Lecture 10 from my Poets & Prophets Exegesis course. Download here. See the rest of the course here.
1 point down. 3 secs to go. 1 shot left. Who do you look for?
That’s your clutch. The player who’s willing to take the last shot of the game.
Who’s the best clutch of all time? Larry Bird, according to the bleacher report.
Some Pastors and some Christians are great clutches in their churches. They don’t just take the easy, early-game shots. They don’t run from pressure. They are willing to risk their reputations in high pressure situations and challenging crises.
Every Church should have a clutch.
Should every Pastor have a clutch elder? Or should every Pastor be a clutch?
Paul Sullivan is a business columnist for The New York Times, and author of Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t. He’s identified five traits found in clutches in every walk of life.
1. Focus. This allows you to block out everything that distracts from your goal. It is not to be confused with concentration. Focus is a laser beam; concentration is merely a flashlight.
2. Discipline. This allows you to stay the course under pressure and is always an internal battle.
3. Adaptability. Colonel Thomas Kolditz describes this as “fighting the fight, not fighting the plan”. In other words, don’t let your ego stop you from abandoning the wrong course of action.
4. Being Present. This helps you respond to anything that comes your way. It also keeps you from thinking about a past failure or the expected glory if you succeed.
5. Fear and Desire. These two emotions are axiomatic to military leaders. In business, the desire for success mixed with the fear of failure will keep you on track under pressure, particularly for entrepreneurs or leaders trying to take their division or company in a different direction.
He also identified the three common personality flaws that surface under extreme pressure and cause people to choke.
1. Not taking responsibility for your actions
2. Being overconfident
3. Over-thinking your role in a company or society.
The encouraging conclusion of Sullivan’s research is that “the traits of clutch performers can be learned.”
And one of the keys is practice.
If we do our normal work (including studying/preaching/counseling/decision-making) at a high level every day, then we’ll be ready for the “clutch” when the pressure’s on – whether it be the 3am phone call, the church business meeting, the death of a member’s child, the disintegration of a Christian marriage, or the need to challenge sin in the church.
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One of the most common counseling questions I’m asked by students is, “What do you say to some one who…” You can then fill in the blank of any number of problems. It’s an understandable question. Many students will face situations in the ministry they have never faced before and have no idea what to say.
I find it’s sometimes best to start with what not to say. Here are Lifehacker’s suggestions about what not to say to someone who has just lost their job (common Michigan scenario).
1. “Don’t worry. You’ll be okay. It will all work out.”
2. “Everyone’s losing their job these days. No one has any work”
3. “You think you have it bad? I just met an ex-CEO I used to work with who’s homeless.”
4. “Stop being so negative. Be grateful for what you have.”
5. “Now you can find your passion.”
6. “You always come out on top.”
7. “Wow, too bad. Come sit in my new Bugati. You’ll feel better.”
Read Lifehacker’s amusing exposition of these points here, together with a further seven things that you should consider saying.
I was greatly helped by your responses to last week’s question, “What is preaching?” So, here’s another: “What Bible verses or doctrines would you add to Lifehacker’s common grace ideas?”
The famous Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” We might amend this adage slightly to say, “Fatigue makes quitters of us all.” The point is, parents who are chronically depleted and drained of energy can offer little to their teenager. Therefore, it’s vital that you guard your spiritual, emotional and physical health. Do whatever you must to recharge your batteries: Get plenty of rest, set aside time for fun, exercise regularly, pray and meditate on God’s Word.
Read the rest of the article here.
In the course of family visitation, elders will sometimes hear 1. Who is making the criticism?
If it is a godly and faithful Christian, then you will pay much more
criticism of their pastor’s preaching. Should they tell the pastor?
Here are some questions to ask to help you decide how to handle the
attention to it than to someone who is not professing to be a
Christian. If a particular Christian has an imbalanced theology or
some particular “theological hobby horses” then this too should be
taken into account when weighing the criticism’s validity.
2. Have they ever said anything positive about the pastor?
If not, then the criticism may be motivated by personal enmity and
malice? It would be unusual if a pastor had never said or done
3. How many times have you heard this criticism?
A ruling elder should not pass on to the preacher every criticism he
hears. If the criticism only comes from one source, then you are far
less likely to pass it on than if you heard the same thing from a
number of sources (1 Tim. 5:19).
4. Is the criticism fair and objective?
If not, then the elder should defend the pastor. He should not just
sit there absorbing the criticisms like a sponge. That only encourages
the critic to go on and on. And critics in the church get to know the
elders that are “soft” and who will do their “dirty work” by passing
on their criticism. Some people’s criticisms simply reflect their
personal preferences for a particular type of preaching. That too must
5. Does the criticism extend beyond one sermon?
Every pastor preaches a dud from time to time. He probably knows it
better than anyone. Maybe he did not have much time to prepare that
week. Perhaps he never slept on Saturday night. Possibly someone in
the back row was sleeping or laughing. There are many different
reasons for a pastor preaching a poor sermon now and again. It’s
terribly unfair for someone to ignore the vast majority of a
preacher’s sermons to focus on one here or one there that fell short
of his usual standards.
6. Might there be a special reason for that sermon?
Sometimes a pastor may have a reason to preach on something, or a
reason to preach in a particular way that he cannot explain publicly.
Maybe he’s preaching to a special problem that only he knows about.
Perhaps he’s trying to reach the children in the congregation.
Possibly he’s preaching in this style because he knows someone is
bringing along a skeptical scientist to the service. Maybe a college
student has asked him to answer an question raised by one of her
lecturers. Sometimes even the pastor himself does not fully know the
reason why a particular text, sermon, or preaching style has been laid
upon him by the Lord for that time.
7. Has the critic spoken to the pastor?
It’s amazing how much criticism would be reduced in churches if
critics knew that elders will not take their criticisms seriously
until they have tried speaking to the pastor themselves. “Have you
spoken to the pastor yourself?” would slow the vast majority of
criticisms to a trickle. There may be special circumstances where this
is not possible or wise, but if the criticism is serious enough for
the pastor to hear, he should usually hear it from the critic first
hand. And if the critic is not wiling to do this, then it cannot be as
serious to him as he makes out. Sadly, some critics are not only good
at making the bullets, but at finding the elder most willing to fire
8. Is this the right time to speak to the pastor?
Let’s assume then that the critic has spoken to the pastor, or that
there are a number of legitimate concerns coming from different
reputable sources. The elder now has to decide when to raise the
subject. This is all-important if the aim really is to bring about
necessary and beneficial change in the pastor’s preaching. Here are
(i) Do it privately and not in front of other elders to begin with.
(ii) Don’t do it immediately after or before a service. And never do
it on a Monday, when the Pastor is often spent from Sunday’s
(iii) Find out how the Pastor is doing – spiritually, mentally,
physically, relationally, etc. Try and find out if he is already
carrying large burdens or major worries. You don’t want to be the
straw that breaks the camel’s back.
(iv) Preface your remarks with any encouraging comments you have
gathered in family visitation.
9. Have you prayed?
Last but not least!