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Investing The Talents
The following is an article being shared with the Indiana Trumpet. You might want to place it in your weekly bulletin or in a place where your members can read it.
Mt 25 14-30
Mat 25:14 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.
Mat 25:15 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...
This often misunderstood passage of scripture is a key parable for real revival. Revival and growth can only come when we understand and implement the simple factors spoken of here.
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus Christ. His servants are the Pastors of churches and the talents are the saints of the churches. When Jesus placed a shepherd in the church, he was doing more than placing someone there who would watch over the souls of the church. He was also placing someone there who would lead that group of people into personal and numerical growth (Revival).
This parable was not written to the saints, it was written to the Pastors of the churches. As a saint, this is important for me to understand as it allows me to comprehend the burden and psyche of my Pastor.
Every Pastor is under a great burden for the souls of not only those who attend the local church, but also for the souls of those people in the community who do not attend. This burden does not leave a Pastor day or night, the entire time he Pastor’s a particular church. Those who do not understand this burden will usually misunderstand the actions and decisions of their Pastor.
Notice in the parable the Lord gave us, the servant/Pastor pays a great price if he does not invest his Lord’s talents/saints wisely. Saints will wonder why their Pastor is pushing so hard to begin a new program or simply encourage the church to get involved in evangelism. They will grumble and complain because he has asked them to consider a new ministry the church is capable of implementing. Yet, regardless of their lack of cooperation, the Pastor is still under the directive to cause every talent/saint in the church to become involved.
Notice what happened to the servant who buried his talent in the ground. His labor was to hide his talents. This Pastor simply preached to the “Us 4 and no more crowd”. He was satisfied with a lack of growth and had grown weary of trying to get the church to become involved in soul winning. So he stopped trying. He just kept the same old crowd. His burden for the community died and his church had no increase. With this mindset, this servant purchased a harsh judgment.
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Here are a few things to remember when taking up the offering.
Don’t be timid or embarrassed to ask people for money. It takes money to make ministry happen.
Teach your people to give financially to the church. You are robbing them of a tremendous blessing if you are not teaching them to give tithes and offerings. It is the job of the ministry to instruct people how to give financially to God’s work.
Be the first to give. Instruct your ushers to take the offering from the platform first. The Pastor should be the first to give and then anyone who is seated on the platform. Preachers, musicians, singers, everybody should be instructed to be an example in giving in every service. Rule number 1 – If you are on the platform, you must give in every offering. (This serves as an example to the rest of the congregation. You will be amazed at the increase in offerings when your congregation begins to notice the leadership of the church being the first to give.
Tell the ushers to slow down. Recently I visited a church where the ushers went so fast collecting the offering that people did not even have time to get their wallets out before the ushers were finished. Slow them down. People need time to dig deep.
Pass the plate. Don’t let the ushers simply walk around with the plate in hand – only putting it in front of those they feel will give. Tell them that each person in the congregation should have the plate passed to them. Let the congregation handle the plate as it passes through every row.
Worship during the giving. Don’t let the offering be the dead spot of the church service. Have the musicians play and the singers sing. The church should worship while they give.[ read more...]
I stared out of my office window. In 3 hours my congregation would be filling the auditorium to receive watering for their souls and seek direction and inspiration. The prospect used to snap my adrenaline to attention and send me bounding through the sanctuary straightening chairs, adjusting microphones, checking thermostats. Anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry would stir my faith with expectation. It was my favorite time of the week – then. I managed to continue preparing messages, but careful planning of the services overloaded the limits of my emotional energy. I winged it more Sundays than I care to admit. Routine pastoral tasks were postponed or neglected. Knowing I wasn’t giving the pastorate my best effort nagged my conscience and compounded my distress. Thankfully, I survived. Ministry once again puts a bounce in my steps. My devotional life has regained its pulse. Vision and purpose flow through my veins. I’ve come through to the bright side of the “valley of the shadow of death.” Here are some things I learned about surviving when the well runs dry.
- Recognize the Adversary. According to I Peter 5:8, we have an adversary who seeks to devour us. Satan’s strategy is seen throughout the Scriptures – to strike shepherds and scatter the sheep. For instance, he assaulted Timothy with insecurity and inadequacy. I was Timothy. Satan harassed me with thoughts: You’re a failure. You’re a terrible pastor. Your aren’t gifted enough. The church would be better off without you. You’ve missed your calling. They hounded my mind continually, and I gegan to believe them. Then I had to trust that He would equip and enable me to get the job done. I went to the Scriptures that speak of endurance and perseverance. Deep down I knew I had to press on, and God would see me through. He did. I’m thankful I didn’t quit.
- Settle the Commitment Issue. Another breakthrough came by committing myself anew to the call of pasturing. Discouragement caused me to entertain ideas of quitting the ministry and pursuing other professions. Mentally I packed my bags daily. The fantasies provided brief oases in my desert, but ultimately they sucked me down into deeper depression. Indecision frustrated and complicated my state of mind. I became angry that the ministry forced me to say “No” to other options. Then Jesus’ words began to impress my thoughts, “Whosoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25). I was trying to save my life. Leaving the ministry would be a cop-out and would cost me long-term blessings and character development. Therefore, I determined to stick with it and be faithful to the call. Even if it killed me, I would give myself to the ministry. It was a turning point. The distracting, conflicting desires faded. Contentment came, followed by genuine joy.
Fear can and will keep many good leaders from becoming great leaders. Many mountain climbers have stood at the base camp of Mt. Everest, yet only a small percentage of them have had the courage it takes to actually climb to the top of that mountain.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of what people will say if we fail. Fear of the criticism along the way. Fear of being the only one saying “It can be done.” Fear of our vision being rejected by others.
Fear can kill our God given directive. It can suffocate our dream.
A position or office does not cause a person to become a leader. Though a person be chosen to Pastor a church, they are not truly a leader until they face their fears and actually lead that congregation into the places that God would want it to go. Being chosen to lead is easy. Actually leading is hard.
What defines a true visionary? Is it someone who has a lot of great ideas? Someone who sees the need for change, but never causes that change to take place? About 1 year ago I asked my wife to be very critical of me. I asked her to honestly tell me if I was someone who saw the things that needed to change and caused them to change or if I was someone who pointed out all the areas of needed change and did nothing. Her response though honest, was not what I wanted to hear.
I have determined, that if I am unable or unwilling to cause change in a given area, I will keep my mouth shut. Although I may see a need to change, I will say nothing, unless it is to spark a vision in another person who is capable of creating the needed change.
When I see another person or ministry who is successful, I go to them and find out how/why they are having success. I try to learn from them. Yet, I usually find that the reason they are having success is something I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me about in the past. I get beat up pretty bad as I realize that God told me to do this same thing several years ago, only I lacked the courage to launch into it. You must admit with me that some of the more successful people around you are doing things that you yourself have considered, only they did it and you didn’t.[ 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...]
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...]
There are times that I really get wrapped up with being important. I mean those times when I am so into the importance thing that the whole world finds it’s orbit around me. I know that you may find that hard to believe, that “importance” could have such a dizzying effect on me but it does.
In fact some time ago, I found myself being very important. Our church was hosting a preaching workshop. Rick Wyser was doing his very good seminar “The Six Should-Be’s of Preaching” and I was feeling particularly important. We had plotted and planned and had all sorts of free books, gadgets, computer programs and all sorts of other things to give out to the participants. Somewhere around fifty ministers came and we were having a tremendous time. Nothing motivates me like talking about becoming a better preacher, so I was definitely enjoying the element.[ read more...]
When working with those who are volunteers in the church, it’s important to remember a few things. Consider these…
They are not paid to work in your church. Very few businesses are operated by volunteerism. The church is one of the few organizations who operate because of volunteers. A volunteer is a gift from God to the church. However small a person’s contribution may be, is a great gift as it costs the church nothing.
They do it because they want to. What causes one person to volunteer may be something that would not cause another person to volunteer. The bottom line is they want to do it. You cannot make a person volunteer. You can however help them to want to volunteer by finding the “motivational button” that would cause them to want to volunteer.
They do it because it makes them feel good. People receive a sense of value by volunteering. It makes them feel like they have invested a part of themselves. Volunteering in the church makes one feel like they have truly helped a worthy cause.
They do it because they want to please God and Pastor. Always remind the volunteer that you are thankful for their help and that it means a great deal to you that they helped. Remind them also that God is pleased with their contribution.[ read more...]
As pastors and spiritual leaders we have many things on our plates. We have schedules, deadlines and appointments to fulfill. Our calendars are filled up with church meetings and conferences before we even get a chance to plan a family vacation. We run out of room to write in our daily planners. We are busy with Kingdom work. We are constantly about our Father's business. It would be all too easy to just quit and justify our quitting with being "burnt out." However, if we could see with our spiritual eyes just how close we are to reaching our final destination. If we could know exactly how close we are to the coming of the Lord, we would work faster and harder than we have ever worked before. We would load up on Bible studies and go teach our whole neighborhood the Word of God. If we could only see!
In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off of Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She'd already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn't until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, "All I could see was the fog... I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it."[ read more...]
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:5)
Five truths of attitudes:
Truth #1: Our attitude determines how we approach life.
Are you someone who sees the glass half full or half empty? Do you even see the glass? The attitude we have whenever we wake up in the morning will usually dictate how the rest of our day will be.
The story is told of the grandpa and grandma who visited their grandchildren. Each afternoon, grandpa would lie down for a nap. One day, as a practical joke, the kids decided to put Limburger cheese in his moustache. Quite soon he awoke sniffing. "Why, this room stinks," he exclaimed as he got up and went out into the kitchen. He wasn't there long until he decided that the kitchen smelled too, so he walked outdoors for a breath of fresh air. Much to the grandpa's surprise, the open air brought no relief, and he proclaimed, "The whole world stinks!" How true is that in life? When we carry "Limburger cheese" in our attitudes, the whole world smells bad to us.[ read more...]