Are you making a difference or just doing what everyone else is doing? Leading is having influence. Are you using that influence to make this world a better place? To bring people to Jesus Christ? To help those in need? Are you doing something that God has ordained you specifically to do or are you just doing what you do because everyone else is doing it? Be a difference maker! Following the crowd is easy, making the world a better place isn’t…but it is much more fulfilling!
Archive for the 'Encouragement' Category
Whether you are the pastor, staff member, Sunday school teacher, deacon, board member or any other type of leader in your church, you need to ask yourself if your church is one that you love inviting people to come to? If you weren’t in leadership, especially if you are on staff, would you go to your church if that were no the case? If you can’t say, “Yes!, I Love My Church!”, then why are you there? IF you know that God led you to that church to help rebuild it or help it grow in a way that it wasn’t growing without you, then you are exactly where you should be. BUT if you are just there because you somehow ended up there, as a former youth pastor I can tell you that the quickest way to ensure that your children grow up to hate church is to drag them every week to a church that you don’t like going to and would never invite a friend to without first apologizing for the rules and explaining the “do and don’t” list. I am not telling you to leave, but I am saying that if you aren’t there to make a change, then maybe leaving would be good. Find somewhere you can be excited about, that you believe in and where you can take your unsaved friends knowing that they will be presented with the Gospel every service in a loving way.
It is easy in leadership to get bogged down or burned out even when what we are doing is important! Don’t forget to take time for yourself to recharge! God gave us a commandment to honor the Sabbath. Jesus let us know that the Sabbath was made for man, in other words, we NEED a day of rest each week. For people involved in ministry this often is NOT Sunday. So take another day off to get away and enjoy a break! Spend time with your spouse, family or friends. Leave the phone off if you want. (Some of you NEED to turn off the phone and just let people go to voicemail.) Downtime is crucial to being able to come up with the new and creative. Without it, we burn out and turn out lousy stuff.
I have a friend who is a CPA, has some kind of nursing certification, and then went back to school to become a massage therapist. He prays over every patient as he gives them the massage. While it is completely a “for profit” business, it is also his ministry. Another friend takes people out raccoon hunting. Yes, raccoon hunting. One day he felt the Lord asking him if he would give the raccoon hunting to HIM. He thought it was crazy, but prayed, “Lord, I give you the raccoon hunting.” After that, it became his ministry. He realized that while out in the woods for 6-8 hours at night listening to the hounds chasing the raccoons, there was time to talk. When he brings up God and the beauty of HIS creation, etc. The person can’t make a quick excuse and leave…they are pretty much a captive audience. He shares his testimony with his “customers”. Sometimes, they may not get a raccoon, but he leads them to the Lord out in the middle of the woods! Those are successful hunt nights! What is your ministry?
In the book The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, the first line is “It is not about you”. As leaders, this is even more important to remember. It isn’t about us. We must be constantly working ourselves out of a job by forming up leaders who will step into our shoes, take over parts of our ministry, and not only replace us, but go above and beyond what we ever dreamed possible. If we aren’t training up those leaders, what we end up with is the second generation blah blah blah movement. Churches are a great example. Think of a dying church in your area, every community has one. There are 5-15 people attending, it hasn’t grown in years and the congregation is literally dying off of old age. That church didn’t start that way! Someone had a great vision for your community! They got out there and did the hard work! They spread the gospel and reached people for the Lord! The church grew, built a building and loved on lots of people with the love of Jesus…then that leader moved or died. The next generation just did what the leader had done, but not quite as well, and without quite as much enthusiasm. Passion for God was replaced with “That is the way we have always done it.” …and the church began to die. Train up great leaders so that when you are gone, they continue with the passion for the dream God has given you!
Joshua, in chapter 24, verse 15 of his book reminds us that we must choose who we will serve. We make choices every day. You and I cannot always choose our situation, but we are completely in control of how we react to that situation. We learn from Holocaust survivors and people like Nelson Mandela that we can choose to be free even when we are in prison or a concentration camp. Our choice to react or not react each day to the circumstances around us shape who we are as a person. We don’t need to wait for a better job, better boss, better spouse… we need to seek God to help us make better choices in our day. Choose ye this day!
Thanks to those of you who missed my posts this week. I had a great visit with my family and friends in Missouri. One of those friends is an example of someone who leads through love and service. Joseph Ransom was born completely blind in one eye and he is mostly blind in the other. He can’t drive and could quite easily qualify for disability and sit around collecting it. Instead, he has a doctorate, runs a Bible Institute, is a published author and playwright, is pastoring a growing church, and runs a bed and breakfast with his wife. Each of us have excuses why we can’t get things done…Joseph inspires me to push through the challenges and do my best to accomplish all that God has for me in life.
Last night, since I had left my Bible in SC, I borrowed one from my brother. The one I was reading was the one that my grandmother had used in the mid-90′s. She read it through once each year in 95,96 & 97. She died about 6 years ago, so I found as I was reading through that she had written notes both about her thoughts on the scripture and what events were going on in her life. It was fascinating for me to see the thoughts she was having as she did her devotions. I have never been a good “journal-er” but this encouraged me to give it a shot again. It was like hearing her and it really encouraged me as I read through three years of her walk with the Lord.
Some people think that they can’t be leaders because they haven’t been given a platform. We don’t have to be in charge to be leaders. I am not talking about undermining the authority of those above you in your organization, but we can lead from within, and we can begin new ventures. You don’t need someone’s permission to start. I am a teacher, I answer to a department chair, who has a dean, who has a vice president who answers to the president who answers to the board of directors. Everyone has someone in charge of them, but we also have our area to lead. Even my students can be leaders by working to be the top of the class and influencing others to be better students. I can lead by being a more creative teacher, inspiring students and then sharing that information with other teachers. You can lead in your field too! People are desperate for someone to take the initiative and lead them…why not you?
Each year, I learn more about putting in flowers and plants. My wife is an avid gardener. The first year, I thought I was being helpful by putting down a load of mulch before we had done any other prepwork to an area we wanted to put a garden in. It looked pretty good! All nice and mulch covered. But guess what? If you don’t first prepare the soil, get rid of the weeds and grass, put down a weed barrier etc. then you are just covering up the problem rather than dealing with it. It was of course a disaster. The next year, we did all the right prep work, and now have a beautiful garden area that doesn’t need a whole lot of continued care!
In leadership, we have problems that arise. We can cover it up with something that looks pretty for the short run, but eventually, the issues will come to the light of day and we will have to deal with them. Dig in, get the hard work done, and later, you can really enjoy the fruit of your labor rather than it being a constant issue that you keep trying to cover up.