How does a pastor deal with losing his daughter to a drug addiction?

My friend, Jon Cyrus, Pastor of First Baptist Prospect, experienced great tragedy a few weeks ago with the news that his daughter, 27, had lost her battle with drug addiction.  Jon has graciously allowed us in to see how he is trying to wrestle with God and cope with this great loss.  Read his powerful words and take note, pastors, of how courageous he is showing up publically.  We all should follow his example of honestly, openness, vulnerability and courage.

Here’s his story:

I started along a broken and bumpy road on January 28. Frankly, I knew this road was on the horizon but never wanted to travel there. It came with a phone call. The voice was calm but the words came like an avalanche, throwing me into a state of shock and despair. My oldest daughter was dead. Her struggle with drug addiction, that had robbed her of so much, had taken her life.  The news took my breath away.

There is not enough space here to share everything. But this will be an attempt to share a few things that have been prominent, things I have become aware of, lessons I am learning about myself, about life and loss.

Read the rest of the article – HERE

Posted in Funerals, Home and Family, The Pastor's Soul

Church Revitalization Event @SBTS (Tuesday, Feb. 21)

Come join us for this important panel discussion of regular local church pastors that will be led by Brian Croft.  First 50 receive a free Chick-Fil-A lunch and free book.

RSVP – HERE

 

Posted in Oversight of Souls, Promotion, Training for Ministry, Uncategorized

Why should a pastor stay a long time at one church?

One of the most significant implications from Hebrews 13:17 (giving account for souls) I was grateful to learn early in ministry was that I don’t have the right to dislike and refuse to care for someone’s soul that God had entrusted to me.  This is important to realize as pastors because we all have those who despise us in our congregations; those we have upset by something we said or did; that we will still give an account for when we stand before God.

As you read this, some of you may be thinking these kinds of people are a good reason to leave and start over, but I submit to you they are actually a good reason to stay and endure.  Why are these difficult people a good reason to stay and endure?

Watching God work through your ministry in such a way that those who once despised you, grow to love and appreciate you.

I was reminded of this while reflecting on a hospital visit I made several years ago to see an elderly lady who almost died, but was beginning to make a slow recovery.  She is someone who years ago publicly attacked and slandered me in front of the whole church.  Not my biggest fan.  Although the tensions had calmed down the last few years, I didn’t expect a great deal of warmth from her.

I sat with this woman and had the most encouraging and pleasant visit with her.  She was warm, kind, and gracious to me.  She praised me for caring for her and the church so well over the years.  Just as I started to intently look for the “candid camera” that had been planted, she reached to hug me as I left.  When she died a few years later she asked me to preach her funeral.

Unable to humanly explain anything I had experienced that day, God reminded me of one of the greatest joys of staying and enduring with these people.  As we endure the criticism, complaints, and verbal attacks, and try to love and care for the souls of those who attack us, God in his grace might just allow us to eventually win them over.

What a powerful testimony of the power of God at work in his shepherd and sheep when He does this.  This is not the first time God has allowed me to experience this and I can definitely say it ranks as one of the greatest joys I now experience in pastoral ministry with my congregation.

Pastors, hold fast to what you know to be true and right.  Love those who love you as you love those who don’t–at least right now.  However, don’t be surprised when you wake up one day (years from now) and find that a church member who has been cold to you for years suddenly has warmed up.

I leave you with these stunningly wise words from Richard Baxter on why we should especially care for the souls of those who despise us,

“Even the stoutest sinners will hear us on their death bed, though they scorned us before.”

Posted in Oversight of Souls

How do you preach in the face of snarls and scowls?

I remember those early years in my struggling church were so hard to preach.  It is hard enough to try and figure out who you are as a preacher, but to have to do it in a place where there felt like a general disinterest, even at times hostility, well…that is especially hard.  Few ever brought a Bible and used it.  I regularly stared at snarls and scowls from the pulpit for the first 4-5 years.  I remember starting to struggle preaching to scowls so much that out of desperation I printed a message for me and taped it on the top of the pulpit to stare at when I would preach.  The message said this,

You don’t preach for the praise of man, but to declare the truth of God’s word.  It is enough and a worthy, noble work to preach God’s word even if it is not seemingly received by the hearer.”

If you can’t find the joy in God’s word being proclaimed regardless how the hearers respond, you won’t last long preaching, especially in a hostile church.  We have to trust that God is at work using his word in numerous ways, even when we can’t see it.  God’s word never returns void.  Our calling is to preach.  We are to leave the results to God.

God’s Spirit working through his word is indeed powerful for 13 years later, there is no sweeter place for me to preach than this church where I once preached to snarls and scowls.

 

Posted in Preaching
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