The Compass Magazine is published twice a year by QuietWaters Ministries. The May 2015 issue is on the subject of Resilience. The magazine features two articles. One is written by Dr. Hudson McWilliams and is titled One of the Great Puzzles of Human nature. The second article is written by Chaplain Jeff Vankooten. Jeff’s article is titled Pirates, Red Shirts, and Resilience. Hud and Jeff share a common belief that resilience can be learned and developed. In his article, Hud offers us three characteristics that form the core of the resilient person. Jeff shares seven resilient tactics to engage in tough times. Please download the digital copy and feel free to share it with your friends.
The Compass Magazine is published twice a year by QuietWaters Ministries. The May 2014 issue is title Grief, Loss, and Hope. The magazine features two articles. One is written by Tricia Lott Williford and is titled Hope 9-1-1. The second article is written by QuietWaters staff counselor, Victoria Johnson. Vicki’s article is titles In Weakness There is Strength. These two women are part of a club that no one wants to join. Their stories are tragic and heartbreaking. At the same time their resilience and faith are heartwarming. Vicki Johnson writes, “I couldn’t sleep, eat, or function. I was at the bottom of the deep, dark and murky ocean, being thrashed by horrendous currents, rip-tides and the destruction on the ocean endures.”
Loneliness is such a common struggle and it even intrudes unexpectedly into quality relationships and supportive Christian community. Unfortunately, feelings of loneliness are often misinterpreted as an ungodly or unnecessary nuisance to be avoided at all costs, rather than being understood as an inevitable reality to be embraced for spiritual growth. In fact, the choice to embrace our loneliness can be a privileged invitation to echo the larger purposes of God.
The May 2012 QuietWaters Compass contained an article by David L. Ragsdale entitled “Compassion Fatigue.” In Ragsdale’s sixth strategy for self-protection—“create your self-care plan”—he states: “Plan that overdue sabbatical,” a recommendation I heartily endorse. I have done it, twice! But even two sabbaticals in nearly 40 years of ministry are not enough. Many denominations now believe that pastors should be given a sabbatical every seven years.
To me that feels just about right. Sadly, most pastors never get one sabbatical, let alone two. And we wonder why compassion fatigue prevails.
A sabbatical needs to be a change of pace, a Sabbath, a time out. Even God rested from His work of Creation on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2). As you read of God’s creation in Genesis, the Hebrew idea of what a day should be is put forth. Although it is strange to us, the Hebrew day begins at sundown. “Evening and morning in day one . . .” is how the Bible puts creation. This sequence should condition us to God’s rhythm of grace. We go to sleep, and God does His re-creating work in our bodies and minds. We awaken and are called out to participate in God’s creative action. We respond, after being renewed in faith and work. In the two passages of scripture where the Sabbath commandment appears, the commands are the same, but the reasons behind them are different.
I have been a pastor at the same church for over 20 years and, like you, understand the challenges of ministry. Pastors experience the great joy of leading people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the gut-wrenching emotion of watching a father serve as the lone pall-bearer carrying the casket holding his infant son down the aisle and setting it at the front of the church. And then we are supposed to get up and say something meaningful. Not long ago I stood in an Intensive Care Unit with a mom and dad whose son had been in a terrible accident. I was there when the doctors came in and told them that he had less than a 10 percent chance to live. I prayed that God would give me something to say and at the same time every emotion in me wanted to be somewhere else. I also rejoiced with that family several weeks later when they sat in church with their son. You know the drill. Every week we are expected to lead our staff in such a way that morale is high and the church is running like a well-oiled machine. We are to provide appropriate peer leadership for our elders and deacons. We are expected to give vision talks that propel people to action. There are weddings with rehearsals and long receptions. There is always a funeral to perform. And then every weekend we stand to deliver a well-studied well-crafted message that moves people to action.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] H [/dropcap]ispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, and ministry among them is increasing accordingly. The National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals, the largest Latino Christian organization in America, states that there are over 15 million Hispanics living in the United States who identify themselves as evangelical. The rapid growth of the evangelical church among Latinos is exciting. However, ministry leaders among this population are struggling to keep up with the demands of shepherding their congregations well. While zealous for the work God is doing among them, these leaders are frequently overextended and underresourced, leaving them vulnerable to high levels of stress. Not managed appropriately, this stress can lead to burnout, marital and relational dysfunction, addictive patterns, depression, and ultimately resignation
or termination from ministry.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]he number of pastors and missionaries coming to QuietWaters stressed and burned out is alarming. Don’t get me wrong we want more pastors and missionaries who are in need of our program to come. The alarming part is the growing number and the intensity of their burn out. One of the answers to reducing the amount of burnout they are experiencing is sabbatical counseling through QuietWaters. More and more pastors are coming to us as a part of their sabbatical, and more and more churches are providing the time and money for pastors to take a sabbatical.However, we are not seeing mission agencies provide in the same way. In this issue we are addressing the need for sabbaticals and rest. Often pastors ask me what they’re going to do when they’re not in their counseling sessions during the Leadership Counseling Intensive. I jokingly respond that I’m going to introduce them to a new concept for pastors—REST. Jason Nelson addresses the subject of rest from the perspective of having been an addict, “intoxicated with the drug of self-sufficiency.” He writes in his article, “I discovered that I was like the people of God in past generations who were relying on human strength and refusing to enter the rest of God. I didn’t want to be that way anymore. It was obvious that I needed to start living the line ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength’ (Isaiah 30:15).”
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]he church is the most dangerous place for pastors to serve. But it is where they have been called by God to serve. When visiting with pastors and their spouses who are participating in one of our Leadership Counseling Intensives, I often share that statement. I then remind them that that “dangerous place” didn’t change while they were enjoying the comfort of the QuietWaters Retreat Center. They are going to be returning right back into that “dangerous place.” Every day I hear stories from pastors and their spouses about hurtful and mean actions by their churches. They are pulled into conflicts and situations that they didn’t create. They are terminated without any warning. Their sermons are attacked, their children are criticized, and they are the subject of untrue rumors. I know that pastors make wrong decision and do things that they shouldn’t, but more often they are the unfair target of a struggle between church members. Eugene Peterson says, “Every congregation is a congregation of sinners. As if that weren’t bad enough, they all have sinners for pastors.” After hearing the stories day in and day out, I tend to become a bit cynical. But in this issue of the Compass, Dr. Varney helps us understand what he calls “sacred discontent.” According…
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W [/dropcap]ith this issue we are
introducing you to the new QuietWaters Retreat experience. Our former retreat site—the donated private home of a doctor and his wife—served hundreds. We continue our tradition of providing a safe place, a resting place where renewal can take place, with our new retreat site: a beautiful, spacious home that is already welcoming pastors and missionaries. The scene on the cover of this issue represents what you will see around the new QuietWaters Retreat. Deer regularly visit the Retreat property. As you know, our name comes from the last words of the second verse of Psalm 23. With our new Retreat location, we can appropriately use the entire verse. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” The Jack and Jill nursery-school rhyme will take on new meaning as you read David Ragsdale’s article in this issue of Compass. He introduces you to what he calls the Distinctives of Counseling Intensives, which can help you better understand what you will experience at a QuietWaters Retreat. Dave describes these seven Distinctives of Counseling Intensives: Accelerated Change, Redemptive Focus, Seasoned Counselors, Integrated Treatment, Systems Oriented, After Care, and the Experiential Context.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] A [/dropcap]s I listened to Dr. Ron Nydam speak to the crowd that assembled for the twenty-fifth celebration of Pastoral Counseling for Denver, I was struck by how his comments related to my experiences. He said, “Guilt and shame for sin are no longer a problem, even if they should be.” It is what I’ve been sensing in my conversations with pastors and spouses who are considering coming to Quiet Waters Ministries for our Leadership Counseling Intensives. Because of its relevance to our ministry, I knew that we needed Dr. Nydam’s presentation to become an article in our Compass magazine. In his presentation, and now in his article in this issue, Dr. Nydam states, “Today’s spiritual problem is about separation, disconnection, isolation, or what I call ‘compromised attachment’.” Many with whom I speak don’t feel like they matter to God. An oftenrepeated phrase is: “I’m not sure I’m called to ministry anymore.” Even if they have failed in some way, it is not the guilt that causes the most pain, but the disconnection from God that they are feeling most. If you’re feeling disconnected from God today, don’t try on your own to get reconnected. Get help from a…