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Has it ever happened to you? It happened to me again today. Someone said I said something that I didn’t. They did it to defend themselves and their lifestyle of sin. I guess they figured if they could make me look small, it would somehow make them bigger, or at least more righteous.
Several years ago, I realized that people will (dog) the Pastor or the church in order to make themselves appear better than the church. This way, when someone comes to invite them to church, they can use this as a way of saying, “your Pastor is no better than I am. Why should I come to your church?!” And boy if you did say what they said you said. Or if you did what they said you did, now they have every reason in the world to never come to church. As if by some miracle, you were as wise as Solomon and did everything perfectly.
I believe Jesus understood this. Mary and Martha would have blamed Him for their brother’s sickness and death, but the fact of the matter was it was their own lack of faith that allowed their brother to die. And for their lack of faith, Jesus wept. Adam himself wanted to blame his wife for his own sin. As much as Eve did play some part in tempting Adam, the real one at fault was no one else but Adam.
I’m sure if you have been in ministry long at all, you have counseled people only to have them use your good counsel to try to destroy your character and reputation. Personally, I refuse to allow other peoples sin to affect me. When they want to make excuses and bring my name into the situation, I have decided to quickly turn the conversation around and allow light to come into the problem. “The real reason there is a situation, is you have had an affaire, not that I counseled you or did not counsel you about this.” I think you get my thinking here. There are several examples I could give.
“My brother would have lived if you would have been here Jesus”. No, he would have lived if you would have prayed for him to live. Why bring my name into your faithlessness. “My family would have stayed together if the Pastor would have spent more time with us.” No, your family would still be together if you would have slept in your own bed. “I’d still be in the church if that Pastor wouldn’t have offended me with his preaching.” The only thing that is offended by good preaching, is sin. Why don’t you confess your faults and be healed instead of blaming the Pastor for your unrighteous lifestyle.
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Here are five symptoms that indicate you need a church administrator to help with the load:
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1. More than 25% of your time is spent on church administration. Pastors often find themselves attending to administrative needs that are beyond the scope of a secretary’s authority. This may include tasks such as directing the volunteers who clean the church, reviewing the accounts payable and managing the building maintenance.
2. Your administrative tasks are increasing – with no relief on the horizon. A growing church will generate an ever-increasing amount of administrative tasks. Although the financial strength of the church is a key factor in determining the right time to hire an administrator, the problem of administrative overload will have to be faced and resolved sooner or later.
3. You can’t seem to find enough time for prayer and sermon preparation. Too many hours spent on administration can result in a starving flock because your times with the Lord and your personal study of the Scriptures have been neglected.
As common as the word mentor is in society, and in the business culture in general, when it comes to many religious organizations and the individuals that comprise them, mentoris often still a mysterious term. Confusion and misperceptions abound, and yet mentoring has been around since the dawn of man.
Just the mention of the word mentor causes an insecure leader or pastor to manifest jealousy, others to cry out that "I already have mentors in my life", and a few to simply confess they still do not know why they would even need a mentor.
Nonetheless the reality remains the same . . . the leadership actions of most leaders validate their need of a mentor. Every new endeavor of life often brings to the leader a need for mentoring. In essence, business training seminars and workshops is a multi-billion dollar industry because it is mentoring in real life to those desiring to improve and advance in their skills and knowledge.
Please read on.
A mentor is not some mysterious know-it-all guru that floats in and out of your life dressed in a white robe and riding on a cloud. Neither is a mentor a genie in a bottle that appears with the answer when you have a need and rub him correctly. Nor is a mentor a replacement for the pastor and influential individuals in your life.
A mentor is someone with the willingness, temperament, skill sets, gifts, talents, compassion, understanding, whit, intelligence, experience, and general life balance that shoulders up beside you to enable you to succeed at a higher level in life. A mentor is someone who cares about you enough to invest him or herself into you.
Whether paid or unpaid a mentor places more value in your life, aspirations, and goals than you ever return to them. Their primary reward is in helping, steering, advising, and equipping you toward the success they believe you have the potential for.
Every great leader attributes their success largely and in part to the influencers that played a key role in their pathway to success. Those influencers are mentors.[ read more...]
What are people, especially younger generations, looking for?
Authenticity, Not Hype – In all things, the church should strive to be genuine – to be real.
Balance, Not Burnout – For a world running on empty, where teenagers use Day-Timers, the church should be a place of balance.
Connections & Community – A place to belong.
Disciples, Not Decisions – Recognize the different stages of faith development. (Making a one-time decision for Christ is not enough. Christianity is a lifetime walk not a one-time decision. Once the decision has been made, training for growth must begin. How many “saved” are still in the church growing six months or more down the road?)[ read more...]
Amy Wilson Carmichael was born December 16, 1867 in a small village in Northern Ireland. Her parents were evangelical Christians and she committed her life to Christ's service at a very young age.
One story of Amy’s childhood noted that when she was little, she always wished she’d had blue eyes instead of brown. As a little girl, she prayed for God to give her blue eyes, but she never received them.
Carmichael was the founder of a women’s group in Belfast that quickly grew to over 500 women and they needed a larger place in which to meet. She saw an ad in a newspaper saying an iron building could be built for £500 that would seat up to 500 people. A donation and a plot of land were given, and the building of the first “Welcome Hall” was built.
Amy felt led to fulfill her call in missions. In many ways, she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia--a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy--and she was often bedridden for weeks on end.
At the 1887 Keswick Convention, she heard Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, speak about missionary life. Initially, Amy travelled to Japan for fifteen months, but she later found her lifelong vocation in India.[ read more...]
The main purpose of interpreting a text is not UNIQUENESS but CLARITY! The first task of the preacher is EXEGESIS – careful, systematic study of the Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning; to find out the original intent of the words of the Bible; to hear the Word as the original recipients heard it. But we don’t just do exegesis when there is an obvious difference between THEN and NOW – it is the first step in studying EVERY text
- Go back to the original and the best sources for yourself first – don’t just begin by consulting somebody’s book! (i.e. Mark 10:23 – one “expert” said there was a gate in Jerusalem called the “Needle’s Eye” which camels could only go through on their knees, but that gate never existed!)
- We must always guard against EISEGESIS – reading our desired interpretation into the text instead of letting the text speak to us!
To provoke your thinking, one of the best things to do is use several Bible translations that you know in advance will differ in their interpretation.
There are three basic theories of translation:
- Literal: advantage – as close as possible to the original; disadvantage – doesn’t account for cultural differences in customs and expressions (i.e. King James Version)
- Free: advantage – eliminates historical and cultural “barriers” by expressing Scripture in modern terms; disadvantage – since it is more concerned with translating “ideas” it is not always accurate in exact wording (i.e. Phillips, Living Bible, The Message)
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines:
Act like the person you wish to become.
To start thinking positively, begin by acting positively. Most of us wait until we feel like taking action, but that’s going about it backwards. Instead, by putting our desires into action, we can establish a habit of thinking positively – and this results in a positive attitude.
Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
To reap a successful harvest, a farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time everyday nurturing our attitude. Focus on the positive and successful. Don’t feed the weeds.
There’s a difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving and planning. If you go to any management course, you’ll find it revolves around those three things. But leadership consists of communicating your Vision and Values.
If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who will?
Here are a few guidelines:
Believe it or not, the bigger your vision, the easier it is to reach. People are rarely motivated by small visions. They will follow a big vision easier than a little one. People need a purpose. Giving them a grand vision will enable them to connect as some level with that vision. If your vision is narrow, you may fail to interest some people. However, if your vision is large, it will leave plenty of room for others to get involved.
Don’t worry about solving the problem before casting the vision. A good example of visionary leadership would be the United States President, John F. Kennedy. Regardless of what you think about his politics, Kennedy stood up one day in the early 1960’s and said, “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” He was clear; he was precise; and the vision was something people could look to. Now, here’s the interesting thing – when he said it, the technology to put a man on the moon hadn’t even been developed. That’s visionary leadership! Just because you don't have all the pieces of the puzzle just yet, does not mean that you can't share the vision. Let others come along side you who will bring those pieces to the table.
Your God determines how big your goal is. So, how big do you think God is? The issue is not who do you think you are, but who do you think God is? In your dreams for ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do? What can God do in this place?” Then, use every single tool and resource that God puts in front of you - no matter what it looks like. Judging whether or not a resource if "of God" will limit God's ability to bless you in your work for Him.[ read more...]
It’s not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it’s part of life and growth. But, getting “stuck in” and “growing through” situations are different. Here are ten ways to shift from one to the other:
- Step back and ask yourself what’s really going on. When you’re caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it’s easy to lose objectivity. It’s good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what’s happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example, in different garb, of an issue you’ve failed to confront before? If it’s the latter, maybe now’s the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a “problem” than parts of a larger “process.” There’s a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you’re heading is not as important as how you choose to get there. (For those who are strongly goal-oriented, this may be tough to swallow.)
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It’s the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don’t get sucked in by the suggestion that you’ve got to solve it all today.
- Do something – anything! When you’re stuck, taking any step puts you in a different place and helps change your perspective, even if it’s a wrong move! And, doing something could be a conscious decision to do absolutely nothing!
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” I found this old Russian proverb in the early pages of a recent book written by Gary Keller. The title of this book, “The One Thing” jumped out at me above all the other titles on the shelf. This concept of One Thing is totally foreign to me. I have always thought myself quite adept at doing several things at one time. I have done it all my life. I learned this early in my working career. In fact, the manager of the McDonalds restaurant where I found my first job told me, “The one thing you will learn and take with you from this job is the ability to do many things at one time.” It was not long before I learned first hand what he was talking about. Since that day to this, I can rarely remember doing only one thing at a time.
There is in me a drive that feels like I am not being productive unless I am accomplishing several things at once. Rarely do I ever do “One Thing”. According to Keller’s book, doing more than One Thing is usually not the most productive or profitable way to conduct oneself. This book has some incredible insight as to how to stay on track and build momentum towards your goals, but for many of us preachers, doing more than one thing at a time is a way of life that we are unable to change.
Most Pastors and ministers of the Gospel have families and ministries as well as secular jobs or businesses. This creates a constant pulling in different directions that leaves us feeling tired, confused and even guilty that we are unable to accomplish all that we want to do in any of these areas. We endlessly wrestle with our time constraints as well as our energy levels for each of these.
It would be very nice to do only One Thing Mr. Keller, but for the average preacher out there, this prospect of staying focused, is probably going to be a challenge for us beyond the pages of your book.
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