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By: James Smith
How important is it? Consider this. Early in Jesus’ ministry, he chose out 12 men who would become his disciples. His purpose in choosing these 12 men went beyond their need for salvation. His vision was that he might “…make them fishers of men”. Jesus understood immediately upon starting his early ministry that his role was to not only bring salvation to this world, but to also raise up others who would do the same after He was gone.
What would happen to the church or ministry the Lord has given to you should you be removed from the picture today? Is there someone you have been training to do your job? Have you mentored anyone to take your place? Or have you like most ministers been so busy doing your fathers business that you don’t have time to train other leaders.
Jesus understood that this was paramount to all he did in this world. He realized that unless he mentored these 12 men, all he accomplished in this world was in vain as there would be no one to continue it after he left.
Many ministers don’t see the need to raise up other leaders in the church. In fact, many ministers view this as threatening to their own position in the church. Can I suggest to you that this is “small thinking”. Whose kingdom are we working for anyway? If it is ours, we will lose it. If it is God’s, we will gain it. Small thinking hinders revival.
We all so often can find fault in our congregations regarding the lack of growth in the church. We point out all the ways they fail in outreach and preach them into a level of guilt that kills their joy stymies their efforts to share Jesus. Yet, we need to ask ourselves honestly, how many people do we pull aside on a weekly basis to mentor and raise up?
It is a fact that our church will only grow to the level that it’s leadership is able to minister to. A single man or woman will never effectively pastor a church of 200 or more people. It is impossible. A single person can only effectively pastor 70-80 people “if” he is full time. Someone one would say, “But I don’t have time to train other leaders in the church”. Can I say to you, “This should be the first thing you are doing.” You might say , “but I am too busy teaching, preaching, praying for the sick and ministering to the needs of others.” Can I ask you something? What would be so wrong with raising up 5-10 men in your church to do most of these things or even do much of the teaching and some of the preaching for you?
Jesus took his focus off of the multitude on occasions to focus on his 12. He sent them out to do what he had been doing all along. Did they do it exactly like he would have done it every time? Doubtful, but they did get the job done and in greater measure than He alone was able to do it. Jesus understood that 12 was more than one. Do we really understand that? Or do we think “I” am the only one who can do this job. “I” am the only one called to do this job. “I” am the only one anointed to do this job.
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Probably the worst thing that can happen to a God-called minister of the Gospel is that they would be confused about their calling. Confusion in the ministry thwarts the positive impact of the church. No congregation or ministry can move forward when the leadership of that organization is confused about their calling.
Whether we are talking about an individual’s or an organization's calling, confusion can kill their potential. Some men/women spend their entire lives confused about their calling. Hearing a call from God, but listening for direction from other people.
It’s important to understand that every Calling is not a call to preach. Some would argue this. Countless young men and women have felt a call on their life, but got their direction from good-meaning people who put Preaching on them. “You’re going to be a great preacher.” “I feel you are called to preach!” Prophecies are spoken over these people by many misguided folks who believe or have been taught that only a preacher can have an effect on the work of God. Some would have every worker in the harvest to be Great Preachers.
Stop! The world does not just need more preachers. It needs more people who are concerned about souls. It needs compassionate people who care enough about their fellow man to pray for them and invite them to church. It needs not preachers, but teachers. Teachers who will take Bible in hand and sit in someone’s home and teach them a Bible study. Truth is hard to come by, yet it is right at our fingertips. Our generation is lost for a lack of understanding of the Bible.
What is the calling you are called to? Share truth with someone who does not know the truth. Jesus said, “I share with you a truth”. Long before Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, Jesus (our example,” was teaching in the synagogue.
What is it about our human nature that desires to be “The one up front.” The one doing the talking. What is it about our human nature that desires not a teacher, but a preacher. Midweek Bible studies have only a slice of the attendance that Sunday preaching services have. Why is that? We are still coming together to worship and share the Word. Yet on Sunday there is preaching and on the midweek service there is teaching. And the church would rather hear a preacher than a teacher.
It’s in our nature. We want an icon. We want someone to idealize. We want a spokesman for our church. We want preachers. So every person who feels a call on their life gets “pushed’ into the preacher mold.[ read more...]
They are not perfect. It’s true that if you wait for people to become perfect, you may be waiting a long time. There is nothing wrong with exercising your own faith and begin using people before they are 100% ready to be used.
They will need your help. Don’t expect them to know all that you know. Sit down with them and one on one, explain to them how to do what it is you want them to do. Give them details of what you expect and guidelines on how to do it.
They need someone to tell them they can do it. Most of the people who come into our churches have been beaten down by the world. They need someone to believe in them. The very fact that you believe in them will cause them to do things for God that they never thought they were capable of.
They will make mistakes. You’ve made yours, let them make theirs. Give them room for grace and forgiveness. Let them know that a mistake is not necessarily an end, but rather a place to learn.
They are not mind readers. Don’t expect them to just know what it is you want them to know. Talk to them. Communicate it to them. Send them memos, emails and leave messages.
They want to succeed. Nobody wants to fail. Give them every chance to succeed. Don’t give them a job that is way over their head. Give them small tasks at first and work them into the ministry you want them to have.[ read more...]
The title of my article is borrowed from a book of great truth. Some books, although not biblical in origin, bear great truth nonetheless. Had I read this book several weeks ago, I may have saved myself a great deal of labor.
Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo, is more than a child’s book of the Dr. Seuss series. It is in my opinion a manuscript of sacred truth often unrealized in the life of a leader.
Let me explain, in Because a Little Bug went Ka- Choo, Rosetta Stone describes the extreme chain of events that unfold as a result of a little bug sneezing. At first a seed is dropped. Of which a worm gets hit, who then gets mad and kicks a tree. Because he kicks the tree a coconut drops causing the turtle to get bopped… And so on until the final scene describes the entire town turned into utter chaos as fire trucks and town parades collide into a frenzied explosion of pandemonium.
A friend gave me this book the other night after I finished the complete renovation of her kitchen. The inscription she wrote inside the first page of the book says, “Jim, let this book be a reminder the next time someone calls you to help them install just a stove."
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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...]
In John chapter 15, Jesus lets us know that if we are going to be a part of the vine, we are going to have to be fruitful. Do we truly understand what that means.? Often times we allow ourselves to be overwhelmingly busy with things that will never be fruitful. Much of a minister’s time is spent on things that could be delegated.
People will let you do all the work if you let them. They will smile at you, thank you and tell you that you are the greatest thing that ever happened to their church. Ultimately however, you have to ask yourself, what am I really accomplishing that is relative to my calling.
The scriptures tell us to make our calling and election sure. It’s important that we settle in our minds what our calling is. Yet, this is saying more than that to us than this. It is telling us also to know our job description. I have learned by Pastoring, that people will let the Pastor mop the floors, shovel the sidewalks, cut the grass, and nearly every other menial task of the church if he lets them. There is a certain source of self-gratification that comes with having done some manual labor. It is even good exercise. However, we truly have to ask ourselves, “Is this my calling? Did God call me to this city to mop the kitchen floor and to cut the grass? Did he call me here to teach every single Bible Study?” If you answered yes to those questions, then keep at it. However, you are about to find that the human body is only capable of so much. As well, your mind can only take in so much information.
If however, you were called to that city to Preach the Gospel and Pastor a church, you may need to learn the art of delegation.
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There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. It is important to cast a vision of servanthood to lay leaders and those in the church who serve the body of Christ.
Preach servanthood. There can be no greater example of servanthood than Jesus Christ. He was someone who could have expected everyone to serve Him. However he continually offered himself as the servant of all. You get what you preach. If the church needs to be reminded to serve one another, Preach servanthood.
Live servanthood. If Jesus can do it, so can the preacher. People live by our example more than what we preach. If we preach servanthood but live lordship, people will become confused and view it as hypocrisy.
Reward servanthood. Praise those who put others first. Openly applaud those who go out of their way to put others needs before their own. Jesus said, “When you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” He wanted us to know how important servanthood was as[ read more...]
Through out the years I have had many people tell me of their love of fishing. I, myself, however have never had the patience to cast a line into the water and wait for a fish to bite on to it. If I can't cast the line into the water and catch a fish within 30 seconds and then go home I can't see the fun in it.
Our fast paced and 'microwave' society appears to have the same mentality to life in general that I have to fishing. Desire for instant gratification is the norm. Whether it be business, career, or even spiritual matters, most society looks for the quick fix. 'Lose weight fast with no effort', 'Get rich quick' and similar mindsets have even worked their way into church growth seminars.
In the 5th chapter of Luke we read the account of Simon Peter and the other fishermen who had spent the entire night fishing without catching a thing. The important thing to realize with these men is that their entire living depended on their catching fish. Theirs was the day before guaranteed salaries, sick pay and profit sharing bonuses. After a disappointingly long night of hard toil they were still open to do what Jesus asked of them. The first request was easy enough, set out from shore and allow Him to speak to the crowd from their boat. (Luke 5:3). The second request ". . . launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a drought." (Luke 5:4) was more difficult to do. It required faith. They had not slept since the day before and had worked all night. No doubt they stayed awake and listened to the anointed preaching of the Rabbi. They were tired. But they believed the Lord. Though weary and discouraged, their act of faith was rewarded with a great catch.
Sometimes situations seem impossible. In the gospel of Matthew we read about such a situation. Jesus, when faced with the issue of feeding the great multitudes said to the disciples "They need not depart, give ye them to eat." (Matthew 14:16) The disciples knew that their possession of five loaves and two fish would not feed their own group, let alone the multitude that stood before them. However, with the same trust in Him that they had in the fishing boat, they offered what little was at their disposal, allowing the Creator of the universe to multiply it. Though the situation seemed impossible, their act of faith resulted in the feeding of close to twenty thousand people.[ read more...]
Have you ever run out of gas? At one moment your car is cruising down the highway, and the next it’s sputtering to a stop. You get out and start pushing it to the nearest gas station, but as soon as you stop pushing, the car quickly comes to a halt. Without gas, a car can’t do much of anything.
The same is true with a person and motivation. Without motivation, it’s just hard to get going. On the other hand, when you’re empowered by motivation, no task is too difficult. Having motivation is like putting gas in your tank. It’s what keeps you on the road. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, here are several suggestions to help get going:
Add Up The Rewards Of Beginning – When you have trouble getting started, remember the benefits of beginning. Remind yourself that the finished product will bring you satisfaction. And keep in mind that the highest reward for our effort is not what we “get for it”, but what we become “because of it.” If that’s not incentive enough, consider the negative things that could happen if you don’t begin. Often, those negative costs only increase the longer you wait.[ read more...]
1. A vision begins as a concern.
As a pastor, you probably have a vision of great revival for your city. But it began as a concern for souls, then it grew into a burden for souls. It grew till it consumed your thoughts. This is the birthplace of vision. God has placed that vision there.
2. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
When God speaks to you, he may not be giving you a vision for the immediate. God’s timing is not our timing. When David was anointed king, he did not take the throne for many years. He went through many hardships before he finally became king.
3. Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.
The Bible says that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord. Begin to pray for the right people and opportunities to be brought into your life...God will order your steps.
4. God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you to accomplish His vision for your life.
Don't let your situation blind your vision. God will use a situation that seems totally opposite of your vision to enable you to accomplish it.
Think of Joseph, he literally had a dream of his brothers bowing down to him, the sun, the moon, and the stars made obeisance to him...he was going to be a ruler of people. Of course that didn't happen for a long time, God used circumstance after circumstance to prepare him for that vision. Joseph could have easily become blinded by each of those, but instead God used each situation to advance him closer to His dream.
5. What God originates, he orchestrates.
If God started it, He will finish it. Many are the times when we can't see the way through, but nothing shall be impossible with God. The Red Sea crossing is a beautiful example of God orchestrating Moses' vision of deliverance for his people.
6. Walk before you talk; investigate before you initiate.
Remember a vision does not require immediate action, a lot of planning and preparation needs to be done in advance.
7. Communicate your vision as a solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately.
Jesus told his disciples, 'the harvest is great but the laborers are few.' Later in the book of John, Jesus said, "The fields are already white to harvest." Jesus was communicating His vision to His disciples in a way they could understand. Fields turn white after they turn golden, today we harvest golden fields of grain. In essence, Jesus was saying, It is almost too late for this harvest, I need laborers right now!
8. Cast your vision to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
In Acts, chapter one, Jesus has some very important words for some very important people. He waited until this very critical time to cast His vision to them. The Holy Ghost would come after He ascended to heaven, and the Holy Ghost would give them power to be witnesses to all people.
It is very interesting to note that the number of people there was 120. This was the exact number which the Jewish people required to form a council in any city. There were others who had been followers of Jesus, but for one reason or another had departed from this group.
Jesus used these last words to cast His vision for mankind to the appropriate people at the perfect time. The result was life changing revival for millions of people around the world even to this day!
9. Don't expect others to take greater risks or make greater sacrifices than you have.[ read more...]