1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
80% of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first 5 years.
Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
80% of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
"If you're gonna win the world for Christ, you're gonna have to sit in the smoking section."
God has blessed me with in some crazy ways: the unyielding love of an amazing wife, 3 beautiful kids, an incredible church family, and a crew of dear friends I live, laugh, cry and worship with. Without them and Him, I would be without hope, without love, and without joy.
But I’m also thankful when God uses the 14th and 15th letters of the alphabet. Not at first, mind you. But in the end, I’m thankful for not getting what I want, so I can have what I really need. Getting all that we want is referred to as gluttony… and, God, forgive us for a culture which has such high aspires to gluttony.
I’m thankful for losing what I ‘love’, so I can have what I really love. For the times my heart has been needlessly attached to something and that thing has been lost (or taken). It’s only then that I’ve realized how unsatisfying that thing was…and only then that I’ve realized how deeply Christ satisfies.
For my weakness which reveals Christ’s strength.
For the times my heart is broken enough for compassion to enter into it.
For days when each step is harder than the last… and those days refine my character.
For when my blessings are not what I hoped they’d be.
For having to fight for what is true.
When I’m unsure of my plans but learn to trust the plan Christ has for me.
When mercy shows me the grace I couldn’t otherwise see.
Above all, for God's faithfulness when I am faithless.
What are you thankful for?
I originally found this video at TED and it blew my mind. Footage from the Hubble telescope… pictures that our ancestors only dreamed of… and the crazy possibilities that only a Master Creator could come up with.
Watch and have your head swirl and your picture of the Creator exponentially expand.
In honor of the 10 year anniversary of Fight Club, I tweeted the question, "If you could pick a fight with any religious figurehead, who would it be and why?" The winner would receive a box of student ministry goodies for their ministry and personal growth.
For those of you who may not know, Fight Club is not really about the physical act of pummeling another human being. It's built on the frustration against the system of a consumerist society, the disillusionment of a generation of men who have been raised by women to misunderstand what it means to be a man. Real manhood, according to the movie, begins with knowing yourself and authentically knowing others in a community of authentic living. The dream of stripping away everything we hide behind, and standing knuckle-to-knuckle with others who aspire to rebuilding ourselves from the bottom up.
When the question rises in the movie, "if you could fight anyone, who would it be?', it's a step towards really knowing yourself ("How can you know yourself if you've never been in a fight?") and really knowing another person.
When I tweeted my question, I got a multitude of answers:
"The Pope (cuz he's old and I think I would win).
Tammy Faye Bakker (she already looks like she's had the crap beat outta her).
And, of course, Jesus.
Each answer was great in it's own right. I'd love to know each of those a little more, for different reasons. I never see eye to eye with anyone of those listed 100% of the time. (Yes, I even disagree with Jesus at times. I don't always like when He's right about everything..)
Jacob wrestled with (the pre-incarnate) Jesus. He ended up being blessed, but he forever walked with a limp because of it. Was the limp worth the experience? I think Jacob would say it was. I have a hunch that the vast majority fight him regularly. I want to know him. I think I know him…but there's always more. And He always pushes me to let go of things, take up other things, and give still more things away. Quite honestly, I expected the winner to be chosen because he/she cited someone other than Jesus. I really wanted to send the box of goodies to someone who had good reasons for fighting and getting to know someone like Osteen or Buddha. Really I did.
After tallying the votes in my super-scientific, quadruple-blind survey, the winning tweet goes to Michael McMinn for suggesting we fight with Jesus. It sounds trite and all Sunday-Schooley, but I challenge you to ask yourself one question: "How would my life change if I stood toe-to-toe, knuckle-to-knuckle with Christ, fullly engaged, fully attentive, and let him chisel me into His image? To spend enough time with Him to be able to know when He would move? How he would move? And the manner in which I should react to his movements?" Ok, that's actually 4 questions..but you get the idea.
Maybe I've been drinking the Fight Club kool-aid too long.
Or maybe I've been fighting with Jesus long enough. And yet not long enough.
Maybe there's still more to come.
Many of you know I deal with periodic insomnia. As aggravating as it may be at times, it's amazing what our bodies can endure without going completely bankrupt. So until it becomes something debilitating, I try to just enjoy the ride and see where it takes me.
Some nights I just can't sleep. Some nights I enjoy being awake while everyone else is asleep–it's by far the quietest slice of 24 hours that I ever experience. But sometimes its just something on my mind. Maybe I've read something or had a conversation I just can't shake. Or a song I'm working on (actually, the song is working on me.) . And my mind is buzzing until almost 3am, I doze off… until @babymakayla wakes up around 4:30. And once I'm up…I'm up for good.
Most recently, it took me back into Fight Club, a movie I’ve seen at least a hundred times. (Happy 10-year anniversary, btw..) “When you have insomnia, nothing is real. Everything is a copy…of a copy…of a copy.” So states Ed Norton’s unnamed character in the movie. He has no name because he is Everyman.
The truth is every one of us was born an original. From our fingerprint down to our DNA, there is no one else exactly like any other one of us. We are each remarkably and wonderfully made. You were born an original.
But most of us will die a poor, pathetic copy. Society’s relentless pursuit of squeezing us into a mold never quits. We look like everyone else. Talk like everyone else. Work the same jobs, eat the same food, desire the same shiny gadgets as everyone else. Color inside the lines. Walk single file. Don’t make waves.
The problem is that we were created to be a receptacle of the Divine. To be ordinary is to be only ‘more of the same’. As a human made in God’s image (eikon), my soul screams out against this with every pore in my being, just as yours does. To be ‘just another one of those’ is deadening agony to me. It has actually driven some people to their death.
But it was never God’s intention for you and I to be a copy of anything…except Christ.
Each of us wants to be extraordinary. We were built to count for something. Anything. Placed in a specific context to count in ways that no one else does. That is our destiny. That is our purpose. To be what no one else can be is to be what we were created for.
So what happened?
Climbing the spiritual mountain is sometimes exhausting. It's hard work. The fact is that very few people will ever climb an actual mountain. Most of us will drive or ride up to the top, get out, and take some nice pictures to show our friends. Spiritually, it’s not much different. Why pay the price to ‘climb’ when we can just ride our way to the Summit. Why not take the short cut?
Maybe that's why Paul tells Timothy (I Timothy 4:7-10) to 'train yourself for godliness'. Literally, 'sweat [gymnopsium] yourself towards godliness'. There are no shortcuts to sweating…
Fortunately I have people in my life that don't take the short cut. They pray. They study the Scripture. They give selflessly. They speak with the sense of having been with God. They are not a copy of a copy of a copy… They are imitators of Christ. And they challenge me to sweat towards that same end.
Some people live life. Others have life live them.
Sleepless nights have given me the time to refocus and evaluate what kind of copy I am. And what I am sweating towards. So, for now I am grateful for insomnia.
I took a little trip down amnesia lane this week and drifted through the pages. And came one click away from completely deleting it altogether. Parts of it are pretty embarrassing. Things I said. Propositions I argued over. Hills I was ready to die on. It's humbling to look at a documented point in time when you thought you had been enlightened and realize how far off you actually were. It takes a wrecking ball to your pride.
I'm sure one day I'll look back at tomcottar.org the same way. But hopefully, it will be less embarrassing. Hopefully, I will have grown in grace and knowledge and will have chosen more wisely. Like Derek Webb says, "I can't afford to pay for most of what I say…so it's a good thing the truth is public domain."
So for now I will continue to leave the old blog up as a reminder to myself that humility is a good thing for us to know. In spite of what you may hear in USAmerica, pride is not a virtue. Feel free to peruse the pages of my old blog and see if you can pick out the embarrassing ingredients. You'll probably find more than I care to admit.. But that's fine. I'm still a work in progress.
I've been ruined.
There, I said it. By the grace of Jesus I am realizing more and more how I'm being restored. I am being reclaimed. Redeemed. Learning how much of me is still cracked, but realizing that I'm not as responsible for fixing myself as i once thought.
I am being fixed by Another.
Lately, it seems he's everywhere. And his hands are in everything… often unnoticed. When you begin to see Jesus revealed everywhere…it seems like He's everywhere. Case-in-point: Pearl Jam's newest project, Backspacer.
In 1991, Ten forever changed the way I listened to music and my expectations of it. Vs and Vitalolgy dug the trench even deeper. Then Binaural and Lost Dogs crashed into my life and caused me to rethink again. Green Habit may have been a celebration of all-things PJ, but Backspacer is full of gems. At the top of the playlist today is The Fixer because, via their post-punk groove, Pearl Jam have pointed me towards the One who is redeeming of creation, oftentimes unnoticed.
When somethings dark
Lemme shed a little light on it
When somethings cold
Lemme put a little fire on it
If somethings old
I wanna put a bit of shine on it
When somethings gone
I wanna fight to get it back again.
When somethings broke
I wanna put a little fixing on it
If somethings bored
I wanna put a little exciting on it
When somethings low
I wanna put a little high on it
When somethings lost
I wanna fight to get it back again
Fight to get it back again.
Christ continues to be The Fixer. We were created in his image. We fell. He has fought to get us back again. The entirety of the gospel screams redemption. Restoration. And liberation.
What is your first memory of 'restoration'? What was your first experience of 'grace'? Your first realization that Someone was actively ('grace'fully) fixing you?
I'd love to hear the story…
If you watch this and ask yourself, “I wonder if I should adapt..?”, you’re asking the wrong question. Asking ‘if’ will put the final nails in the coffin. (I wonder how many times the dinosaurs asked themselves ‘if’..)
The question is how do you and I adapt? How is the social media culture affecting your ministry? Many church leaders are currently arguing about the validity of online communities, online campuses, tweeting and facebooking during worship, etc. So the question for me becomes one of ‘how do we tap into the hearts and minds of a generation who have known nothing else but a constant flow of digital information, connectedness, and community?’ We can’t put Pandora back in the box. And I’m not sure we’d really want to..
What ideas does this give you?