Archives For Discipleship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to grow closer to God and become more like Jesus.

Topics include: Spiritual formation, CLASS, prayer, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, campaigns, theology, etc.

Every single one of us faces periods in our lives when we want to give up on what God has called us to do. No one escapes those kinds of seasons. But the temptation to give up doesn’t make you less of a pastor or a church leader.

The question is, what do you do with that temptation? One characteristic of people who God uses is that they never give up.

So, what should you do when you feel like giving up?

The Bible gives us six actions God wants us to take when we feel like giving up. Together, they spell out the word ENDURE.

  • E – Embrace God’s purpose.

We can endure almost anything if we know there’s a purpose behind it. But without a purpose, we’ll collapse.

The Bible says this about God’s purpose behind our problems: “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT). Your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.

People often mean evil…

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I’ll never forget my first year leading Saddleback Church. I constantly worked 18-hour days. In fact, Kay did, too. On the last Sunday of that first year, I stood up to speak and fainted. I was exhausted.

Over the next year, God taught me some things that were critical in helping me continue the next 40 years of ministry at Saddleback. During that year, God gave me these Scriptures:

“I will not do it all in one year, for the land would become a wilderness, and the wild animals would become too many to control. But I will drive them out a little at a time, until your population has increased enough to fill the land” (Exodus 23:29-30 TLB).

Those verses changed my life. They’re the reason I call the principles in this passage “pacing growth.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the church. We need to learn to relax or we’ll burn out. But relaxing is hard for most of us. 

In this article, I’ll share with you five reasons we struggle to relax—and what we can do to…

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Because we live on a broken planet, no one is immune from painful emotions. We all get hurt. As pastors, even we have hidden hurts from the past. We carry wounds, battle scars, and emotional pain—often more than most. 

We also spend a lot of time helping others recover from the pain of their past. But here’s the good news: God cares about the emotional pain we carry. 

He wants to restore us from the painful emotions that keep us from the life and ministry he has called us to embrace. 

Here’s how God restores us from three of the most damaging emotions in our lives.

  1. God removes our guilt.

Guilt can be overwhelming. And since we’re all imperfect, we all experience guilt at certain points in our lives. We can’t escape it either. It’s in our minds, so we carry it wherever we go.

We come up with different solutions for getting rid of guilt. We often minimize, rationalize, or compromise it. But none of those solutions fully satisfy us.

Only one response to our guilt really works. It’s the most…

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God wants all of us to grow. Maturity is one of his purposes for our lives. In fact, Hebrews 6:1 tells us, “Let’s press on to maturity” (CEB). God intends for us to always pursue spiritual growth so that we may “be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29 ESV).  

One of God’s five purposes for your church is to help your congregation grow in spiritual maturity. But there’s a lot of confusion about what Christian maturity looks like. As you’re making disciples, it’s important that you are clear about what it means to grow more like Jesus. 

Maturity isn’t about age. You can be a Christian for 50 years and still not be mature. 

Maturity isn’t about appearance. Some people may look spiritually mature, but they aren’t. Just because someone appears dignified, it doesn’t mean they are holy. 

Maturity isn’t about achievement. You can accomplish much without being mature in your faith. 

Maturity isn’t about academics. A seminary degree or a Bible college degree doesn’t make you spiritually mature. 

You…

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It’s no secret that ministry is full of stress. Many of you are at the end of your rope. Maybe you’re even ready to resign because of the stress. 

This stress not only impacts our churches, but it also adversely affects our own health. Proverbs 14:30 tells us: “Peace of mind means a healthy body, but jealousy will rot your bones” (NCV). Too much stress isn’t healthy.

The good news is God doesn’t leave us empty-handed as we struggle with stress. The Bible has a lot to say about peace. Whether it’s spiritual peace (peace with God), emotional peace (peace of God), or relational peace (peace with other people), God’s Word provides a pattern of life that leads to the peace we’re all looking for. 

Jesus once said, “I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NCV). 

The peace of God isn’t something you earn. It’s not something you need to psych yourself up…

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Bad habits and addictions wreck ministries. You see it all the time. The truth is, everyone has bad habits, and pastors are no different. But you can’t have the ministry God has called you to if you let anything but Jesus control you.

Pastor, here’s the good news: No matter how hopeless you feel your situation is, and no matter how long you’ve kept a bad habit, God can do a miracle in your life. 

The following nine steps from God’s Word can help you and those you lead break free from bad habits:

Begin today. “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then” (Proverbs 27:1 GNT). Don’t wait until tomorrow, next week, or next month. Stop procrastinating. Stop postponing. It’ll always be harder to change tomorrow than it is today because your problem will just get worse. Decide to no longer be controlled by your bad habits, starting today.

Refuse to blame others. “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3 GNT). Blaming others is as old as Adam and Eve, but we’ll never…

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My dad’s favorite recreational activity was fishing. A day without fishing was a wasted day to him. 

If you’ve ever been around a fisherman, you know they have great fish stories. The more they tell those stories, the bigger the fish get. 

But there’s no fishing tale I could share quite like the one in Luke 5. This story has a lot to say to those of us in ministry. It’s all about how to handle discouragement at work—whether you’re a professional fisherman or a pastor.

Let’s dive right into the story—Peter, Andrew, James, and John owned a fishing business. They had been out fishing all night and caught nothing. You and I can relate to this. We know what it’s like to work day and night trying to fish for people with the Gospel, yet come up empty. 

These four may have been fishermen at the time, but we know something they didn’t. Jesus’ intention from the beginning was for them to become fishers of men. And in this story, we see how Jesus turned struggling fishermen into some of the greatest fishers of…

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“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”

Luke 8:14 (NIV)

God wants to speak to you. But first, you must eliminate distractions so you can hear him. You can’t hear God when your mind is crowded with worries, plans, and activities. You can’t hear God when you’re preoccupied with TV, the Internet, or your cell phone. These distractions are like weeds that keep a plant from growing to its full potential. When a seed lands among weeds, it will sprout and start to grow, but then the weeds will choke it, preventing it from bearing fruit. 

Today’s verse describes three common weeds that can choke God out of your life: worry, riches, and pleasure. 

The word “worry” really means “pulled in different directions.” 

You can also be so busy making a living that you’re not making a life with God. Don’t let that paycheck become your highest priority. 

What’s wrong with pleasure? Nothing—except when you’re so busy pursuing…

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Over the next few weeks, I will share the lessons I have learned in different areas of faith and ministry from my 60 years of friendship with Jesus. It has been an amazing journey, and I hope you’ll join me as I describe some of what I’ve learned along the way.

I made two of the most important decisions of my life before I became a teenager. The first was when I gave my life to Christ. I wasn’t even five years old when I became a follower of Jesus on January 24, 1959. My parents loved the Lord and so did my grandparents, so it was very easy for me to come to faith. 

Because of this experience, I never look down on a child who comes to faith in Jesus. I know many people have a concern that children simply don’t know enough to be a Christian. When I came to faith, I couldn’t have explained to you the virgin birth. I didn’t even know what a virgin was! But I knew Jesus loved me, and I wanted to love him back. That was good…

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People-pleasing can be a particularly addictive trait, especially for pastors. You’ll either lead your ministry in an effort to please people or to please God. The choice is yours.

If you choose to please people, letting them fit you into their mold, your ministry will never be what God wants it to be. It’ll cause you to miss God’s unique purpose for your life.

Here are six truths to keep in mind next time you’re tempted to please people:

1. Even God can’t please everybody. 

Only a fool would try to do what God can’t do. Many people in this world will disapprove of you. Accept it. 

Jesus reminds us, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you” (Luke 6:26 NIV). If everyone speaks well of you, it’s bad news. It means you stand for nothing and are a chameleon. Pastor, the moment you take a stand, someone will start throwing rocks. 

2. You don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy.

If you believe you must have other people’s approval to be happy, you won’t be happy. Even if you…

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Most of us have run out of gas at some point. It’s painful.

When my kids were young, we went on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. We borrowed a trailer from a church staff member and attached it to the back of my truck. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into consideration how the extra weight on my truck would impact my gas mileage, and I ran out of gas before we made it to our destination. I then had to hike up a mountain to get more gas. It wasn’t a fun experience.

I’ve come to recognize the similarities between running out of gas in our vehicles and running out of energy in our lives. They share many of the same causes. Below are nine reasons we run out of gas physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

1. We don’t start out with a full tank. The way we start our day sets our day. If we don’t start out with a full tank, we’ll be running on empty as the day goes on. That’s why we must start each day spending time with the Lord, so we can fill…

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Due to the unique circumstances of the past two years, many pastors have faced or are facing burnout. If that’s you today, there is hope. 

Just like your car, we each have an “energy tank.” We constantly go from draining that tank to filling it up. And no one likes to run out of gas. It can be dangerous, particularly when we run out of gas on a major highway. The same is true in our ministries. Burnout can be dangerous. To fight against it, we need to keep our energy tanks full.

Jesus says it like this in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).

Jesus’ words give us four steps we can take to keep our emotional tank filled up.

1. Get fed up (with the current state of your life).

If you…

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