We all love and need vacations because they break the monotony of life and give us something to look forward to. We’ve all had vacations that went well and were very enjoyable; and those that seemed to go flat like a two-liter soda with the cap left off for days. What makes a vacation sizzle or fizzle? Why an article on “Vacations” when there are so many other “more important” things in life? Because vacations and fun improve your quality of life and help you become all God wants you to be! On the practical side, vacations can be expensive and you want to make the most of your time and money (both of which are limited.)
Investments, Not Expenses
I’ve heard many folks lament not going on more vacations because the “cost” of travel, lodging, food, entertainment, etc. If you’re an accountant-type, what I’m about to say may irritate you philosophically and frustrate you mathematically, but a properly-executed vacation (wow that sounds nerdy) is an investment rather than an expense. An investment in your mental health, your family’s health, and your quality of life! This is one area of your life you need to NOT be a scrooge or penny-pincher, but rather a wise “investor” in you and your family! “Good” vacations don’t need to break the bank; conversely, expensive vacations are not necessarily “good.”
We should start our excursion by looking at what NOT to do. Review the following items of things to avoid so you won’t be disappointed by a fizzling vacation. 1) Bad Funding: most vacations (not all) will require some level of cash. Don’t make the mistake of not taking the time to set back some cash for your vacationS this year… that’s right, I said vacationS (plural). Putting your vacation on credit is double dirt dumb, unless you already have the cash to pay it off in full upon your return. Before you leave your house, take the time to set aside all the money your trip will require! This will alleviate the financial strain many feel as a result of lack of planning. You pile up all you need before you load the car. Period. 2) Bad Timing: going to the right place at the wrong time can wreck what could’ve been a good vacation. Do some research about your vacation destination and ensure the weather (generally-speaking) and other people there will be conducive to you getting your groove on. 3) Bad People: do NOT go on vacation with (or meet) people you don’t get along with. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s an important consideration. There’s nothing worse than expecting a nice relaxing time in the mountains reading a good book (and smoking a fine cigar) and finding out your vacay buddies need a high level of “entertainment” and to be “on the go.” Just as it would be a mistake to plan adult activities with curtain-climbers accompanying your travel companions. In general, avoid negative, boring, mean people and you should be okay. 4) Bad Childcare: If you are taking the curtain-climbers, and want to have some adult time, you better make sure you’ve planned for childcare!
Vacations are investments, not expenses!
Vacations are needed once a quarter!
Vacations are destroyed by: Bad Funding, Bad Timing, Bad People, and Bad Childcare.
Now that you’ve got your properly planned and funded vacation to the perfect spot with the perfect people at the perfect time, let’s cover what it takes to make the most of your vacation.
Attitude. For starters, you get what “expect” most of the time, so I believe your expectations and anticipation should be high. Your attitude is key – happiness and enjoyment is a choice, so you must intentionally “choose” to have a good time.
Music. To help with your attitude, download a playlist or two of whatever kind of music you like for the trip. If you want to get fancy, download different types of music to coincide with your different “moods”… Romantic (adults only), Electric (high energy), Country (reminiscing, line dancing, lamenting your lost dog, spouse, etc), Hair Bands (general good times), and Classical (to get your intellect firing.)
Route. Depending upon whether your flying or driving or boating, plan some fun stuff along the way. If your destination is far away, the trip to and from will be an important part of the vacation and this is often overlooked.
Responsibilities. Make sure you’ve thought through all your responsibilities (someone to let Fido out to potty, pick up your mail, cut your grass, etc) ahead of time. Have everything done before you go, which means cleaning your house! Coming home to a messy house is stressful, so pick up your undies and socks, make your bed, and clean the kitchen before you go. Also, make sure all your work responsibilities are met while your away, then come home a day before you have to return to work so you can rest up from your vacay.
Adventure. Try new stuff, dude. Don’t eat at any fast food chains, but rather take in the local cuisine at some mom and pop restaurants. Eat new stuff, try new things, and make some memories! It’s okay to “not” like something, as long as you try it. Stop being so darn routine and boring. Live a little! Go tubing at night with a flashlight, take a helicopter ride, bungee jump, and go to an Irish Polka Dance party.
Machines. Disconnect from your home-life as much as possible. FaceChat and SnapBook will be okay a few days without you! Take your machines for pictures and emergency use only! If you have folks at home you need to check in with, do it very infrequently… once a day or once every other day.
List. Make a list ahead of time of everything you’ll need for the ride there and back, and your time at your destination. Sunblock, Carmex, Duck Tape (you always need this), super glue, needle and thread, flashlight, beanie weanies, chips, bottled water, straw hat, cowboy boots, gum, Advil and Tums are some basic requirements.
Making The Most of Life blog. You may want to read over this blog if you’re still not convinced at how important four vacations a year are! Your life is but a vapor, the bible says, so you better enjoy the time you have! A vacation can be a short as a day, or as long as you can take, but you need to build these into your life. Your family will thank you… and you’ll thank me.
Drop me a line and let me know about your best and worst vacations and what your plans are for your next vacation! I love you all!
How To Treat Your Pastor
Dave Kraft, in a 2013 article posted the following recommendations for what you can do for your pastor: 1) Pray for him, 2) Encourage him, 3) Submit to him, 4) Get to know him, 5) Ask how you can serve, and 6) Talk TO him, not ABOUT him. I agree with Mr. Kraft’s counsel, and would add the importance of you taking the initiative. Please don’t sit back and wait to be contacted by him or a member of leadership, but rather reach out to him and form a friendship. Having a personal relationship with someone helps in more ways than you realize – especially when the difficult times hit. There is no substitute for friendship.
What To Look For
While there are several biblical guidelines for a pastor, all of which are important, many churches default to looking for someone who has a great personality and preaches well. As Billy Graham says, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t the primary consideration. Above all else, seek out a man who has a real heart for God and for His people! Someone who’s been truly called and has a deep, burning desire to serve as an under-shepherd.
Unbiblical Forms of Church Government
While it’s outside the scope of this article to cover this topic in detail, you need to know many existing church “governments” do not comport with the biblical model of “plurality of elders.” There is no one individual “in charge of” all church matters. Following are some common erroneous forms of church governance:
1. Super-star Pastor. You know this type; it’s when the pastor has such a strong and charismatic personality that they “take over” and are vested with tremendous power. Their egos begin to rise like a hot air balloon being filled with super-heated air and soon church-life devolves into “keeping the pastor happy.” This is clearly unbiblical.
2. Deacon “board.” I know you’ve all heard of this one, and it is very popular in some areas of the country, and within some denominations. However, “diakonos” (word we get deacon from) means servant, with particular emphasis on daily needs of the body. This group was never to be vested with oversight authority.
3. Denominational Oversight. Denominations can be good or bad, but staying as close to Scripture’s guidelines is best, and the body itself, under the leadership of her own elders was the biblical path. Don’t take this as a slight against denominations; yet few would argue their role can just as easily turn negative as positive.
4. Democracy Debacle. Today more than any other time our own human self-image demands its voice to be heard. While being a member of a church is a great privilege and one vested with tremendous “benefits,” leadership of the body isn’t one of them. If “public opinion” as seen through “voting” were God’s desire, the Israelites would have never left Egypt! These forms of government today are referred to as “congregational” systems, and appeal to our individual autonomy and ego, but do not represent the churches seen in the N.T.
Biblical Church Governance
The plurality of elders is the model seen in Scripture. This is a group of divinely-called, congregationally-affirmed people who have a heart for God and His people. They’re NOT on an ego trip or power grab, but rather humbly serving the Lord’s Church!
Pastors are also referred to in Scripture as: bishops, overseers, shepherds, and elders. The meaning of all these words are very similar and carries the idea, as the terms imply, of spiritual oversight of the Body of Christ. Pastors are not, “in charge,” but rather under the authority of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ (Yeshua) Himself! He is the head of all things within the body. Elders are leaders, bishops are overseers, and pastors are shepherds… yet all are very closely-related. They’re called in 1Tim 3.1 to oversee, 1Tim 5.17 to rule, and Titus 1.9 to guard right doctrine.
Their qualifications are seen in 1Tim 3.1-6 and Titus 1.7-9. These “qualifications” are better understood as character rather than positional qualities. Read over these prayerfully and humbly. There have been enough teachings on these character qualities to fill a library (for the young people reading, that’s a building that used to house a bunch of books… pre-internet) on this topic. Beware of the two extremes of Liberalism (anything goes and the qualifications don’t matter) to Legalism (a rigid interpretation of the guidelines without a firm reliance upon God and His grace).
Pitfalls To Avoid
Avoid the following tendencies to make a smoother transition of a new pastor and his family.
1. Comparisons. While this is a natural human tendency, you should avoid comparing the “new” pastor to a “previous” pastor. No two pastors are wired the same and each one has their own unique gifts and passions that reflect God’s design and their sanctification (growth).
2. Tests. I’ve heard of folks “testing” or examining the new pastor in unrealistic (and I believe un-biblical) ways, such as seeing how long it takes to remember your name or your child’s position on the soccer team.
3. Expectations. Expectations can be a great thing, and I believe we all should “expect” God to me and for us to grow. However, unreasonable expectations can be harmful and reveal a wrong focus in us. Don’t “expect” the new pastor to “fix” all the things you (in your humble wisdom) have identified as the problems. Many times these personal opinions uncover more about the individual than the prospective pastor! No church is perfect because people make her up… and we’re all broken and shattered under the effects of sin.
4. Politickin’. I know it’s not great grammar, but I think you get the point – don’t try to “get on the inside” with a new pastor solely for the purposes of advancing your agenda. Church life is above the community as a whole functioning to reflect the character and attributes of God to a dying planet… not to make you happy or meet your every need. You should take the initiative to truly befriend your new pastor, but not with selfish motives.
A pastor, then, must be passionately in love with, and committed to Christ! His heart for the Lord should be seen in his proven track record (not a novice). You should see “fruit” of his labor that has been accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. If he’s married, his wife should be in support of his role and calling and should seek to bring honor to the Lord in her own life. His children should be respectful to him, and being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
This is probably a good place for a note on the pastor’s family… all the pitfalls listed above apply to them, too. Just like I’ve never seen a “perfect” pastor, there is no perfect wife or perfect children. The work of the pastor exposes the family to great examination and potential pain. You must be gracious, humble, and loving in your approach of and interaction with the pastor’s family! I’ve seen Satan use church folks to attack a pastor’s family and bring great harm to the body of Christ. Just as Scripture commands, we’re to be watchful of the tactics of the enemy and fight against them at every turn.
The pastor’s main responsibility is to His Lord, and to continually nurture his relationship with the Lord. His next priority is to his family, to which he should serve as a priest in his home, presenting Christ in all His glory for his family to see!
So if you find yourself or your church looking for a pastor, please read over this article prayerfully and lean heavily upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Continually check your attitude to ensure you remain humble and flexible. And most of all, love on the Lord and each other more strongly than at any other time in your life. You will need the Lord, and you’ll need each other. Don’t try to “get your way” or “impose your will,” but rather sacrificially seek out the best for others! This is an exciting time for you and your church… embrace it and expect God to do amazing things!
As many of you have probably heard by now, Dana and I (and our family) are transitioning into a new season of ministry at SkyPointe as members, rather than leaders. We still look forward to doing bible studies, training biblical counselors, and planting new churches as missionaries “sent out” from the SkyPointe Community. We believe this is the Lord’s timing and are looking forward to actively supporting whatever pastor the Lord determines to continue to lead SkyPointe to even greater heights!
I remember starting off as a small group bible study in our living room with only six people, and when we reflect on what the Lord has done over these past 13 years, it’s truly exciting and humbling. This has been the privilege of our lives and something we will forever treasure! As I said above, we plan on remaining as a vibrant part of the SkyPointe community and are excited for what the future holds. I know the Lord has (in eternity past) prepared the heart of the new pastor and look forward with great anticipation to see what the Lord will do next. At present, the elders are actively praying and seeking the Lord’s heart for who this individual will be. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to clarify our perspective, and then in a later article articulate the calling, character, and role of a pastor.
Here we go:
1) I’m not mad, confused, upset or “burned out.” I know the rumor mill goes into warp speed whenever something like this happens, and human nature is to “speculate” on the answers to a thousand “why” questions. To add some clarity, I’d like you to know this decision has been “simmering” below the surface for at least 18 months now. I’ve always struggled with “worthiness,” and while I understand fully NO ONE is “worthy” for such a position in a purely-legalistic sense, there is definitely a higher calling for a pastor.
I believe I can best be used for the kingdom in a support and teaching role at this point in my life, rather than a pastor/elder role.
2) There isn’t an individual or event that has prompted our decision, but rather an amalgamation (I’ve always wanted to use that word) of events, conversations, emotions, prayers, etc., that has led to this decision. SkyPointe Church has been Sovereignly-protected (I believe) from much of the conflict and drama most churches battle. Our people have been amazing, loving, forgiving, and passionately-committed to serving the Lord. While I would not say there have not been difficult times / people / situations in the past, I can tell you these occurrences have served to solidify our role and calling rather than undermine it. While there have certainly been failures on my part, our decision to transition out of leadership is not prompted solely by these failures, but rather a comprehensive viewpoint and belief that our season of leadership is shifting. I believe this is a very positive process for the people of SkyPointe, and all those the Holy Spirit will reach through this amazing church family.
3) This has been a humbling time of self-reflection and re-orientation. One of my greatest regrets has been spending so much time on “ministry” and not focusing upon my primary ministry of my personal relationship with the Lord and my own family. My family, as every pastor could attest, has paid a high price for my ministry efforts and time. It is only by God’s grace that He’s held us together as a family and continues to fill us with warmth, passion, grace, forgiveness and love for one another. Like I mentioned on my website, I’m the richest man alive to have a family like mine. I look forward to attending church services WITH my family and holding hands with my wife as we listen TOGETHER to the Word being taught.
4) We believe the timing is right for this transition and had much time to think about this while I was away on Sabbatical. I was in an elders’ meeting several months ago when the Sabbatical was recommended, and it helped us to rejuvenate and rebuild, under the loving leadership of the Great Shepherd! At the time of that meeting I was hurting and angry because of some recent events and my attitude was not good, nor my focus appropriate. The past several months has given us the time to gain clarity, give and receive forgiveness and grace, and begin the process for the next phase of our lives. With the elders’ permission, I will continue to teach on Sunday mornings and serve our folks until the new pastor is installed. That process, which in many churches can take many months or years, will hopefully be completed in the next two months. Upon installation of the new pastor we will give the necessary space required for the new pastor and people of SkyPointe to become acquainted and form deep bonds of love and commitment my own family has experienced. We then plan on returning to help as members to continue to build this amazing body of believers!
5) As I mentioned above, our new role will include bible teaching, counselor training, and church planting. Additionally, for income and financial purposes, and because of my love for the field, I’ll be expanding my financial services practice which focuses on cash value accumulation through specialized life insurance policies. Many within SkyPointe have not even known about my background in financial services because of my refusal to “blur the lines” between Pastor and Financial Advisor. I also look forward to continuing to teach through my website, ScottCrutchfield.com in both spiritual and financial fields. I also plan, by the Lord’s permission, to continue to do (online) webex training on different topics and teach in whatever capacities the Lord makes available. When it comes to our role as church planters, this will be as missionaries sent out from the SkyPointe flock to start (by God’s will) SkyPointe – Mauldin, SkyPointe – Charleston, and maybe even SkyPointe – Buenos Aires! All these efforts will be to build the kingdom and the SkyPointe community.
I love you all very much and wanted you to know the “real” story behind our transition! Now go make disciples, support your local church, and take ground for the Kingdom!
In Humble Appreciation,