I recently interviewed more than twenty pastors who had been in ministry for at least 25 years. All of these men were over 55 years old. A few of them were retired, but most of them were still active in fulltime vocational ministry.
The interview was simple. I asked one open-ended question: “What regrets do you have about the years you have served as a pastor?” Each of the men could provide as many responses as they desired. They could make the answers succinct, or they could elaborate upon them.
Three pastors had as few as two responses; one pastor had nine. Most of the pastors noted three or four regrets. As a researcher, I typically see patterns develop in this type of subjective research. When it concluded, I was able to see seven definitive patterns, and I was able to see the frequency they occurred.
Below are the top seven regrets noted in order of frequency. I received a total of 17 different responses, but only these seven occurred with any degree of repetition. After each regret, I provide a representative direct quote from one of the interviewees.
So what do you think of these top seven regrets? What would you add?This post was written by Thom S Rainer. For the original post, go to: http://thomrainer.com/2012/12/19/the-top-seven-regrets-of-pastors/#.UV1mlb8YsipBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
- Lack of practical training for local church ministry. “I was not prepared for 80 percent of my day-to-day ministry after I graduated from seminary. I wish I had taken time to find some resources or places where I could get practical training. I had to learn in the school of hard knocks, and it was very painful at times.”
- Overly concerned about critics. “I had this naïve view that a bunch of Christians in a church would always show love toward each other. Boy was I wrong! There are some mean church members out there. My regret is that I spent way too much time and emotional energy dealing with the critics. I think of the hundreds of hours I lost focusing on critics, and it grieves me to this day.”
- Failure to exercise faith. “At some point in my ministry, I started playing defense and let the status quo become my way of doing church. I was fearful of taking steps of faith, and my leadership and churches suffered as a result. Not only was I too cautious in the churches I served, I was too cautious in my own ministry. I really felt God calling me to plant a church at one point, but I was just too fearful to take that step.”
- Not enough time with family. “I can’t say that people didn’t warn me. One wise pastor told me I had a mistress. When he saw my anger rising, he told me that my mistress was busyness in my church, and that my family was suffering from neglect. It hurts me to say this, but one of my adult sons is still in rebellion, and I know it is a direct result of my neglect of him when he was young.”
- Failure to understand basic business and finance issues. “The first time I saw my church’s budget, I thought I was looking at a foreign language. Greek is a lot easier than finance. They sure don’t teach you basic church finance and business at seminary, and I didn’t take the initiative to educate myself. I really felt stupid in so many of the discussions about the budget or other church business issues.”
- Failure to share ministry. “Let me shoot straight. I had two complexes. The first was the Superman complex. I felt like if ministry was going to be done well, I had to do it. I couldn’t ask or equip someone else to do it. My second complex was the conflict avoider complex. I was so afraid that I would get criticized if I didn’t visit Aunt Susie personally when she had an outpatient procedure that I ran myself ragged. In my second church I suffered burnout and ended up resigning.”
- Failure to make friends. “I know it’s cliché, but being a pastor can be lonely. I think many pastors get in trouble because we can get so lonely. I wish I had done a better job of seeking out true friends. I know if I had made the effort, there would have been a number of pastors in town that I could have befriended. Sometimes I got so busy doing ‘stuff’ that I didn’t have time to do the things that really matter.”
Last week was anti-porn week here at Ironstrikes. I hope that you were able to read about the five topics:1. Porn and sexual satisfaction2. Porn and fake relationships3. Porn and women4. Porn and cruelty5. Porn is insidious
Readers have asked about the Zillman-Bryant study from which these five posts were taken. In the early 1980s, Dr. Doll Zillmann of Indiana University and Dr. Jennings Bryant of the University of Alabama wondered whether continued exposure to video pornography had any impact on people's sexual beliefs and their attitudes towards women. For their experiment, 80 male and 80 female college-age participants were divided into three subgroups, and each group was shown 4 hours and 48 minutes of media.
1. The first group, the “Massive Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-violent pornographic films over a six-week period.
2. The second group, the “Intermediate Exposure Group,” was exposed to 18 pornographic films and 18 regular films over a six-week period.
3. The third (control) group, the “No Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-pornographic movies over a six--week periodYou may be saying, "that is an old study, what relevance does it have to today?"
At a 2011 conference, Dr. Mary Anne Layden commented about Zillmann and Bryant’s 25-year-old research. “When this study was done, what was called the ‘Massive Exposure Group" -- seeing five hours of porn over a six-week period -- "I now call that the Friday Afternoon Group."
Her statement is far from an exaggeration. A recent survey of 29,000 people at North American universities, shows 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to five hours per week
online for sexual purposes, and another 11% of men spend anywhere from five to twenty hours per week. What used to be “massive” exposure is now common practice.
Furthermore, the Internet has not only increased the public’s exposure to porn, but has also changed the way it is consumed. Dr. Jill Manning believes Zillmann and Bryant’s findings have greater
applicability in the modern age because Internet porn tends to be more interactive and consumer-driven. Viewers can select exactly who and what they want to see, custom-tailored to their greatest specifications.This week, I will be giving four solid tips in helping to curb your vulnerability to porn.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Pornography is tearing apart the fabric of our society. You may think this is an overstatement. After reading,“The Social Costs of Pornography”
by the Witherspoon Institute, I think it may be an understatement
In 2008, the Witherspoon Institute sponsored the first multidisciplinary exploration of the social costs of pornography. Scholars from various fields including philosophy, psychology, and medicine were included in the forum. Every major shade of religious belief was represented, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, agnosticism, and atheism. And both the left and right in American politics were present. They all agreed that there is a substantial multidimensional, empirical record of the harms pornography brings to society. Obviously, such agreement is rare.
Today’s pornography is different from any in the past in three ways. (1) Accessibility
. The Internet has made porn ubiquitous. (2) Quality
. Today’s porn is much more hardcore. (3) Consumption
. Porn consumption has increased radically with the advent of the Internet. 69% of men and 10% of women report viewing pornography more than once a month. 87% of men admit using it in the past year. The researchers conclude, “In sum, there is evidence that more people—children, adolescents, and adults—are consuming pornography—sporadically, inadvertently, or chronically—than every before” (15).
How does pornography actually harm people? The researchers list a plethora of ways. Each of these points is supported with empirical evidence in the report. Keep in mind that these are objective
facts about pornographic consumption, not my subjective opinions.
· Those who view pornography overestimate how frequently certain sexual acts are actually practiced, which increases one’s willingness to do unconscionable things (18).
· Porn viewers physically map their brains based on the images they see. Pornographic consumption re-maps the physical structure of the brain (19).
· Many men who view porn lose the ability to relate to or be close to women (20).
· Porn viewers become de-sensitized to the barrage of imagery, and as a result, child pornography and violent pornographic images often lose their ability to shock and disgust (20).
· Women often report distress and harm when discovering that their husbands view porn. They typically feel betrayal, loss, mistrust, devastation, and anger as a result of their partner’s behavior.
· Porn users have an increased likelihood of divorce and family break-up (23-24).
· Those who had an extramarital affair were three times more likely to have used Internet pornography than those who had not.
· Porn leads men to place less value on marital fidelity and more value on casual sex (24).
· Therapists report seeing fourteen- and fifteen-year-old boys addicted to porn (29).
· An Italian study reported that boys who view porn were more likely to report having sexually harassed a peer or having forced someone to have sex (30).
· Adolescent girls who report using pornography are more likely to report being victims of passive violence such as sexual harassment and rape (31).
· Today’s consumption of pornography encourages sexual exploitation such as trafficking (33).
· Adolescents who view pornography are more likely to view women as sexual objects (35).
· Porn consumption raises the risk of sexually risky behavior (35).
· Men who use pornography are less attractive to potential female partners (37).
· Exposure to pornography decreases sexual satisfaction with one’s partner for both men and
· Chronic pornography use is associated with depression and unhappiness (38).
· Users often report disgust and shame at finding themselves stimulated by images that would have once repulsed (39).
What do we do? For starters, can you help spread the word about the dangers of pornography? Please consider getting a copy of the report, “The Social Costs of Pornography,” and study it. Talk to your friends about it. Share it with your family and church. Blog about it. Or forward this blog to as many people as you can. There needs to be a renewed conversation about how pornography is damaging this generation. We can no longer ignore the most dangerous health hazard to this generation. Our kids deserve better.
This post was written by Sean McDowell. The original post can be found here: http://www.conversantlife.com/morality/the-social-costs-of-pornographyBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A new study by Patrick F. Fagan examines the effects of pornography on individuals, marriage, family and community. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council
. He specializes in examining the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America's social problems. This study is important for everyone to read as it demonstrates that it has damaging effects on individuals and families. In the summary Fagan explains,Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual's concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.
Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.Some of the findings inside the study include:
- Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
- Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
- Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
- Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
- Among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
- Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
- The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.
This post was written by Ed Stetzer. The original post can be found here:http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-blogs/139251-the_effects_of_pornography.html/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
This bad boy
lives by the Shakespearean phrase, "all the world's a stage and we are but actors." What makes him bad is that he seems to never be offstage. He maneuvers, manipulates, exerts pressure and maintains many "masks" to get what he wants and needs from others.
When encountering these men, we are left to wonder if the person is putting on an act to get approval or get something from us. Within these men there is an emptiness, a craving for new conquests, new stimulation, additional applauding audiences. Out of their hollowness
, they deceive themselves and others, which leads to disaster in the churches where they "serve." Boredom is their constant, sad motivator. Superficial, broken relationships lie in their wake.
These men creep into the church because congregations want gregarious, charming, outgoing pastors, worship leaders, youth leaders, etc. The modern church is replete with "religious shows" with seductive clothing, music, bodily movement, and overdramatized religiosity. Religious expressions of love, intimacy, caring, fellowship and personal sharing and testimony can easily become eroticized and promiscuous in the hands of the histrionic bad boy. This bad boy's leadership results in churches that are incestuous, abusive and enmeshed.What can the church do to prevent these men from coming to power in the church?
When interviewing people for leadership positions within the church, there needs to be careful expectation of a person who forms relationships responsibly, makes promises carefully based upon plenty of information, and is able to stick with people thru longer, less superficial relationships. One needs to consider the ability to have life-long relationships. How can the church help these men change their bad boy image?
In dealing with the histrionic bad boy, underneath the show is an inner emptiness. This is the end result of life without commitment. Instead of relating to people as Christ would, he sees people as commodities to be pushed around for the purposes of getting more limelight and attention.
The histrionic bad boy needs to be held accountable for his behavior. He needs to deepen his commitment to God and then, using that as a guideline, decide who he really is and what he needs to be under God's direction. He needs to reshape his whole interpretation of life. The objective is to challenge his spiritual emptiness and self-love. He needs to develop fidelity to a steadfast relationship to God in Jesus Christ and fidelity to those in the church and in the marketplace.
He needs to be challenged to open up the gates of a new life of depth rather than superficiality, durability rather than transiency. We can represent Christ to him. We can refuse to be seduced by his flashiness. We can challenge and confront his restless boredom. We can refuse to be used and make durable and steadfast relationships with him so that we don't respond to his endless drama and emergency. We can help him develop character and maturity and help him form and maintain deep and lasting relationships.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.