Unnecessarily Pressured

I have felt extremely pressured lately. Part of it was taking two classes at the same time from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. That was honestly a dumb idea made worse by the fact that it was actually an accident. I didn't intend to schedule both classes at the same time. I managed an A- in one class and a B- in the other, which is a blessing and something I'm grateful for, but it was taxing.

Then part of it was a conglomerate of several things. Still getting squared away with a new position at work (which I love), preaching about once a month at Advocate Condell Hospital, being a father and husband, and several other smaller thing.

Finally, I've been hoping to get some things going on a mentoring ministry. The problem is that I don't have a ministry, and I don't really think it's a good idea for a church to have a mentoring program. Mentoring needs to be something that just happens, not something that is directed or forced. So to be honest, I've been forcing it a little.

And that has just about pushed me over the edge. I was 3 weeks behind in my Bible reading. That is pretty much the crux of it all. All of this pressure I was putting on myself was taking me away from God. It's hard to imagine that a man in seminary could be drawn away from God, but it is possible.

Hopefully, I've reset a little lately now that those classes are over. I'm catching up on my Bible reading (slowly) and I've put my priorities where it should be: Getting ready for my baby to arrive in 3 weeks!

Don't put undo pressure on yourself. It causes stress that just isn't worth it.

10 comments:

Trent said...

Hang in there, brother. I graduated from Liberty last May. As a submariner, I can empathize with the struggle of completing classes, juggling family, and serving your country. I also understand how easy it is to lose focus on your relationship with God when you're going through seminary. A strange paradox to be sure. Enjoy your breather, and your new little one (Congratulations!), seminary will be over soon enough. God will use the entire experience to strech and grow your faith. Keep up the good work!

boilt frog said...

Two classes were a bad idea. Why didn't you drop one? The money? It was lost. Stay or go, it's gone. Easy for me to say.

What would your mentor (speaking in a prolepse) say of your Bible reading? What would you say to your mentee? You cannot expect to have a ministry to accomplish something for others your are not doing for yourself. This is basic. What would you say to your mentor if....

Go back and read your post on getting that award pin from the chiefs on whose door you could knock. The post applies here.

I am confused about the mentoring thing. It is now the rage, but what does it really mean. How does it differ from regular pastoral duties? Write a major post on this. It will help you more than me. I am not sure why it is not a good idea for a church to have a mentoring program. Programs are (should be) a means to an end. We have already discussed planning. Does that not apply here? How can it not be directed? Some definition needs to be set or it all becomes random.

You have not posted your Bible reading schedule. How can I nag you without your help?!

Three weeks to go!

Blessings,

BF

Dan Smith said...

Trent, thank you so much for your thoughts of encouragement! What degree did you get from LU? I'm honestly a little up in the air between the MRE and MDIV. I haven't been able to decide. Are you still in the Navy?

Dan Smith said...

BF, I haven't heard from you in a bit. Figured you had stopped reading my blog. Glad to see you're still around.

I didn't drop one of the classes for the money. Honestly I can't afford to lose the $1500. The good news is that, while I definitely suffered from it, I passed both classes with good grades.

The honest way I would approach a protege who was struggling with his daily Bible reading would be to encourage him to reduce the amount of what he was reading and accept that maybe it will take him more than one year to complete it. Such is life. I actually still have a slate of Bible readings that I didn't finish from last year. I could, and may do the same.

I will write a post on how mentoring differs from regular pastoral duties (spoiler alert: It doesn't). The problem is that the rest of the church doesn't see the true value of mentoring. If the average Christian really valued mentoring, they would do it, but since most don't, I can only assume that they either don't know how (and aren't trying to learn) or don't really value it.

As to why churches shouldn't have an actual mentoring program, it is a note of personal preference. Yes, it could be effective I'm sure, but it would be difficult to be Biblical. Paul, Peter, Jesus, Moses, all of them...none had an official mentoring program or even an official mentoring relationship. It just happened. This is why I value an education system on mentoring far more than a program. We leaders must be trying to establish a culture of mentoring, not a program.

The truth is that mentoring is random. It is unplanned, sort of chaotic, and completely flexible. At least that's how I see the scriptures and my own experiences. I shall post more on this in the future.

boilt frog said...

Glad I was missed.

I feel for you on the money. It is tough to take the loss. Congrats on passing. I should have said that in my previous response.

I did some thinking on the mentoring issue. See 2Tim. 2:2. I see your new post. Perusal ahead.

I disagree with the unplanned idea in the ministry of those you mentioned in response. Okay

You haven't mentioned your half- marathon prep. How goes it?

I am confused regarding your LBS degree program. Do you already have a Bachelors degree? If so how come you are not an officer? If no degree, how can you be pursuing a M. of any kind?

If you post the reading plan, WE could all nag you together. (Can't we, fellow readers?) Actually, posting the plan would help me. I promise to tell you if I don't keep up. Then all of you can nag me!

Blessing,


BF

ps. three weeks. Tell mom to hurry!

Dan Smith said...

The letters to Timothy, particularly the second one, are great writings on the subject of mentoring.

Marathon prep is ok, but not great. I'm up to running about 3.5 miles comfortably. Obviously I need many, many more, but it's a start, and as I lose weight it will become easier to do. I've done this before...I shall do it again.

I already have a Bachelor's degree in Management (emph in computer information systems). I have tried to become an officer, but the Navy was very content to leave me in the enlisted ranks. I have become very content in this as it allows for more opportunities to mentor younger Christians in the enlisted community.

I tell you what I'll do on the reading program. I will attempt to find it, as I've never seen it all laid out at one time. If I can find it, I will put it into a post.

Steve said...

Hello Dan,

Good post. I would have to say I don't think that mentoring has to be a spur of the moment of happenstance proposition. Nor do I think the church could/should not be actively engaged in it. I for one have tried in every church to gather men around me that needed mentoring. Usually I start it as a weekly book study, (I like to use John Ortberg's books) and we read a chapter then meet each week to discuss it. What has always happened in the past is a few drop out, the rest end up being mentees, as it were. Or, as we say in my world, disciples. To me any way, discipling and mentoring are synonymous.

The Frog guy (gal) to say mentoring is all the rage, (I took the inference that you mean a new, faddish, modern concept) is to miss the rich heritage of Mentoring. I am assuming that you are aware that Mentor was a friend of Odysseus and was actually his...well...mentor.
Also you said, " You cannot expect to have a ministry to accomplish something for others your are not doing for yourself. This is basic." I disagree. The mentor/mentee relationship is about trust and vulnerability. If we expect our mentees to be open, honest, and vulnerable with us, we must reciprocate. If we never show them our own short comings and how we struggle to overcome them they will view their shortcoming as failures when they cannot measure up to our "perfection." I have won more souls to Christ by showing that I struggle along with them, than I could ever do by beating them over the head with my scofield King Jimmy bible with notes.

I was once a perfectionist as well Dan, but I am now in recovery. "Hello. My names is Steve, and I'm a perfectionist." I've known many a man who, for the sake of the ministry, lost their closeness to the Father. You're right on target, man. Fair winds and following seas, Brother!

Trent: Run silent! Run deep!

Nato said...

Here are my thoughts from a non-theological perspective.

1. I, too, am realizing that entering into my graduate program might have been a bad idea. But I'm not ready to call it a mistake. Sometimes we just have to learn the great lessons of life by going through the trials. You ended up with great grades, and hopefully you learned something out of it. As far as your degree program, we've talked several times about this. Just because you have a degree in something doesn't mean you're locked into doing that the rest of your life.

2. About your mentoring ministry, I am mixed. I believe that churches should be the perfect place to have a widespread ministry program; however, probably not how most would envision. I believe that a good pastor should, and does, pair people together in a mentoring relationship. Or the pastor takes on individuals to mentor. Maybe the church doesn't call it a mentoring program, but it still exists.

2a. I agree with Steve that mentoring programs should not be unplanned and chaotic. Was Paul's mentoring relationship really chaotic? I find that hard to believe. Moses? I have always considered his relationship with Joshua to be quite planned, though maybe not necessarily by Moses. The bigger question I struggle with is this: would any of those greats (besides Jesus) have called themselves a mentor? Would they have broadcast themselves as mentors? Or would they have just gone out and done the work? I think, at times, you're looking for a title, a program, a "look what I do" kind of thing. Just go out and do. I also agree with Boilt Frog that you should write a clarification post about this. You make a claim about churches not being the right place for mentoring programs but offer no evidence to support. I would be interested in seeing your reasoning.

2b. I think there's some truth to Boilt's idea that you cannot expect others to do what you are unwilling to achieve yourself. Sure, we all have shortcomings, and, as Steve said, we need to be open and honest. But would you want a drug addict being a mentor for a drug adddict? Probably not. So, admit your struggles, sure. But the question of "what would you tell your mentee to do" I think has a lot of merit here. Sure, you can be a great director without ever having been an actor. But suffering from the same problems as your mentee puts you at a different level of a relationship - one that is more dependent on each other fairly equally.

2c. I'm not sure I totally agree with your assumption, Dan, that Christians aren't mentoring. I think it would be interesting to see your full line of reasoning for the assumption that you make. What if Christians are in a state of ignorance about their mentoring relationship? What if they're actually mentoring and they just don't realize it? Or, what if they just aren't looking to call it a program?

3. About your reading. So what? Seriously, so you got behind. Big deal. Maybe I'm missing the theological importance here, but is God really concerned that you're behind on your reading, or that you're not communicating with Him like you should? How much reading qualifies as being "up to speed"? Isn't one inspirational verse in a day just as valuable as an entire passage? And who makes the reading plans? Men, not God. Take the Word for what it is, not for what someone else said it should be. I find this hard to believe that getting behind in your reading would be the "crux of it all."

4. I hope all is well with the coming child, and I'm glad to see that you're wanting to put your priorities where, I agree, they should be. But remember, having another child may mean that you don't get to read as much of the Bible as you'd like. Just be willing to adjust.

Anyway, this is more than two cents' worth. Just some ideas I had as I read, reread, and contemplated the ideas of your post. My ideas are only my ideas; I am not qualified as anything else.

Dan Smith said...

@ Steve: Thank you so much for your thoughts. I appreciate them very much. I'm interested in learning more about how you do your discipleship. Do other men in the church disciple others? Do guys in turn disciple others when they are done with your study? Just curious about how that works for you in your church.

Dan Smith said...

@ Nate: Thank you for your thoughts. As usual, you are quite the challenge, but one which I enjoy.

No, Paul didn't consider himself a mentor, but he did consider Timothy his son. I would suggest that this is his version of saying, "I'm a mentor." Now, I say I'm a mentor, but it's important to note that I've hardly ever said, "I'm so and so's mentor." In fact, I've started mentoring some guys at work and I've never even mentioned it to them. It's just what is happening.

As far as chaos is concerned, you miss my point. I simply mean that it has no outline and that it is fluid. The examples we've been using in this conversation are all examples of unplanned processes, not programs. And that's why it isn't something necessarily done by the church, but by individuals who understand how to do it.

As for you not agreeing with me when I say Christians aren't mentoring, all I ask is that you take a look around and see if it's happening. You ask me to prove it to you, and I tell you to prove it to yourself. Just look around. You know what mentoring is. Your senior teachers do it for newbies, right? Tell me that's happening in the church.

At best, I think you're referring to something I would call short-term mentoring. People give advice and most Christians think that equals a full mentoring relationship. It doesn't, but it is an important step toward mentoring.

Look around the church sometime. Tell me if it's happening on a wide scale. You won't find it.