The Balance All Men Need


Author John Eldridge says a man’s most key stages of life for emotional development and leadership are the warrior stage and the lover stage.

In his warrior stage (late teens into 20’s), he is learning about perseverance
In his lover stage (30’s and 40’s), he is learning about tenderness. 

From his late teenage years into his 20’s, the warrior stage is where the young man thinks about what goals he wants to go after. He asking himself questions like:

What will my major in college be?
What type of girl will I date?
What standard of living do I want?
What character traits do I want to be known for by others?
How will I respond to temptation? 
Am I going to persevere when I experience failure? 
Will I endure when my heart gets broken? 

I’ve had young men tell me, If my girlfriend breaks up with me that’s it, I’m not getting married. If she were to leave me, I’m giving up on love. If I become single, my life will be over for me. 

And I’m like, You’re only 20 years old? There’s so much life ahead of you. And also, your girlfriend is your idol. And also, you need to know you’re not called to be whiner, you’re called to be a warrior. You’re called to persevere, to lean on the Spirit when under trials, disappointment and pain.

Women have a huge influence in this stage for men.

Ladies! Let him persevere for you! Let him prioritize you to show how important you are to him (not by his words but his daily actions) Let him fight in hardship for your relationship. 

Young women should not get so easily emotionally wrapped up into a guy too early. Make him earn it.

Jesus wasn’t sent to earth as a 33 year old and then laid His life down for you. No, He had to earn His perfection. He fought temptation every day. 

I know a lot of people think of Jesus on earth as this happy-go-lucky hippy who was always nice and listened to Simon and Garfunkel but Jesus was a warrior. He persevered under letdown and heartache and temptation. He lived for 33 years under that pressure, He earned it 

Ladies, please make the man you’re dating earns your affection and commitment. Don’t make it easy on him because you’re afraid of being lonely. You deserve a warrior. 

And married men, please know you still need to persevere for your wife. 

Most men aren’t warriors, they’re hunters. They found their woman, hunted her down, put a ring on her finger and then shortly after stopped fighting for her, stopped prioritizing her, stopped serving her. Like a hunter they stopped their interest when the hunt was over but warriors serve and prioritize their wives every day. Warriors persevere in hardship for their wives every day. And they consider it an honor. 

Pastor Tim Keller says, “For most of western history the primary and most valued characteristic of manhood was self-mastery.  A man indulged in excessive eating, drinking, sleeping or who failed to rule himself was considered a waste, an unfit person to rule his household, much less be a leader in society.”

In the warrior stage a man learns to discipline himself. He leans on prayer and the Bible daily. He leans on Christian mentors and Christian friends to help him be disciplined so he’s prepared  and held accountable to lead a godly household. 

The biggest fear a woman has is abandonment. When a man doesn’t show her consistently that he will be there for her, she’s wondering if she can trust won’t be there in the storm and that he won’t prioritize her when it’s calm. Warriors persevere.

After a man learns about perseverance, he then can focus on being loving. Once he enters into his 30’s and 40’s where he is establish gin himself vocationally and in the home, he must learn about the habit of being tender to those around him. 

In the Old Testament, David was a warrior. He was tough. As a shepherd, David killed lions and bears to save his sheep, He took down the giant Goliath with boldness. As a king, he took down invading nations with his army in battle. Certainly David was tough. 

But he was also tender. 

David was tough and tender Yes he’d slay giants and win battles and kill lions but he’d also sit down and get his little lyre guitar out and his harp out and write songs and poems expressing his emotions to God, himself and others. He had a balance of tough and tender. 

Some men as employers are to tough, not tender, on their employees. 
Some men as boyfriends are too tough on their girlfriends. 
Husbands are too tough on their wives. 
Fathers are too tough on their children.

On the other side of the coin there are men who aren’t too tough, instead, they’re way too tender. Having an extreme of tenderness can turn into cowardice. Too-tender men don’t pray with their wife or family and lead their family spiritually, they’re afraid to. They don’t hit conflict head on, they’re passive aggressive.

In Genesis chapter 3, people blame Eve for bringing sin into the world (which she did disobey). She ate the fruit that God told her not to, she was deceived and chose to not believe God even though she believed in God, she didn’t trust Him. She sinned. 

Guess who was standing there the entire time? Her husband. Her tender not tough husband. Her coward not warrior husband.

Adam’s not in some other part of the Garden of Eden worshipping God, raising his hands, singing while his wife is off secretly disobeying God. No, he’s standing there next to her (Genesis 3:6)

He says nothing, does nothing. 
And the silence of Adam is something I see in men today.

The silent Adams let women lead in the church. They let women do all the serving. They let women battle the spiritual wars all by themselves. They let women lead their families spiritually, emotionally, relationally. 

When God comes to Adam and Eve after they both sin and eat the forbidden fruit, guess who God calls out to first? Adam.

I want to be tough and tender for my wife and our three daughters. Even though I have the physique of a junior high student. I’m gonna be tough in the moments that matter and tender in the moments that matter. And it takes prayer, patience and accountability on when to know to be tough and when to be tender. 

In our neighborhood this summer, there was an 8 year old boy who reached out and touched the backside of one of my daughters – because he wanted to. 

When my daughter told me about it, I went straight outside with the fury of a father internally but with the gentleness of a seeker externally. I confirmed what the accusation was with the boy first, and when he admitted to it, I told him that my daughter wasn’t property he could claim or a desired jewel he was allowed to touch. We marched straight to his grandparents home, who were watching him for the weekend, and I had him say what he did and he apologized. 

And as tough as I was on him, I was also tough with my daughter letting her know that boys don’t get to touch her whenever they feel like it.

A criminal breaks into my home – I’m going to be as tough as I can be. A guy wants to date my daughter, I’ll be tough.  

But if my daughters want me to dress up for play time with them and sip tea and do our nails and let them put make up on me, I’m going to be tender in those precious moments. 

If my wife is having a rough day emotionally, I need to be tender and step it up around the house so she can rest and pray. I’m going to listen to her and pray with her as we go on a walk to process things. 

In the book of Revelation we see Jesus as the lion and the lamb. It’s takes prayer to know when to be the warrior and when to be the lover, this balance of tough and tender. Without the help of the Holy Spirit and without prayer and without Christian accountability, a man will default into being too tough or being too tender when the situation and God’s calling requires the opposite. 

Thanks for reading. You so SO LOVED!


What Every Retired/Former Pastor Should Be Doing


I was raised in the home of a pastor. My father, before his death, was in ministry for over 40 years. Throughout his career in the church, he noticed that a lot of his friends in other vocational fields were always looking for ways to work less and play more. They were trying to hire other people to do their work so they could travel more, improve their golf game, retire early. I heard him repeatedly say that he’d probably never retire unless God made it clear for him to do so – and he never did. 

However, many pastors, ministers, ministry leaders do retire or step away from vocational ministry.  Some of them have left the ministry to work somewhere else, maybe in a parachurch ministry format. Others have fully retired. In either case, for those not in full-time, local church, vocational ministry: this blog is for them. I know them. I see the highlights of their lives on social media. I wonder about them.

And in a sense, this blog is also for me.

Now, when I say, “What Every Retired Pastor Should Be Doing”, how arrogant does that sound? I’m not even 40 years old and I’m declaring what people decades older than me who have so much more wisdom, experience and faith in God than I do should be using their time for. Seven things they should be doing, to be exact. 

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father,” [1 Timothy 5:1]

I hope these seven actions come across as encouragements and aren’t felt like rebukes. 

Be thankful to God in reflection. 

If a pastor has retired, that means God sustained him for a long duration of ministry. Only one out of ten pastors make it to retirement age as a pastor. The other nine are either fired or they burn out and quit. For a retired pastor, there is much to look back on and be thankful for. There is much to celebrate. 

Looking back on how God was faithful and what answered prayers there were and what fruit there was is always healthy to reflect on as it takes the eyes off the retired pastor and gives praise to God. 

There are also so many people in a retired pastor’s past to be grateful to God for, and those people could be written heart-felt letters expressing gratitude for the support they gave to the pastor. Makes you wonder if Moses ever wrote a thank-you letter to Aaron and Hur [Exodus 17:12]. 

Attempt to reconcile with broken relationships. 

This is the most difficult step of the seven. 

Ministry is messy. It is full of imperfect people trying to serve a perfect God as well as other imperfect people. There is much let down and pain and harsh words said and for some reason American church leaders have made “nice” a fruit of Spirit as we shove the past severed relationships under the rug hoping they’ll go away.

I remember serving in a church where the senior pastor and the worship pastor were incompatible to the point where they were giving each other the silent treatment. These were grown men in the faith who were on stage together every week refusing to talk and forgive each other. 

It came to a point when the worship pastor was leaving the church for another position elsewhere. As he was packing up his office, I was in the senior pastor’s office and this leader of the church, the senior pastor, told me, I am so excited he’s leaving. I don’t even feel bad about not saying good-bye. 

I just sometimes wonder if pastors forget that one of their main ministries is the ministry of reconciliation [2nd Corinthians 5:19].

Sometimes the relationships the retired pastor needs to seek forgiveness for is with his family. In ministry he chose the church over his first ministry, his wife and kids, and as a result, there is distance in his marriage and a lack of faith in God with his kids. 

Most people aren’t self-aware at how they come across, but it is definitely true for leaders in the church. We just don’t know how what we say and what we do is felt by those around us. 

Some of the pain a pastor causes is unintentional, and some of it is downright sinful. 

80% of pastors are discouraged and 70% are clinically depressed. Much of that negative weight is due to broken relationships that weren’t peacefully mended. The retired pastor still carries around the anger towards others in their ministry past.

There are broken relationships that every church leader can think of, and, if that retired leader still believes in the Gospel, they should seek out forgiveness, give forgiveness, and vie to extend the hand of grace for the purpose of reconciliation.

They should spend time in prayer and ask the Spirit to bring names to mind. Past church elders. Past church staff. Past church members. After decades of ministry, surely there are a handful of people to reach out to and apologize. Hopefully they still have a pastor’s heart to be that humble and that courageous. 

Those are the kind of leaders I want to follow. 

Develop authentic and transparent friendships. 

Did you know that 70% of pastors admit they do not have someone they consider to be a close friend? 84% of pastors desire to have a close friendship with someone they can confide in and trust.

Yet it doesn’t happen. 

Pastors, being burned by people and seeing their sin burn relationships (usually related to pride, anger and an unhealthy obsession to control people), have trust issues. They’re afraid to get close to someone. 

67% of church people expect their pastors to have a much higher moral standard than they themselves do. 

Many pastors, while in ministry, are leery of letting their guard down because they might disappoint someone by showcasing a weakness. But now, being retired, they should feel set free to have zero pretense and develop friendships that are transparent. 

They should have a relationship where a same-gender friend holds them accountable, urges them to repent, urges them to seek reconciliation, urges them to keep their spiritual disciplines. 

Sadly though, the retired pastor will just keep people at a distance. As he continues to post pictures on social media about how much fun he’s having in retirement, it’s the thing he craves, a close friendship, that isn’t realized.  

Get actively involved in a local church. 

Some retired pastors stay active in the church they served vocationally before retiring. Some move on. That’s between the pastor and their spouse and God. Either way, whether a retired pastor stays in the church he served or moves on or moves away, they must be in a local church somewhere, consistently. Otherwise their entire career was a farce. 

Every week, as a vocational pastor, they would preach to others about the importance of church community. They would repeatedly urge people to attend worship, to serve in the church, to be in a small group, to give financially back to God.

For many, when a pastor retires, they neglect church life. Not only is it hypocritical, but it’s damaging to their spiritual and relational health.  

I know of a senior pastor who told his church elders he was going to retire in a few months and the night he told them, he stopped giving financially to the church. He ended his online giving immediately, even though he had 100 days left to serve vocationally. Instead of storing up treasures in heaven, he was storing up acorns for the winter. To him, if he was done with the church mentally, he was done financially [Matthew 6:19-20]. 

I can imagine that retirement in ministry isn’t full of lavish riches. Things get tight. You won’t find “pastor” as a Forbes list best-paid professions. But even so, tithing shows that Jesus is the retired pastor’s God, not money. Not control. Not fear. 

I know of a retired pastor who serves in the children’s ministry of the church he served for years as the preacher and it’s such an example of what volunteering looks like. What an example he must be for the parents picking up their elementary kids. What an example he must be in the worship service as he humbly puts himself under the teaching and worship of other church leaders. 

If ministry was all about getting a paycheck and being noticed and having a feeling of power in decision-making, then yes, those retired pastors are not actively involved in a local church today. But if it was all for God’s kingdom and for a love for others, you’ll find a retired pastor and his family with towels and basins all over a local church family [John 13:14]. 

Privately and publicly support your previous church leadership. 

When a pastor gets fired or leaves a church frustrated, yes, then it can be difficult to honor a church leadership. Those who do so anyway have a maturity of faith that is God-honoring. 

When a pastor retires from a church after many years of service, it should be a great and easy opportunity to honor the elders and the new pastor in place. 

They should do this privately (because church members will flock to the retired pastor to give their opinion about decisions the current church leaders are making) and they should do this publicly (on social media, while hosting others over to their home). 

Both private and public support carry weight. I publicly boast about my wife all of the time. Her faith in God, her love for her family, her heart for those in need, her hospitable nature to make others feel at home and the fact that she carries the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] around with her more than anyone I know. I am utterly blessed to be in her life. 

That is me praising her publicly. And while those things are true about her, if I never tell her personally what she means to me, in private, then I’m not really uplifting her as much as I could. 

The devil gets a foothold toward church divisiveness because a retired pastor refuses to encourage the church leadership publicly (people are watching his response) and privately (due to gossip, and stubbornness) [Ephesians 4:26-27].

If he feels uncomfortable praising the current church leadership, then that takes us back to his need to seek reconciliation with others. If he’s staying silent, either it’s due to a sin that has yet to be uncovered or a relationship with church leadership has yet to be mended. 

Be aware of  the motivation for your online presence. 

When a pastor leads a community of faith for so long, and then steps away, he has an overwhelming feeling of displacement. He isn’t seen up front as much anymore. He’s not counseling people in need as much anymore. Sometimes he and his family step away from the church they served completely and with that there are losses of relationships and a loss of influence.  

Sometimes, to over-compensate their displacement, they post pictures online of how amazing their life seems to be. They desperately want the church people they used to serve to know that they are out of the house, with others, still trying to make a difference. 

They still want to feel they matter as their pulpit has been replaced by selfies. 

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but have you seen that the most active people on Facebook are women and male pastors? I don’t see a lot of non-pastor males posting as much as male pastors do. There’s a large insecurity inside each church leader that screams for people to notice and like them.  

It’s fine to post every time you go to a restaurant with someone. Every time you go golfing with someone. Every service project you do. Every vacation you take. I’m not against it at all. I’m just curious as to why that is done. What’s motivating it?

And this is my point with these things a retired pastor should be doing. If a retired pastor is posting constantly about how great his life appears, it could be a clear indicator that he hasn’t reconciled relationships with those he hurt and who hurt him, he doesn’t have close, real friendships, he’s not involved in a local church and he doesn’t support his previous church’s current leadership. 

You might want to lovingly ask him if he’s done those things. 


Dream what’s next. 

Many have heard the phrase, If you’re still breathing, God isn’t done with you yet. While this isn’t a scriptural reference, there is still truth to it. Just because a church leader resigns from vocational ministry doesn’t mean they’ve resigned from serving God and serving others in big, impactful ways. 

Sure retirement can be full of loving on grandkids and entertainment and traveling but dream what could be next along with those blessings. 

I just don’t understand why so many pastors just get online and share articles when they have such a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience to write their own articles to help others. 

They should be writing worship music. They should be mentoring pastors. They should be evangelizing to their loved ones and neighbors. They should be leading a small group. They should be involved in international missions. They should start a non-profit. They should pray big prayers. Sadly, many don’t (in fact, 95% of pastors admit to not praying daily and to not ever praying with their spouse). 

I hope every retired pastor is like Simeon, the religious leader in the Temple in Jerusalem, who was promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he laid his eyes on Jesus [Luke 2:26]. 

The greatest event in Simeon’s long life occurred at the end of his life this side of heaven. 

If Simeon had stopped thanking God, stopped serving others, stopped his ministry of reconciliation and stopped trusting God to show up in his life, would he ever have held the Messiah in his arms?

My heart in writing this is for retired pastors and their wives and retired church leaders to not settle in life. Jesus came so that we would experience life to its fullest potential, and the hope He has for us to do so doesn’t end when our paychecks from the church conclude [John 10:10].

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [John 14:27]

May each pastor, retired or not, have the peace to pursue these seven actions. Don’t be troubled or afraid to do so. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 


The Four Areas of Unity Your Church Leadership Should Have


Jesus prayed that you and I in the church would be unified. This is His prayer on the night of His arrest – 

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:21)

Simply stated, God’s people are called to have unity. It’s something Jesus prays for.

A step more serious is that leaders of God’s people are called to have unity. A reason it’s important for church leadership to be unified is because:

If the leaders in the church aren’t unified, then the people in the church won’t be unified. 

What we see historically, and sadly too often today, is that when division happens in the church it’s not because people know or vote based on facts and data, or even rely on prayer, rather, they weigh in based on whether or not they like the person. 

Their decisions aren’t objective, they’re subjective. 

I liked this person, so I’m taking their side. This person has served with me, so I’m with them. I’ve known this person longer, so I’ll join them. And what can begin as a personal issue quickly spreads into a division in the church.

Another reason why unity is vital in the church, from leadership down, is because it keeps the entire church focused on what’s important – Jesus and loving others. 

If there is division, then the conversations aren’t about Jesus, they aren’t about God’s vision, they aren’t about loving others. Instead, they’re about: Have you heard this gossip lately? Well, I heard this. Well, I believe this person did this. Well, they must’ve! Here’s my opinion, here’s how I think it’s going down. 

And all of the sudden, because of a distraction and a divisive spirit, loving Jesus and loving others exits out of the conversations and out of the church’s mission. 

Just as there are things that help unity, there are things that harm it as well. 

Sometimes it’s obvious, visible sin like sexual sin, or stealing money, or what led to divorce, or laziness, or complaining. Many times it’s deceit. 

Sometimes the sin that kills unity is more subtle, like bitterness or jealousy towards others. Many times it’s pride. 

Sometimes division is caused by heresy (teaching truths outside of the Bible to be as authoritative as truths in the Scriptures). 

Sometimes disunity is caused by legalism, where people make a list of rules, judge others by those rules, they show up in a black and white striped shirt and a whistle – you’re religious. Sometimes division occurs when there’s confusion between what is a primary issue and a secondary issue. 

Another reason for division is distrust. The larger a church gets numerically the more she’s going to have to trust one another. 

Leadership has to trust their small group and ministry leaders. Leadership needs to train and trust that each small group and ministry are staying focused on Jesus. Leadership must trust they are encouraging people to lean on God and not on self, to hold people who are in sin accountable to God. 

When anyone teaches a class in the church, the leadership must trust that the teacher has diligently prepared and prayed over their lesson. When a new person or a new couple bravely walks into the lobby and into this big scary room, I have to trust that they will be loved on, talked to, sat with – by you. 

In any type of church, if we don’t have trust, then we don’t have unity. 

Visible sin, subtle sin, heresy, legalism and distrust are places where unity won’t be found.

Unity in the church (and anywhere else) is something that is gained slowly, and lost quickly.

So what is unity? 

If we don’t have a working definition of unity, then we can’t work towards it as a church. 

I’ve learned to define unity in the church 4 ways – 

Theological Unity

This means we agree on the things of God that matter. 

There are things that Christians (especially Christian leaders) will have to fundamentally agree on, go to battle for, not let go of, ever.

We fight for the Bible as God’s Word. We fight for the two sacraments of baptism and communion. We fight for the God Who is Three in One. We believe Jesus is God, born to a virgin, lived with no sin, died on a cross, that He rose from death, is alive today, is coming back soon and is the only way to salvation. He’s good, we’re bad, hell is hot, forever is a long time, and you should have a good sense of humor (not an exhaustive list).

These are the things that we’re going to fight for. These are very important to have unity on. 

And then there are things we won’t fight over or for.

Any conversation about the rapture, how old the earth is, home-schooling vs. public schooling, Democrat vs. Republican, speaking in tongues, women in leadership, etc.

We’re not going to fight over some things. 

The earth didn’t come with a birth certificate so I don’t worry about how old the earth is. We can argue about it, that would be a cute waste of time. I would rather hold fast to things that matter. 

We’re not supposed to fight for everything. Our identity is in Christ not in winning arguments that the Bible isn’t concerned with.

Secondly, as a church we must have, 

Philosophical Unity 

This typically comes down to style and what are the best methods for each local church to reach the culture they are providentially placed in. 

At a previous church I was grateful to serve in, I had a couple new to the church meet me in my office and inform me that they would join the church on the condition that their kids would be able play their hand choir bells before service. Every week. I told them that wasn’t our church’s philosophy, that we want people to join the church – not to uplift their kids but – to uplift Jesus. 

And they left. Not just my office, but the church. 

A church’s philosophy when it comes to singing could be contemporary it’s not hardcore, it’s instrumental, there are hymns sometimes.  Sometimes it’s too loud, sometimes they go acoustic.

Sometimes a church’s philosophy when it comes to the next generation is to keep them out of sight, out of mind, in their own section of the church building, stating, they’re the church of tomorrow. Or, a church’s philosophy could be to let God work through children right now; letting them be the church at their current age.

A church’s appearance could be come as you are. It could be dress fancy. It could be hosting online services where you worship in your underwear. If you want to wear a suit and tie or a dress to church, please do. And if you want to wear a t-shirt and jeans with flip-flops, please do. Just be sure your toenails are cut appropriately. 

I believe diversity in the church is a great thing, but some people want to go to a church where everyone is Republican, married and dressed in robes. And there are churches like that. I’m not sure that’s the church Jesus is praying for in John 17.

A good philosophy I recommend is being serious about God and the Bible and the next generation and being relaxed about music and attire and political affiliation.

The church should hold onto big things like saving the lost, maturing the saved. She should host fast to arguing over little things, like, what people wear, what color the carpet is in the nursery, did Adam and Eve have belly buttons or not.

Relational Unity  

In the church, we need to find unity in one another. It’s there, we need to seek it out. 

This means we are kind to one another, respectful, uplifting. We don’t tear each other down on a serious, condescending level. We might poke fun at ourselves and our sensitive to how our comments about others come across. 

We’re family, so we acknowledge each other when we walk into the room and we love and reach out when needed. We reply to texts/voicemails/emails promptly and prayerfully. 

We forgive one another, and, by one another I don’t just mean the people active in a church, but we also forgive those who have left a church with a sour taste in their mouths. We also seek out if there’s anything we can humbly apologize for. 

Missional Unity

At every core of families, companies, sports teams, and churches, they all only care about one thing. They all focus on one particular thing. Their one thing is something they’re passionate about. Something they can’t stop thinking of. 

What is your one thing going to be? 

Is your one thing in life making money? Is it appeasing customers? Is it winning? Is it raising godly kids? Is it obsessed with being in shape? Each person and leadership has their one thing. 

Hopefully each church’s one thing is to be Jesus. That’s it. At the end of the day, the reason why your local church exists is because they should want people to fall in love with Jesus, grow to be like Jesus, worship Jesus, follow Jesus, trust Jesus, talk about Jesus, die for Jesus, and live with Jesus forever. That’s what Christians must be all about. Jesus! 

We need to find unity in this, because the rest of what happens in church leadership is secondary. Not unimportant, but secondary. If we lose sight of loving Jesus and loving others as our mission, there will be division. If we’re going to work towards unity, we have to work on all those fronts – Theologically, Philosophically, Relationally, and Missionally. And if we are united on these things, then our family, this thing we call church, it will be a God-honoring, life-changing, kingdom-building, very exciting experience. 

To repeat, unity is gained slowly and it is lost quickly. If it’s something Jesus prayed for each Christian and each church leadership to have, then prayer and conversations and focus on unity should be continual. 

It might be a good idea to ask gentle, inquiring questions of how your local church grooms new eldership, hires ministry staff, vets out and trains volunteer leaders and how they handle conflict in their meetings. If forgotten about, quickly or haphazardly done, it’ll damage unity.

Feel free to reach out to your church leadership to make sure they are unified on these four areas and, at the same time, pray for unity for them as Jesus does. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved.