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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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The 1st Fatal Error: No Clearly Defined Mission or Purpose
If people do not know and can’t offer a simple explanation to the questions, “Why do we exist, and what are we here to do?” they will not pour themselves into your lack of purpose indefinitely.
The 2nd Fatal Error: The Wrong Organizational Structure
God designed every land dwelling creature over 7 inches in length to have a skeletal structure to overcome the downward pull of gravity. However the structure must always fit the purpose of the creature. You cannot do the work of the Church with an antiquated structure designed by yesterday’s business world. The Church is physical and spiritual, and its structure must fit God’s designed purpose.
The 3rd Fatal Error: Using a Shotgun to Hit a Distant Target
If you place a target 150 yards away and shoot at it with a shotgun then hitting the target becomes accidental. If you want to intentionally hit the target every time use a rifle with a scope. Your vision and supporting actions must be focused and intentional.
The 4th Fatal Error: Containment
The best way to kill a church is to keep it contained in the four walls. Don’t let the message out. Don’t advertise. Don’t give to outside ministries. Stay away from media markets for telecasting services. Keep the people submitted and never release their ministries. Death will eventually come to such a church, but very few people will ever even hear about it.[ read more...]
One of the perceived obstacles to winning people to Christ is that the convictions we hold are not attractive to the world. I beg to differ with that. If the convictions we hold are no different than those of the world then why would they want what they already have? Why would they be attracted to what we have? Attraction, by definition, means to draw an object away from one thing towards another. The law of attraction states that the force doing the attracting has to be greater than the force holding back.
What we have is much greater than what the world has;
1 John 4:4
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Still, there is this perceived notion, that what we have is not what this world wants. Even though we know what we have is greater, the world doesn't know. They will not be attracted to what we have unless they can see it for themselves.
In 605 BC, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. Instead of destroying the nation, Babylon decided to destroy Israel's identity and culture. They turned Israel into a slave state. In the process of doing so, they selected the most promising children of Israel and shipped them off to be immersed into Babylonian culture.
At least four of these children were taken to the king's palace. Daniel was one of these four. He would be given and new name, a new wardrobe and taught a new language. Daniel did not protest these changes to his identity. Who could blame him? It seemed as if God had abandoned him.
Then the king asked one more thing of Daniel;
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
This is where Daniel drew the line. Consuming the king's meat and drink meant that Daniel would be eating meat offered to the false gods of Babylon. He would not have any part of it. So Daniel asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat the king's food. This presented a serious problem for the chief of staff. He was responsible to the king for these four boys. If he gave this permission and they became pale and thin, the king would have his head. This man was not attracted by Daniel's conviction. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with it.
Daniel responded to this in unique way. We can all learn from what he did;
Dan 1:11-15 NLT
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said.
13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see."
14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.[ read more...]
Most pastors would sacrifice everything they have to know a sure way of winning people long term. The truth is, most of us have personally won very few people that are still with us to this day. I have looked around my church recently, and I could find only two men in our church that I have been personally involved in winning to the Lord.
Winning these men actually began about four years ago. When I say long term, I am talking about a period of time of at least two years, preferably more. During that time I have been a witness to many more people than these two. I have baptized many more than that. I have taught bible studies to dozens of people. Many have received the Holy Ghost. Yet there are only two that have stayed in the church long term. Why only two? Why not more? Is there something wrong with me and my approach? How can I improve in this area? They say that hindsight is 20/20. During this article I want to go back in time to see what it was that worked, and what it was that didn't work.
The first thing that I can say without a doubt is that you must have a passion and a love for people. If you don't, they are going to sense that within a very short amount of time, and they will be gone. We must understand that it can be a very lonely time when somebody comes into the church. They are often leaving behind most of everything that they know and love. The Bible says...
26 "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters — yes, even one's own self! — can't be my disciple.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.[ read more...]
1. Define and understand your own reaction to change in order to compare it to the reactions of others.
Even the happiest of changes may cause a feeling of loss for what existed before. As a leader, perhaps you see that the change will save the company, enhance the product, diminish costs, or make the organization more competitive. But what will occur that is outside your own comfort zone? To be a leader of change, you must identify how the change will impact your own personal situation. What stresses will you experience that you will either consciously or unconsciously pass on to others? Will you also fear for the future of your job or your department? Will you survive, but see many of your colleagues go? Will you have to learn a new skill or move to a new location? Only if you take the time to specifically define your own reaction to change can you put yourself in the shoes of those you lead who will have their own reactions, fears, and behavioral fallout.
2. Involve those people who will be affected by change in both the planning and implementation process.
When change is dictated, resistance is the automatic response to the stimulus. Leaders are able to gain much more cooperation when they invite others to join the plan. Include them in figuring out how to implement change, even when they are obvious in their opposition. Co-opting the opposition is the best way to get their buy-in. Leaders may even end up with some better ideas for making the change work.
3. Communicate the vision so others can understand and buy in to the change.
The benefit of the end state must become the driving force to persuade employees to work through the agony of change. There must be something better waiting, and it must be visible throughout the pain. Often leaders have a vision that makes great sense. However, this bright future may not be shared beyond the inner circle. Failing to understand, employees feel uncertain as to why they must change and where they are going. Uncertainty itself can be more painful than change.
4. Share all possible information about change with the widest audience possible. When you think you have spread the word, start over.
In the midst of change, the best advice is, "Communicate, communicate, communicate.' Unless information is proprietary or may be helpful to the competition and harmful to the organization's success, it should be shared widely. lf employees understand why actions are taken, what is expected, and how the change will lead through the steps toward the vision, they are much more likely to come along on the journey. When employees do not have information, they are more likely to resist or even sabotage change efforts that appear to threaten their stability and security. When Lockheed and Martin Marietta began the merger process, the leaders of both organizations traveled to every major site and talked directly to employees. The message was carried in videotapes, written documents, and personally by leaders at all levels.
5. Explain the impact of change on individuals more than on the organization.
When the status of one's job is in danger, an employee really doesn't care about organizational success. At a time when GE was downsizing, employees were attending training programs at the same time that they were wondering whether their desks would still be there when they returned to their offices. Corporate leadership was talking about the need to slim down for future financial success, but employees were used to a culture in which they were GE employees for life. Productivity was significantly degraded while employees wondered about the personal impact, not the organizational impact, of the change.[ read more...]
Not every question in this list will help you in every situation. This is simply a check list to help you keep from overlooking important considerations before confirming and carrying out major decisions.
- At it's essence - in one sentence - what is the decision I'm really facing? What is the bottom, bottom line?
- Am I dealing with a cause or a symptom? A means or an end?
- Am I thinking about this situation with a clear head or am I fatigued to the point that I shouldn't be making any major decisions.
- What would the ideal solution be in this situation?
- Should I seek outside counsel in making this decision?
- What are the hidden agendas that are pushing for a decision in this situation? Why do we or they want a change? What is the source of the emotional fuel that is driving this decision?
- If I had to decide in the next two minutes - what decision would I make and why?
- What decision would I expect each of my three most respected advisors to favor in this situation?
Balance in life does not come naturally. For many of us, our lives are lived in extremes. Incredible things happen when ministry and life are lived at their fullest. The problem however, is that when one area of our life is lived at an extreme, the others become out of balance.
Spending larger amounts of time in one area causes the other areas of our life to become anemic. Few vocations understand this more than the ministry. Our dedication to God and commitment to His church often cause us to have an imbalanced allocation of energy and time resources. Sadly, our families are too often the benefactors of the lessor of the imbalance.
Someone once said, “Time waits for no one!” How true! We really do only have one life and one chance at making the moments of every single day of that life count. Moments that are divided between our jobs, families and ministries. Moments that we will never get back. Moments that turn hours into days. Days into years and years into lifetimes.
- How do you manage all those moments?
- What are the priorities that you have set to budget those precious moments?
- What rules have you put into place to guard the distribution of those moments?
- Is your life so frenzied that you really have no idea who should get the best of “you”?
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.[ read more...]
L. I. D. S.
Learn - The very first thing that a pastor or spiritual leader should know is that they must learn from the people around them; whether it be staff members, the congregation, or others. We can learn valuable things from the children in the church all the way up to the assistant pastor. How well do you understand your people? Are you willing to learn from them? Successful leaders are constantly open to learning. As leaders, we should always do this before pursuing any goal. Otherwise, we will only be hindering progress. Always be a student. Paul commanded Timothy in:
2 Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God..."
Innovate - Creativity should be promoted and never ignored. In the Sunday School department, the youth department, church planning meetings, etc., we should encourage those department heads and staff members to be innovative. If their ideas are not what you would do, so what! Their idea may work better than yours. By using the ideas and the creativity of your entire leadership team, you will keep everyone involved and invested in your vision. Don't be afraid of change. Remember, one of the first things our God did was create.
"In the beginning God created…"