A Gift For My Parents

Raising 3 kids while pastoring a small church was always a financial challenge. This challenge was more evident during the Christmas season, however.  My Dad, who was a PK, would share with me stories of his Christmases living in a household with limited income. He and his 7 siblings resented the church and God because of this for many years.  Hearing these stories, Paula and I would do our best to make sure Christmas was as special as possible every year, yet always wondering if our limited income for Christmas gifts was eliciting a similar emotion for our young family.


It wasn’t until a hand written letter from our oldest son given to us on Christmas Eve, did we realize that Christmas gifts were really secondary to the emotional health of a young family compared to the stuff that happens in the home every day of the year.  Our oldest child, Randy, was a senior in high school when he gave Paula and I an early Christmas gift. It was a letter he wrote to us.  I came across this letter as I was doing research. It said:


A Gift For My Parents

A Christmas discussion ‘round a table brings up the question
“What was the best gift you have ever received?”

Thoughts flew…

Was it the bike or glove, the letterman’s jacket or the telescope?
The shoes, pants, toys, or the money?

How can there be a Best Gift?

I cannot decide whether Nintindo beats G.I. Joe.
My mind is not made up, As through the years I sift.

But I can decide this.

The greatest gift did not come wrapped nicely under the Christmas tree,
Although they were especially nice.

The best gift in fact, did come to me free,
and had a different kind of price.

The price of time, of patience, prayers and understanding.
Godliness, love, humor, and laughter. You showed them all to me.
They were shown daily, laid out in the kitchen, the den, the bedroom, a precious sight to see. 

Two parents joined by a common goal. To serve God with all their might,
with all their mind, and all their soul.


Two examples.

They are the best gifts I have ever been given.
Thank You God for the gift of my parents.
May they in some way know, how much I truly love them. 


An emotionally healthy family does not need a large church nor a large bank account to make Christmas memories. Christmas gifts are nice. In fact, Paula and I still forego exchanging gifts to make sure our grandkids have something from us under the tree on Christmas morning.

Knowing the Best Gifts have already been given by you throughout the year, enjoy this Christmas season without guilt or regret.  But if you can afford that special gift, go for it!  It’s Christmastime!

If I Had a “Do-Over”

My grandkids keep me young.  There is seldom a Sunday afternoon that doesn’t have us playing some kind of competitive game, be it hallway soccer, swimming pool basketball, or front room volleyball.  And invariably someone always yells out “DO OVER!”  It’s yelled when someone didn’t like how a certain game sequence turned out for them. And I usually relent and say, “Ok, let’s try that again”!

Ever wish you had a “do over” in pastoring? Maybe not all of it. Ha! Ok, maybe all of it. 

Hey! I’m very grateful for the 33 wonderful years of senior pastoring and I would not trade in one minute for anything. But if the Lord offered a “do-over” with me making healthier pastoral choices I would take the following 9 choices with me.

  1. I would take heed to my primary ministry assignments, my wife and kids, and make sure I choose to protect their health and church experience over that of my congregation.

  2. I would think through what Matthew 25 says about defining my “grace capacity” regarding community influence and church size.

  3. I would give more attention to the wonderful grace of God and how it relates to my church success and personal sanctification, realizing church success has nothing to do with my relationship with God.

  4. I would enjoy church life at every stage.

  5. I would look for more opportunities to celebrate successes than discussing the failures.

  6. I would be more intentional to be around young people and release them into leadership and decisions-making roles sooner than later.

  7. I would make it a habit to publicly honor the hard work of my wife, our leadership team, and our hardworking church volunteers.

  8. I would be more intentional in seeing my church launch other churches and sending out, or at least preparing more, ministers and missionaries.

  9. And probably one of the most important “do-overs” would be to meet regularly with 2 or 3 pastor/friends to share intimate life struggles and personal hardships.


I always allow do-overswith my grandkids. Although pastors can’t go back into time for our ministry do-overswe canexperience ministry recalibrations, restarts, and repurpose opportunities. If you’re not experiencing the healthy outcomes you expected and want a do-overmay you hear your heavenly Father gently saying to you, “Ok!Let’stry that again”! 

A Non-anxious Presence

In many leadership circles, the leader looks for the problem, identifies it and takes action. Though this may be what's needed in some situations, the “If it looks like a nail, it must need a hammer” mentality for leadership may not always get us the results we’re looking for.

In every sphere of influence - work, home, church, or social - there is an emotional system in place. The successful leader has learned how to recognize the system and operate within it in a healthy way. Peter Steinke, in his book Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times explains it like this: “Anxiety alone will not harm or endanger a system. How anxiety is addressed will determine outcome more than anything. Your responsible and enlightened behavior will influence the situation more than any other action.” Effective leadership begins with leading oneself. Are we reactive within the emotional system or are we looking within ourselves, examining our inner man through our connection with the Spirit of God? Most of us are unaware of how we affect those around us or don’t care. However, we are called to be a non-anxious presence (John 16:33), seeking wisdom and clarity from the Lord in every situation. We may think we know how to do that, but we might need some help with personal awareness. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do the people around me hide information for fear of how I might react?

  2. Is reactivity my go-to in anxious situations?

  3. Do I alter my behavior because I know I will react negatively?

If you identify with any of the statements above, I’d like to help you pinpoint a pathway towards health and it starts with a tough exercise that will lead you to awareness. If you are unaware, it’s impossible to change. Here’s the exercise:

Ask those close to you the following question: What has it been like being around me lately? No response from you is necessary, nor is it recommended - just listen. Defensiveness will only affirm you are not ready for the answer. If you get no answer at all, ask this follow-up question:  Do you feel safe enough to answer that question honestly? If the answer is NO, now you are aware. Don’t take the conversation any further. You have some inner work to do, but you can trust Jesus to walk you through it. Humility is the pathway to transformation.


PSW District greetings everyone!

Recently Pastor Fernando, upon seeing the need to address the growing number of church transitions within our district, secured the services of pastor Kevin Dolbee, former senior pastor at Boulder City, NV to serve as our church transitions/church health specialist. Kevin recently joined our District team and was an easy fit.  I asked him to share briefly his current journey as a way to introduce him to our District. Enjoy his entry.

Ron Flores

We teach those around us to draw strength from God in times of trouble, yet rarely focus on preparing ourselves. My wife and I had just come through a challenging ministry season when the unthinkable happened. I was diagnosed with a debilitating heart condition. It would be easy to think this was caused by stress or eating poorly, lack of sleep, lack of exercise - things we pastors are so good at. This was not the case. I contracted a virus that attacked my heart and caused severe damage. Statistically, only ⅓ of those with this condition fully recover. It made no sense. Why me? How would I get through this?

A number of years back I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked some tough questions about my life. I loved Jesus, but was I really transforming? I was a Christian, but I was easily offended. I loved people, but they sure did bother me. I felt like I had a firm grasp of the gospel, but my emotions were erratic. I ultimately realized that spiritual maturity and emotional health were inseparable. The journey of exploring beneath the surface prepared me for the crisis of faith I would face. A few things ring true as I reflect on this whirlwind: I remained anchored in Jesus (Hebrews 6:19). My “doing” for Jesus birthed out of my “being” with Jesus. I paid attention to my anger, sadness and fear. Experiencing these emotions allowed me to see the larger picture God was painting. The question I asked myself was “How are you coming to me in this emotion, God?” I received limits as a gift. I could have pushed myself and used scripture to justify it. I would have missed what only silence and solitude could offer. I embraced endings and loss as a fundamental way in which God works. (John 12:24)

I’m not out of the woods yet, I’m still vulnerable but my symptoms have all subsided. I’m feeling better every day and my emotional, physical and spiritual health have shown me that the BEST IS YET TO COME!

Kevin Dolbee

Enough! Time to get away.

It always fascinates me when I read how Jesus would find time to get alone with His Father, or alone with his disciples, or into the wilderness for some downtime by himself. He’s in the middle of the most intense three-year ministry the world has ever known or will know, and even with the shortened time-frame, he’d hit a point where he’d say “Enough! Time to get away.”

In all honesty, that’s not how I’d respond if I was on such a huge time-crunch. If I only had three years to save the world? I’d probably never sleep! I’d tell my core team to suck it up, I’d press into the fact that this is life or death and the world needs me and we can all sleep when we’re dead. What are we, made of sugar??

I’d feel really justified during my pursuit, of course, with self-righteous self-validation, and I’d probably crash and burn before I even got to the three-year mark, doing lots of damage along the way to these near me.

Not Jesus. Check out this verse in Mark:

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

What a Savior!

We’ve all been there: on empty. Whatever day of the week you read this email if you haven’t run out of physical and emotional energy by now, you’re getting close. When your emotional tank is empty, you’re unable to keep on loving people. You just give up! You are overwhelmed and feel inadequate. You tend to get angry with the ones you love the most. You try to avoid people, and you see them as problems. You dream of getting away. David had this problem. He said, “If only I had wings like a dove — I would fly away and find rest!” (Psalm 55:6)

To keep on loving people, you have to keep your emotional tank full, because when it gets low, it’s going to make a difference in your relationships.

The Bible has three suggestions for recharging emotionally:

Solitude. You need time alone. Jesus frequently withdrew from crowds when he needed to recharge himself emotionally. In Mark 6 (KJV), Jesus told the disciples to “come apart” for a while. You either come apart or you will come apart. You need times of solitude.

Recreation. There are certain things that recreate energy and enthusiasm for life. For you, it may be hobbies, a sport, a craft, or games. Experiment, find out what recharges you emotionally, and then make time for it. Jesus was the most intensive, ministry-oriented person that ever lived, but he enjoyed life. Whatever your job is when you’re giving out to others, it costs and exhausts. You need play time. 

Laughter. “Being cheerful keeps you healthy.” (Proverbs 17:22) Studies prove that when you laugh, it increases the number of T-cells, which raises your immunity level, which produces endorphins in your brain. Humor has beneficial effects!

God has given us the gift of laughter, and we need to learn how to laugh. A pastor I know said he was counseling a couple who were in serious conflict in their marriage. They would say, “Someday we’ll look back at this and laugh.” The pastor said, “Why wait? Why not just laugh at it right now?” Laughter is a load lightener, an emotional recharger, and a love builder.

This afternoon, after work, before you get out of the car to walk into the house, connect with your Father. “Come apart” with Him, if even for a moment of quiet solitude and submission. Find a way to enjoy some recreation. And try to laugh a little. Watch an episode of America’s Funniest Videos, or a silly cat youtube clip. Or ambush your kids with a Nerf gun. (They’ll love it.) 

Jesus made time for it, because even as important as his mission was, he needed it. May we take note, even those of us who are reeeeeeally important! 


Ronnie Flores | Meadows Fellowship, Las Vegas, NV

Too busy to rest...a recipe for disaster!

Has there ever been a time when you decided that for a length of weeks or months that whatever you were doing at that moment was SO important that you couldn’t afford to take a day off.  So you didn’t.  And over time you found it just wasn’t worth it. While getting some things done, you became more irritated with your family.  You became short with your wife. You became more tired.  And in the end you didn’t get as much done as you thought. This just doesn’t work. 

But I get it.  There are occasional seasons of unbalanced schedules but it is incredibly prideful of me to think that what I’m doing FOR God at that moment was more important than listening to WHAT God said about how He made me.  

God made me to need rest.  And because humankind would never come to this conclusion on our own God instituted the Sabbath, a day of rest every week.

If you don’t take time off your body’s going to make time off. Most pastors feel weird about resting. But God has made us so that we need rest.  If  your car engine light was showing red, you would stop because you would know it’s going to damage the engine.  God says if you don’t take one day out of seven to rest, if you keep pumping the adrenaline all day, every day, eight days a week, your engine is going to explode.

If you don’t slow down by choice, circumstances are going to force you to slow down.  God says I want you to make the choice.  I don’t want it to happen that way.  YOU rest your body, 

On a Sabbath day do things like:  just being quiet, reading, napping, calling on an old friend, reconnecting in relationships, renting a good movie with your family, recreation that rejuvenates. I’m not talking about competitive recreation.  Some of you aren’t getting any recharging of your emotions out on the golf course. You’re just getting angry at the other guy.  I like to garden.  But I’ve found out I can easily move from rest to all of a sudden I’m going to take on the entire back yard. No longer am I resting.  I’m working. 

Of course, when we Sabbath we don’t take a day off from God.  We worship.  Worship puts life into perspective.  No sport can do that.  No hobby can do that.  As enjoyable as those are I need time to put my life in perspective by remembering how great God really is.  I need time to be alone with God.  Pastors more than anybody need time with their Shepherd.  

To do this, I have to schedule it.  It does not happen automatically.  I have to remind myself of Psalm 127:2 “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone.  Don’t you know that God enjoys giving rest to those He loves?”  

Pastor, take a day out of seven to rest.  Don’t call it a day off. Call it a day of Sabbath.  When you do that you remind yourself God enjoys giving rest to those He loves.  Also, if we call it a day off you’re going to be tempted to cheat on it sometimes, to work through it, to use it for work, to skim over it.  If you call it the Sabbath which it is then you’re more likely to keep it.

My Sabbath is Friday noon to Saturday noon. 

I know a pastor who one of his member’s got mad at him because he said he tried to call him several times on Monday (his Sabbath) and couldn’t get a hold of him.  The pastor said, “Sorry, but that’s my day off.”  The member said, “The devil doesn’t take a day off.”  And the pastor said, “You’re right.  And if I didn’t I’d be just like the devil.”  Satan is not my model for balanced living.  Jesus Christ is my model.  

“But I’d rather burn out than rust out.”  That’s what I told my parents when they warned me of my non-stop church schedule. I was 19. I was hard core. I was wrong. Zealous!  But wrong.  

Sure, there may be brief seasons of an unbalanced schedule for pastors. But as a rule of pastoral life, take one day every seven days and Sabbath.  I feel bad I didn’t listen to my dad when I was young and tireless. It’s amazing how smart I’ve become the older I get.

Making soul care a priority

“If only there were opportunities for me to unplug in a nonperforming environment and just catch my breath with pastor friends.” 

Guess what? Because of the effort of some dear District servants, soul-health opportunities for our pastors are now being made available in our District!

Patrick and Mindy Crowder lead Pastor Sabbatical Retreats (marital soul care) for senior pastors that provides such an environment. Currently there are several more retreats left on their calendar for this year and they’re filling up fast. (By the way they also provide emergency marital intensives. What a gift to our District!)

Another soul health opportunity is available through Cyndi Valdez and Kelly White. Their team conducts a similar getaway geared exclusively for our pastor’s wives called Care Connection.

These two opportunities are relatively new to our District calendar and are designed to address soul health for busy pastors. Because of these new efforts we at the District will begin to hear, “If only there were MORE opportunities for me to unplug in a nonperforming environment and just catch my breath with friends.” 

The following is a testimony from one pastor couple who attended a recent PSR: 

“Portia and I have always enjoyed Pastors Conference and Connection every year. Every time, the worship is amazing, the speakers and breakouts are inspiring and informative, and the overall experience is encouraging.

If you’re like me, before every Conference and Connection, I’ll tell my wife:‘This year, we HAVE to get lunch with so-and-so.’Or, ‘We need to get together with our friends from such-and such church.’  Or, ‘We’ve got to make sure we take time to rest.’ 

But between my poor planning abilities AND my desire to attend EVERY service and breakout, I can often miss the connections, lunches, and conversations with pastor friends and loved ones: conversations that can be SO encouraging and healing. Also, my constant activity can send me home more tired than when I arrived.

Recently I told Portia: ‘I almost wish there was a pastors gathering that was ALL ABOUT resting and connecting with friends.

Through God’s kindness, just a few months later, I was invited to a Pastor Sabbatical Retreat, led by Patrick and Mindy Crowder.

Pastors: this thing is legit. It’s the perfect complement to Conferences. 

Three days at a nice rental house with three other pastor couples, each with their own room. No services, no classes, no sermon-prepping. Just three days of rest, with time built in to hear from God, to connect with friends, and to tell your story.

It’s incredible in its simplicity and effectiveness. The quietness was healing, and the deep friendships we formed within our group were sorely needed and are unbreakable. We still meet regularly.

If you’re able, attend a PSR. Dive in head first. I promise you, at the end of day one, you’ll be saying what I said: ‘We need to do this at least once a year!’”

-Pastor Ronnie Flores

Meadows Fellowship, Las Vegas, NV

To ask questions, get info, or register for a PSR, text Patrick Crowder at 909-618-5454 to arrange a conversation.


Keeping yourself from harm

I was living the glorious Pentecostal life! My weekly schedule was door-to-door witnessing and evangelistic evening services nearly every day as we traveled across the country winning souls for Jesus.  It was awesome!  But after 2 years of this schedule Paula was ready to walk out of our marriage.  When she saw how happy I was and how unhappy she was, she concluded she was the problem, not the ministry. The ministry was doing great while our young marriage was a mess. We were 24 and Randy was 1 year old. 

For years I was perplexed! How could serving God in such an awesome, pure-hearted way lead to a marriage vs ministry showdown?  How could doing the work of God lead to something so contrary to the will of God? My motive was right! My heart was pure. Yet my young marriage was on the rocks. By the grace of God and through my wife’s incredible patience our marriage was spared.  

Luke 4:9-12 says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’  And Jesus answered and said to him,It has been said, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Health Marker: The incredible love of God wants to keep me from unnecessary marriage, family, and personal harm as I serve Him wholeheartedly in the ministry. 

Satan told Jesus, “If You’re really God’s Son, do something foolish. Jump of this building! Your Father promises to catch You!” The devil told Jesus to throw Himself off of the five story Temple to the stone pavement below.  Rather than downplaying the promises of God’s miraculous care Jesus basically said, “If God told me to jump, I’d jump. But God didn’t tell me to do something, that on the surface, is so foolish. So I’m not going to tempt Him with this action.”

We all know the pastorate has inherent challenges and hardships. Serving Jesus is not for the faint of heart or circumstance cowards.  Jesus Himself was going to experience many incredible pains and hurts in His brief life but throwing Himself off the Temple was not going to be one of them. Pastors too will experience many hardships serving Jesus. That’s part of the package. But how many of us have made foolish or ill-conceived ministry decisions that affected our marriage and kids adversely, assuming “God’s got our back”.  Only to have those decisions lead to lifelong marriage and family handicaps.

We “throw” ourselves into the pastorate without thinking through the consequences it has on our family and personal health. And when our life begins to crumble around us, like mine, we wonder where God was!

In my situation, God did in fact call me into the ministry. And He did call me to count the cost and win the lost. But He didn’t tell me to “jump!”  By that I mean He didn’t tell me to disregard wisdom and common sensewhen it comes to further sacrificesto my marriage and kids, putting them in harm’s way unnecessarily. 

But what about the stories and testimonials of great pastors making unusual personal family sacrifices for the sake of the ministry? And why did God give His angels charge over THEM, to keep THEM’? My answer? God probably told them to jump and gave them Psalm 91:11-12.

I read that if someone fell from a 5 story building they have a 50% chance of surviving the fall.  But those who survive are going to have lifelong handicaps.  This sounds a whole lot like many of us pastors, the ones who survived a foolish jump.

A healthy pastor is one who, in the midst of an already incredibly stressful vocation, will never presume that every ministry opportunity that presents itself is what the Lord is calling us to do. Particularly when it effects our health the health and wellbeing of our marriage and children. Make sure it’s Him calling you to further risk.  The ministry schedule I described in my story WAS awesome, if I was single.   

Here are some helpful hints to consider, helping you from jumping mindlessly into ministry assignments:

  1. Let God restore your soul by protecting your weekly Sabbath.
  2. Realize a quiet date night with your wife is probably the most spiritual thing you can do for your church.
  3. There is a vast interchangeable supply of church members but you only get one set of kids. Give your kids priority in your schedule.

“It’s about your health, pastor!”


Remember the famous line from the 1992 elections, “It’s the economy stupid!”  It was said by Clinton strategist, James Carville, who was explaining to volunteers what they should emphasize when discussing key political issues.

As our District strategizes ways to go about winning the lost and multiplying churches, I think our District tag line could be just as obvious, “It’s about your health, pastor!”

No, it’s not the only thing.  Nor is it the most important thing. There are many variables in the equation of winning the lost and multiplying churches, but very few are more important than the health of our pastors. Supervisor Fernando Castillo shared a statement at a district conference two years ago that became our clear balanced mandate: “It’s all about HIM, Health, Improvement, and Multiplication.” Our District team has this before them as we retool current pastors and prepare new ones.  Health, Improvement, Multiplication.

Regarding Health, consider with me for a moment the example the Father gave us as He prepared His Son for His ministry assignment. I believe the soul health of His Son was at the core of this crucial preparation. For the sake of this brief devotional, let’s see Jesus like a person who was stepping into a new pastorate or church plant.  Use your imagination!

What occurred BEFORE Jesus entered ministry, at His water baptism, provides us insights to keys for our own soul health.

Let’s first look at two events that FOLLOWED His water baptism, basically launching Jesus into His public ministry; events surrounding His ‘sending church’ at Nazareth, and then the events that surrounded His actual ‘ministry launch’ at Capernaum. 

First, the sending church events.  It’s well documented that one of the keys of a successful church plant is having a good sending church. The sending church are the dear people who cover us in prayer and financial support.  We cannot overstate the value of a sending church. What happened when Jesus shared His vision statement at His “sending church” at Nazareth? The people who knew Him best, the ones who formed the potential support base for His ministry tried to throw Him off a cliff after he preached! (Luke 4:28-30).  His sending church tried to kill Him!  A lot of us have stories of how our sending church was less than supportive.  But can you top a homicide attempt?  

After this, Jesus goes directly to Capernaum (Luke 4:31) to essentially start His ministry.  What happened at His ministry launch?  Again, use your imagination!  Here is Jesus at His new church. It’s probably a full house. There’s excitement in the air. He had a killer sermon.

I’ve attended many church restarts and church plants. All are festive occasions with special music, balloons, bouncy houses for kids, and lots and lots of food. All have tons of advertisement and “grand opening” themes that make for a perfect service.  What happened at Jesus’ grand opening service?  A demon manifests while He’s preaching (Luke 4:33-34)!  Talk about a grand opening service killer!  I mean, we get all riled up if we have a fussy baby in the front row!  But a demon?  Not a good first service start.  Then with the service over Jesus has to heal the caterer!  Peter’s mother-in-law is sick, and Jesus had to heal her before she served the after-service lunch (Luke 4:38-39).  How would you handle a demonic manifestation and a no-show caterer for your grand opening celebration?

The Nazareth and Capernaum episodes kicked off the ministry of Jesus. But they didn’t even register a minor blip in the ministry radar of Jesus. How do you handle similar ministry setbacks? Such as a non-existent or less than supportive sending church or maybe a less than successful grand opening or protracted revival or restart services?

Which brings up what I believe is the primary precursor to a healthy soul. BEFORE Jesus experienced these and other ministry setbacks He was baptized in water and what the Father said to Him at that time was huge. These words are crucial to our souls as well.

HEALTH MARKER #1 - A revelation of the pleasure I bring to my Father that is completely unconnected to what I do for Him in ministry.

“You are My Beloved Son – in You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22). These are words the Father said before Jesus did ANYTHING in ministry.  Simply put, these words are the key to our health too!  Regardless of where you are in your pastoral ministry timeline, this revelation is an on-going key to your health. This is vital; A revelation that the Father loves me – without strings!

Jesus was given a reminder of His Father’s loving disposition at the Mount of Transfiguration. How much more do we need a constant revelation of this truth. It’s pure health to our soul. I need a revelation of the pleasure I bring to my Father for simply being His child. The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated.

If you’re like me this is easily enjoyed when it’s connected to something I’ve done FOR Him; a great sermon, a successful outreach, leading people to Jesus, a strong worship service, a full altar, a powerful missions project, attracting a full house of worshipers, giving a large amount of money. I can easily sense God’s pleasure when I do these things. But that doesn’t give health to my soul. If anything, it gives way to my pride.

Maybe it’s because of my classic Pentecostal upbringing, but I still battle a not-to-subtle view of my own personal goodness and how I think it relates to how God feels about me during ministry. For instance, I feel good about how I think God feels about me after successfully engaging in difficult spiritual disciplines leading up to a Sunday morning worship service. Things like that.  And guess what happens when the results don’t always equate to public ministry success? Time to change churches, change church growth models, change church Councils, or question my calling.

If a health marker is an awareness of the pleasure I bring to God totally unconnected to what I do for Him in ministry, maybe a symptom of un-health is ministry fatigue. Ministry fatigue wears you out before your ministry assignment is complete.  A lot of my peers are experiencing ministry fatigue. Sure, we all get tired.  Ministry wears you out especially if we ignore a weekly Sabbath.  But you know you have ministry fatigue when no amount of time off re-ignites your soul.

Nobody experienced the level of emotional ministry disappointment Jesus experienced in three years. Nobody!  But He stayed on course, strong to the end, because His ministry was not driven by so-called ministry successes, but by the clear assignment He was given.  And the pure love His Father had for Him. His healthy soul kept Him on track.

Let us draw near to our Father. Come with no effort or merits of your own. Come to the loving arms of your Father. He is pleased to call you His child.  If Paula can whisper her love of me before I brush my teeth, comb my hair, or before I tell her I’m bringing her coffee in bed, how much more can I believe the words of the Father whispering to me “Ron, I love you and you please me…” before I pastor, preach, or even step into the church office!

“Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


Sabbath Rest

"As mentioned last month the purpose of this monthly interaction will be to share health related articles, book recommendations, as well as dates for retreats and other pastoral health related events. Thank God, our District is blessed with a ‘pastor health specialist’ of its own, Patrick Crowder! Many of you have already been blessed by he and Mindy’s incredible pastoral counseling ministry. Patrick has some exciting information regarding our District’s pastor’s sabbatical retreats (PSRs).  -Ron Flores"


Have you noticed the prophetic waves of the Spirit through the years? Pentecostalism in the ‘20s and ‘30s, crusades and healing revivals in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the charismatic movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s, purpose driven church growth in the ‘90s and 2000s…

With that in mind, what is the Spirit saying to the Church today?

There seems to be a growing impartation about the forgotten ways of Sabbath, Sabbaticals, and the wonders of spiritual formation practices like lectio divina, spiritual direction, monastic retreats, silence and solitude.

This renewing work of the Spirit makes sense when we ponder the widening time-debt crisis of our age.  Since 2007 smart phones have rapidly changed the way we do life: 24/7 boundary-less availability to emails, messaging, and social media have become the norm. Awakening, relaxing, family dinners, everything is being invaded with the glow of screens, notifications, and sneak peaks at messages, news, videos, …

Pastors have long been ahead of the curve toward living without boundaries 24/7/365. Now the rest of the world – professionals, teachers, business people, all of us – increasingly blur the lines between work and home. Multitasking has proven a mirage and each invading task sucks away presence, mindfulness, clarity, simplicity, connection and peace.

People are facing a rapidly increasing debt of personal presence and connection.

Against this flood of distraction God is raising a standard of presence, His Presence. Well-worn biblically inspired pathways like Sabbath and Sabbaticals trod earlier by great lovers of God are being rediscovered.

As pastors avail themselves to the mysteries of Sabbath and sabbatical, silence and solitude, rest and renewal, relationship and Presence, something wonder-filled begins to happen… we become the prophetic answer for an ethos of people driven to distraction and hungering for authentic and deep connection. We are being wooed by the Spirit, “Come away with Me!” so that we might become the prophetic sojourners who lead our churches and communities toward spiritual depths and away from harried paths.

How can we make the shift to catch this wave of the Spirit’s work? By embracing Sabbaticals.

Many prophetic elders in the Church have begun to suggest and model the spiritual practices of creating space for God to fill. Routinely leaving ground untilled for a season can enlarge capacity for greater harvests ahead. Expert consensus is now encouraging pastors to embrace a best-practices rhythm of at least a week of Sabbatical per year, and a three-month Sabbatical every 5-7 years of ministry.

To give pastors a taste of what Sabbatical entails (separate from other great experiences like vacations or conferences) we have created 10-12 intentional spaces for pastor couples to gather in retreat with 4-5 other pastor couples to explore Sabbatical rest and connection. We call these gatherings: “Pastor’s Sabbatical Retreats” (PSR’s).

PSR’s create intentional space to relax and listen to God, alone and together. We take 4 days / 3 nights, at a comfortable retreat location that begins at lunch on the first day (after a morning of travel) and conclude after lunch on the fourth day. When possible, we also encourage pastors to consider adding a few extra days (or even weeks), before or after the retreat for an expanded Sabbatical refreshing. PSR’s can serve as a model and launch pad into longer seasons of renewal when possible within individual contexts.

Here’s some good news! The PSW District has allocated a budget to cover over half the expenses of the PSR’S for this year! Housing expenses are the biggest variable, and pastors are asked to share a portion of those costs. While we are always searching for large vacation homes that can be donated for pastors for a few days, most often the PSR costs average about $300 per couple for the cost of the retreat beyond the investment the district is making.

Gathering with four other pastor couples for these gently-guided, unplugged, personally-hearing-from-God, space-creating retreats is truly transformative for life, marriage and ministry. The retreats create safe space to seek God, find lasting friendships with other ministry couples, and tune-up ministry marriages with their specific challenges. Confidential marriage-care sessions are made available and a follow-up process creates possibilities for ongoing coaching and life-giving friendships.

Here is the menu of targeted dates and places for PSR retreats (subject to change depending upon demand). Each PSR is limited to five couples max. To get on a specific list, or begin registration toward a particular PSR, or for other questions, text 626-733-3747, or email pastorsabbaticalretreats@gmail.com

Don’t hesitate to let us know any way we can assist you as you plan for Sabbatical refreshing.

Patrick & Mindy Crowder


1.     April 15-18 – Arizona / NV / UT (full)
2.     April 19-22 – Arizona / NV / UT

3.     May 13-16 – SoCal Mountains
4.     May 17-20 – SoCal Mountains

5.     June 10-13 – SoCal Coast
6.     June 14-17 – SoCal Coast

7.     July 8-11 – SoCal Mountains     
8.     July 12-15 – SoCal Mountains

9.     August 12-15 –AZ / NV / UT
10.  August 16-19 – AZ / NV / UT

11.  September 16-19 – SoCal Coast
12.  September 20-23 – SoCal Coast

October - No PSRs due to Fall Conferences

13.  November 11-14 – Hawaii
14.  November 15-18 – Hawaii

15.  December 9-12 – TBD
16.  December 13-16 – TBD

Called to Pastor

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America are:

  • The President of the United States
  • A university president
  • A CEO of a hospital and
  • A pastor

Before I became a pastor I remember thinking that being a pastor is a dream job. I can read the Bible all day, pray, and preach. I want to do that! It didn’t take long to conclude that being a pastor IS hard work. It’s not for the weak of heart.  All of us know the job of a pastor is a 24/7 vocation with few perks and a multitude of unique challenges way beyond our pay grade. We wear themselves out trying to help people. In the process some of us unintentionally wound our families, marriages, and our own selves because we are so involved in ministry.

Approximately 85 percent of churches in America have less than 200 people. Sixty percent of churches are under 100 people. The average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people, according to The Barna Group. Staffs are small, and needs are great. In the same week we have to be a Bible teacher, accountant, strategist, visionary, computer tech, counselor, public speaker, worship director, prayer warrior, mentor, leadership trainer and fundraiser. Ok, so maybe my wife Paula did most of that, but still!


  • Ninety percent of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry. 
  • Seventy percent say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.

But you know, if we had to do it all over again we would still all be pastors.  But one thing I would do differently is take better care take of myself, my marriage, my kids, and my personal walk with Jesus. 

When Pastor Fernando shared with us all the Pacific Southwest District’s initiative of HIM (Health, Improvement, Multiplication), he asked me to champion the Health component allowing me to collaborate with those in our Foursquare Movement who are already providing “health care” opportunities for our pastors. I’m not the expert.  But I know who I think are! 

With that in mind, I will be sharing monthly personal health tidbits, book recommendations, expert marriage counselor recommendations, and dates for “health” retreats/conferences/symposiums taking place throughout our district. 

Thank you for your patience and kind indulgence as I navigate through this urgent and vast theme – Health!