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Ministering Amid Pandemonium
By: Unknown Author
As technological progress continues, it axiomatically leads to increasing rates of stress, overload, complexity, and change, speed, debt, and meaninglessness. Yet how can we protect ourselves, or families and our churches from the exhaustion and burnout of our age? The following suggestions may provide some relief, both for you and for those you minister to.
- Put more control in your life.
- Learn to laugh.
- Generate good will. The greatest thing we can do to buffer ourselves against the ravages of stress is to continually spread good will to those around us.
- Limit negatives. Stop negative self- criticism. Limit your time with negative people.
- Stop digging. If you're in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging. If you're overloaded, start saying "NO!"
- Accept your limitations. God is the author of limitations, and He gave them to us for our protection. We violate them at our peril.
- Defend your boundaries. Establish appropriate boundaries and defend them against the onslaught of an extraordinarily demanding world.
- Prune the activity branches. Like new branches on a fruit tree, additional activities and commitments add themselves to our lives every year, often without our permission.
- Value simplicity. No one ever lived a simpler, more unencumbered than Jesus.
- De-accumulate. Everything we own also owns us. Each possession must be cared for, maintained and paid for.
- Control the "paper tumor." Every year the amount of paper and information it contains seems to metastasize without pity. When at all possible, use the "OHIO" rule - "Only Handle It Once."
- Restrain technology. Maintain a healthy skepticism of any new technology and don't buy it unless you can control it.
- Value traditions. Identify the traditions in your personal, family and church life that have special significance and protect them vigorously.
- Establish stability zones. People generally benefit from having certain areas in their lives where change is kept to a minimum, and stability and reliability are assured.
- Move less often. Church leaders are often called on to relocate frequently. But at a time when the rest of the world continues to change so wildly, leaders who have a choice may want to consider the benefits of greater longevity in one position.
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Problems. If you're going to work with or minister to people, you are going to have problems. Sometimes big problems. Moses was one person in the scripture who had people problems. Millions of them. Everywhere he looked - people problems. How to feed them. How to water their livestock. How to settle their petty problems. How to settle their big problems. Where do the tents go? How about the toilets. Everywhere problems.
Surely with all these problems, the solution must be complex. Big problems should mean big, intricate, thoroughly researched and analyzed solutions - right? Not necessarily. In fact, very often, the solution to one's problem is asymmetric to the problem itself. Big problem, small solution.
When our problem is large or complex, we too often feel that the solution has to be the same. Because of this we usually miss the obvious, simple answer. In Moses' case, it took his shepherd father-in-law's simple mind to figure it out. A shepherd understands that a flock can get too big. When it does, it can begin to overgraze the fields and ruin the good pastures. This simple sheepherder was not educated by the most learned teachers of Egypt as Moses was, but he did understand something about having too many sheep in one place. He knew that when you have more sheep in a field than what that field can contain, you have to hire an under-shepherd to take part of the flock to another field. With that elementary laymen's thinking Moses was able to correct very simply, the extremely complex dilemma the nation of Israel had found herself in. Jethro told Moses to break the number of people down into smaller segments and then place leaders over these small segments. How simple.
The biggest problems that your ministry is facing today probably could very well be corrected with a simple solution. Too often however, we go shopping for the big answer: The complex answer. The expensive answer. The time consuming answer. Here's why: We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Seriously, nearly everyone does. Did you know that in the English language, 62 percent of the "emotion" words are negative, vs 38 percent that are positive. A group of psychologists once reviewed over two hundred articles and concluded that for a wide range of human behavior and perception, a general principle holds true: "Bad is stronger than good." Ask yourself, do you remember more of the bad that you hear about others or do you remember more of the good. A vastly larger audience of people remembers the bad instead of the good.[ read more...]
One of the many amazing stories in the Bible is the story of the twin sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau. Although twins, these two boys were radically different. Esau loved the outdoors and became a hunter. Jacob preferred to stay at home and learned how to cook. Esau was born first and was covered in hair. Jacob was born second with a death grip on his brother’s heel. Esau became a daddy's boy. Jacob was sheltered by his mother. Without sharing the entire story, I will fast forward to a part of the story that has always bothered me.
Note the four statements in bold type;
18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?
19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son?And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.
21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son,whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.
24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
Though Isaac had intended to bless his oldest son, Esau, Jacob deceives his father and comes in Esau's place to receive the birthright. From the moment that Jacob begins to speak, Isaac is suspicious that something is wrong. The first suspicion comes from how quickly 'Esau' manages to go out and kill an animal, bring it back, clean it, cook it and then serve it to his father. The second suspicion comes from Jacobs’s voice. As soon as Jacob speaks, Isaac immediately recognizes the voice of his second son. The Scriptures show that on at least three occasions, Isaac questions the identity of Jacob. He knew something was wrong. He smelled a rat. Yet, instead of investigating any further, Isaac goes ahead and gives the birthright to Jacob.
This is very strange and bothersome behavior from Isaac. Not only because he knew something was wrong, but also because Esau was his favorite son. Considering the love he had for Esau why did Isaac bless Jacob instead? Why did he not investigate to make sure he was blessing the right son? Why didn't he ask more questions? Why didn't Isaac seek the truth? Very strange indeed.[ read more...]
Knowing what people need and want is the key to understanding them. And if you can understand them, you can influence them and impact their lives in a positive way. Listed are five things about understanding people:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23)
The colonel was trying to get a convoy of trucks out of the battle zone. The trucks had been under siege by the enemy and there had been terrible wounds and deaths that had occurred. They had to get out of there if they were going to survive. The colonel went to the lead truck where the driver had been killed and pulled the body out. Then he turned to a Sergeant and told him to drive the truck out of there. The sergeant responded that he had been shot and therefore wouldn't be able to drive, to which the colonel replied, "We've all been shot! Now drive the truck."
When I first heard this story told from the book Black Hawk Down, immediately I thought of the church and what happens there or, for the case of this article, what doesn't happen because we allow ourselves to make excuses.
We all have a person, or maybe even a few people, in our church that are ready and willing to do whatever it is that we ask of them. Whether it be cleaning the restrooms, mowing the lawn, greeting everyone that enters the church, teaching home bible studies, teaching Sunday School, etc., they will do it. You know who I'm talking about. They never stop asking you if you have something that they can do. They are always the first to greet you after service. They seem like they are always there. These people are great and wonderful to have in our congregation. When you ask them to do something you never have to worry about it getting done, because they have a desire to be used for the Kingdom. However, these people are usually few in number.[ read more...]
THE PERIL OF SHEEP DISEASES
Rev. Robert Wimberley
11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
INTRO: The word sheep is mentioned exactly 187 times from Genesis to Revelation.
New Ungers Bible Dictionary tells us that the term Sheep can mean several things in the Hebrew….
1. young sheep, a lamb, Heb. keseb.
2. A flock of sheep (rendered "flock," the most frequent word thus rendered, Heb. 'son.
3. ne of a flock, a single though sometimes used collectively (Jer 50:17), Heb. seh.
4. ny four-footed tame animal accustomed to graze, but always a sheep in the NT Grk. Probaton.
Sheep were an important part of the possessions of the ancient Hebrews and of Eastern nations generally. They were used in the sacrificial offerings, both the adult animal and the lamb, i.e., a male from one to three years old, but young lambs of the first year were used more frequently. No lamb under eight days old was allowed to be killed . A very young lamb was called taleh (1 Sam 7:9, "suckling lamb";
(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
I came across a book several months ago which belonged to my father. It was written by a former English Shepherd who had spent the majority of his life raising and shepherding sheep until God called him to be a pastor. So he traded in his staff for a Bible, and his rod for a pulpit. But he felt that it would be beneficial to write about the first hand experiences he had as a shepherd, since so many of those experiences apply today to the spiritual flock of the Lord.[ read more...]
In The Holy War by John Bunyan we find that for Prince Emmanuel to take back the city of Mansoul, he will go through the same gates that Diabolus took advantage of. In the first part, there were a listing of four of the captains and their first lieutenants who were assigned to go after the gates. From the analogy that Bunyan uses, these four men were preachers who were specifically going to gain a foothold in the Ear Gate.
The first captain is Captain Boanerges along with aide, Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. They led a company of ten thousand men. Obviously, Bunyan gets his word picture from the description of James and John who were referred to as the Sons of Thunder by the Lord. They were men who appealed to the authority aspect of ministry.
For Mansoul to be redeemed, the gates will have to be stormed with authority. This brings up the question as to where a preacher gets his authority. This is not the contrived and manipulative power that comes from spiritual abuse but rather it is an authority that confronts the issue of sin and points to the way of redemption. For this kind of authority to come to a preacher’s life there are some key components that will have to be incorporated.
Before going further, here are the words spoken by Captain Boanerges:
Be it known unto you, O unhappy and rebellious Mansoul, that the most gracious King, the great King Shaddai, my Master, hath sent me unto you with a commission (and so he showed to the town his broad seal) to reduce you to his obedience; and he hath commanded me, in case you yield upon my summons, to carry it to you as if you were my friends or brethren; but he also hath bid , that if, after the summons to submit, you still stand out and rebel, we should endeavor to take you by force.
First, he will have to be a man who has an absolute confidence in the authority of the Scriptures. This means that he will have to believe that Scripture as we have it today is infallible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), inerrant (Psalm 12:6; 19:7-11; 119:140), authoritative (Psalm 119:89), and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:17). For the lightning bolts to be able to thunder from a pulpit, the man who is standing in that pulpit must have the belief that what he is preaching is literally the words of God.
Second, he will have to be a man who unwaveringly preaches those Scriptures. This means that a preacher ought to make a commitment to preaching through the whole of the Scriptures. He cannot afford to take a hodge-podge approach to preach here and there and cherry pick the texts that come to his mind but rather to make a commitment to work through books of the Bible and make them useful for the edification and equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:12-14). We will have to clearly mark the thought that however the Word is handled in the pulpit will be the way the Word is handled by those who hear us. If you place a high priority on the Word, you shall discover that over time, the congregation will place a high priority on the Word also.[ read more...]
One of the most exciting and powerful methods of preaching is to share the story (biography) of a character in the Bible. This method is extremely valuable in building people and moving people from one level of ministry to another. God's desire is to grow His Kingdom. His Word is full of ordinary and less than ordinary people who He used to accomplish this purpose. It would behoove us as pastors and leaders to use this method of preaching a lot more than we have in the past. There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of a life that has been transformed by the power of God.
The proper definition of biographical preaching is;
The method of preaching that expounds a Bible character, based on careful exegesis, to deduce the principles that regulated his or her life and to apply the principles to the modern listener. A simpler definition is; Biographical preaching is preaching that provides a biography of the life of a person from scripture and draws a moral lesson or message from that story.
It is essential to understand that all preaching in its most basic of forms is (or at least ought to be) expository in nature. By that I mean that every scripture you share in a sermon should be exposed and expounded upon. Even when only one verse is used in a topical sermon, there is a degree of exposition that takes place. In the same sense, biographical preaching is a type of expository preaching. You are telling the story of an individual rather than the story of a chapter or a book. Instead of exposing a passage of scripture, you are exposing the life of a person in scripture. Your text may include several passages of scripture about the character.[ read more...]
Knowing some answers to this question can not only keep a church from losing some great people, but will also bring a church into revival as the back door is closed to a large degree.
It’s kind of like money. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. Some count their new converts by the hundreds, but few of these converts are still in the church a year later.
People leave the church because of boring sermons. Some people can tell when a preacher is shooting from the hip or preaching to the choir. “Study to show yourself approved.” You are not going to keep some people unless your messages are getting into their heart and mind. They have come to hear a Word from God. Get one from the Lord for yourself and then give it to the congregation.
People leave the church because they feel the ministry does not care about them. Greet them, shake their hands, phone them, write them a letter, smile at them, visit them when they are sick, send them a card when you can’t. Let them know you care. One kind word spoken at the right moment in a person’s life can cause them to be devoted to you for the rest of their life.
People leave the church because they have no relationships there. Develop ways for new converts to develop relationships within the church. Small Groups are a great place for new people to gain those necessary relationships.[ read more...]
How do you influence people? Do you influence them intentionally? Do you influence them in a positive way? Are you even a person of influence? Do people listen when you speak? John Maxwell lists influence as number two on his list of the twenty one laws of leadership. You must have influence with people if you desire to be a leader.
In life and in leadership you will be influenced and you will also influence others. The degree to which you can influence people is the key to success. Influencing people to become great will help you to succeed. There is also a flip side of influence; allowing great people to influence you will help you to influence others. Before you ever become a person of influence, first you must become influenced. Winston Churchill said, "Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must first yourself believe."
In 1832, at the age of twenty three, Abraham Lincoln wanted to serve his country in the war against Black Hawk and the Sac and Fox Indians of Northern Illinois. The government had called for volunteers to help drive these Indians back into their land beyond the Mississippi. In those days, the person who put together a group of volunteers often became its leader. So with no experience as a soldier, and no experience leading men into battle, Lincoln was given the rank of captain of this company.
Lincoln soon found himself in a very awkward position, he soon found that he did not have any influence with these men. Having never received influence from anybody as a soldier, he did not have the ability to influence his soldiers. He knew nothing of tactics. He knew nothing of procedure. He knew nothing of military jargon. So he couldn't even give the right commands to his men. On one occasion, he was trying to guide his men through a gate from one field to the next, but he couldn't manage to do it. Remembering the incident, Lincoln said, "I could not for the life of me remember the proper word of command for getting my company endwise. Finally, as we came near the gate I shouted: 'This company is dismissed for two minutes, when it will fall in again on the other side of the gate.'"
In the few weeks after this, Lincoln and his company of soldiers marched northward and westward all the way to the Mississippi. They never did any fighting, they were never even able to find any Indians. Other, more able companies, finally tracked these Indians down and defeated them at Bad Axe on the Mississippi River in July of that same year.
Lincoln's career as a Captain lasted only four weeks. Lincoln though was not done. He did not want to end his military career on such a negative note. He enlisted again to a company of mounted rangers. This time he became a private. He had learned the lesson that He needed to be influenced by a captain before he would ever be able to influence as a captain. We know the rest of the story. Lincoln overcame his inability to influence others and became a person of enormous influence as our nation's finest president.[ read more...]