Monday, April 30, 2007

pastors and job satisfaction

I came across this article via Preaching Now which speaks of the satisfaction that comes with being a pastor. Here's a blurb:
The old saw "money can't buy happiness" apparently holds true when it comes to work.

Highly-paid professionals like doctors and lawyers didn't make the cut when researchers set out to find the most satisfied workers.

Clergy ranked tops in both job satisfaction and general happiness, according to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Physical therapists and firefighters were second- and third-ranked in job satisfaction, with more than three-quarters reporting being "very satisfied."

Other occupations in which more than 60 percent said they were very satisfied included teachers, painters and sculptors, psychologists and authors."

The most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching and protecting others and creative pursuits," said Tom W. Smith, director of NORC's General Social Survey, a poll supported by the National Science Foundation.

The worker satisfaction study, set for release Tuesday, is based on data collected since 1988 on more than 27,500 randomly selected people.

For the most satisfied workers, intrinsic rewards are key, the study suggests."They're doing work they're very proud of, helping people," Smith said.

Clergy ranked by far the most satisfied and the most generally happy of 198 occupations.Eighty-seven percent of clergy said they were "very satisfied" with their work, compared with an average 47 percent for all workers.

Sixty-seven percent reported being "very happy," compared with an average 33 percent for all workers.

Jackson Carroll, Williams professor emeritus of religion and society at Duke Divinity School, found similarly high satisfaction when he studied Protestant and Catholic clergy, despite relatively modest salaries and long hours."

They look at their occupation as a calling," Carroll said. "A pastor does get called on to enter into some of the deepest moments of a person's life, celebrating a birth and sitting with people at times of illness or death. There's a lot of fulfillment."

good to be back

Hi Everyone.

Its good to be back in a state of mild regularity. A couple of weeks ago I went on a life-changing mission trip to Nassau, Bahamas with our Board of Ordained Ministry. Each year, the Bishop sends the people who have been approved for ordination on a pre-ordination mission trip. A couple of years ago, when I was supposed to go, I had to stay back because my now 2-year-old daughter was due at the time of the trip. So the Chair of the Board asked if I wanted to go this year. So I said "sure." I actually felt that this is part of one of the main areas that God has been working on me in the past few years. I sensed that while I have always been an eager student of the Scriptures, I needed to become a more eager servant of the saints. God has been opening doors for me to be a more hands-on Christian to supplement my more book-worm style of following Christ.

The trip was incredible. We got to spend an afternoon at a place called All Saints Camp, which used to be a leper colony but which is now an HIV/Aids colony. It was the day after the Virginia Tech shootings and I got to talk to a man who was laying on a cot in a tiny shack, wearing a diaper as he died, about the shootings. It was amazing to witness the faith of these dying believers and also to see how they were not focused on their own condition but on the needs of others in the world. Above you can see a picture of me with Betty, a woman who is a resident at All Saints.

Another very inspiring part of the trip was getting to meet other United Methodist pastors in my conference. Three of the most inspirational characters were middle-aged men who had left very successful careers (2 as attorneys and 1 as a pharmacist) in order to take the lesser-paying job of being Methodist pastors. They had truly given up much to follow Christ. I was inspired by their stories of their calls.

I also got to preach in a Methodist Church down there on the Sunday after Easter. That was fun. The main project we did was to help rebuild a mission center in inner-city Nassau. It is going to be used by the church to reach out to Haitian refugees, to feed them, teach them English, and to teach them God's Word. In the process I learned quite a bit about drywalling.

After the mission trip, my wife and I got to spend a few days vacationing nearby as my in-laws stayed with my kids. It was a great time of refreshment as well.

I'm grateful for the way that God has used the last few weeks to refresh my soul.

On a sad note, we Cardinal fans, as well as many other folks, are somewhat devastated by the death of Cardinal relief pitcher, Josh Hancock.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

BLOGGING BREAK

I will not be able to blog for a couple of weeks, maybe until close to April 29th. Enjoy Spring!

apostasy and evangelism

Here's a great article about apostasy and evangelism. Here are a couple of blurbs:

"Every year, some 2,765,100 church attenders in Europe and North America cease to be practicing Christians," notesBooks & Culture editor John Wilson, citing the World Christian Encyclopedia. That's five Christians every minute slipping into practical apostasy. Meanwhile, the church in Africa alone is growing by a net result of three new believers every minute.

...

This study's results indicate the need to revise evangelistic strategy. The Arns recommend abandoning manipulative coercion and viewing evangelism as a process rather than a one-time gospel presentation. They also believe evangelism should be fundamentally relational and tied closely to the church. For if the church community doesn't befriend and incorporate believers within the first six months of their spiritual life, the church will likely see new converts become apostate dropouts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God still speaks

Here is a breathtaking article by John Piper about how God still speaks today. Read it and be challenged, inspired, and encouraged.

religion and sports

Here is an article about religious convictions and the effects they have on success in athletics. I'm not sure I agree with every conclusion they report, but it has come good quotes from Christian athletes. Here are a couple more from Master's winner Zach Johnson:

"This being Easter, Jesus was with me every step. I felt him. It was awesome. Today was a day of perseverance and patience, I guess. I just feel very blessed and very honoured."

...

Johnson said after being awarded the winner's green jacket: "I don't hit it far, I can't overpower a course, but I think I am mentally tough. I had a lot of people giving me some good words of wisdom and I felt like there was certainly another power that was walking with me and guiding me. It is amazing what God can do. I tried to be non-emotional out there - that was one of my goals - and I just tried to stay in the present and go through my processes."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Zach Johnson hopes God was glorified in his Master's win

Today, 31-year-old Zach Johnson won the Master's Golf Tournament. I love this part excerpt from an interview that was conducted after he'd won.
Q. Did you use any routines or techniques to kind of calm and center yourself either when you went home at night this week or on the course in such a pressure situation?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I have little things that I tell myself about my round, about my day. Really, nothing changes from week-to-week. It could be a Thursday at a random tournament, it could be a Sunday obviously at Augusta. I say the same things to myself, just how to approach each shot, how to approach each hole.
Today, the only thing different was the fact that it was Easter. I felt like regardless of what happened today, my responsibility was to glorify God and hopefully He thinks I did.

happy easter

I hope everyone had a great Easter. We did. We had a bunch of family over to eat and hunt Easter eggs. This is a pic where me and my older brother were trying to photograph the insides of our nostrils (it takes a special kind of person to appreciate this kind of art). I inverted the colors. Looks creepy, huh?

Friday, April 06, 2007

tired

I've had a tiring week and haven't gotten around to blogging much. For starters, my 2 yr old daughter has been waking up a lot during the night. As I get older, I'm finding I have a harder time going back to sleep after continual disruptions. But hey, its her birthday week, so I guess she can do whatever she wants.

On top of that and all the Easter preparations, a friend of mine, Margo McCoy, died Tuesday. I did the funeral today. I've done tons of funerals. I can whip out funerals for strangers with little emotional drainage. But when I have to bury a friend, it takes me through the ringer. At the same time, its such an honor to be in a place where I can serve Christ by performing funerals for people who are special to me.

One good thing about this week is that Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Taurean Green are leaving the Florida Gators to go to the NBA. I know they're good, but they're so cocky. I'm glad I won't have to watch them play NCAA basketball next year. I'm sorry, but that little shoulder wiggle thing that Al Horford did in front of the camera in the Championship game almost made me throw up - literally. I don't care much about the NBA, so I think I can avoid seeing the Horford shoulder wiggle again for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

true Christian faith

I was reading John Wesley's sermon The Almost Christian and came across this definition of Christian faith:
5. "The right and true Christian faith is" (to go on in the words of our own Church), "not only to believe that Holy Scripture and the Articles of our Faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ. It is a sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God, that, by the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God; whereof doth follow a loving heart, to obey his commandments."
I think he got this definition from here.

Monday, April 02, 2007