I am privileged this week to be a part of the Acts 29 Network pastor’s retreat in Boulder, Colorado. Today we heard Mark Driscoll speak very honestly about the subject of “Death by Ministry.” Mark candidly admitted that stress and the related physical and emotional symptoms that it brings to pastors is presently doing a number on him personally. He pulled no punches, spoke from the heart, and warned us to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically. I felt the room full of mostly under-35 year old pastors was given a unique opportunity to face some of the greatest dangers of modern pastoral ministry. I wish a leader had given me the same counsel when I was in my 30’s.

Some of Mark’s solutions included practical suggestions such as:

1. Do not overfill your plate. Know what your unique plate can hold and only put something new on it when you take something off it.
2. Exercise physically.
3. Do not allow technology to become your Lord.
4. Sabbath rest is critical to good health.
5. Pick a release valve and find out how you can uniquely deal with stress points in your life.
6. Work on your life, not just at your life.
7. Leave margin in your schedule so that you are not continually running here and there.
8. Spend most of your time training leaders.
9. Cultivate personal mindfulness and know what causes stress in your own life.
10. Feel you emotions but do not let them drive you.
11. Do not let worry drive you into a frenzy.
12. Work from conviction, not from guilt.
13. Get a life coach or counselor you can trust and use them for your benefit.

Mark Driscoll is one of the most unique young leaders in the North American church. He continues to amaze me in the way that he continually keeps learning and the way in which he shows a consistent willingness to listen and to face and admit his own weaknesses. It is refreshing to be around such a guy and to see how he positively impacts other young visionary leaders by being human in a Christ-centered way. I am also amazed at how Mark can disagree without making every issue into a deal breaker. He wants to live well and to finish well. The men who are church planters in the Acts 29 Network that I have mingled with and taught this week are some of the very best visionary ministers I have known personally.

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  1. Helen November 12, 2006 at 8:21 am

    I’m glad you found Mark Driscoll’s talk helpful.
    I find some of his comments on his blog troublingly disrespectful and unkind. Like this one, last week:
    “At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness.”
    It’s not as if it slipped out in an unguarded moment. He made the choice to write it, post it on his blog and leave it there, unedited and unretracted.
    It is hard for me to be impressed with a man who writes things like that.

  2. John Armstrong November 12, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Mark is a gifted and earnest man who sometimes writes things in his blogs that I also trouble over. I do not agree with him on everything that he writes but I believe his missional church focus and passion for the gospel are both admirable and genuine.
    Mark does not insist that I fully agree with him and I offer the same openness back to him as a friend. I would encourage you to tell him your concerns, even on his blog spot, as he is a good man and might listen to your concerns in a positive way.
    Blogs can allow us all to say things that we may want to reconsider when others challenge us properly. Those who hide behind a blog, and thus will not consider the views of other writers carefully, do not keep my interest for long.

  3. Helen November 18, 2006 at 5:51 am

    Thank you for your response, John.
    Unfortunately I am not able to share my comments with Mark on his blog since only registered people can post comments there. I think registration privileges are extended to pastors only (I am not a pastor).
    (One of my friends asked at his church whether he could speak to Mark and apparently was told Mark was busy for the next two years. Having heard that I did not try that route either)
    Since I wrote my previous comment here, Mark has posted a clarification on his blog concerning the blog entry of his which I quoted from. I appreciate the tone of humility in the clarification. I would have liked to see him go further and actually apologize to pastors’ wives for that comment – which he did not do.
    Having said that I realize that he is free to make his own decisions about where an apology is appropriate. And I expect he makes those prayerfully and based on the counsel of the people he trusts.

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