EP 185 SELF CARE FOR THE PASTOR/REPLANTER w/ FRANK LEWIS
Welcome to the Replant Bootcamp, a podcast for pastors and church leaders who are looking to replant and revitalize churches. Today’s episode has the guys discussing self-care for pastors, a topic that is often overlooked but extremely important. Our guest for today’s episode is Frank Lewis, who multiple years of experience in pastoral ministry.
One of the main points that Frank emphasizes is the need for pastors to prioritize their spiritual devotions. This means spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and seeking God’s guidance. As pastors, it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of ministry and neglect our personal spiritual growth. However, Frank reminds us that our ministry flows out of our relationship with God, and we need to make that relationship a priority.
Another important aspect of self-care for pastors is taking care of our physical health. Frank encourages pastors to make time for regular exercise and to eat a healthy diet. Exercise not only benefits our physical health but can also improve our mental health and reduce stress.Similarly, eating a healthy diet can give us the energy we need to carry out our ministry and improve our overall well-being.
Finally, Frank emphasizes the importance of developing a circle of friends who are also pastors. This provides a support system of people who understand the unique challenges and stresses that come with pastoral ministry. These friends can offer encouragement, accountability, and a safe space to share struggles and challenges.
Thank you, Frank Lewis, for sharing your insights and wisdom with us today. And thank you to our listeners for tuning in to the Replant Bootcamp.
Help your church improve its social media and web presence in connecting with the community. Our great sponsor, One Eighty Digital can get you headed in the right direction. Contact them today and let them know you are a Bootcamp listener.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are. Back at the bootcamp. Back at it again. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. Another revive summit edition. This time we are in the great metropolis of Mount Vernon, Illinois.
Bob Bickford: Exactly right. I’ve driven through here many times cuz it is not far from my domicile. They’re in Webster Grove, St.
Louis Metro familiar with it, but only the truck stops.
It was amazing tonight. I think if your church has some Mennonite women in your kitchen.
You’re gonna win. So tonight we had, it was kind of carb fest. We had, chicken pot pie. Meatloaf, lasagna, mashed potatoes and green beans.
JimBo Stewart: I will confess I tried all of
Bob Bickford: Well, I’m not a chicken pot pie. Never have been.
JimBo Stewart: that. Well, I’ll tell you what that was one of the, if you were gonna like chicken pot pie, it
If you don’t like that one, you
don’t like chicken pot
Bob Bickford: Well, I threw up chicken pot pie one time and so that, that’s ruined me from chicken pot pie [00:01:00]
JimBo Stewart: now Green corn
Well, Bob, I’m excited. We have a guest a good, it’s becoming a good friend. We’ve gotten to travel.
Frank Lewis was with us, last August for the Replant Summit was really our first interaction with Frank.
And now we’ve been doing these REVIVE summits. With him traveling across
Frank, welcome to
Frank Lewis: Thanks
Jimbo. Bob, man, it’s great to be here. We’ve, we’ve had, uh, I told my wife last night, we have laughed and cried our way through, uh, the last several days. It has been so much fun.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely.
Bob Bickford: Frank,
just give us a quick backstory, your experience in ministry and just share that. Cause I,
of the boot campers probably they might not have ever heard of you cuz we, we have a very selective niche audience. .
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. By very selected niche. That’s a nice way of saying a small audience.
Frank Lewis: Oh my goodness.
Well, I gave my heart to Christ when I was 16 years old in a revival that was preached by
Bob Bickford: Junior
JimBo Stewart: Oh oh,
Bob Bickford: Okay.
Frank Lewis: [00:02:00] that’s a, Yeah.
uh, he’s like southern Baptist evangelism, royalty,
you know? And, I came to
very soon after that that God was calling me to preach cuz I was raised in the church.
I, I had just not made a profession of faith until I was a teenager. So I, shared my decision with our church when I was probably 17, almost 18 years old, that, that I, since God was calling me to preach and this godly, layman in our church named Bill. Said, well, Frankie, if God’s called you to preach, have a sermon ready next
Sunday, you’re going with me to the Birmingham City
JimBo Stewart: Jail,
Frank Lewis: Okay.
And so, uh, that, that was my first, you know, get your toes wet. But, you know, I just knew, that afternoon when I was preaching to those men who had probably had too much to drink the night
before. Mm-hmm. , you
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm. .Yeah.
Frank Lewis: Not, drink
you know, preach and that, that sort of thing.
I I was just like a fish in water. so I went to Sanford University after Sanford, I went to New Orleans Seminary one day sitting in. the, president of the Home Mission Board, which of course is now
Bob Hamlin said, if we’re ever going to have, our cities one to Christ, we’ve gotta have young men with seminary degrees who are married to wives, willing to work outside the home. Probably without children, and we want you to go to our big cities and start churches. And, uh, I, I went home that day from, from seminary and, and told my wife about what I’d heard. she was a nurse by training and we. Did not really want to start our family right away. So we, we thought, yeah, that’s us.
And the Lord opened up a door, for us to go to Las Vegas, Nevada. Mm-hmm. and start a church in a suburb [00:04:00] of Las Vegas called Henderson,
.And so we planted the Green Valley Baptist Church and it’s still there today, going
Bob Bickford: strong.
Frank Lewis: we’re so proud.
Bob Bickford: And so Vegas, uh, from Vegas, then you came back towards, the, I guess not the Midwest, but the kind of, the what, what, where did you
to? to? Nashville.
So is that the buckle of the Bible belt or is it like the first notch
Frank Lewis: in the belt?
I, I think it
Bob Bickford: belt really
JimBo Stewart: from
Frank Lewis: Yes, yes.
And more ways than one. I’ll tell you what, uh, Nashville has just exploded in growth, in the. 25, 26
that we’ve been there.
I came to Nashville to work at the Baptist Sunday School Board, which of course is now lifeway. And I was in the pastor staff leadership department as the preaching and worship
for the convention. So I led conferences all over the United States [00:05:00] for, pastors. We would talk about preaching and pastoral.
mental health, physical health, you know, just trying to keep guys from burning out and being thrown out, that sort of thing. we started a new magazine called Let’s Worship and launched it during my time at the board and got to preach and in some great pulpits and. and just really loved that, ministry.
And then First Baptist Nashville called
me. Uh, I was already
serving as a pulpit supply in their contemporary service, and they, uh, they called me about a year and a half into my ministry at lifeway, to become their senior pastor. And I just finished, a 25 year ministry there in December of 21 and stepped down to let, somebody new pick up the torch and run with it.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: Man,
it’s so great.
I, I’m so
bootcamp listeners. And, before we dive into the content, just as we have learned about Frank, Bob and I have [00:06:00] just become
fascinated with the
layer. Of Frank Lewis and we have slowly learned that Frank is not only a
but he is, a black
arts and Eagle
and maybe the scariest
Bob Bickford: ever met.
Well, you wouldn’t know it cuz Frank, your demeanors, I mean, you’re so kind and gracious and friendly and, but he could kill us if he needed
JimBo Stewart: to.
Well, I mean, I joke about it, but honestly I would, in an honest way, I would say Frank, I think you embody meekness, you embody
And it makes you want to just pull, lean in and, and hear everything that you have to say.
Frank Lewis: Wow.
Those are kind
I’m thankful if, if God has used me that way in, the, short time. That you’ve known me, it’s been with, pastors and and rep planners and, you
I I remember early in my days in Vegas, I went
an event where all the, church planners had
and it was this annual meeting and somebody from our state convention came and and just told
What, sorry guys.
we didn’t deserve the, the $500 or $300 a month at the convention was paying us to plant churches. Cuz all we did was sit at home and prop our feet up and watch television and I thought, you know, God, if you ever give me the chance
encourage pastors, help me never forget that experience because I, I knew how horrible that
felt and, uh, helped me to be able to say something that’s gonna be encouraging to somebody.
Bob Bickford: Mm. Well, one of the things in your talk that you, did for the revive gathering here in Mal Vernon, Illinois is you talked about clergy self care.
And, you know,
topic of how do pastors care for themselves and how do they, make sure that they’re [00:08:00] taking care of their spiritual needs or physical needs, those sorts of things. Why is it.
Guys who are engaged in either planting or renewal revitalization, replanting. Why is it so easy for a pastor in those settings, even a traditional church, to neglect himself and his own, wellbeing?
Frank Lewis: Yeah. Bob, you
that’s such a great question and, and I think it’s really got a, a fairly
know, , if you’re in that role of planting, replanting, or
as you said,
all the demands that a pastor has to, have on his shoulders, your schedule
it, it becomes
a task master. Mm-hmm.
….And you’re gonna have early morning meetings with people who maybe that’s the
breakfast or you’re
gonna be out late, late, late with people. you. in Las Vegas in those days. My wife worked as a nurse. She worked the afternoon shift, two to 11 at the hospital.
And so I would be up late when she came home.[00:09:00] and we would talk for a couple hours it seemed like, you know, and kind of hear about her day and that sort of thing, and go to bed
kind of late. and then
I were up early
in the morning,
it was because I had some
go and, some, body to meet or something.
And so it’s easy to
know, when you’re a college student, a seminary student,
schedule mm-hmm. ,
calendar and you have to be at class at
time. And, it’s.
do your devotions in your room
somewhere, than it is when, when you’re trying to do all these other things and you get on a treadmill and it’s hard to get off of it, you’ll be running, uh, you’ve got this opportunity, you’ve got
you’ve got that deadline. You’re, you’re trying to juggle
that, I think it just becomes,
I’ll, I’ll do
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
Frank Lewis: And
later never comes.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I know.
I [00:10:00] remember as a college student, I could wake up early, I could go all day in, into late.
but I was a youth pastor for a while. I did some lock-ins and that ruined me. I couldn’t stay up late anymore. ,
then they got old
JimBo Stewart: I
Frank Lewis: Well,
Bob Bickford: I thank
for every lock-in you, do you
lose a year of your life?
so. my time might be up next week, so I
Frank Lewis: Yeah. How do well
I, I think you seriously
be, dedicated to your
that you’re gonna keep, you’re
that are most important.
Yeah. Uh, just
have time set aside to prepare a sermon, you’re gonna have to put on your calendar. Devotion, And,
becomes, a, a [00:11:00] habit. It
when you practice it. so for me, years ago, I just made the decision, no Bible, no breakfast.
so I get up in the morning, I’ll, I’ll have a cup of coffee. today, of course, like so many, I use logo goss. And so I’m, I turn on my computer and, I’ve got a. a reading plan in my devotional for 2023, I have my prayer list for 2023 and, and it’s just a very easy process for me to read through, that day’s scripture reading.
I have a commentary, a devotional commentary that I’ll
that. Then I spend some time going
my prayer list.
have a, a Daytimer journal that I’ve used since I was probably 30 years old. And so I u I use my Daytimer page to write my thoughts about, you know, what
spiritually, those kinds of things.
and then I’ll, I’ll spend
knees. I, I, [00:12:00] The
just as critical as anything else. That’s a part of my
in the morning. and it’s
routine. It be, it becomes, you know, I, I know
missed that, my whole
And if you miss it more than a day, if you miss it for a week, it throws
system and your preaching shows and your parenting shows and everything else shows.
in a similar way, I schedule the other things that I have on
I exercise three days a week. I have one day that I do heavy lifting.
That’s usually on either Friday or Saturday. you know, I’m, I’m lucky. I’ve, I’ve got a great place at home for that. So some guys might have to go to the gym. when I was pastoring First Baptist and I went to the gym, I knew more people there, you know, and everybody wanted to stop and say hello and talk and, you know, you couldn’t get your workout in unless you were ugly to people.
I made the investment and [00:13:00] I’ve got a, a nice, you know, cage at home and, and I can, I can put some
weight on it and, it’s
just a life giving
for me. the martial arts was a part of. , not so much today. I mean, I’m 64 now, but, you know, in my, in my fifties, I, I was, I was pretty lean and, and I would, I would go to class three or four times a week, and that put me with a different group of people than, than church
and these, these,
these became dear friends over the years and there were guys.
to, share Christ with and have gospel conversations with, got to baptize, you know, two or three over the years, and minister to others in other ways. that’s all part of it too. But if you neglect
Physical exercise, your body’s gonna pay for it, and your ministry’s gonna pay for it because you have to have a way to get
If you don’t get the stress out by, physical exercise or by [00:14:00] art or running, or, you know, doing something, to, that gets you outdoors and gets you sweating and gets the heart rate up and all that sort of stuff, it’s going to shorten.
Your ministry in the
JimBo Stewart: run.
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. Frank does not look, 64. He looks like
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. That’s
part of being
a kung fu master.
Bob Bickford: he
mentioned something. Jimbo, I’ll, I’ll explain this to you in, in our younger listeners. Can Google it. A Daytimer is a paper organizer
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I,
I’m, I’m familiar.
I, okay. Yeah. I
It’s not like an iPad,
basically in my
I have keep my
and I, and I work
in my life and, and, and
mean, I just
off my gut,
And I really
personality. But I’ve just learned
of, if I will, if, if I’ll choose
areas of my
actually free me
rigidly disciplined about having time
in the word
sometimes getting my blood moving,
out. I, would affirm
that it’s, there were so many moments.
life in the
because I remember
be in fighting
can’t have anything
in [00:16:00] that season of my life than I ever have been.
Frank Lewis: Yeah. Yeah. And it makes
mind. I think you can, handle some of the other opposition
that comes your
way with a, a sense of confidence that you’re taking care of yourself. your blood pressure’s gonna be
you know, all, all those things that,
knew he was doing
knit us together, didn’t he?
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm. .
Yeah. One of the things you mentioned, in addition to, you know, stuff we often hear in terms of spiritual health, spiritual disciplines, exercise, fitness, diet, those sort of sleep, you mentioned that as well, but you mentioned something that you labeled social support.
Frank Lewis: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: Can you unpack that for
Frank Lewis: us?
I’m glad to. You know,
Nevada, I felt
life that in
I had, this
and we were.
Nevada was targeted in 1985 as the number one city that Southern
to plant churches. And
we had a breakfast
was at this
restaurant and we’d
this is hilarious. when
I think back on it now, you
had our coats
yeah. You’ve this,
JimBo Stewart: Back then, man,
Frank Lewis: you you
it was part of
but, but you got to know, you got to know
that circle of guys. Well
Southern Nevada at the same time that, a United Methodist pastor, a Lutheran
a Catholic priest,
Baptist pastor, all got
And were all trying to plant churches in
called Green Valley.
And we started doing, first of all, some, you know, Christmas community services together or a Thanksgiving service together. And, and that friendship became so critical to each one of us, we
got to purchase property.
celebrate when one of us got to build a
building. Mm-hmm. ,we
we would, uh, see our, Discipleship ministries and our outreach ministries take traction. And at the same time when we’d had a month where [00:19:00] maybe everything was going wrong and there were some of those months too, we could crawl on each other’s shoulders for some prayer support and that group.
Really was a, a great little fellowship group during that time. And I remember when I left, made my announcement that I was leaving the church to go to the Sunday school board. it was, it was the American Baptist pastor who reached out to me first before any of the, you know, my Southern Baptist tribe did, to just say, Hey, I just wanted to pray with you and pray God’s
on this new season.
That sort of thing. I’ll never forget that and, and how meaningful that was to me,
but those relationships will carry us in ministry. you’ll pick up the phone or you’ll pick up, you know, you’ll send an email or a text message to a, a ministry colleague, and they’ll get it, whereas nobody else in the church is really kind of on your safe list to
unfortunately, there’s [00:20:00] just some things that, that we don’t talk about with our personnel committee chairman
but we need, we need an outlet. We need a brother in Christ who will pray with us and encourage us, and, they’ve licked their wounds in the past and they know what those are like. So I had that, kind of group in, Nevada. And then in Nashville when I became pastor at first Nashville, one of the professors from a nearby university put together a little, You know, a little group. There were six of us pastors and we would go on a retreat twice a year, usually, usually around November, and then again, probably sometime in April.
And, and we would spend two days with some assignments looking at the text of scripture
and, um, This professor taught Greek at one of our Baptist colleges. And so, he would really pour himself into us. And it was kinda like sitting in a, in a doctoral
[00:21:00] setting. Yeah, yeah.
know, and we would, we would talk about our preaching.
We’d have two
do that. We’d have some good, good fellowship. We’d go to eat, you know, some nice restaurants and, That became a group where we could also talk openly and freely and with some great confidence that what we were sharing wasn’t gonna show up in somebody else’s sermon next week.
That sort of thing. tho those guys treated that as a sacred trust and, I think every pastor benefits from being in a group like that.
JimBo Stewart: What
you have for a guy who
support? His calendar at this point is so chaotic.
bivocational trying to run this church solo pastor.
at the house and so he’s thinking when he hears this, that sounds.
I find the
the guy I can trust? because you know, you trust the wrong pastor with your most vulnerable thoughts and, that can burn you as well. And, what
for that listener?
Frank Lewis: Well, that, that’s a great question, Jimbo. I think that the first thing I’d want that pastor to hear is not to beat yourself up for being where you are.
if you’re bivocational and you’re
started and you
have, a young family. You know, you might have teenagers.
go through with
children. they’re unique seasons and, and they demand, you know,
certain demands of
us, but you can, at the same time, you can start where you are making little. Small incremental changes. And I th I think the first change I would encourage is to look at your devotional life.
today something called the soap outline, and it’s
Cordero New Life, uh, fellowship and Hawaii. Uh, heard
and he said, if you’ll
the scripture and write [00:23:00] down your observations. An application and write a prayer based on that scripture.
And he says, and if you’ll let that be your, your
devotional outline, you’ll never lack for something to say
comes to time to preach.
So here’s a
bivocational pastor trying to juggle sermon preparation and all those things. find
devotional that will feed your, your spirit and your soul in such a way that you can f you can share from the overflow.
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Frank Lewis: and
that might address some of the time demands on sermon preparation and Bible study
I think the second thing I would say is, look at your diet, look at your
that kind of thing.
the whole idea of, of staying up really late at night because we’re depressed or tired or depleted and, too tired to go to sleep, so we just sit up and watch television for hours.
you know, there’s, [00:24:00] there’s probably nothing on the late night television that you’re gonna use an a sermon,
so, so your
your sleep’s gonna
try to shoot for seven hours, maybe eight, if you can get ’em in. I, I think that’s gonna be so beneficial to
JimBo Stewart: Frank.
taking the time to be on the podcast with us today.
Frank Lewis: Well, thanks for having
me. You guys
Bob Bickford: great to have you.