Try out the new Click here!

Brian Croft

  • How Can a Pastor Guard His Heart from Neglecting His Family?

    There is so much at work when a pastor neglects his family. There are pressures and demands of ministry. There are tensions in his relationship with his wife and children. There are ambitions the pastor has that go unfulfilled. Here are three ways a pastor can guard his heart from the decisions that bring neglect to the family in the midst of the pressures of his life:

    1) Guard your heart from using ministry demands as excuses. What demands of your life and ministry are you most tempted to use as an excuse? In other words, which ministry demand do you most quote when your wife is frustrated you keep coming home for dinner 30 minutes late every evening? Which demands do you use as an excuse when you keep answering your phone on your day off in the middle of a family activity? For example, “So in so needed to talk with me and you know what grief I get from them if I don’t give them time.” Or “I don’t want to give the appearance that I am lazy, as they expect me to be at the hospital that day.” Call these pressures we so often use as excuses what they are… excuses that expose a greater problem.

    2) Guard your heart from ignoring sin in your heart. One of the things that is so dangerous for pastors is that we take what is motivated by sin in our hearts and make it a ministry virtue. We work 70 hours a week thinking we are dedicated when it might be because we fear what other people think. We spend more time studying or visiting others because we want to be accepted and loved in a certain way, instead of focusing on what needs to be focused on for that week. We take a day off for our families and others praise us for that effort, only to approach that day with a selfish attitude thinking it is a time for our families to serve us because we have worked so hard during the week. Fellow pastors, ask God to reveal faithfulness where there is faithfulness and sin where there is sin. God’s Spirit is powerful enough to do that, but we first must desire to know the sin that hides in our heart that causes the neglect of our families and allow the gospel to root it out.

    3) Guard your heart from dismissing your wife’s concerns. Many times our wives see us in ways no one else does, and when that happens they will say things to us others will not. In that moment, we are tempted to dismiss what they say because they are the only ones saying it. Those words are so often God’s greatest gift to us and warn us that something is out of balance. The best pastor’s wife is a wife that is supportive, but unimpressed. The reason I know what an invaluable gift it is to have a wife serve a pastor in this way is because I have a precious wife who is tremendously supportive and incredibly unimpressed with me.

    Dear brothers and fellow pastors, pray your wife finds this balance. Open yourself up to her in such a way that allows her the freedom to play this role. It is for our good and growth that we cherish the gift of a clear, consistent, supportive, yet unimpressed evaluation of our ministry. There is no one better to play that role than the woman to whom you have given your life, lives with you in your darkest hour of discouragement, sleeps next to you every night, places herself under your care and authority, and sacrifices as much as you do for the sake of serving Christ in that local church.

    Pastors, there is much going on in our heart and there is an enemy waging war for our souls every day seeking to destroy us, our ministries, and our families. One of the enemy’s cunning tactics is to subtly cause us to miss these warning signs in our heart that something is not quite right. Let your wife be the barometer on these matters. Watch for them. Pray and ask God to reveal them and guard your heart from them.

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.

  • How Should a Pastor Organize His Weekly Schedule?

    I have often described pastoral ministry as this joyful burden of being able to spend so much time doing such fruitful things, yet never getting close to completing all that needs to be done. I recently received an email from a pastor struggling with his schedule who asked me how I arranged my weekly schedule. Just because I schedule my week this way, doesn’t mean you should. Hopefully, the following will provide a template for you to think through your own schedule. Here are the main bullet points of how I prioritize my week:

    Prepare to preach/teach. Regardless what is happening  in our family and church, Sunday still comes 6 days later. We must first prioritize having adequate time to study to prepare for our responsibilities to preach and teach for the upcoming week.

    Schedule “essential meetings” with people. These are the meetings that must take place this next week. For example: setting aside time to pray for your people, service planning, staff meeting, a marriage in crisis, hospital visitation, etc. Your wife and other pastor/elders are your best resource to help you determine what meetings are actually “essential.”

    Fill in the gaps. If you are like me, then after these first two are in my schedule, there are only a few other pockets of time to schedule other discipleship meetings, time for administration, writing projects, counseling, fellowship with other pastors, and continuing the systematic process to visit and care for widows and other church members.

    I feel the burden of my failures every week without exception to meet all the needs that need to be met and accomplish all that needs to be accomplished. Yet in God’s kind design of our calling, these failures give us an edge that we all need that make us strive to be better, more faithful pastors. It also reminds us of our need to depend upon God alone as we labor in this fine work and that our worth is not in what we do or accomplish, but in our identity in Christ.

    Other pastors, feel free to chime in through comments.

  • What is a Pastor’s True Calling?

    The only way for a pastor to avoid the many distractions of life and to remain steadfast throughout his life and ministry is to know what God has truly called the pastor to do. The pastor’s calling is not to run programs for the masses. The pastor’s calling is not to do whatever is necessary to please everyone in his church. God’s calling for the pastor is different and clearly outlined in God’s Word. The Apostle Peter exhorts elders/pastors (same office) to one undeniable task:

    Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:2–4).

    Peter’s exhortation to pastors can be summarized in this way, “Be shepherds of God’s flock under your care until the Chief Shepherd appears.” Peter is quite clear of the what, who, how, and when of the pastor’s true biblical calling:

    What: Be shepherds of God’s flock.

    Who: The flock that is under your care.

    How: Not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

    When: Until the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, returns for his flock placed in your care.

    The pastor’s true biblical calling is to shepherd the souls of God’s people humbly, willingly, eagerly, and on behalf of the Chief Shepherd. This was the calling for those leading the local church in Peter’s day, and it is the same calling for the busy pastors of the twenty-first century.

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.

  • What Should be the Opening Words of a Funeral Service?

    Opening a funeral service can feel as awkward as those first words you speak to the family who has just lost their loved one. Yet because of the attentiveness people give in those moments, we must seize the opportunity to choose carefully these words as they will set the tone for the entire service. A good rule of thumb is to always allow God to speak before you do. Keep in mind that though there are different kinds of people attending the funeral, they are all in their own way asking the question, “Why, God?”

    Choose a passage of Scripture that cuts through the questions, sorrow, and skepticism to declare the unchanging character of our great God. Prepare in such a way you can stand up, move to the pulpit and then say, “Hear these words about our great, unchanging God. . . .”

    The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:17–21)

    God’s words will always be more powerful, profound, and pervasive than our own. Begin by allowing God to pierce through the doubts by speaking first. After you have prepared a welcome for those attending and state why you have gathered, prepare the rest of the funeral service around five areas, asking how the gospel can be accurately portrayed in them: prayer, music, Scripture readings, eulogy, and sermon.

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.

  • About Brian Croft

    Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is the husband of Cara and adoring father of four children, son, Samuel and daughters, Abby, Isabelle, and Claire.  He has served in pastoral ministry for over fifteen years and is currently in his eighth year as Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church.  He was educated at both Belmont University and Indiana University receiving his B.A. in Sociology.  He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    He is also the author of Visit the sick: Ministering God’s grace in times of illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and Test, train, affirm, and send into Ministry: Recovering the local church’s responsibility to the external call (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Both of these volumes are published by Day One in their pastoral series designed to serve pastors, church leaders, and those training for local church ministry.  Brian has also published Help! He’s Struggling with Pornography and Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals (co-written with Phil Newton).

    A Faith That Endures: Meditations on Hebrews 11 is Brian’s newest book, released in fall of 2011. His next book on The Pastor’s Family, co-authored with his wife, is due to be released by Zondervan in Fall 2013.

    Brian is also a guest blogger at both The Gospel Coalition and 9 Marks.

    To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.