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Fourteen years ago I began a career as an investment advisor. After spending weeks studying for the state and federal securities exams, I began a very successful, though brief, career. Successful, because I was landing sales of which most security brokers only dream.
After spending years as a house painter, I felt that I had found my calling. I loved the idea of helping people find ways to invest their money to achieve the greatest amount of profit for the least amount of investment risk. The idea of making money with money thrilled me. Imagine, making money not only during the 9-to-5 work day, but also making money while asleep.
After only a few months in my new career, I attended a securities symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana. For a full week, investment firms presented their funds, boasting their returns as far back as 20 years. For several days, I sat thru presentation after presentation from some of the largest and most prominent investment firms in the world.
Using Power Point presentations, each firm showed annual returns that all seemed to point upward when it came to opportunities for investment. With a room full of some of the most successful sales advisors, these firms worked to convince us that their funds were the best investment for our clients.
By the time I headed home from the symposium, my head spun with excitement. I knew that some of these investments were exactly what many of my clients wanted and needed. That night I went to bed still excited about what I learned and the potential to help my clients increase their savings.
After I slept several hours, a loud booming voice awakened me saying, “The kingdom of God is the best investment!” The voice frightened me. I looked over at my wife, expecting her to be fully awake and as startled as I was. But she was sound asleep. “Did you hear that? I said, nudging her awake. “Hear what?” she mumbled. I realized it was the voice of God, reminding me that His kingdom was the best place to invest. It pays the highest dividends and interest and, best of all, there are no penalties or risks of investment loss.
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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:
Some of the things you can do in your own congregation to rectify any lack of loyalty are: 1. Teach the difference between faithfulness and loyalty. 2. Remind your people that, according to their new nature, they already want to be loyal. Unless they are outright rebels, disloyal acts come out of ignorance and/or weakness of the flesh. 3. Let them know, in light of their sharpened understanding, you are expecting them to be loyal. They will be what you expect them to be.
Some of the things you can do in your own congregation to rectify any lack of loyalty are:
1. Teach the difference between faithfulness and loyalty.
2. Remind your people that, according to their new nature, they already want to be loyal. Unless they are outright rebels, disloyal acts come out of ignorance and/or weakness of the flesh.
3. Let them know, in light of their sharpened understanding, you are expecting them to be loyal. They will be what you expect them to be.[ read more...]
I remember as a young person, admiring the Pastors and Ministers of our movement. In my mind they were (and are) equal to the Apostles. I cannot explain in words my respect for them.
20 years later, I am one of those men. Often I find myself comparing my ministry to those men who I admire. Who I am as a leader, seems far short to that of many of the men around me. Now please don't think that I am wanting to be them. I realize that we are all unique and gifted according to His desire. But there is something in me that always wants to improve. I never want to become satisfied with who I am as a Man of God. I always want to do more for Him. I want to get closer to who He wants me to be. Like Paul of old. After all he did for the Lord, he said "Oh, that I might know Him..." As great a man as Paul was, he still looked to Jesus for a deeper walk.
I'm not sure we always realize the effect we have on the young people around us. Or for that matter, any saint. One thing that God consistently reminds me of, is that I am an example to those who look up to me. I feel that there is blood on my hands, if I lead an example, that would discourage them from living for God.[ read more...]
Why do preachers preach?
Since the goal of preaching is to change lives, preaching is the ultimate tool for church growth. But how can you be effective in communication through preaching? Listed below are eight questions to ask about your preaching.
1. Who will I be preaching to? Asking questions like, "What are their needs?", "What are their hurts?", and, "What are their interests?", will help us focus on where the people are. Why ask? Because although there are three things that always get one's attention:
- Things that threaten us.
- Things that are unusual.
- Things that we value.
"A preacher can only consistently keep people's attention by focusing on what people value."
2. What does the bible say about their needs? Since the Bible is the Book of Life, is will have the answer to peoples needs! The preacher's task is to show the Bible to be relevant for today's needs.
3. What is the most practical way to say it? Application is the central task in preaching. So, preaching must be practical enough for people to know what to do. How to make preaching more practical?
- Always aim for action.
- Tell the people why.
- Show them how.
Exhortation without explanation leads to frustration. Too often people respond to a message with the expression, "Yes, but how?" In other words, I agree with what you're saying, but "how do I do it?"
4. What is the most positive way to say it? Jesus never tried to convert anyone with anger. Although the Scriptures clearly warn of judgment, negative preaching only produces negative people.[ read more...]
An indispensable trait for successful pastors is perseverance. The New Testament word, hupomeno, is best translated "Patiently enduring" or "overcoming difficulties." This unglamorous component of leadership may disappoint those hoping to build effective churches by means of skill, charisma and intelligence alone. Never the less, those who persevere - who doggedly pursue what God has shown them - are more likely to reach their pastoral goals than those sprinting along in reliance on their natural abilities. Perseverance is characterized by three elements:
- Learned Optimism
Resilience - is the ability to bounce back.
Learned Optimism - defined as having an eye for what is going right.
Opportunism - enables the pastor to see opportunities amid the problems.
Ever had one? One of those days where you wish you would have stayed in bed? I had one last week. Well, actually I had two of them in a row. My boy Jeremy had just gotten the cast off his arm from the break he received when he fell out of the tree 2 months ago. So, Thursday evening, we decided to take our dirt bikes out and go riding. We had ridden about an hour when Jer flipped his bike on a jump and it landed on his foot, thus breaking it. So to the house we go to get a few things before we head to the emergency room. Before we leave the house though, we should let Molly out. Molly is our 5 pound Maltese. The baby of the family. She is almost ready to come into the house when the neighbors dog comes over and mauls her. She wasn't hurt badly, only bruised and frightened, but we don't have time to comfort her because Jeremy is needing to go get X- rays. This has turned out to be a very bad day.
I wake up Friday morning, thinking, O. K. the worst is behind us. It's a brand new day, right?! Wrong. All I did was turn my head and sneeze. That's all. But now my neck has gone into a spasm and the vertebrae are out and I can't move my neck in any direction more than an inch without causing excruciating pain. So I lay on the bed for an hour. Unable to move. (6 days, and 2 chiropractor appointments later, I'm still in pain.) Boy this is starting out to be a bad day. Unable to get an appointment with a chiropractor, I suffered though a very painful day at the computer, with set back after set back on site development. Finally after a long, frustrating, painful day, my wife and I (still suffering) go to bed hoping tomorrow will be better.
Two hours later the phone rings. It's Kristi, our 17 year old. She was driving back from church camp, a 2.5 hour drive from Indianapolis and fell asleep at the wheel. All she could tell us was that she was in a wreck. She didn't know where she was at and the car is totaled. We asked her if anyone had stopped to help her. "No". "Do you see any road signs?" Frantic and in shock, she replied in tears, "No, I don't know where I'm at." I cannot tell you how fearful my wife and I were. Not only were we not able to tell the police where she was, but we really did not know her condition since she was in shock and unable to tell us very much.
Guessing her time of departure and the approximate distance in the trip, I called the State Police and told them the situation and to look for her on Route 65 between Rensselaer and Lowe, about a 60 mile stretch. Amazingly the phone rings 10 minutes later and the fire department has found her 1 mile off the exit ramp from Rensselaer To our relief she is bruised, but ok. God really had his hand on her. She hit the guardrail at around 65 MPH, completely destroying the guardrail and totaled out the car.
But God is good isn't He! At the end of a second very bad day, I got to hold my baby girl in my arms and thank God for keeping her from certain death. Holding her, I realized that by all rights, we should be in a hospital room seeing the worst.
We can complain about the neck spasms, dog fights, broken bones, and bad days at the office, but when it's all over we really just need to stop and thank the Lord for breath. Thank Him for our children. Thank Him for a job, any job. We would complain about the old junk car that we are driving, but we need to notice the old lady walking home from the grocery store with bags in her arms and a long walk ahead of her. How blessed we really are.[ read more...]
Every Church needs to answer the following eight strategic questions:
1. Why do we exist as a church? (Biblical Purpose)
2. How has God worked in our past? (Ministry Milestones)
3. Whom has God called us to reach? (Ministry focus)
4. Who has God shaped us to be? (Core Values)
5. Where is God leading us in the future? (Vision)[ read more...]
Accountability – “The quality or state of being accountable. – Webster’s dictionary
- Accountability is a binding relationship that develops growth, moral and ethical excellence.
- Accountability is not support therapy an opportunity to allow for excuses.
- When a person becomes accountable to another, they make themselves accountable to someone other than themselves.
Why should we consider becoming accountable to someone else?
- We cannot stand without accountability. 1 Cor 10:12
- Every man/woman should make themselves accountable to at least:
- Their spouse
- Their family
- Those they lead
- Those leaders above them
- At least one other person who could be considered their spiritual mentor.
We are all accountable whether we know it or not. People are watching us day and night. They are looking to see if we are who we say we are. They base their trust and confidence in us according to the level of truth they see in our lives. If they do not consider our lives to be worthy of their confidence or trust, then our ministry will have no effect on their lives.
Accountability keeps us from moral and spiritual failure.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron: so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Having someone to be accountable to keeps us from ourselves. Realizing that someone else will judge our actions causes us to “consider our ways”.
Although you may feel like you are the only one, you are not. A large percentage of other pastors and ministers also feel isolated and alone even as they minister to crowds of people on a regular basis. The feeling of isolation or of being alone plagues many ministers and their spouses. This article identifies 12 causes and potential solutions. It also validates a few of the many needs for spiritual Fathers and/or mentors.
The vast majority of Christian leaders do not actually have a mentor or spiritual father in their life.
Each of the following topics could be a guideline for validating the need for a mentor in your life and ministry.
The Isolation of the Calling
If you truly have a calling from God you may be the only one with that particular call. Even a quick cursory review of the Bible reveals men like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah who felt the pain of isolation and solitude. They had no peers.
Elijah even stated once that he was the only one like himself, but God quickly corrected him by saying there were 7000 others similar to him. Your isolation may have many ingredients such as location, a unique but misunderstood calling, not relating to the people around you, and many others.
Regardless of the reason(s) for your isolation you need to understand that there is someone somewhere who can relate to you. It is your responsibility to climb out of your box of isolation. Of course, God always understands, but there are times you also need people. Just having someone to listen to you is not always enough. You need someone with wisdom and sage advice who can help direct you forward. Perhaps you need a mentor? The right mentor will help you use the isolation of the calling as an advantage to become more effective.
The Solitude of Alone Time
Solitude is a two-edged sword. Although it is healthy to have alone time for self, meditation, exercise, relaxation and prayer, it can also become a dark pit of separation and despair. You must not close out the essential people around you. Your family, staff, and peers each need the right amounts of time with you and your input.
If you do not have alone time in your schedule it is imperative that you work toward finding time for it. You must use your alone time wisely by assuring that there is some personal growth value associated with it. You must also establish some mind guards because an idle mind can wander into areas it should not go into. Always remember that the adversary may use your alone time to speak his deceits into your thoughts.[ read more...]