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I Hate Being Head Beagle!
By: James Smith
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.
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Pat yourself on the back.
Have you been feeling underappreciated lately? Does it seem that no one understands how hard you work or how much you are trying? The feeling that no one appreciates you can be very discouraging to most people.
We all know the power of congratulations. Rewarding people with our praise is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to motivate others. Simple words of encouragement can literally change a person’s life when given at the right moment. Saying “Good Job” or “This Looks Great” can motivate a person to want to try harder next time in order to please you, as well as give them a much needed sense of accomplishment for the hard work they have invested.
What happens though, when no one gives “You” that needed praise? Who encourages the encourager? Who tells the guy at the top “Good Job”? Oftentimes, nobody does this. Even a self-motivated person has a point where they just need to hear someone say “I appreciate what you are doing.” So what do you do when those affirmations are few and far between?
Encourage yourself! David did it. 1 Samuel 30:6;
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
Maybe you’ve never had the congregation ready to stone you, (Or maybe you have…) but there have probably been many times where you wondered where even your closest followers' devotions were. David understood that this was one day where encouragement from the men was not going to come. They were tired, discouraged, and let down. He knew that there was nothing he could do or say that would cause them to appreciate all he was trying to do for them. The only thing left for David to do was to “Encourage Himself”. The scriptures say he “…encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Wouldn’t it be something if we could know exactly what he said or did to do this. What were his words? “Don’t worry David (to himself), God’s got your back. You’re doing a fantastic thing for the Kingdom of God. Don’t be discouraged, the Lord knows where you’re at right now.” These are things we might say to another person to encourage them, so why not say them to ourselves?
I confess, I talk to myself on occasion. Not like a lot of people do, but rather to encourage myself. A few years ago, I began to become very discouraged when it seemed that no one else seemed to appreciate the very hard work and tremendous accomplishment that I was experiencing. So, I began to do something that might sound a bit strange to many people. I began “patting myself on the back”. Seriously, I literally patted myself on the back and said to myself, “Good job Jim. No one else may notice what you just did, but I did and I think you did a fantastic job.” I know that sounds odd, but I have to be honest with you, it felt good. I said it to myself and at the same time realized that the guy saying it knew what he was talking about. He was someone who recognized when someone did something great and he was now complementing me. Only, me was also me, so for some that might not sound so great.
However, it was the only praise that was going to come to me that day, so if it had to come from me, I was going to accept it.[ read more...]
"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23)
compel: to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
Most people are "nervous" when it comes to inviting guests to church. In fact, most people are afraid to even talk to someone about Church or about God. They are afraid that they won't have all of the right answers. They are afraid of rejection and many other things that the devil will use to get them to dislike outreach. So, how do we get our people to buy into inviting people to church? We must first ask the question "Are the leaders of the church soul-winners?" Is winning souls something that drives us every day? Remember, the sheep will follow their shepherd.
1. You can't sell something if you haven't yourself bought into it first. If soul-winning is your passion and what drives you, it will come out in every message and in everything you say and do. It is a part of you. It is who you are. It's not a chore or an inconvenience to you, but it is part of your make up. You do it without thinking about it and it has become second nature to you. If you passionately preach and teach on soul-winning long enough, the people will feel your excitement and buy into what you are selling.
2. Teach on this Biblical fact: Witnessing is a command. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive the Power to be a witness. Jesus instructs us that we SHALL be witnesses (Acts 1:8). He doesn't ask us if we want to or if we feel like it or if it fits into our schedule. He commands us to be witnesses. When we invite people to our church we are displaying our witness. We are showing them that going to church and learning more about God is what we enjoy doing and that it is part of our life.[ read more...]
A few years ago, I hired a man to work for me who was from Africa. His family had brought him to the United States and he was in need of job skills. My small painting company was a great place for him to learn a trade. Frances was a pure joy to work with. He was happy every day. He would sing beautifully as he worked and often expressed his appreciation to me for giving him a job. He was fun and often told funny jokes. He was always ready for work on time. His attitude was perfect. However, I had to fire him.
Frances did not understand the value of time. One day he would paint 30 doors, the next day he would paint 2. After speaking to the family member who was his sponsor to the US, she told me that in Africa, time is of little value. She said, “people where he came from do not place a value on time. If something did not get done today, that’s ok, it can get done tomorrow.” Unfortunately, we in the US do not and cannot look at time this way. I knew how much Frances’s time was worth not only to him, but also to me. As his employer, I had to cause Frances to improve his time to show a profit or I would lose money on each job he did for me. Frances was unable to change his way of thinking regarding time and as a result I had to let him go.
The Bible itself begins with a reference of time, “In the beginning”. Time has always been important to God. A reading of the early chapters of Genesis shows God creating the world as sequential event. Christ Himself did not come to this world until His time was fulfilled and when it was time, he returned to glory. Time is important to God, and it should be important to His ministers.
Some people view time like Frances did. It simply did not matter. “Didn’t do it today? That’s ok, do it tomorrow.” The fact of the matter is, we only have one life. We are only allowed so many days, hours, minutes and seconds in this life. At some appointed second in time we will pass from this life.[ read more...]
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...]
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.
"...happy is that people, whose God is the LORD." (Psalm 144:15)
Allen Funt, creator and original host of the landmark television series Candid Camera, perfected an art that has entertained people for over 60 years. From a humble start on radio in 1947, he used hidden microphones and cameras to catch unsuspecting people worldwide—all in the spirit of fun. The show's famous tag line—"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!"—is universally known.
Somebody is always watching you, so why not smile. All too often, we’ve all been in church services where the people who were on the platform, hardly ever smiled. In some of these instances, I personally knew these people and knew that they had a great sense of humor and personality, but watching them from the audience I realized that they hardly ever smiled while on the platform. I know that there are times of deep worship when there is crying and weeping before the Lord. I'm not talking about these instances. What I am referring to are all of the other times while on the platform. Most of the time our musicians and singers are on the platform for most, if not all, of the service. Pastors and other spiritual leaders usually sit on the platform for all of the service also. Spending all of this time in front of the congregation becomes second nature to us and we develop the bad habit of not smiling. Sometimes while leading worship service, preaching or even singing, we scrunch up our face and it looks like we are mad at something or that we are in a bad mood. All the while, we may be in the best mood ever but it comes across to the audience in a different way.
A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks. ~Charles Gordy
"If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it." In fact, all of the leadership of the church represents who the church is to the congregation and also to the guests. If you are the greeter who stands at the front of the church and welcomes everyone into the sanctuary, you definitely should be smiling. You are the first face that members and guests see and it should be a happy, welcoming face. If you are a Sunday School teacher, make a conscious effort to smile, whether you are teaching that Sunday or not. If you are a musician in the church who is normally on the platform but maybe you have the service off and are sitting in the congregation, make sure you are still smiling. You would be surprised who is watching you to see who you are whenever you aren't in front of everyone.[ read more...]
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.[ read more...]
One of the biggest problems in many of our churches is a lack of leadership. Where do you find people who have leadership abilities?
"You don't have to bring in a hireling to find leadership in your church…the person you are looking for might be closer than you think."
People who have displayed faithfulness in small things. He might be the usher who is constantly faithful to the duties of ushering. Don't leave that person doing the same thing for 30 years because they do it so well. Move them into areas of leadership.
Look for people who worship well and who love their pastor. You might think they have no leadership ability, and they may not. But their love for God and their Pastor will give them the zeal they will need to learn how to lead from you.[ read more...]
(14) For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
(15) And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. (16) Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. (17) And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. (18) But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. (19) After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. (20) And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. (21) His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (22) He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. (23) His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.(24) Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: (25) And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (26) His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: (27) Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (28) Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. (29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Here we have one of the most improperly quoted scriptures in the Bible. In fact, of the 24 years I have been in the church and of the 3700 or so messages I have either preached or heard preached in those 24 years I have heard this verse of scripture referred to many times, but never in the context in which our Lord intended it to be quoted.
Nearly every time I heard this scripture recited, it was in a message in which the speaker was trying to inspire the saints of the church to become soul winners or to work harder for the kingdom. However, the parable of the servants and the talents was never intended as a message to the saints, but it was a message from our Lord to the Pastors/Leaders of the churches. And a warning of the consequences of burying the potential that is in the people whom our Lord would place within our grasp and ministry.[ read more...]