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What Type Of People Will God Bring Your Way?
By: James Smith
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To avoid burnout one needs to identify ways to refuel the energy expended in their challenging role of bi-vocational ministry. Exercise, proper diet, and adequate rest cannot be over-emphasized for long-term health, stamina, and creativity.
One analogy is that of an automobile over the course of a year. It order to function without failure it needs to visit the occasional gas station, be serviced for lubrication and filter replacements, undergo routine preventive maintenance, be cleaned, have inspections and documentation kept current, and so forth. Just as these things are essential to problem-free automobile service, similar things are essential to problem-free bi-vocational ministry. A few tips include:
- Block out multiple windows of time for quality family time each week.
- Maintain spontaneity and the capacity to have fun.
- Schedule a vacation or time away from church and work at the same time.
- Leave work at the office. When you come home bring “you” with you.
- Discover ways to expend excess energy, tension, and anxiety.
I have so many titles for this article running through my head. "Stinking Thinking". "As A Man Thinketh In His Heart". "You Are What You Think". "So Go The Thoughts, So Go The Man". Let me start by asking you a few questions.
- Are you totally discouraged right now?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Is your mental thought process completely shut down?
- Do you feel trapped?
I have a friend who consistently responds “I’m happy and blessed” when I ask him how he is doing. Now I like this guy, I really do. But, sometimes, I just want to say “get real" when he tells me that. I don’t know, maybe he really is happy all the time. I guess it’s possible. Anything is possible right?!
I’m going to get blasted over this article. I’m going to get tons of emails from the "Happy All The Time Crowd". They’re going to tell me I’ve gone off the deep end. They will let me know that the Christian should always be happy. It’s our right. It’s our obligation. We should always have this enormous smile that tells everyone around us that we are HAPPY.
Christians are not allowed to get bummed out. Christians, especially Christian ministers are definitely not allowed to sink to the cloud of discouragement. A minister should never allow himself to get to a place of feeling down. Right?
Sounds good doesn’t it. But in the real world that’s a bunch of baloney. Just ask the old Prophet of God. One minute he’s killing off 500 false prophets, and wishing he could die the next.
You might agree with me that most preachers are emotional people. Now some people out there are not real emotional, but most of the preachers I know are people who allow emotion to guide them. Now that’s not a bad thing. I’m convinced that the Lord has a hard time using people who are hard to move emotionally. This is why he anointed David to be king when he was only a boy. God said of David, “He’s after my heart”. Other words, he’s a person who is able to touch me with his emotion. Without emotion, David would be led of his own ideas and agenda. But, since he was a person whose heart could be touched, God said, “I’ll use him in ways he never imagined he could be used.”
Emotion is a good thing. We need to be emotional! God is emotional. Look what the scriptures tell us about him.
- He gets angry.
- He gets jealous.
- He laughs.
- He’s emotional!
We, being created in his image are allowed the same privilege of being emotional.[ read more...]
"A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Proverbs 13:22).
"Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (II Corinthians 12:14).
When we were boys, my brother Rick would say this to me after he slugged me and made cry.
Brothers can be the best of friends and they can also be very cruel to one another. Rick was 6 years older than I was and without a father in our home at the time, he was the only male role-model in our home and at times, quite the bully.
Be a man. Wow! What volumes of pain and suffering in this world would be avoided if the husbands, fathers and leaders of our world would truly be men. To be a man, has been my personal quest since I was very young. I wasn't quite sure as a boy, what a man was, but something in my heart and mind told me that to be a man was something honorable and good.
Coming from a dysfunctional family, my understanding of the role of a man has been blurred to say the least. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that the example of a good man was never shown to me. In my early years of being a father, I realized this when I began feeling and expressing a father's love to my children. It was then that I realized that I had never truly been the benefactor of such caring, protective love. Painful memories flooded my mind often as I would compare the careful love my children received from my wife and I, with the careless and even abusive treatment my bothers, sisters and I received at the hands of our parents.
It was at this point in my life, that I realized I was more a true man than anyone in my family had ever modeled before me. No parent, grandparent, or uncle had shown me what it was to be a man. Their own dysfunctional upbringings had so marred their lives that they were incapable of it. I also realized that I had a Heavenly Father who had been and was my example.[ read more...]
Identifying that next leader is not easy. You must often times select a few prospects and begin to work with them waiting for the cream to rise to the top. While you are mentoring and waiting for maturity, here are a few things to begin to look for.
Leadership in the past. The best predictor of the future is the past. Is this a person who has worked well on a team previously? Maybe, they needed a break and stepped aside for rest, but are now able to get back on board.
The capacity to create or catch vision. When I talk to people about the future, I want their eyes to light up. I want them to ask the right questions. When you are sharing your vision with people do they get excited along with you? Do they offer suggestions that spur your imagination further? When you find someone who is able to catch the same vision as you, you have found someone that you can entrust much of the responsibility with. They will have a similar passion for the work as you yourself would.
A constructive spirit of discontent. Some people would call this criticism, but there's a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. The unscratchable itch is always in the leader. These people are a bit hard to sift from the genuine critics, but when you do you may have found a diamond in the rough. Just because they are questioning a few things does not mean they are not on your side. Give them an opportunity to help make a needed change and you may have found a great friend
Practical Ideas. Not everybody with practical ideas is a leader, of course, but leaders seem to be able to identify which are and which aren't. A person's experience will often times lend practical ideas. When someone offers an idea that is helpful, it may be that they have been involved in a project much like what you are facing which will make them a helpful candidate for your ministry team.
A willingness to take responsibility. Leaders will bear work, for the feeling of contributing to other people is what leadership is all about. When you find a person who is willing to take responsibility for not only the ministry you have given them, but also the success of it, you have found pure gold. These are people to build upon. The ministry is dependent on individuals who are willing to take responsibility.
A completion factor. In the military, it is called "completed staff work." The half-cooked meal isn't what you want. Someone who competes what they have set out to do is invaluable. When looking for leadership that will help you move your church forward, look for people who finish what they start, no matter how small or trivial the task is.[ read more...]
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
The world has always seemed to be a stage for war. Tales of armed conflict fill written history. The Korean War had ended shortly before my arrival on planet Earth. Vietnam dragged on through my college graduation. American troops have fought and died in Grenada, Somalia, and our current endeavors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regardless of the cause, it seems that there will always be conflict.
As we look back in history, we see one of the most powerful armies that ever walked the globe, The Roman Legions. In those ancient days there were no radios, satellite cell phones, or laser guided bombs. Discipline and order ruled the day. This army conquered the known world using three basic tenants.
1) Uniformity. The centurions all wore the same uniform. They understood that they were part of something bigger than just themselves. They carried a flag-type standard called a vexillum, which showed what legion they belonged. Each century (a 100 man detachment) carried their own standard called a signum. These standards helped the troops to keep in the right positions during battle.
2) Communication. A general would relay his commands to the cornice, (Latin for ‘horn-blower). Each command had a unique set of sounds. The cornice had the duty to blow the exact order from his commander. Under penalty of death he could not, by pride or mistake, change the order he blew through the horn.
3) Loyalty. The Legion carried a portrait of the emperor, the imago, this was to remind the troops they owed their loyalty to him. “. . . just as we make Rome great, it is Rome that makes us great. Without Rome, we are nothing”. (quote from Caerleon.Net)
The eventual destruction of Rome occurred when they dropped their qualifications for membership in their army. Where Roman citizenship had been a requirement, outsiders, or barbarians, were allowed in as paid mercenaries. Discipline and uniformity were dropped in favor of attracting large numbers. Communication broke down due to language barriers and lack of formal training. The commands blown through the horn were not understood. Additionally there was no loyalty to Caesar or Roman culture or values.[ read more...]
It began with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter two, but was continued and maintained, in part at least, by the giving and sacrifice of the first century church!
The bible says that they gave their all and laid it at the Apostles feet. They sold houses and land, possessions and goods, and parted them to those who had need of them.
Were these new, born again, Christians giving of their all, simply out of faith, or was there some precedent that had been set by the words and actions of the Jesus and His disciples?
Obviously, these Christians did not yet have the New Testament writings to refer to...but they were there in person when Jesus taught, instructed, and acted as their example in all things.[ read more...]
I recall the story of the most famous of all the prophets. Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets of God. Nobody doubted his calling, his prayers brought results. When Elijah prayed, fire fell from heaven. When Elijah prayed, rain fell from the sky. Through his prayers, Elijah altered the course of an entire nation. He was one of only two men in scripture who did not see death. There is no doubt that Elijah was in the perfect will of God.
Having said that, the book of 1 Kings reveals a time in Elijah's life when it seemed like the all of hell was rising up against him. Israel had forsaken the ways of God, the altars had been destroyed, the prophets of God had been slaughtered. Elijah found himself all alone and began to wonder if God was still with him. He decided to run for his life, in fact it got so bad, he asked the Lord to take his life.
1 Kings 19:1-4
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
The wicked queen Jezebel had been threatening Elijah's life for some time. Now it was heating up. Jezebel had just informed Elijah by way of messenger that he would be dead by the same time tomorrow! This was a man hunt, she had people looking for him everywhere, he was a wanted man, dead or alive. Elijah could feel the heat and he couldn't take it anymore.
It is hard to picture the most powerful of all of the prophets backed into a corner by the enemy and running for his life. Often times that is where we find ourselves. Yet, in the midst of running, God sends an angel to feed him. That ought to be enough to confirm that God is with you Elijah. I know if an angel visited me, I would be ready to do whatever God asked of me. Still, Elijah kept running.
The meat the angel brought to Elijah sustained his life for forty days and nights. That might be a hint that God is with you. Finally he finds a cave to hide in and the word of God came to him there, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
God wasn't asking about Elijah's physical location, He was asking about Elijah's spiritual condition. God wanted to know why Elijah had given up. Listen to Elijah's response...
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.[ read more...]
“You know you are a leader if you look behind you and people are following you.” There are many leaders who have people following them, but the leader is not leading them anywhere.
All too often, the leader himself is not being led. It is a shame when a leader is unwilling or unable to be led of the Holy Spirit. It is a tremendous loss of potential to the Kingdom. As well, those who want to follow that leader become discouraged as their willingness to be led turns to disillusionment.
A leader who refuses to move in the direction God would lead him lacks the courage to see beyond the obstacles in his way. Someone who’s intent is to wait until circumstances are perfect before he moves forward, will never move. There will always be some obstacle between where you are and where you want to be. Moses and the Children of Israel are the perfect examples of people who had a clear vision of where they felt God was leading them. They found that there were going to be many walled cities and giants they were going to have to face before they arrived at their place of promise.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to face your fear and move forward in spite of the uncertainty or risk.[ read more...]
One Snoopy cartoon depicts the famous beagle of Charley Brown lying on the roof of his dog house and complaining that everyone is constantly demanding something from him. He has so much more to do that he can possibly get accomplished. In the final frame of the cartoon, Snoopy sighs, “I hate being head beagle!”
Being head beagle is not always as glamorous as it appears to be. Amazingly, people struggle to become the top dog. There is some kind of allure to the top position in any given profession and the ministry is no different. An intoxication to be the one at the top of the ladder oftentimes blurs the true calling and divine purpose of too many people.
Few however, know the true cost of being the one with the title before his/her name. At the same time, those who are the One at the Top, overestimate their own true value. Any organization that only thrives because of the charisma of its sole leader is in trouble. In the day that the person whom the whole organization is revolving around falls away or steps aside, that organization is going to struggle to find direction for its immediate and future direction. Few churches/organizations who follow this pattern can survive completely with the loss of their fearless leader.[ read more...]