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How Much is Your Belt Worth?
1Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
2So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
3And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,
4Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
5So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
7Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
In the passage above, we find the Lord telling Jeremiah to go and get a belt and wear it. He then tells him to take his belt and go to the Euphrates River and bury it among the rocks. The Lord comes back to Jeremiah sometime later and tells him to go and dig out the belt. Whenever Jeremiah does this, he finds the belt is now marred and useless.
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I am sure that most of those reading the title will think I have lost it for sure. However, I feel I have found it: While we seem to waste so much energy trying to avoid problems, troubles and things we deem unpleasant, the truth is—Trouble has built within it a blessing for all who will deal with it honestly. Trouble can surely reveal ourselves quite painfully and quickly, to say the least. Trouble has a way of making us reach beyond our small, imposed limitations and really allows for the accomplishment of so much more.
Difficulty is not a dirty word. We are made strong by what we are forced to face, not by what we have managed to side-step and avoid. Trouble has within itself a CHALLENGE we all need, to propel us into a higher level and to tap into our Latent Potential laying dormant. We all have a built-in desire to just coast. To do what has to be done and take life easy. This has never been the Way Of God. He has always managed to put His people into some tough situations, yet He always brings them out—and much better, I might add.
Various trials and tests are never sent to us, so we can crash and fail, but rather to educate us about the weak areas of our lives. These trials reveal the Power Of God that is available for the asking.[ 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 some 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.
- 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.
1. Clutter can slow you down by distracting you from what you want to do. To take control, begin in one corner of one room and straighten up. (No cheating! Don't just move the clutter to another corner!) Afterward, give yourself a reward for your good work. If you continue this pattern over time, you'll get the job done.
2. Do you arrive at your office most mornings frazzled from too much rushing around before leaving the house? Prepare for your departure the night before: put your coat, car keys, and briefcase by the door, ready to grab, and set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. You'll start the day feeling more in command.
3. The next time you pass a card store, stock up on a supply of "thank you," "congratulations," and "great job" cards. Keep a supply at the office and some at home. Remember how you feel when a good word is sent your way and be generous in your compliments to others.
4. Do you keep "to do" lists that run on for pages? If you often feel discouraged by what's not crossed off your lists, make them shorter. The most effective managers identify only three top priorities each day. And their self-esteem is stroked repeatedly when they cross off all three tasks, day after day.
5. In today's world of so-called advanced telecommunications, more people identify "telephone tag" as their biggest time waster. When you leave a phone message on someone's voice mail or answering machine, remember to cover the four W's: who called, why you called, what you'd like the receiver to do, and when you're available to receive a return call. A specific request with detailed information increases your chances of a reply. Furthermore, on the incoming message of your answering machine, direct callers to leave you answers to the four W's.[ read more...]
What attributes qualify us for leadership? Here is a few suggestions on how these qualities might be put to use.
1. Integrity – Where integrity is at stake, the leader works publicly. Behavior is the only score that’s kept. Lose integrity, and a leader will find himself in a directionless organization going nowhere.
2. Vulnerability – Vulnerable leaders trust in the abilities of other people and allow those who follow them to do their best. An invulnerable leader can be only as good as his own performance.
3. Discernment – This attribute lies somewhere between wisdom and judgement. Leaders are required to see many things (pain, beauty, anxiety, loneliness, and heartbreak). Two elements to keep your eye on: the detection of nuance and the perception of changing realities. What kind of antennae do you have?
4. Empathy – Without understanding the cares, yearnings, and struggles of the human spirit, how could anyone presume to lead a group of people? Person skills always precede professional skills.
5. Courage – When conflict must be resolved, when justice must be defined and carried out, when promises need to be kept, when the organization needs to hear who counts – these are the times when leaders act with ruthless honesty and live up to their covenant with the people they lead.
6. Humor – A compassionate sense of humor requires a broad perspective on the human condition and an accounting for many points of view. You’ll find a sense of humor essential to living with ambiguity.[ read more...]
One of the top reasons that so many people, including Christians, fail at budgeting is simply attitude. It a person thinks of it as a penny-pinching sacrifice instead of a means for achieving one’s financial goals, then it is unlikely they will stay with it. To increase the chances of a successful budget, it is important to work on the attitude.
If ”budget” sounds too harsh…consider it as a “financial plan” for the home. The plan can help you get ahead; control spending, and save for future spending. Budgeting really does matter in the process to help one reach their goals and without some formal plan of working with the finances, goals and dreams can never be reached.
Money is a tool…and a tool that everyone needs in today’s society. This tool can enable a person to reach their goals in life, however, until a person knows where their money goes and how it is spent, a conscious decision about how to use this tool effectively is impossible.
So it is important to get the right attitude and not give up. Quitting too soon or tiring of the process is simply a means of failure in reaching the potential goals and dreams one has.
The following scriptures give spiritual guidance for the finances of the home. Take the time to read these and study God’s plan for financial survival.
- Prosperity: Genesis 39:3; Psalms 1:3; Joshua 1:6-8; Luke 6:38; John 10:10
- Provision: Genesis 41; Exodus 15; I Kings 17; John 21:2-6; Matthew 4:11
- Giving: Deuteronomy 14:23; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23; Hebrews 7:1,2
- Budgeting: Proverbs 22:3; 24:3,4; 27:12; Luke 12:16-21; Luke 14:28-30
1. Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
One man who has been one of my mentors for almost 18 years especially stands out because of his honesty with me. Early in my ministry and marriage, he pulled me aside and explained to me that I was not very respectful to my wife in public. He explained that the ladies of the church would not honor me as a minister for this reason. At the time I was offended that he would tell me this as I thought I was very good to my wife. However, years later, I see where he was coming from. I’m grateful that he was bold enough and honest enough to talk to me about a sensitive subject. Honoring my wife and publicly showing her affection has not only given me respect among the other ladies of the church, but has also been a blessing to our marriage.
2. Shows a good example for you to follow.
The old cliché “Do as I say, not as I do.” Does not work in mentoring. A lifelong mentor should be someone who is a model of who you want to become. Everyone is a little bit like the people who have parented them. Part of a mentor’s role is to let the protégé watch them closely in the work that they do. One of my mentors would often times invite me to sit in on important meetings that I had no experience in. I would never say a word unless asked my input. I understood that I was there to observe and to learn. I watched my mentor closely to see how he handled fragile situations that I had no experience in. I would often ask myself how I would handle these often sensitive meetings, but would then watch my mentor expertly handle delicate subjects with Godly wisdom.
3. Sees you as family.
Mentoring someone is a life long commitment. Your best mentors are not people who are only a part of your life for a short amount of time. A mentor sees you as a son or daughter in the Gospel. Paul who mentored Timothy referred to him as his son. Anything less than a family level commitment may prove to be a surface only relationship between mentor and protégé. Often times, subjects discussed in a mentoring relationship are sensitive and personal. A protégé needs to know that he is going to someone who is a father figure who only has the protégé’s best interest in mind.
4. Shows himself/herself to be open and transparent with you.
A good mentor is someone who is not afraid to talk to those they mentor about their failures as well as their successes. My father would often say to me, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I have made.” This is a good reason for mentors to be open with their protégés. You may save that person a tremendous amount of pain and numerous mistakes by revealing to them the mistakes you yourself have made along the way.[ read more...]
In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley offers 5 valid points to consider if you desire to be an effective leader. We highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position.
- Face it, you are not as good as you could be. So what are you going to do about it? The only way to go farther, faster, is to engage outside help. You can maximize your leadership potential by getting a coach...or two.
- Find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings. Outside input is critical. Even if you could watch yourself in a mirror twenty-four hours day, you would never see yourself as others see you.
- Select a coach who has no axe to grind and not reason to be anything except brutally honest. He need not be an expert in your field. What your coach must be able to do , however, is put himself in the shoes of those who are influenced by your leadership.
They are not perfect. It’s true that if you wait for people to become perfect, you may be waiting a long time. There is nothing wrong with exercising your own faith and begin using people before they are 100% ready to be used.
They will need your help. Don’t expect them to know all that you know. Sit down with them and one on one, explain to them how to do what it is you want them to do. Give them details of what you expect and guidelines on how to do it.
They need someone to tell them they can do it. Most of the people who come into our churches have been beaten down by the world. They need someone to believe in them. The very fact that you believe in them will cause them to do things for God that they never thought they were capable of.
They will make mistakes. You’ve made yours, let them make theirs. Give them room for grace and forgiveness. Let them know that a mistake is not necessarily an end, but rather a place to learn.
They are not mind readers. Don’t expect them to just know what it is you want them to know. Talk to them. Communicate it to them. Send them memos, emails and leave messages.
They want to succeed. Nobody wants to fail. Give them every chance to succeed. Don’t give them a job that is way over their head. Give them small tasks at first and work them into the ministry you want them to have.[ read more...]
Dr. Fred Childs is a leading church consultant, organizational development expert, and leadership authority. He and Monica reside in Pearland, Texas.
There is the most remarkable story of selfless sacrifice in I Samuel 23. I had never really paused to consider the irony of this story until recently. It came to me at a time when I needed it the most.
On a recent day, weary from the battle, I was having my own little pity party. I was questioning why had I given myself so fully to the work of God and to helping others, only to feel so unappreciated by some who perhaps didn’t understand me? I was feeling somewhat like Elijah must have felt when he thought he was the only prophet that God had left, only to hear God tell him that he had seven thousand others whom Elijah was not even cognizant of. Elijah was immediately transformed from a minority of one to a member of a great multitude of brethren who could relate to his dilemma. Elijah was not alone. Many had experienced the same feelings while adhering to the same values as he.
As I was wrestling with this internal struggle I had a phone conversation with a pastor friend in another state. As we talked he reminded me of the story of David at Keilah, and the words of my friend began to minister to my wounded heart. I knew by what he was saying that he not only understood my situation, but he had been there and back again.
In the aforementioned Bible story David received word that Keilah, a city in Judah, was under attack from the Philistines. The Philistines were robbing their threshingfloors. When David enquired of the Lord he was directed to go and deliver the city from the Philistines. His men were wary because King Saul was after David, and Keilah was a natural trap. David enquired again of the Lord and was told to go fight and the Philistines would be delivered into his hands.
David obeyed the Lord and delivered the city. While he was and actually doing the will of God, King Saul heard about his presence at Keilah. Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand,” because Keilah was a city that was enclosed by gates and bars. King Saul thought David was trapped, and that it was God’s will for him to overtake David.[ read more...]