One of the greatest challenges I (and my fellow staff members) face, as a church planter and pastor in a non-denominational, unaffiliated church is that of self-care. Pastors must be there for people who are hurting and confused and struggling and under attack...but who is there for the pastor?
While I need to get better at this, I am grateful for the ministry of numerous pastors who, week after week, act as angels of God bringing bread and water (1 Kings 19:6) to this needy man. So I thought I'd take a few minutes to mention this pastor's pastors, with great gratitude:
My wife, the lovely Robin, who is of course not the most objective among my support network, but is nonetheless my most valued counselor and encourager. If it were not for her, only God knows where I'd be....and who I'd be.
My fellow staff members (John, Sharla, and Andrew), some of our church leadership (especially Cheryl, Ken, and Julie), and others have often come alongside me, encouraged me, reproved me, admonished, advised, and faithfully prayed for me, for which I'm tremendously grateful. For obvious reasons, a pastor needs pastors outside the church he or she serves, but I thank God that I have such fellow pastors within the flock as well.
My accountability partner, Ted Slye, though he is soon to be moving away, has been a sounding board, counselor, and fellow traveler these last few years.
My "shrink," Dr. Stephen Boyd, has been a great help. I'm not sure I would have made it through the stress and depression of 2008 without his careful and prayerful guidance, correction, and help.
The Reverend Dr. Chip Lee, of the Episcopal Church of Garrett County, MD, ministers to me several mornings a week by leading me in morning prayers via his podcast, from the Book of Common Prayer. Like Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours, which I use in most morning and evening prayers during the week, this podcast feeds my soul.
Erwin McManus (Mosaic Church), Rob Bell (Mars Hill), Craig Groeschel (LifeChurch), Ed Young (Fellowship Church), T. D. Jakes (The Potter's House), and Tom Nelson (Denton Bible Church) minister to me through their preaching podcasts, often seven days a week!
Around twenty-five ministry and pastor blogs also minister to me, through which I experience fellowship, humor, compassion, and a frequent antidote to the loneliness that would beset when I would otherwise start feeling as if I'm the only one who struggles, or stresses:
Though less frequent, I also count among my pastors Eugene Peterson, Henri Nouwen, and others, whose books feed my soul.
And last, but not least, I thank the Holy Spirit, my friend and counselor, who gives songs in the night and guides me, not so much by cloud or fire, but by nudges and hints and brainstorms and confluences of events that are no less real because they are subtle. He it is "that leadeth me."