10 Secrets of Many Senior Pastors | Ron Edmondson

10 Secrets of Many Senior Pastors | Ron Edmondson.


I’ve been a senior pastor for almost 25 years.  One thing I have realized is that people often have difficulty seeing past the office/position to the person.  I share this on my blog because it is good… really good.  All of these things do not fit me but enough do that I thought I would share it, hoping that it will help you get to know me better.

Here are a few highlights from the list:

“People tell the senior pastor all kinds of things about what is happening in their life or in the lives of others…many we would rather not know sometimes…and sometimes the weight of others’ problems we carry is enormous.”  I do not think pastors mind being counsellors and confidantes.  Just know that when we walk with you through your crisis — and  yours is resolved — we then will walk with someone else through their crisis.  There is rarely a reprieve from this cycle.

“We seldom know who we can trust, which is why we become guarded and appear hard to get to know.  Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted.”  I shared this list with my staff here at HBC, and one of them asked me why pastors have more trust issues than other professions. I do not know that we do.  Nor do I believe that senior pastors have it harder than anyone else. But I do wonder if pastors are more inclined to think the best of people.  We do not always pick up on warning signals.  Perhaps we have occupational naiveté… which only years of experience can cure.  Unfortunately, I am cured.

“Our spouse is sometimes the loneliest person in the church.”  Most people are shocked by this.  She knows everyone. She is outgoing.  She seems to have lots of friends.  So, why does she so often sit by herself while her husband is preaching?  I’ve always wished for, but do not know how to ask for, some ladies to make it their “mission” on Sunday morning not to let my wife sit alone.

I love being a pastor.  I am blessed to serve a great church, a healthy church, with the greatest people. These things do not reflect on a church…they are just occupational hazards.

So, submitted for your consideration.  Shared for the sake of… vulnerability.  Thanks, Ron, for a great article.

Random Thoughts

A few random thoughts…

I’m a huge football fan.  My resume includes a couple of years as a high school coach. I am the son of a coach.  Played one year of college ball.  So, I’m a big fan.  And I do not care who wins the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I will still probably watch the game.

I am really excited about our church mission trip this summer.  We announced last Sunday that HBC will take a team to Salmon Frenzy in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska at the end of July.  I’ve never been to Alaska and always wanted to go.  And it sounds like a great opportunity to serve people and share Jesus.

Blake Griffin’s dunk was astounding. Lucky he didn’t kill somebody. So was LeBron’s when he jumped over a guy  (even if the defender was only 5′ 11″).

HBC has a fantastic, hard-working staff.  Encourage them every chance you get.  And if you are not a member of HBC, encourage your church staff. They need it.

I love my wife!

Read any good books lately?  Leave a comment and let me know.  I am looking for fiction. I love a great story… especially if I cannot guess the ending. (I’ve made the switch to e-reader and love it.  Mine is an iPad with Kindle app.)

“Selfish Sorrow”

How do you respond when confronted with sin?  The answer to this question will determine how intimate you become with God.

Of course, we all sin.  And believe it or not… in the pages of scripture, it is not the original sin that is at issue… but the way we react when challenged about our sin.

One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to confront us with our sin.  He may whisper to us while we sit in worship or read our Bible.  He may drop a sudden awareness on us in a startling moment of illumination.  Someone we love may speak the truth in love to us.  Or, we may get caught red-handed and the sudden exposure brings the act of wrongdoing into the spotlight. Whatever the means of conviction, we become aware of sin.

2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that there are two ways people react:  Godly sorrow or worldly (selfish) sorrow.

Godly sorrow turns our attention to God.  We realize that our sin has offended him.  It is against him, above all, that we have sinned.  The end result leaves us free from regret and guilt with a clean heart and clear conscience.

Selfish sorrow turns inward.  Our only concern is for ourself and what the exposure will cost us. It drives us further from God and deeper into sin…with all its attendant baggage.

Genesis 4 delivers a startling picture of selfish sorrow.  God confronts Cain about his brother.  He evades God’s initial inquiry with a callous, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Then, later, when God pronounces judgment, he moans that it is too much for him to bear.

God never confronts or convicts of sin in order to hurt us. Rather, it is always an invitation to reconciliation.  But when we turn our eyes inward, we never recognize God’s invitation.

God’s first response to our sin is always loving.  The question is:  will our response back to God also be loving?


“Angry Church”

Only the second sin ever recorded in the Bible (Genesis 4) happened in the context of worship.  Common sense might dictate that worship would be the last place or time to birth sin.  Worship might seem a preventative.  But if you have spent much time in church or around church people, you know from experience that is not so.

Ever wonder why?

Genesis 4 records that Cain became violently angry when God rejected his offering.  Perhaps he was mad at himself but it seems that he was mad at God.  And anger with God caused him to lash out at another person.  A person has no way to attack (other than verbally) God.  So we turn on people when we are mad at God.  Our anger with God causes us to hurt other people.

That might explain why churches can be hurtful, angry places.  We want to blame God, or someone, when life does not unfold as we would like.  But innocent by-standers often become our targets.  And we unload with ferocity.

In twenty-five years of experience, I have seen the best and worst in church.  When it is good, it is very good.  When it is bad, it is devastating.

Our church recently had opportunity to serve passengers in a train vs. truck collision.  It happened right across from our church and the train passengers were brought to our facility.  People jumped at the chance to serve and they were champions that day.  One passenger, as he was leaving, said, “We saw Jesus here today.”  No sweeter words.

Yet often, conflict is just a decision away.  Try pleasing 400 different people (no, don’t try…that is an exercise in insanity).  Someone’s needs go unmet, someone disagrees with a decision… and the sweet people of God can follow the angry example of Cain.  Murder is not usually the result.  But mayhem can be.

When a person has unrealistic expectations of the church, these moments of mayhem devastate our faith.  “Church should not be a place of anger and vitriol.  Church people should be above all that.”  Alas, church people do not have life all figured out.  They are pilgrims–not disembarking passengers. Disappointment and anger may be worked out within the boundaries of church community.  Often, inappropriately.

Church shows us the best and worst in people.  I guess it has to be that way.  I think this is why so many people decide to give up on church — or give up on a specific church.  But the problem may not be with a particular church.  The grass may not be greener somewhere else.  This is something churches everywhere deal with.  So the next time mayhem rises and the drama gets thick…know that if you hang on, the best of times may be right around the corner.

Or, not.

Leadership Stubbornness

I had coffee this morning with a good friend.  I love to do this.  He is a sharp businessman and full of leadership wisdom.  He told me that he had faced many things that would make others give up, but the key to his success is persistence.  He will not quit.

I believe this to be a trait of any good leader.  It goes by many names.  I have always thought of it as stubbornness.  I see it in myself.  I may not have a lot going for me but I am stubborn.

Julien Smith talks about The Flinch (a Kindle book you can download free right now, published by Seth Godin and the Domino Project).   To flinch is to draw back or shrink, as from what is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant. We all have a flinch.  Smith says that we have to find ours and face it.  “You need to take back control and stop the flinch…because you have a job to do — you have a fight you need to win.”

I know the enemy will try to derail every project, endeavor, undertaking, or calling.  There will be points where you doubt yourself, God, and everything you thought you knew.  And that is where stubbornness must come to play.  Great leaders push through the doubts…the flinch points…and keep pursuing the call of God on their lives.

Have you experienced a crisis moment like this?  Did you quit?  Did you regret quitting?  What will it take to keep going next time?

“I’m Dreaming of a Simple Christmas”

Did you hear about the woman out in California who used pepper spray on other shoppers at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night?

Initial news reports said that the attack took place around 10:20 pm.  Employees had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players.  A crowd had formed while waiting for the crate to be unwrapped.  According to police reports, a woman began spraying people around her “in order to get an advantage.”  About 20 people were injured and treated at the scene.  Nothing serious but being sprayed is a painful experience.

In the confusion, the woman got away.  It was uncertain whether she got her Xbox.  Police said she could face felony charges if she were found.

As it turned out, the woman was not charged with a crime at all.  Police say she may have been acting in self-defense.  She turned herself into police who interviewed witnesses and watched surveillance and YouTube video.  They concluded that she may have feared for her life, afraid of being trampled by other shoppers.

I am not sure which scenario disturbs me more.  Spraying offensively or defensively.  Mad rush.  Ruthlessness.  Fear.  Desperation. All for a video game system.

Now, I am not trying to be a humbug.  I’m not trying to say we have lost the meaning of Christmas or that our society has become too materialistic.  Those are all givens.  Christmas is what it is…or what it has become.

In fact, I think we should join in the fun.  Give gifts. Watch our kids’ reactions.  Cannot wait to spoil future grandchildren. Celebrate.  Christmas is about celebration.

But something about the pepper spray story still annoys.  Is it possible to celebrate without the extremes or excess? But then is that second-class celebrating?  Can we do a little less? Should we do a little less?  What message should Christ-followers show and teach and tell at Christmas?

Certainly, not that we want to spoil the fun.  Certainly not that Christmas needs to be somber.  I like celebrating.  But still, something nags at my emotions.  How can we be different?

Let’s wrestle with this on Sunday..

“Christmas Is Coming”

We begin a new teaching series here on the corner this Sunday:  “I’m Dreaming of a _____________ Christmas.”  Geoff Whitten and Darren Brock will help with the teaching this month.  It should be fun as we get ready for Christmas.

Andrew and his team have been busy transforming the platform in the worship center.  It looks great.  Thanks to them for their hard work.

I hope to see you this Sunday as we kick off the Christmas season here at HBC.

So…what is your Christmas dream?

Five Steps to Biblically Audacious Prayer

The key to audacious praying is to make sure our prayers are grounded in scripture.  Our requests must be biblically based.  If they are not, our prayer is more wishful thinking than faith-based praying.

In The Message, Romans 10:17 reads:  “The point is, before you trust, you have to listen.  But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.”

So, audacious prayer must be formed from scripture.  Acknowledging the influence of Don Miller and Steven Furtick, allow me to give you five steps toward developing biblical, audacious prayers.

  • First, identify your need.  Just as in Mark 10:36, Jesus asked a man a simple question:  “What do you want me to do for you?”  We must take time to specifically identify exactly what we need God’s help with.
  • Second, find a promise in God’s word that fits  your specific need.  Audacious praying means transferring the promise of God into your problem.  The Bible is filled with promises.  Search the Bible. Dig for it. God will reveal himself to you.  I cannot tell you exactly how it will happen, but God will make a verse come alive to you.  Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will know.
  • Third, wait on God to give you his promise.  You may discover the promise quickly.  Or, it may take time.  Do not give up.  It is laziness to give up.  Isaiah 30:18 says, “Blessed are all who wait for him.”
  • Fourth, speak the promise.  Joshua 1:8 and Mark 11:23 remind us that God’s word is meant to be spoken.  It is easier by far to keep your audacious prayer to yourself.  There is little risk if no one knows what you are praying.  If nothing happens, you have not put yourself out there.  It takes faith to speak God’s word…to say, “This is the promise God has given me.”  It may scare you to admit what you are asking of God.  You may feel embarrassed or naive.  But speaking — being vocal — is necessary for faith and part of the process.  Find a least one person to whom you can speak your faith, God’s promise, and your request.
  • Fifth, act like you believe the answer is on its way.  Mark 11:24 says, “…believe that you have [already] received it.”  Change your way of thinking.  Let your actions show your faith.  Find a tangible way to express your confidence in God.  Martin Luther wrote, “Mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly.  Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say ‘yes’ to your prayers.”

Dealing with Depression – Part 2

Though some argue that depression is a fault, flaw, weakness, failure…I reject these notions.  I suffer from depression myself.  I have counseled other depression sufferers.  It is a reality.  I dealt with this in my last post.  Today, I want to share some strategies I have learned for coping with depression.

  • Seek aid from others.  Go see your doctor.  He can help.  Seek a counselor.  She can help.  Talk to a friend.  Don’t fight this battle by yourself.  Do not be ashamed.
  • Pray for circumstantial help.  Sometimes, life overwhelms us.  We face difficulty piled on difficulty.  Chronic stress adds depth to our despair.  Some seasons suck the joy out of living.  In Psalm 43:1, the depression sufferer rightly asks God for help with difficult circumstances. He wants God to change things.  He asks for rescue and vindication. He pleads for supernatural intervention.  Sometimes, that is exactly what we need.  It is not shallow to pray for such help.
  • Exercise heroic self-discipline.  Depressives must make themselves do what they do not want to do…when they do not want to do it.  You will want to go to bed, pull the covers up over  your head, and tell the world to go away.  That may include spouse, children, friends, boss.  You cannot give in to these strong impulses.  Remind yourself of the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear, retreat, surrender), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” [NIV].  Get back out there.
  • Combat your spiritual dryness.  When your depression is heavy upon you, you will not feel like praying, singing, worshipping, reading the Bible, or anything else that connects you to God.  Do it anyway.  You are not a freak or a failure because you feel isolated and separated from God.  Intimacy with God is a casualty of depression.  The singer in Psalm 43:3-4 also felt separated from God.  He could not find God.  He could not feel the closeness of God.  So he asks God to come and find him.  I have found that when I do not feel like practicing spiritual disciplines, one thing I can do is listen to music.  At one particular period of deep depression, I played…over and over and over again… “Garments of Praise” by Robin Mark.  The words broke through my spiritual block and encouraged me.
  • Talk to yourself.  In Psalm 43:5, the psalmist speaks strongly…to himself.  This is an important practice.   Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the former pastor and medical doctor from London, described the importance of talking to ourselves: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”
  • Realize hope.  One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to you is one it took me a long time to learn.  There is hope for the depression sufferer.  How you feel today is not the way you will always feel.  Life will not always be as bad as it seems today.  Hang on.  Depression is often cyclical.  I had a professor…my favorite professor…Dr. J. W. MacGorman… who knew something about dealing with difficulty.  One of the memorable things he said was, “Some days, survival is a worthy goal.”  Every day will not be slaying dragons and rescuing damsels.  Days and seasons come when you just hang on.  Wait on God.  Survive.  It will get better. Really. It will.