Feeling Dispensable

I’m completely dispensable.

If I left my job tomorrow there’d be a time of adjustment but everything would carry on. I’m not an essential cog in the wheel.

This is the final week of four weeks annual leave for me and I’m feeling less and less like a required piece of the picture. The truth is that Compassion survived and grew for over 60 years without me before I began working there and they’ll keep operating long after I’m gone.

I’m starting to feel like I’m not needed at work.

… and that’s a good thing.

I have every intention of continuing to work for Compassion for many years to come. I believe passionately in what we do and want to be part of that for as long as possible but there’s something about a few weeks away from work that brings a certain kind of clarity.

When we’re busy keeping up with the demands of a job, and I think this is especially true of jobs in Christian ministry, we can start to take on a weight we were never meant to bear. We start to believe that we’re irreplaceable and if we’re not working all the time everything will collapse. We grab a week’s leave here or two weeks there, never daring to take more than that because there’d be nothing left by the time we returned.

It’s not necessarily an ego thing or an inflated sense of self-importance, it’s more about becoming so busy juggling all the balls our job requires that we become convinced that the moment we step away, even for a time, all those balls will come crashing down. That sense of needing to be available all the time builds slowly and most often sub-consciously. It’s rarely an expectation from our employers, rather it’s a false expectation that comes from within.

I’ve spoken to a number of people, especially pastors and ministry leaders, who have weeks and weeks, sometimes months, of unused leave that they don’t believe they can take.

I sometimes wonder which is the greatest fear for some of these people; that things would crumble without them around or that things would continue largely unchanged.

Taking several weeks of leave at a time allows us to step outside our own expectations and demands. I’ve found at this and other jobs that after a good chunk of leave I return to work feeling less like I’m essential and more like I have an important role to fulfil. I find that the weight of my own unrealistic expectations is less, which helps me focus more on what I’m really meant to be doing. It helps me become more productive and more effective at the tasks at hand.

I’m excited about my work in 2017. I know that it’s going to be busy and productive, with all the ups and downs, thrills and disappointments that come with such a job. I’m looking forward to getting a new year underway. I’ll return to work in a few days knowing that while I’m not essential for the long-term effectiveness of the ministry, I have the privilege of playing a part, an important part, in what we need to achieve over the next twelve months.

When was the last time you stepped away from work for an extended period?

Do you find that you only take a couple of weeks at a time and return to work just as frazzled as when you left? Are your own expectations becoming a burden that you’re not sure you can continue to carry?

If you’re one of those people who ‘do holidays well’ maybe you can leave a few comments about how you make your annual leave work for you.

I’m really glad that I’m not needed at work, but I’m absolutely thrilled that I get to work doing something I love.

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Keys for Ministry Longevity

Ministry Longevity

For some it may just be a season, but for others it becomes a long term issue that can even end their ministries. We might not like to admit it, but most ministry leaders go through times where they lose their passion and energy for the things they used to love.

Over time, many pastors and others working in full time ministry suffer from burnout, mental breakdown or serious illness. Other causes, such as moral failings or loss of faith, see leaders leaving the ministry or even walking away from God.

How can you ensure that you remain passionate and effective over a life time of Christian ministry? What are you doing to give your ministry team the best opportunity to go the distance and finish well?

Compassion Australia is partnering with 98five to present a one day seminar for a range of Christian ministry leaders. If you know any ministry leaders or pastors in the Perth area, please feel free to pass on the details. You could even just use the sharing buttons at the bottom of this post to share the details through Facebook, email or whatever.

Keys for Ministry Longevity is a one day seminar with Keith Farmer, Peter Brain and Rob Furlong. It’s an opportunity for you and your team to benefit from many decades of ministry experience and learn practical ways to continue serving God and others over the long term.

Date: Thursday 16th June 2016
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Venue: The Rocks, 26 Cecil Avenue, Cannington
Cost: $60 including morning tea and light lunch. Group bookings of 10+ $50pp.

Click this link to register.

You can click on the photo below to see a larger version and to read more about the three speakers.


This seminar is a valuable opportunity to support you and your team as you seek to engage your community. We hope that you’ll join us.

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The Dark Side of Doing Good


Can a life of helping, of doing good for others, of serving the greater good all be worthless? Can such a life even be doing us harm? Is there a spiritual danger in doing good?

Peter Greer, who is the President and CEO of HOPE International, has written a book titled The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. I bought the book some weeks ago and took advantage of a three and a half hour flight couple of days ago to get a good start on reading what Greer has to say. I finished reading the book in the first half hour of the return flight last night.

I’ve found the book to be a bit like some meals I’ve had. It’s very easy to ‘consume’ but I suspect it’ll take quite a while longer to digest. By that, I mean that while it’s not a long read, and it’s written in a very easy to read style, it deals with weighty matters that will take a while to fully process.

Greer talks about those who serve in some kind of ministry yet serve from wrong motives. Being flawed human beings I suspect that that would cover about 99.9 % of those in ministry at some time or another.

One of the tell tale signs is when we begin to make our work our master. In the book he speaks of those who throw everything into doing good of one kind or another yet neglect those who need them most.

According to statistics compiled by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, “Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked … and 50 percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.”

It is a very real problem that skewed priorities mean many don’t finish life well. Even looking at those heroes of the Scriptures we see a pattern of failure when those serving God lose sight of their true calling.

Greer spends a lot of time reminding us that we don’t have all the answers and that we really aren’t able to do much worthwhile …. in our own strength …. but that’s OK.

So accept that you’re inadequate. Embrace the fact that you’re needy. Don’t try to prove to God you’ve earned His favour. Let Jesus Christ flood your life with forgiveness, acceptance and love.

Peter Greer heads up an agency working in the developing world, helping release people from poverty, so I can certainly relate to what he has to say, but I would suggest that there are many who would benefit from reading his book. I reckon it should be absolutely required reading for anyone in full time ministry of any kind and I would urge anyone else who truly desires to walk humbly with their Lord to grab a copy. There is so much you’ll get from this book.

Through real life, relatable stories, humour, personal experience, and solid teaching, Greer gently leads the reader to more clearly see themselves and their own need for change. Far from presenting himself as the example we should all follow, Peter Greer shares his own brokenness and helps us relate to stumbling blocks that face us all.

You won’t feel like he’s using a ‘big stick‘ to make you feel inadequate, rather he provides relief from our own self imposed stresses and guides us towards a more Godly way forward. He doesn’t offer easy or fast answers but his direction towards a ‘better way’ is refreshing.

The chapters are short and engaging and each one ends with questions that help us focus on how to put principles into action. There is also a link at the end of each chapter which points to some stunning online resources which will help you get even more value from the book.

From his urging that we find some ‘3:00 a.m. friends‘ (those you can call at any time of the day to keep you accountable and stop you from doing something stupid) to giving us the tools to honestly face our own failures, Greer’s desire is obvious. He earnestly wants us to ‘finish well’. As someone who truly desires that but often gets tripped up along the way, I am truly thankful for The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good and I’m sure that I’ll return to it a number of times to continue gleaning the wisdom it offers.

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