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3 Reasons Radical Forgiveness is a Must in Marriage

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3 Reasons Radical Forgiveness is a Must in Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It has been said that marriage is the combination of two very good forgivers. We have found this to be true in our own marriage–many times over! And we’ve observed countless successful relationships that were made up of good forgivers, as well.

When you’re in such a close relationship with another human being, it’s inevitable that you’re going to step on each other’s toes. That’s just part of life. The trick is being able to offer forgiveness to one another in a genuine, meaningful way, so that when those times come, you’ll be ready to face them head-on.

BUT WHAT IS FORGIVENESS, REALLY?

First, it’s critical to understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is surrendering the right to retaliate against someone who has hurt you. It is not the relinquishing of your boundaries and dignity, and it is not a cheap or easy thing to extend.

When you extend forgiveness to your spouse, know what you’re forgiving. Be honest about how the hurt has been detrimental to your spirit. In the process of forgiveness, don’t just forgive and forget; forgive, but extend some pointers to your spouse about how they can better handle your heart with care in the future.

Forgiveness in marriage is a must because:

1. THE ACT OF FORGIVENESS STRENGTHENS OUR LOVE.

Forgiveness is a form of love in action, and we can’t get far in marriage without it. When you love someone, you’re vulnerable with them, and vice versa. Your spouse has the power to hurt you more deeply than anyone else in the world because you value their approval and affirmation more than anyone else’s. Your spouse is also just as vulnerable to being hurt by you as you are to being hurt by them.

When we forgive one another, we extend sacrificial love. When we are forgiven, we are humbled and determined to love our spouses better going forward. This cycle challenges us to love one another more fully, completely, and selflessly. And over the years, as we continue to practice this dance of forgiveness, our bond grows deeper and stronger.

2. FORGIVENESS SETS US FREE.

Forgiveness frees us in two ways: first, it releases the offender; second, it releases the one who was hurt.

Forgiveness benefits the forgiver as much as, if not more than, the person who is being forgiven. It sets us free from being dragged down by unforgiveness, which eventually turns into resentment. And when you hold onto resentment, it does no good for anyone–especially you.

There are going to be times when we need to offer forgiveness to our spouse, whether they’ve asked for it or not. When you do this, remember that you’re freeing yourself from a prison of resentment, and graciously offer forgiveness to your spouse.

3. LESSONS WE LEARN FROM FORGIVING OUR SPOUSE CAN EXTEND BEYOND THE MARRIAGE.

Forgiving anyone can be difficult–whether it’s a friend, family member, or co-worker. But when the person you love most in the world has hurt you, the process of forgiving him or her can be incredibly difficult and painful. Once you’ve practiced forgiveness in your marriage for a time, you may find it easier to extend forgiveness to those outside your relationship.

Forgiving one another as husband and wife can also help you to teach your children how to forgive. Modeling healthy forgiveness and allowing them to see their parents live this out will give them the tools they need to practice forgiveness in their own relationships as they grow older.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

Being able to forgive one another teaches us to love each other and those around us in a more godly way, and it helps us to become more sensitive to the effects of our actions on others. In short, it makes us better husbands, wives, parents, friends, co-workers, and people.

It’s important to note, once again, that forgiveness is a process. You can intend to forgive, but you can’t control the steps to forgiveness, or how long it takes to get there. If the hurt you want to forgive is particularly grievous, it can take a very long time to complete the process. Whatever it takes, set yourself on a path of forgiveness and trust God to meet you on that path. And give yourself grace and time as you walk it.

If you would like help with forgiveness and/or your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

The Freedom in Owning Your Mistakes

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The Freedom in Owning Your Mistakes

By Dr. Henry Cloud

You know that feeling when you make a mistake, and rather than owning it, you just swallow it and push it down with all the other bad stuff that you plan on dealing with some day in the undefined future?

When we were young, many of us bounced from mistake to mistake with all the innocence and naivety of a cheerful imp with no capacity for self-reflection. As adults, mistakes take a toll. There’s only so much room down there in the dark forgotten place where we put the things we don’t want to deal with.

The mistakes we make can become deeply rooted in our lives, and once they’ve taken hold, they are extremely difficult to eradicate. When we make mistakes as adults, the appeal to hide them away doesn’t diminish. But the consequences are not worth it.

To truly obtain freedom from our mistakes, we must own them. These mistakes must be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the forefront of our consciousness and expelled into the clear air. Mistakes can take many forms, ranging from the smallest error to the most unconscionable failure. In two of the most important segments of our lives — work and relationships — a single mistake is sometimes all it takes to wind up on the scrap heap of failure.

Take, for example, the workplace mistake. I watched, one day, as one of my co-workers single-handedly brought down an entire car dealership website on accident. These websites are critical for bringing in clients and for informing potential ones about inventory, contact information, and pricing. To have a dealership website down, even for an hour, is to turn away a dozen potential customers with money burning a hole in their pockets. A downed website is a failure for everyone involved.

What would have happened if my co-worker had concealed his mistake? He could have decided not to own up to it. The problem may have gone unnoticed for a while. The cause may have remained uncertain. We may never have figured out what had happened. It could have happened again, and we’d have no protective measures in place to prevent it from reoccurring. Our team would have suffered mightily for the error and we would have all taken a hit for such carelessness. But, he immediately confessed, dropped everything else he was doing, and reached out to a manager to help solve the problem. Within a half an hour the website was back up and running with no leftover damage to mitigate. My co-worker refused to let it fester in the dark and dragged it quickly into the light, repairing the mistake almost as swiftly as it was made.

Life is full of these small mistakes. Every single time we ignore them, we leave an open wound behind. Every time it happens again, or every time a related mistake occurs, it’s salt in the wound. Mistakes, even ones innocently made, occur frequently in both platonic and romantic relationships. Arguments arise from things ranging from forgetting to put the toothpaste cap back on to falsely accusing someone of a serious offense. To forge an unbridgeable cleft in a relationship, you have only to make a mistake and then never admit to it. The bitter silence you impose upon yourself inevitably spills over into a physical reality.

A mistake doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. What does spell disaster is not owning that mistake and thereby freeing yourself from it. We are bound to make mistakes more frequently than we would probably care to. The danger is not in making the mistakes, but in thinking there is freedom from them in hiding them.  The real resolution comes, as always, in owning what is yours – no matter how difficult it is.

If you would like to experience help in obtaining freedom in this way, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our licensed coaches or counselors.

21 Ways to Love the Person You Married

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21 Ways to Love the Person You Married

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It’s easy to fall in love and to marry the person you’ve fallen for; it’s a much bigger endeavor to nurture that love for a lifetime. The good news is, it can definitely be done! We’ve created a list of 21 ways to love the one you married. Put even a few of these into motion, and you’ll see your relationship continue to blossom and thrive over the years together. Let’s jump in!

1. OFFER YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.

Nothing is more validating than giving your spouse your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. When you intentionally make time to put distractions aside and focus on your spouse, they’ll feel loved, heard, and seen.

2. ASK TO SEE THEIR CREATIONS.

If your spouse is a creative person, show an interest in his or her paintings, writing, woodworking, drawings, music, poetry, etc. Engage with your spouse about what they’ve made or built, ask about their creative process, and show an interest in the materials they used to pull it all together. Praise their work and encourage them to continue creating.

3. LISTEN TO THEIR DREAMS.

Your spouse’s innermost dreams are precious; when they reveal dreams, goals, or ambitions to you, treat them as such. Even if a dream he or she shares doesn’t resonate with you at first, keep in mind that this is very personal for your spouse, and be willing to be receptive to it.

4. LAUGH AT THEIR JOKES.

Does your spouse have a funny bone–and enjoy tickling yours? Laugh at their jokes! It can be easy to let the stressors of life get to you, and stress can kill your sense of humor like nothing else. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying your spouse’s wit.

5. ALLOW THEM TO FULLY BE THEMSELVES.

You fell in love with your spouse because of the unique combination of features that makes them who they are–right? There may be times when some of your spouse’s qualities aren’t as attractive to you as they used to be…but allow them to be themselves, anyway. Your spouse will recognize and appreciate the freedom you give them to be who they truly are at heart.

For the rest of the items, check out the original post here.

If you would like help showing or rekindling love for the one you married, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

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4 Ways to Help Prevent Alcohol From Affecting Your Mood

By DrinkAware.co.uk

  1. Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
  2. Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
  3. Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
  4. Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.

 

If you would like help with alcohol and/or mood struggles, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a life coach or a counselor.

Alcohol and Depression = A Vicious Cycle

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Alcohol and Depression = A Vicious Cycle

By DrinkAware.co.uk

If you drink heavily and regularly you’re likely to develop some symptoms of depression. It’s that good old brain chemistry at work again. Regular drinking lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain – a chemical that helps to regulate your mood.

In Britain, people who experience anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers. For some people, the anxiety or depression came first and they’ve reached for alcohol to try to relieve it. For others, drinking came first, so it may be a root cause of their anxieties2.

Drinking heavily can also affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends. It can impact on your performance at work. These issues can also contribute to depression.

If you use drink to try and improve your mood or mask your depression, you may be starting a vicious cycle…

Warning signs that alcohol is affecting your mood include:

If you would like help the area of alcohol and/or depression, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

7 Tips to Overcome Stagnation

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7 Tips to Overcome Stagnation

By. Dr. Henry Cloud

Life is filled with peaks and valleys, and all of us hit the highs and lows at various times in our life. However, sometimes it may feel like you are forever stuck in a low valley, unable to achieve a certain goal or losing sight of what exactly your goals are. We often procrastinate and know that we are living beneath our potential, but can’t seem to get out of the daily rut. The stagnation we experience is a sign of much deeper problems in our life—problems that require deep thinking and self-examination. Here are 7 ways you can start to overcome the stagnation in your personal and professional life.

You are not the only one. Everyone has experienced stagnation before, and thousands are probably experiencing it at the same time as you. Don’t fight it. Accept that you are going through a stagnant period, understand that it is okay, and then you can focus on implementing changes in your life to get out of it.

Become inspired again. Sometimes it is just as simple as re-examining dreams and wishes that may have gone ignored. Is there anything you forgot that you have always wanted to do or become? Setting out to accomplish these goals will help motivate you in your daily life.

Try new things. We get bored with our day-to-day routine, yet we are often so complacent in our lives that we don’t fix anything. Force yourself to try something new, whether it is learning a new skill or language, or skydiving and mountain climbing. New experiences give us a renewed interest in life’s many wonders.

Vocalize what bothers you. Is there someone or something in your life that has been bothering you for a while? If so, you need to get it off your chest. Don’t let negative feeling just sit there. It stirs up resentment in our relationships with people and keeps us from focusing on our goals.

Don’t be afraid. Stagnation thrives on us being afraid to move ahead because we may feel we are not up to the task. Everyone has a fear: snakes, public speaking, the dark. Take something you are afraid of and challenge yourself to face it. This will remind you that you are capable of overcoming any challenge that life may throw your way.

Concentrate on what you want, not the goals of others. The lives of others most always seem better than our own, yet we all know that everyone has problems to deal with. We all wish for something better. Don’t fall into the trap of envying others. Concentrate on what you want out of life, what your next goal is, and don’t compare it to the goals of others. Most of the time, they go through the same difficulties in trying to achieve their own accomplishments.

Interact with your community. We need to know that there are others like us. Book clubs, gyms, churches, and school functions are great places to meet others that share your ideas or beliefs. These interactions give our life more flavor and provide the emotional, creative, or professional support to invigorate a passion for what we want.

If you would like more help in overcoming stagnation and implementing change in your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a life coach or counselor.

The Importance of Respecting Your Spouse’s Individuality

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Gimme My Space: The Importance of Respecting Your Spouse’s Individuality

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

When you’re in the early years of your relationship–namely, dating and the “honeymoon period” of your marriage–it’s easy to lose yourself in one another. Many couples want to spend every possible moment together, and are even willing to lay aside their individual interests or activities during that time. The differences between you and your spouse tend to be glossed over, too, and those differences don’t feel like a big deal at first.

Eventually, you might find that once you’ve settled into marriage, your spouse might not want to be firmly attached to your side in the same way as before. Or you may have started noticing that some of the qualities that drew you to your spouse in the first place are now beginning to bother you. Sure, you may still have a great relationship, but it’s starting to feel like you’re drifting apart. Should you panic?

RECOVERING YOUR IDENTITIES

The most likely scenario is that you and your spouse have adjusted to sharing a life, and are delving back into the things that make you who you are as individuals. You’ve been together for a little while now, and it’s natural to want to revisit some of the things each of you love that may have fallen by the wayside.

Not only will you both eventually want to revisit your individual selves; you’ll continue to grow and change over the years. Give yourselves room to reconnect with who you are, and with who your spouse is (or has become). There is beauty in making space for those two unique identities that make up your marriage partnership.

It’s also normal to feel some friction as your opposite qualities begin to make themselves clearer. That’s okay, too. After all, you fell in love because of who your spouse is, and vice versa.

REDISCOVERING YOUR SIMILARITIES

It’s important for the two of you to respect one another’s individuality and hard-wiring. The saying that “opposites attract” isn’t really true; most people are drawn to other people who are a lot like them. So when you’re in a marriage with someone who isn’t a lot like you, it’s easy to fall into emphasizing those opposite qualities over what you have in common. Your differences eventually become the most apparent things in your marriage.

When your differences seem to outweigh your similarities, it’s time to reconnect with the common ground you share. Deliberately create moments and opportunities to reminisce about falling in love, and those early, blissful times in your relationship. Those moments will open doors for great conversation, and put you on the road back to intimacy.

Intimacy is built on common ground; keep those things you have in common in mind, and highlight them whenever possible. Create fun, shared experiences that knit your hearts together, and be deliberate and consistent about making that happen. Go on walks together, go fishing, work together in your yard–any activity that will connect you two on a deeper level. Find that common ground and enjoy it together.

LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER

When you and your spouse have many differing qualities, you’ll often find that you balance and complement one another. Instead of focusing on things about your spouse’s differences that bother you, try to find the strengths in those individual qualities and see what you can learn from those strengths.

Is your spouse better at saying no than you are (while you’re more of a “yes man” or “yes woman”)? If you often feel over-committed and stretched beyond your limits, perhaps you can pay attention to how your spouse approaches a tactful “no,” then apply the same principles the next time someone asks you to do something you shouldn’t say yes to. Of if you’re an energetic extrovert and your spouse craves a lot of quiet time, you could practice slowing down and learn to savor that quiet time with him or her.

ALLOWING FOR COMPROMISE

Compromise is a form of respecting your spouse–in particular, respecting his or her individuality. You can compromise on many things: food or entertainment preferences, travel, chores, weekly activities, and more.

For example, if you’re an extrovert and your spouse is not, give them the gift of solitude and allow them to do the things they love (like reading, enjoying a quiet coffee, drawing, writing, etc.) without making demands of their energy that they’re unable to fulfill. As a compromise, find a small group or activity you can be a part of so you’re not depending on your spouse to be present for every piece of your proverbial social “pie.”

Respect what your spouse needs in order to have the inner strength and resilience you fell in love with in the first place. Admire who your spouse is, and don’t try to change them; instead, create space for them to be who they are because that is how they were made.

If you would like help with your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

10 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Spouse

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10 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – Les Parrott

Showing gratitude to your spouse is an important daily practice; it’s essential to nurturing a healthy marriage. There are many ways to express your thanks to your husband or wife, so today, we’re sharing 10 ideas for showing him or her your appreciation.

1.  SAY IT OUT LOUD…AND MORE OFTEN!

Intentionally saying thank you to your spouse more often is the simplest, most obvious way to show him or her your gratitude. It can be easy to neglect to thank your spouse for everyday tasks that may seem mundane. But you’ll find that your gratitude can transform your spouse’s view of these tasks, especially if he or she has been feeling bogged down. It doesn’t take much effort, but those two simple words go a long way.

2. WRITE A THOUGHTFUL CARD, NOTE, OR LETTER.

Write a sweet note of thanks to your spouse and hide it where they can easily find it: in their lunchbox, on the dashboard of their car, on the bathroom mirror, or someplace similar. It’s amazing how a little note like that can brighten someone’s day. Even scribbling a message onto a sticky note can make all their daily efforts feel more worthwhile.

3. GIVE YOUR SPOUSE A BREAK.

A few hours of quiet time might very well be #1 on your spouse’s wish list, especially if he or she is overworked or caring for young children. Or they might just want a break from their regular tasks. Whatever the case, give him or her the opportunity to get that needed time, whether it means several hours to curl up with a book, or you taking over their chores for the day. (If you have children, take care of finding child care or keep the kids yourself.)

4. COOK A SPECIAL DINNER.

Does your spouse have a favorite meal they love, or a recipe they’ve been dying to try? You do whip up a dish every once in awhile that brings back happy memories for you both? Set aside a little time to prepare a home-cooked meal just for him or her. Light some candles, play some music, and dine-in together at home.

5. PRAISE HIM OR HER TO YOUR KIDS, THEN GET THEM IN ON THE ACT.

Being outspoken to (and in front of) your children regarding your gratitude toward your spouse will rub off on them! Take the time to deliberately tell your kids about all the great things your husband or wife does for the family, and encourage them to say thank you to their other parent as well. You can even go a step further and suggest that the kids create hand-made artwork to thank their mom or dad, or that they even help out with the chores to take the load off your spouse. Cultivating this gratitude in your children will resonate throughout your entire immediate family.

6. TELL THE WORLD WHAT YOUR SPOUSE DOES FOR YOU.

Go a little further than the four walls of your house and let other know, as often as possible, how grateful you are for your husband or wife. Verbalize it among extended family, friends, or at church. Put your social media account to good use and let it be known that you are thankful for everything your spouse does for you and your family.

7. BEHAVE IN A GRATEFUL WAY.

Saying “thank you,” giving gifts, and telling others isn’t quite enough; you have to behave in a grateful way toward your spouse. Make an effort to notice what they do and to respect the work they’re putting in for you, on whatever front–whether they’re running a business, running the household, or a combination of both. Don’t take him or her for granted. Be conscientious and thoughtful, and take care to make sure that you’re not undermining or undoing their efforts in any way.

8. TAKE YOUR SPOUSE ON A ROMANTIC DATE.

A nice date is a great way to say thank you to your husband or wife for everything they do for you. Choose their favorite restaurant, a movie they’ve been dying to see, grab coffee, take a nature hike, or stop by their favorite bookstore or library. Make that time all about your spouse.

9. GIVE A “JUST BECAUSE” GIFT.

Sometimes, a gratitude gift is in order. Purchase something your spouse would like to have but might not be willing to buy for themselves, then attach a little note of thanks before you gift it. Maybe your husband has been admiring a watch or set of cufflinks, or maybe your wife has had her eye on a novel or a movie she hasn’t bought for herself. This could be the perfect opportunity to splurge for him or her.

10. STRIVE TO OFFER MORE THAN YOU TAKE.

Successful marriages are all about servanthood. Another way to show your gratitude is to avoid existing only as a “taker.” Give, give, give–your spouse is giving to you, so make sure you not only reciprocate, but go above and beyond to give back. And when you give, take care to do it selflessly, without expecting anything in return.

If you would like help with your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Why Do Churches Wound Their Pastors?

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Why Do Churches Wound Their Pastors?

By Dan Doriani

A renowned Reformed pastor, great preacher, visionary leader, and tender man endured such criticism from his church that he almost despaired. He told one of his confidants, “After 12 years as a pastor, I had to put a wall between myself and my people so I wouldn’t have to quit the ministry.”

“Jack” was another esteemed pastor. An excellent preacher with sterling organizational skills, he fostered healthy church growth and led numerous citywide ministries. When he retired, the leaders of the pastoral search team visited me. We spent an hour getting to know each other, then their presentation began. Before long, I felt compelled to interrupt, “Please don’t tell me your goal is to find a senior pastor who’s more of a shepherd than Jack.” Faces fell.

“How did you know?”

I replied: “Jack is friendly and socially adept, but clearly not as sociable as you are—we just spent an hour talking about our families. Jack is always busy preaching, teaching, and leading. Your church has 3,000 people, so you know he can’t know everyone. But you’re sad he doesn’t really know all 60 elders. Since you admire him, you long to know him and hope you will know your next pastor. But no one is equally gifted at everything, and everyone’s time is limited. Therefore, if this search led to a man bent on shepherding, he would inevitably be less devoted to preaching or leadership. But after 25 years with Jack, the church expects and needs a senior pastor who preaches and leads with excellence. If you want a consummate preacher, teacher, and shepherd, you want the perfect pastor.”

In short, the committee loved Jack, but they also thought, We need to fix his weakness. They forgot that everyone has weaknesses.

‘We Need to Fix Him’

My work often leads to sustained conversations with elders, unordained leaders, and pastors of large, complex churches. With rare exceptions, churches are quite vocal about the flaws of their pastors, whether newly installed or long faithful. Good churches wish it were different, but they tend to think all will be well if the pastor improves, and they take better care of him.

At first, churches are eager to care for new pastors, especially senior pastors. They want to ensure that he has time for his family, that he doesn’t work too hard, that he joins a gym or a club. They want to treat him well—certainly better than the last pastor, who finished his tenure visibly exhausted. This intention is typically more enthusiastic than resolute, for the tone changes a few years into the pastor’s tenure.

The main problem is almost always criticism and opposition. Every pastor who effectively leads an influential church will face opposition. Heroes like Anselm, Chrysostom, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Edwards tasted fierce resistance, even hostility. Because they enacted essential reforms and addressed burning theological debates, confrontation was inevitable.

Anyone with great skill and influence becomes a target. Similarly, a rapidly growing church will rouse opposition from its community, as neighbors protest increased traffic, and nearby pastors—possibly motivated by jealousy—imagine they detect heterodoxy.

These troubles are inevitable but manageable. The principal challenge lies within the pastor’s own church.

Five Causes of Criticism

This spring, I spoke to a group of large-church pastors, staff members, and elders. During a Q&A, an elder asked, “What is the single greatest problem facing pastors today?” I replied, “The greatest problem is internal opposition from subversive co-leaders and self-appointed critics within the church.” The pastors released a collective groan of recognition and assent.

I will briefly mention five causes of criticism and focus on the fifth.

First, a pastor may face full-blown antagonists who will lie, deceive, and manipulate to destroy him and control the church.

Second, a pastor must negotiate with talented, successful, and therefore opinionated people who love him but believe he’s dead wrong about a critical issue.

Third, a pastor pays for the errors of his subordinates. If a staff member commits a major sin, the senior pastor properly faces questions: Did he fail to address a nascent problem? But catastrophes can be unforeseeable.

Fourth, a pastor see problems that appear to invite, even demand, reform. Most people resist change. Further, those committed to the existing order will be inclined to resist proposals for a new system. New pastors know it is wise to delay changes, if possible, to build trust while making non-controversial improvements. Bold changes arrive later.

Machiavelli said there is nothing more difficult in leadership than creating a new order. Everyone who’s done well under the old system is an enemy, and those who may do well in the new order will be lukewarm allies. Machiavelli is needlessly pessimistic, since a manifestly flawed order always attracts reformers, and there is a minority that simply likes change. Nonetheless, pastors do court opposition when they initiate change.

But I want to focus on criticism directed at a pastor’s genuine flaws.

Finally, every senior pastor deserves criticism for two reasons. Above all, every pastor is a sinner. Pastors sin both in their private lives and in their work. When thwarted, they become harsh or angry. When self-discipline wanes, they prepare inadequately to preach, lead, or shepherd.

Further, no pastor has all the skills to lead well. To be sure, certain pastors lack self-discipline and essential abilities. But let’s focus on pastors with character, skill, and a capacity for work. Even they are criticized for their inadequacies, often fiercely and shamelessly, by their own people.

For example, senior pastors with great skill as preachers and leaders suffer criticism for deficient people skills. Some pastors are awkward or aloof. But even friendly, perceptive pastors hear this criticism. Why? Highly gifted preachers and leaders probably are less adept with people. Who excels at everything? Beyond that, senior pastors must push through demanding schedules. That can make them seem abrupt. Everyone is finite. Faithful pastors face demands on their time, so they cannot socialize freely. This is unavoidable, yet it offends. Yes, the ideal pastor will be equally adept at (1) preaching and teaching, (2) casting vision and leading, (3) and counseling and mentoring. But no human excels at every task.

Consider that God ordained three ongoing offices for Israel: prophet, priest, and king. None but Jesus held all three offices. Few had even two: Melchizedek was priest and king, Moses was a prophet and kingly leader, and David was king and prophet, at least informally, through his psalms. Even if we add a few more dual-role leaders, almost no one had two offices and no one but Jesus had all three.

The implication is clear: No church should expect its pastor(s) to excel in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly aspects of godly leadership. No one is equally gifted and passionate about the prophetic (teaching and preaching), the kingly (leading and organizing), and the priestly (shepherding and prayer). Even if a pastor were capable in every area, he’ll find one exhilarating, the other exhausting.

Better Way  

Why does the church freely, cruelly criticize its pastors for falling short of perfection? Why do we forget that Jesus alone is perfect, that Jesus alone redeems? To demand perfect skill, holiness, and ever-effective labor from anyone is akin to idolatry. Grace-centered churches must know this. But churches idolize their pastors one day and savage them the next. Americans can’t bear disappointment in silence, and all too often, we behave more like Americans than disciples.

The author of Hebrews names a better way: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. . . . Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls. . . . Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:7, 17).

If you are in ministry or have been wounded serving others or have wounded someone else, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach for help with the healing process.

6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants

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6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants: Does Flower Power Boost Your Mood?

By Dr. Adam Simon

We all know that flowers and plants have the power to make people happy. They can delight you on a special occasion, cheer you up when you’re sad or make a dull, dreary room much more appealing.

But what is it about flowers that puts you in a good mood? And do they really have that much influence over your mental health?

Our smart network of UK doctors have shared a few facts for you to bear in mind next time you’re buying a bunch for your home, or for someone you care about.

1. Flowers can improve anxiety

Stress and anxiety are part of everyday life. According to mental health charity Mind, 6% of the UK population experienced anxiety issues in 2016.

While there are many things you can do to manage your mental health, flowers can help restore some short-term calm to your situation.

It turns out that this is true even in very worrying situations. A 2008 study found that hospital patients who had flowers in their room felt less anxious. They were also more positive about their recovery and needed less post-operative care than patients without plants.

Before you turn up at your loved one’s bedside with a huge bouquet, it’s worth noting that many hospitals don’t allow flowers on wards. This is due to issues such as mould, hay fever and lack of space.

However, there’s nothing to stop you filling your home and garden with beautiful blooms to take your mind off things.

Have some in your bedroom to create a calming environment when you go to sleep and when you wake up, or make space for a plant in your study to help you keep a handle on work-related stress.

2. Flowers can help you sleep

Sleeping properly is really important. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve already written a whole post about it. So, where do plants come into it?

When it comes to sleep, we’re going to focus on one flower in particular. The smell of lavender is proven to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which will help you to relax. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to drift off into a restful sleep.

Obviously, lavender can’t cure insomnia on its own, but it can certainly help as part of your bedtime routine.

3. Flowers can improve your memory

Specifically, rosemary can sharpen your powers of recall.

In 2015, researchers conducted a very interesting experiment, in which participants went into one of three rooms and completed a memory test. One room smelt of rosemary, one of lavender and the other wasn’t given a specific scent.

Each participant had to look at a series of objects hidden around the room and remember them for later. The project tested the impact of different smells on ‘future memory’ – in other words, how much you remember to remember.

In real-life terms, this could be posting a letter you wrote yesterday, or paying your bills on time.

The people in the rosemary-scented room scored highest in this test. The lavender room scored significantly lower, presumably because the people here were far too relaxed and sleepy to keep up with everything!

4. Flowers can change your emotions with colours

We all associate colours with different moods. Red can mean love, anger or danger. Yellow is usually associated with happiness and sunshine. Blue can signify calm or sadness.

Green is linked to safety, which could explain why having lots of leafy plants around creates such a comfortable environment.

On top of this, we each have our own personal relationships with colours that can bring to mind a happy or sad memory and influence our reactions.

Suddenly, choosing the colour of your flowers becomes a bigger decision than you thought! Of course, it’s also a great chance to create a particular emotion or feeling in whoever will receive the flowers.

5. Flowers can make you more productive

Studies have shown that offices with plants increase brain performance and encourage creativity.

Sparse, clean offices might look impressive to people passing through, but they don’t offer any visual stimulation for those that have to spend all day there, which could have an impact on productivity.

It’s not just workers, either. Studies have also shown the putting plants in classrooms and lecture halls increases attendance. It turns out that having plants around can make you happier and more attentive, wherever you are!

Going back to the idea of colour, red is connected to concentration and attention to detail, while blue is considered a better way to encourage creativity and free-thinking. So, if you notice a lot of plants with the same colour around your office, your boss might be trying to tell you something!

6. Gardening and your mental health

Why wait for someone to present you with flowers, when you could grow your own? We know that flowers can make you feel great and there’s also evidence that gardening itself can be good for your mental health.

A 2015 study found that 88% of people cited mental wellbeing as a reason for heading out into the garden. All that digging, planting and pruning provides fresh air and a sense of achievement.

Some people find value in having something to care for that relies on them to survive. Gardening is also an activity you can do as a group, such as tending a community garden, and spending time with friends and family is a sure-fire way to boost your mood.

If you would like more help in boosting your mood, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.