Surviving Disappointment

Sometimes our dreams are dashed in front of us. We had all kinds of dreams, were convinced that we were doing exactly what God wanted in the place he wanted us, and life is not going as we had planned.

All of us face disappointment. All of us will have times of discouragement. But sometimes the load seems too much. We consider giving up and moving on to something else. We feel that those close to us don’t understand how big the load is that we carry. We feel very alone. We may feel God has given up on us.

I’m reminded of the story of Joseph in the Bible, which begins in Genesis 37 and goes on for a few chapters. Joseph had eleven brothers. They hated him because they saw that he was Daddy’s favorite. Joseph had a few dreams that made it look like the rest of the family, all the brothers and their Dad, would bow down before Joseph. Sharing those dreams didn’t help his brother’s hatred. A few of them arranged it to look as if wild animals killed him, and then sold him to some slave traders. Those slave traders brought Joseph to Egypt and sold him to one of the Pharoah’s top officials.

That would be a terrible experience for anyone. No one would be shocked if Joseph became angry. Instead of being a rebellious and belligerent young slave, Joseph served his master well. In fact, his effort was rewarded by the master making him his attendant in charge of the whole household. Jospeh overcomes being sold as a slave and manages to do good for his master. What an amazing example of overcoming disappointment. Instead of letting the disappointment of the situation he finds himself in, causing him to dwell on his own terrible misfortune, Joseph rises above that to continue to do his best as a person – and as a slave.

Then his master’s wife tries to seduce him, but he runs away in order not to sin in this way. The master believes his wife when she accuses Joseph, and he sends Joseph to prison. A second wave of disappointment must have hit Joseph. No one would have been surprised if he was angry at God or became a hardened criminal in prison. Instead, he overcomes that disappointment by doing good in prison. Like when he arrived at the official’s house, his abilities and attitude are soon recognized, and he is placed in charge over all the prisoners. Yes, God is with him, His blessing is evident, but Joseph overcomes what would have been a terribly disappointing situation and is rewarded. Again, instead of letting the situation push him into despair or anger at God, he continues to do his best in the situation he finds himself in.

After some time, Joseph becomes aware through a dream, that one of his fellow prisoners will be soon released and return to his position as Pharaoh’s cupbearer. Joseph asks the cupbearer to please remember him when he returns to Pharaoh’s palace. Joseph begs him to speak up on his behalf and get him out of prison. The cupbearer gets his position back but forgets about poor Joseph back in prison. As time goes on Joseph realizes the cupbearer didn’t speak up and he remains in prison, experiencing yet another disappointment.  

Two years later Pharoah has a dream. Finally the cupbearer remembers Joseph, and how he was able to interpret dreams for him. He recommends that Pharoah speak with Joseph, and Joseph is brought in to explain Pharoah’s dream. When Joseph favourably explains the dream, Pharaoh ends up making Joseph his second in command!

Joseph survived a few waves of disappointment – terrible things to endure. He made it through and God placed him over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

Some time later, when famine hits the homeland, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Since Joseph is in charge of the grain, they bow down before him – just like the dreams Joseph had as a youngster! And then Joseph makes an incredible statement in Genesis 50: 20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Not only did Joseph survive all the terrible disappointments, he saw that God used what others did to him as a means to accomplish great good!

Some lessons to help us survive disappointments:

1. Trust that God is the same God in both moments of triumph and moments of despair. Joseph never blamed God for what was happening. He even ended up saying God was in all of the things he suffered.

2. Be faithful where you are, no matter how disappointing. Joseph did his best in every situation he found himself in. And God blessed him and rewarded him. Whether the disappointments result in goals left unreached or a position terminated when you still had dreams to pursue, be faithful to God wherever you find yourself next.

Be the person God wants you to be no matter what the circumstances are around you.

3. Find your sense of well-being in your relationship with God rather than in your circumstances. Whether Joseph was head slave in an important official’s house or a lowly prisoner, he did everything to the best of his abilities.

4. Trust that God will look after the future. Serve God faithfully right now, wherever you are, trusting that God knows all the next steps and future twists and turns, and that you are safe in His hands.

Disappointments will come. Sometimes they are small, often they are big. We can survive them if we continue to trust God and know we are safe with Him.

When your dreams are dashed and life is not meeting your expectations, continue to hold onto God in the middle of the frustration and pain.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Budgeting: A Guess, A Dream, Or A Plan?

An organization working through the budgeting process needs to forget guessing, begin dreaming, and develop a plan.

Forget Guessing

If you are guessing what your budget should look like that means you have not done your homework.

The budgeting process can seem a little like a guessing game. Yes, you are looking ahead with no assurance that the money you expect and hope to come in actually will. You do not know what your costs for the year will be.

There are some fixed numbers like salaries, but other numbers, such as utility costs that fluctuate based on weather, aren’t as certain. You can get a good idea of what your office supplies will cost based on the previous year, but those costs go up from time to time.

Doing your homework means looking at the realities of the past and the possibilities of the future. The realities are how much you spent on different things over the last few years. You should be able to forecast based on the trends of the past. Developing a budget is not random guessing but a process of looking at various factors to determine the best budget. As for income, look to the past and how current realities might determine if that same amount of income can be expected next year. In a church, if many people are experiencing job loss or are moving away, you may have to anticipate less income as fewer people are able to give. A budget is a thoughtful forecast based on prayerful dreaming and visioning, and connected to a plan of how to move toward the vision. While budgeting always involves a level of uncertainty, you must create a budget based on real information.

Begin Dreaming

Most churches, like other organizations, hope to grow. That means connecting with more people and running more programs. This means greater costs, but hopefully greater giving as well.

It is important for organizations and churches to dream about the future. I believe that we need to build our organizations and our budgets around “God-given” dreams. Ask God what his desires are for you and the people you work with and the people you serve. Are there needs and opportunities God is calling you to step into?

Dreams often cost more than the expected income. This is where the hard work comes in. Find a way to determine if costs need to be cut or your income can be increased. Whether you are a leader in a church or another organization, determine if God wants you to create a budget that will cost more than your forecasted income. We can’t be irresponsible, yet faith plays a part. If you believe God wants you to do certain things and they cost a certain amount, sometimes a budget can look impossible outside of the fact that God can bring in the necessary funds.

A budget is part of your dreaming as you look at how you can meet the costs of the dreams you believe are from God. A budget is an important part of developing your vision as you will need to pay for the costs of moving toward that vision.

Develop A Plan

As you dream of what could happen next year, have a plan so you know where you will be spending money, and an estimate of how much. Your plan is based on your vision and God-given dreams. Your vision and goals should help you project what will be spent over the next year. In our church we also invite leaders of certain programs to submit budget requests based on their vision and goals for their own ministry.

A budget is not just a guess, is needed to achieved your dreams, and can be achieved as you develop a plan around that budget.

  • Set Clear Goals and Strategic Steps

Defer to your organization’s mission and goals to inform how money will be spent. Your goals and strategic steps will give you an idea of what your financial costs for the year will be. Build on the data from past years to develop a plan for how your finances will support your organization’s God-given dreams.

  • Communicate Your Vision

Communicate your vision and God-given dreams clearly to all stakeholders in your church or organization. Share your dreams with passion and excitement. Help them see how their financial contributions will make a difference in people’s lives. Let them know what they are contributing to.

  • Report Regularly

Use a regular reporting structure to let key people know how things are going financially and how that is helping you move toward your goals. Implementing a reporting plan, including what the reports will look like, who will prepare them, and how often they will be shared keeps people informed and prevents surprises when adjustments may have to be made. Updates keep people connected and donors excited about continuing to support the church. When people see the impact of their giving – perhaps through a connection to real people who are being helped – they will be more likely to continue to give.

The results of not reporting on finances regularly can be detrimental to organizations. One church used a congregational meeting to inform the church that finances were very low, and to meet costs, they would be letting a few staff go. The problem was, they had not informed the congregation of the financial situation before they decided on this solution. If they had done so, people may have been willing to increase their giving. If people think there is plenty of money, they may be spending their money elsewhere. Don’t wait until there is a problem before you inform those invested in your church or organization.

If you are determined to honor God in your church and organization, then make sure you talk with God about your dreams and His dreams and then develop clear plans on how to move ahead. Continue to ask God for the wisdom He offers as you handle the finances of your organization with integrity.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

The Church Needs More Creativity

Our Bible begins with the Creator at work, creating our world. When He makes people, they are created in the “image” of God, as creators themselves. While different animals are incredibly industrious and clever, humans are set apart from the animal world by our ability to think through problems and find new solutions and create new things.

Merriam-Webster online defines “create” like this:

  • To bring into existence
  • To invest with a new form, office, or rank
  • To produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior
  • To produce through imaginative skill

Create with a twist on what already exists

God brings into existence something out of nothing. We, as humans, have to use what is already available to create something new or different. Even the creativity of thought or speech builds on the thoughts and words of others.

Creativity uses and builds on what others have created. Of course, we need to acknowledge other’s works and do not want to claim something as ours when it isn’t, but we usually create out of what already exists.

As a church, too often, we buy curriculum and programs that others have found to be useful. We run programs and events that have been effective elsewhere. These can be great options for times when we do not need to “re-invent the wheel” and use materials that others have invested in developing.

Even when we purchase a complete program, we often realize there are aspects that don’t quite fit. In order for the program to work well in our own situation, we need to implement frequent evaluations of our programs and events, and be open and flexible to make changes. These changes require a sense of creativity to consider what we could take out and add to improve the pre-made materials for our situation. We may also find that there are times when we are better off creating our own completely new program that more appropriately contributes to our ministry as a church. Just because a club program works well in large urban centers in the United States does not mean it will transfer to rural northern Alberta. While the teaching may still transfer, the application part may have to be adapted to connect with rural northern kids.

Stretch yourself to think creatively

We need to learn how to be creative. Many of us had all our creativity schooled out of us. We were forced to colour within the lines for too long. We no longer know how to think outside of what already exists. We need to stretch our creative muscles and limber them up so that we can think of things that do not exist yet, building something new on something old. This could be through reading and listening on a variety of subjects. It could be dreaming and brainstorming as a team. It could be learning how to take aspects from many different places to put together something that is new and different, and perfect for what we are hoping to accomplish.

Being creative is not an individual task. Instead, seek creative input from people in your community. Talk to people in different fields to learn how their knowledge and experience could be adapted to work in the church. For example, what might we learn from someone’s expertise in trees about how to structure small groups? Or how might talking to an electrician spark ideas for discipleship?

Areas for creativity in the church

As we focus in on church ministry, creativity can add some new life in almost every area!

The Worship Service – Our worship services have not changed much in decades. We may sing less hymns and more worship songs and we may use versions of the Bible with up-to-date language, but the service as a whole still consists of singing, prayer, scripture reading, and preaching much as it did years ago. Even if we don’t get creative with the outline and contents of the service, we could benefit from creative ways of doing these essential pieces of our worship traditions.

What if we celebrated communion with different stations spread around the room where we could physically enter into confession, repentance, and celebrating the forgiveness Christ offers? We could write sins on paper and run them through a shredder or nail them to a cross.

What if we built on the message of the sermon by inviting people to discuss the application of the lesson and promise to hold each other accountable to follow through on our commitments? Not only would this invite more participation in the service, but encourage engagement with one another throughout the week.

Discipleship – This has been one of the most talked about topic in my church circles over the last decade or two. How do we best disciple others? How do we grow as disciples of Jesus ourselves? Often the process is built on information. We teach people scriptural truths and encourage them to memorize verses. Could we borrow ideas from the trades where people progress through stages of practical learning along with class time? Maybe we could apprentice new believers through stages of learning and development. What if we “walked” through life together? An apprentice disciple could be in touch with their mentor throughout the day, perhaps checking in at certain times, and being available for advice and prayer? We need to creatively find ways of doing this better.

Children’s Ministry – Every church has some type of ministry for their children, and often they are very similar. Could we be creative in how we help our children get to know Jesus and grow in their faith in Him? Yes, use all kinds of media, and creatively insert “old-school” ideas that we enjoyed as children that our youngsters have never experienced. Sometimes creativity may mean re-creating something old with a new twist. You could use puppets, play a video, or have them record their own video on a topic. Find ways to engage them physically through games or dance or hands on interactive learnings stations.

Creativity is the means, not the end goal.

While our desire is to be creative, that is not our goal! While it may be nice to be known as a creative church, the creativity is only meant to help us reach our other goals and to engage more people in the process. As a church, God has called us to reach and teach people; to come to faith in Jesus and to grow as a disciple. Creativity can help us get people’s attention and keep them interested. Creativity can be the container that carries our goals forward. The colour and shape and size of the container helps draw attention. Who wants to watch black and white movies when you can watch them in High Definition colour?

Let’s learn to stretch our creative muscles prayerfully and creatively to be the best church offering the best programs you can!

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Church Has to be Different -But How?

A number of church leaders are declaring: Church has to be different now. Church has to change. While Covid has been an accelerator of this, leaders were already declaring this earlier.

I understand. As culture and society change, we need to adapt how we do the work of the church in order to connect with people today. But what changes?

I don’t feel I have the answers to what that change looks like. Instead, I will share my questions with you who follow me and hope you have some ideas to respond with. I would love to hear your comments.

Worship Service Changes

Do we need to change how we lead the worship service? I believe many churches need to plan for more audience participation and less performance at the front. I am passionate about creating interactive and transformational worship services – so much so, that I am in the process of writing a book about it!

Do we need to change from a monolog preaching style to more discussion? I know of one church that is attempting to do exactly that. People come to the service, gather around tables, and a table host leads the discussion. What else needs to change in the worship service?

Program Changes

What might be some beneficial changes to the type of programs we offer? Do we need to reduce the number of programs we offer? Should we plan more opportunities for people to interact with each other? Do we need to have more Biblical learning opportunities because people are biblically illiterate today?

Online Changes?

One positive outcome of covid restrictions was more churches provided an online worship service option. The church I presently serve is continuing this option, and usually have a number of people tuning in to watch. How might we improve in how we deliver those? Do we need to have people who can interact with those who are tuning in online? Maybe we need to hire staff to be the online church pastor in the same way multi-site churches hire a campus pastor?

How can we have a better online presence beyond just a one-hour worship service? Does this mean creating a presence on social media?

Discipleship Changes

How can we improve how we disciple new believers? In the past the emphasis was on teaching them “how to do” the Christian life. Should we move to an emphasis of “how to be” a Christian living in the world? While Bible teaching remains essential, especially for those coming to church with no prior Bible knowledge, I wonder if we need to help people move beyond living right to really connecting with Jesus, to actually listen and hear God?

Children and Youth Ministry Changes

Could we move beyond entertaining children and youth toward teaching them, even at a young age, how to live a life that is totally dependent on a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and tuned in to the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do we need to challenge youth with opportunities to serve both in the church and in the community and world? Do we need to add in more digital content, or do we deliberately reduce screen time in our programs to counteract all the time they spend online in their day? Would it be wise to help youth focus more on getting to know God rather on avoiding sin? I came across a great quote a while back that went something like this: “Sin does not repel God, God repels sin.” We often see it as the less we sin, the closer we can get to God, when it is probably better to grow deeper in our relationship with God and then sin will be repelled.

Philosophy of Ministry Changes

Should we refocus our energies on helping people to grow in relationship with Jesus and not just in information about God? Do we need to remind ourselves that God came to be “with” us (Emmanuel)? Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to come live “in” us. It is about growing in relationship, not about growing in knowledge.

Outreach and Community Involvement Changes

As we think about introducing people to Jesus, our first realization should be that the mission field is not overseas, but right at our doorstep. There are many people living right next to us, who are just like us, who have never heard the message of salvation. And rather than thinking we need to go overseas, realize the world has come to us. Instead of taking a mission’s team to Mexico, maybe we need to reach out to the growing Mexican population down the street. Maybe instead of going to Africa, reach out to the many Africans from many different countries that now live in our cities? Even many small towns are seeing an influx of foreign workers and new immigrants. We need to reach out to them, welcoming them to Canada and sharing Jesus’ love with them.

As we reach out to those around us, this often requires an improved sense of community involvement and community connections. Some churches do well at this. Some churches offer English classes or homework help. The church I serve has an annual free Clothing Bonanza, clothing many children as they head off to school. They also give away free Bibles, so many that one year they started grabbing the church’s pew Bible to give away. Unfortunately, other churches are so caught up in their own church they hardly even know any people who don’t already know Jesus.

Let’s help people practically, and ensure we share the gospel as well. What else needs to change in how we reach out?

Facility Changes

What needs to change about how we build and set up the places where we meet? Many churches have done a good job equipping their facilities to be more accessible for those physical limitations, for example, by building ramps and elevators. We also have screens with the words on them so people don’t have to flip through hymn books. Additionally, many churches have recognized the needs of their communities, and replaced pews with chairs to allow their spaces to serve in varying purposes throughout the week. Are there other changes? Do we need to add more coffee bars?

Other Changes?

What else needs to change in how we do church? How do we update and adjust our ministries to have a greater impact for God’s kingdom? What “sacred cows” need to be chucked in order to head in a more effective direction?

I’m guessing that many changes will be different from church to church. Every church needs to mull over this issue of how to change to be the best they can be in reaching out and discipling people in their walk with Jesus.

What else needs to change?

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

The Thirst of Humanity

One of the fundamental questions of life is this: Does my life have meaning?

Wrapped up in that question are others. Why am I here? Do I have a role to play? Where do I fit? Can I do something of meaning? What is my purpose?

There is a basic thirst in all humanity to find meaning in life. Everyone wants to find some meaning and value in what they do. And they look for answers in all kinds of places. Some try to fill that thirst with experiences and so they do all kinds of things hoping something will satisfy. They may choose to enhance or even remove the feeling of reality with drugs and drinking. Some chase achievements, some look to “just provide a good life for my family.” Others look to fame. Some look to “leave a legacy” so their name will remain alive long after they are gone. Everyone is searching for that satisfaction that will finally quench their thirst.

The search is on for that elixir that will truly satisfy. This search has carried people in many different directions. If you have attended college or university you will probably have come across some of the following people and their ideas.

  • Albert Camus wrote in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” According to Camus, life is entirely without meaning.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre argued for dealing with the meaninglessness of life by creating our own meaning. We decide, not God, or any other person, what we find meaning in.
  • Augustine of Hippo and Blaise Pascal, though many years apart have both been connected to the idea of a “God-shaped hole” in mankind, or an “infinite abyss”, that Pascal wrote in Pensées, “this he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are...” Looking for something that doesn’t exist, outside of God.

Solomon, King of Israel, declared in his book, Ecclesiastes, “Everything is meaningless… completely meaningless! …I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 14).

Solomon’s journey for meaning led him to seek pleasure and wisdom and hard work, and found none of these pursuits were fulfilling. In Ecclesiastes 3: 14 he says, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” There is something in the human heart that longs for more. This is reminiscent of the “God shaped hole” or “infinite abyss” that is longing to be filled, to be satisfied. This thirst that is longing to be quenched.

Solomon journeys on, looking at the injustices of life, the futility of political endeavors and chasing after and gaining wealth. He points out that everyone dies. So what is the value of the time of our existence?

In chapter 11 Solomon encourages both the old and young to treasure their days, and reminds them that God is part of the answer to our thirst for meaning. Yet he still views life as meaningless.

When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 11: 8-9)

In the end Solomon concludes “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14.)

His final conclusion is we need to recognize that God has the final say about our meaning and value. He is the final judge. Our job is to obey him and find meaning in that obedience to God. There is no meaning in all other pursuits, except in honoring God in those pursuits.

The thirst of humanity cannot be satisfied with any other pursuit than that which brings us into a relationship with the One who made us. God created us to have a relationship with Him. Any pursuit that looks for satisfaction outside of that relationship will never satisfy. To look for contentment outside of what we were created for will only bring more dissatisfaction and frustration.

To use a drill to pound a nail or a file to chop wood is ridiculous and frustrating. We need to come to God who created us for relationship with Him, and as we honor and worship him our craving will find relief.

Your thirst can only be quenched as you drink deeply from God who created you and loves you!

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


DEFINED: Who God Says You Are – by Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick

Many in our culture are struggling with their identity. They are confused about who they really are. The Kendrick brothers present a great answer by walking through “who God says you are.” They draw on the book of Ephesians as they say “His Word teaches that you can discover, believe, and set your heart on your true identity – your identity in heaven.” The book is laid out in a daily reading style with extra scriptures and a prayer at the end of each day’s reading. Want to know who God says you are? Then this book is for you.

9 Reasons To Quit

In my last article I gave nine reasons not to quit your present role or position. I think those are important reasons to be aware of. On the other hand, sometimes it is the perfect time to quit. My daughter, who edits my blogs for me, reminded me of the times I have quit and suggested I approach this issue from the opposite side. Great idea! So here it is. Nine reasons to quit.

1. God has clearly called you somewhere else.

I believe that God has the authority to redirect me if he so chooses. You may have experienced that in your own life. Sometimes it is clear that God is asking you to take on a new role elsewhere. One pastor suggested that every time you quit to take on a new role, look for both the push and the pull. Look at the reasons you feel like quitting and the reasons the next role seems so appealing. It may be that God is pulling you to a new opportunity elsewhere.

2. You believe you have done all you can in your current role.

Sometimes we take on roles with great excitement. It seems like such a great fit. You work hard and do a good job, but then you come to the point where you feel you have done all you can. Church planters are a good example of this. They start a church and get it to a certain size or place of stability and then hand it off to another pastor so they can start another new church.

3. You have lost the confidence of your team.

There are times, whether it is your fault or not, where you know that you have lost the confidence of your team. Your board may no longer trust you or believe that you are capable of leading into the next chapter of your church or organization, and you realize that you will no longer be able to lead in your current role. I experienced this when someone misread my actions, and I knew that no matter what I did, I would not be able to change their opinion of me. It would be hard to gain the team’s trust back. It was time to move on.

4. Outside factors indicate a need to move.

Sometimes we need to leave a position because of external factors. These factors could be related to medical care, family care needs, or education. For example, one move my wife and I decided to make was influenced in a large part by the fact that both our daughters were entering High School and a move later would be much harder to manage.

5. You are pursuing further training.

You may recognize that in order to grow in areas you are called to and to continue to be effective, you need to pursue further education or training. That may be a meaningful reason to quit.

6. Your present role is taking too much of a toll on you.

There are times when we find ourselves in a role that is wearing on us to the point that we are emotionally and physically becoming ill. We need to recognize when we are no longer able to endure the pain or difficulty of our present role.

7. When your vision and the church’s vision are too different.

I left a pastoral role at a church after only being there a short time, when I finally realized that the church’s vision was too different from mine.

This had not been clarified before taking the position. It is impossible to maintain your integrity when you have to work in a role that does not align with your own values and goals. It is better for you, and the organization you are working for, to find a better fit elsewhere.

8. You are being asked to do more than you are capable of.

Sometimes our roles change. We may have been a great fit in the beginning, but things have changed to the point where you no longer fit. It could be that you have done a great job as a pastor so your church has grown, but you recognize that it is now bigger than you are capable of leading and someone else is needed. Alternatively, you may be in a situation where your job description is changed, and you need to evaluate the situation to see if you are still in the right role or need to move on.

9. If you can’t afford the role anymore.

Sometimes, you need to make a decision to quit and find a new role because you are not being paid well enough. Some churches are small, and are limited in what they can offer as a salary. If the wage is no longer enough to meet the climbing expenses of you and your family, there may come a time when you need to resign and look for a better paying role.

If you think it is time to quit, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and then do it with confidence.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

How to Set Plans that Work

“The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry,” goes the saying. I like dreaming and planning. I like looking ahead and doing strategic planning with churches. I get excited about the possibilities of what could happen if things worked out right. The problem is, many good plans do not bear the fruit we had hoped. So how can you set plans that will not fail?

“The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.”

John Steinbeck

In James 4:14-15 it says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” 

James reminds his readers that no one knows what tomorrow brings. We can do all kinds of planning and scheming and base it all on good research, but in the end, no one knows what will really happen. There are always many unknowns that we cannot prepare for. We can do our best, and often plans work out, but not always. The only one who knows what tomorrow will bring is the Lord God.

God is not bound by time, so He knows what will happen tomorrow and the next day, and the next year. So as events happen, He is not surprised. Maybe we need to ask Him to help us make plans that match His for us.

In Jeremiah 1: 4-5, we read:

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

God told Jeremiah that He knew him before he was born, even before he was conceived. That is quite the theological issue to work through at another time, but the point is that God knows us and has plans for us. He had a plan for Jeremiah. He appointed him to be a “prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah didn’t need a career counselor or an aptitude test of some kind to help him discover what he wanted to do with his life. God told him exactly what he should be “when he grew up.”

This morning I was reading in Psalm 138 when I came across a line in verse 8: “The Lord will work out his plans for my life.” The psalmist believes that God has a plan for his life. He trusts that to be true. I felt comforted as I read that verse. My life and my plans are not dependent on my own abilities or lack thereof. If King David is right, and I believe other scriptures agree, then God has a plan for MY life, and a plan for YOUR life.

I don’t think God has every detail of your life planned out in such a way that you need to be constantly afraid that you are making the wrong decision. I don’t think God was disappointed that I chose the Mexican Bean soup at lunch instead of the Butternut Squash soup. And honestly, I don’t know if there is one specific girl for each guy or if God leaves that up to us. What I do know is that God is intimately aware of who you are and who I am. He has plans for us as one person of humanity and plans unique to each of us as an individual.

God’s plan for all humans is that they would come to faith in Jesus and a relationship with God the Father through Him. God wants all people to join him in living in His kingdom here on earth. God desires for all people to join him in the afterlife, in His new kingdom. But I believe he also has plans unique to us. These plans are more like the plans of a coach for each individual player. He puts the player in goal who has been playing that position all his life and is best equipped and prepared for that role. He will probably put the fastest skater and best player on the first line, maybe even at centre. God knows each of us, after all, He created us. Like Jeremiah, God knew you and me before we were even born. He has observed us all our lives. He knows how we are equipped to handle situations we will face in life. And I believe that he has certain roles He wants us to be in.

If I want to make plans that will work out, I had better talk with God about those plans. Whatever the plans, we can talk to God about them as we make them. There is generally good value in involving others on our team in plans we make for organizations we are part of. We can benefit from the input of good friends. Yet the best input is to ask God to help you in the dreaming and planning. Ask Him to guide your thinking. Ask Him to help you get the best research and information to base your planning on. Ask Him to tell you what He wants done. After all, if God has plans for me, I will be better off doing what he has planned.

There are many different steps that experts could suggest as you desire to make plans that work, but if you believe in God, your first step needs to be to check in with Him. Sometimes it takes hard work and effort to accomplish meaningful plans. Again, God is the one who can help you persevere to the end.

You want to make plans that work? Then ask God to guide you in making your plans.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s Reading Experience 2022

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


NO LIMITS – by John Maxwell

John Maxwell has written many books on Leadership. This one is on helping leaders expand their potential. He begins by helping the reader become aware of how they are and what they are presently capable of. He wants people to know they are probably capable of doing or becoming more than what they realize. He addresses seventeen different areas of capacity with the desire to help you maximize your capacity in each of those areas in your life. He concludes the book with this equation: AWARENESS + ABILITY + CHOICES = CAPACITY. If you wish you could do more, then this book will help you do that.

Encourage Second-Career Ministry

I meet monthly with other Transition Pastors. We are all serving churches by helping them say goodbye to a previous pastor, move to good health, and welcome a new pastor. In the last couple of months our conversations have included discussions about how few resumes are submitted for Lead Pastor positions at the churches we are serving. There seems to be a shortage of pastors. There are not enough pastors stepping into the role to balance those exiting that role.

Last week I said we need to encourage our young people to consider being a pastor or a missionary. When I was a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. There is nothing wrong with being a doctor. I have been really appreciative of a doctor’s work for me and my family many times. I dreamed of becoming a doctor. Our children are dreaming of what they want to be when they grow up. We need to encourage our children to dream of becoming pastors and servants of God in foreign contexts. We need to find good examples of pastors and missionaries to highlight for them.

Young people are not the only ones who could consider these roles. There is another group of individuals who are choosing to become a pastor later in life. I know of some who were farmers most of their life, or truckers, or welders, and then shifted to becoming a pastor.

Pastors, we have a special opportunity to encourage those in our congregation that seem to display the necessary qualities and character to choose pastoral ministry as a second career – or third, or whatever. People of God, ask God to show you if He wants to redirect you to become a pastor or missionary.

There are many godly people in our churches who work at their job all week and then serve at the church evenings and weekends. Some of them are clearly not just volunteering because someone is needed to fill a certain slot. Some of them are gifted teachers or mentors of others. They have a heart for God which is evident in the way they serve in the church and in how they operate their business or work at their jobs. Some of them have already graduated from Bible College or Seminary but never pursued the role of a pastor.

There is a group of faithful and godly people who graduated from Bible College, and maybe even Seminary, who have often not been the first choice in pastoral roles, but that has changed a lot in the last few years. Women are being hired more often and for roles beyond just Children’s Pastor or Women’s Pastor. While I, personally, may be hesitant to encourage a woman to pursue a Lead Pastor position, many churches now are open to hiring a woman for any pastoral role in the church. They are hiring based on the gifts of the person rather than on gender. So, let’s encourage our women to consider pastoral ministry as well, listening to God as to where and how he wants them to serve. Pastors, some women have not felt a freedom to pursue pastoral ministry and God is asking you to encourage them in that direction.

Some people have never considered being a pastor because they were not “good enough.” They had a certain image in their mind of what a pastor was like, and they didn’t match up to their ideal. If you look around, you will find that pastors come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all varieties of personalities. Some are great for serving in small churches and others are perfect for large churches. You don’t have to match up to an ideal. You just need to say “yes” if God is asking you to step into that role.

Some faithful servants of God felt God hadn’t specifically called them to the role of pastor, so they headed in a different direction. Just a question: “Did God call you to head in that direction?” If God did not specifically call you to be a pastor, did you use those same criteria to decide to be a welder or business owner? Many people chose to pursue a career because they thought they would do well in it, make good money, and they would feel fulfilled in that role. But maybe God never called you to that role. You just chose it. Maybe its time to specifically ask God if you should step into a role as pastor. Take time to prayerfully consider this. Talk to your pastor and other godly people around you and ask them what they think. And if all signs point to becoming a pastor, then pursue it with your whole heart!

Some have decided not to be a pastor because it is too hard of a job. Sometimes the pay will be way lower than what you are making right now. People will not appreciate what you are doing, and complain. Your family may suffer. You will be frustrated at how slow things move in the church compared to the business you were running. It seems like too much of a sacrifice to say yes to this role. Not to be too direct, but remember the sacrifice Jesus made for your salvation? He gave His all, His life, faced ridicule from people, and even separation from His Father as He died on the cross. If God is asking you to become a pastor, then He will give you the strength to persevere. I can give witness to that. I have had some very difficult moments in a few different churches, but God has been faithful through it all!

There are some of you who considered being a pastor, and maybe even served as a pastor for a short while, but you were frustrated with the institution of the church. You feel that it is not accomplishing what it should. You are probably right. But you may be just the right person to step into this role. If God is showing you where the church is lacking, can you trust that God will show you some answers in how to improve that? Sometimes it is a person new to the role that will see what is wrong and how to change it for the better. Your voice in the conversation may be exactly what is needed to raise the level of discussion on improving the church.

“Second Career Pastors” can have incredible ministries accomplishing great things for God and the expansion of His kingdom! Will you accept the challenge and become a pastor?

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe