How to Treat Your Pastor at Christmas

I have been in many churches who know how to treat their pastors well, but some do not. Many search committees go after some guy from out of town, move him far from family and friends, only to treat him like he and his family do not exist (except when they have a complaint or want you to earn your keep). The same applies for those who serve in associate roles. I am almost opposed to churches calling pastors from far away, but I digress.

How do you plan to treat your pastor and his family this Christmas? Do you hope that they will go out of town so you don’t have to be nice? Do you plan to find out how they will spend Christmas? Do you plan to include them in kind gestures? Have you thought about their financial status and if they will be able to fund Christmas? These are legitimate things to consider.

I also want you to realize that they are normal people. Your pastor may like a gift other than a giant KJV family Bible. His wife may want something other than a Beth Moore series, and his children might appreciate something other than Veggie Tales. I’m not knocking any of these things, but I want to bring to light that your pastor and family may very well have wanted to see Garth Brooks in concert last month, watch the latest movie in the theater, or spend a week at Dollywood. I have the title “Reverend” in front of my name, but I still like to watch Tyler Perry movies. I’m human and have a sense of humor. I guarantee your pastor and his family may also be human.

So, this Christmas, reach out to your pastor and family. Make sure they aren’t alone for Christmas. This year, many of them will be wearing themselves out having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. They might appreciate you bringing them a Christmas meal. They are your family too because of Christ. I challenge you to consider how you can be a blessing to your pastor, staff members, and their families year round.


A Man with a Legacy

In a world full of pompous self-promoters, men and women who possess a gentle, humble spirit seem to be a minority. This afternoon, Heaven gained one of those men who did his best to exemplify what it means to be like Jesus. Dr. Leonard Allred would be quick to tell you he was not perfect, but it was obvious to the students who attended what is now Piedmont International University during his years as a professor that he genuinely loved and cared for people. 

I attended Piedmont from 1998-2001 but did not have the privilege of taking any of “Doc’s” classes until summer 2001. Doc was closer to retirement by this time, but he exposed us to some modern methodology and was never critical or hateful about new ways of doing things. He was a true educator in presenting ideas and allowing us to think for ourselves biblically. He helped me open my narrow mind to some alternatives that would still accomplish God’s purpose.

Tonight, his family and countless students mourn a loss. One day, those of us who know Christ will look forward to a reunion. Until Jesus returns, the legacy of Leonard Allred will continue. Thanks, Doc, for loving people as they are and being an example we all desired to emulate!

Don’t Bank on It!

When I set out for ministry, I had grandiose ideas of how it might be. I imagined that everyone who went to church was really hungry for God, and I would never had any hardships. Once I got into it, I learned that my imaginations were just that. I had a fairy tale idea of what ministry would be like that was far from reality. 

What did I find when I got there? People would be mean, pastors would be condescending, and I would need a spine of steel to survive. That’s life! For some strange reason, people have this crazy idea that serving Jesus is problem free and those who have problems must be doing it wrong. I learned that everything can be great and dramatically turn in a second. 

For those of you who are serious about being a Christian, don’t run from the difficulties! I will tell you what you can bank on…God’s faithfulness! God’s healing of your broken heart! God’s provision (though it may not be the way you expect)! You can bank on Jesus not people!

Although I have had a few hardships along the way, the hardships showed me I was banking on the wrong thing. So much has been redefined in my life but for the better. If you are banking on man’s definition of success, it’s time to find out what Jesus says then bank on it!

Are You Afraid of Worship?

I grew up in a church where on the front of the bulletin it said, “Enter in silence to worship…” (and, believe me, it was silent throughout). I would visit the church where my mom grew up, and it would be full of “Amens” while the pastor preached. That was foreign and scary to me. I had no idea that there were actually believers who were more expressive.

When I was a teenager, I began to see those who were more expressive. They were raising their hands and shouting. I was told that was totally of the flesh and that I should have no part in that because that’s what Charismatics do. Interestingly enough, shouting and the lifting of hands is in the Bible. Despite the fact that it is biblical, people are still afraid of what they do not know. Christians are just quicker to call it wrong if it is unfamiliar.

About 5 years ago, I found freedom in my personal worship. This freedom became a little easier to express publicly. By the time I was a pastor, those denominational Christians probably thought I was crazy. Some didn’t think I was expressive enough (another story for another post). But there came a time when that worship that people called wrong (though still biblical) meant more to me than ever.

When the world you once knew is knocked out from under you, you either get mad at God or find Him sweeter than ever. I did the latter. Going from being a pastor with a family to being all alone and unemployed, Jesus was my reason for staying alive. When I went back into leading worship in denominational churches, I had a lady at the last church I served tell me I reminded her of a Holiness preacher and she liked our denomination better. I laughed because I didn’t think I was that expressive. I believe now that an element of the church was uncomfortable with me and led to some of the pettiness that God used to reveal to me that it was time to leave. It proved to be a blessing because I can biblically express my praise at my current church and I am among friends.

Just because you didn’t grow up with a particular style of worship doesn’t mean it is wrong. You may never be the type to shout “Hallelujah!” or raise your hands, but find out what it means for you to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Then allow yourself to grow spiritually to the point where you can stand still and worship while the person next to you is dancing. I promise that you’ll find it liberating, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).