christ, and shines most with His love and grace, is best equipped to attract the attention of a careless, giddy world, and win restless souls from the fascinations of creature-love and creature-beauty. A ministry of power must be the fruit of a holy, peaceful, loving intimacy with the Lord.”