An Interesting Job Description That Few Desire

9 04 2018

There is a job description that reads somewhat endlessly: Counselor; encourager; prayer warrior; evangelist; healer; teacher; preacher; visitor of the sick and shut-in; visitor of the incarcerated; visitor of the lonely; tending the sheep; Sunday School teacher; camp counselor; wedding performer; funeral arranger/speaker; mediator; janitor; maintenance worker; trash hauler; fiscal operations manager; overseer; meeting coordinator; leader of leaders; etc., etc., To top it off, the person in this position is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

These are some of the expectations of your pastoral leader, even as many of those persons also work other jobs for needed income in support of their family. Our expectations are high of this position and we hold them to a level of accountability and integrity, along with scrutiny, we do not often hold ourselves to. We can’t believe they’re mowing their lawn on a weekday afternoon, while every “normal” person is working. We can’t imagine they need another Sunday off or away, because…”didn’t we hire them to work Sundays?”

Rarely do we concern ourselves with their pay and benefits support. Few, if any, ask their pastoral leaders how they are doing financially. Few, if any, ask when they last managed a day off or if they have a vacation scheduled. We mostly desire to know they area available to us when we need them.

These things said this is a scriptural position in which the Bible gives us some clear guidelines of support. Here are some of those instructions:

I Timothy 5: 17-18 reveals to us that we are to give “double honor” to those who preach and teach and to not “muzzle the ox” as “The worker deserves his wages.” How many of us have asked our pastoral leaders to our home for hospitality and/or asked of them how they are doing personally? Even further, have we asked them how they are doing financially or if they are struggling with debt?

I Corinthians chapter nine gives us some interesting guidelines as well. To paraphrase some of the things the Apostle Paul writes, he asks if it is right for a soldier to be a soldier at his own expense? He illustrates that if this leader has sown spiritual seed in our life, shouldn’t he/she be able to reap a material blessing from us? He clearly writes that those who preach the gospel are entitled to support and that support should be at least at the median income level of the congregation…if not higher. Why higher? The scripture above declared, “double honor.”

Let us honor God, by honoring our leaders who love us, pray for us and care for us.

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Ten Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

19 03 2018

I have compiled this list over years of being a leader which encompassed years of personal leadership mistakes. They say worse than making a mistake is not learning from ones mistakes. Included are scriptures that help address the specific mistake. Admitting our mistakes is tough, but not as difficult as hiding them. Hopefully these truths will help you in your life of leadership.

  1. To derive any form of identity from leadership. Leadership is from a position of servant hood and humility. The older I become, the less I know. Rick Warren was quoted as saying, “Humility is not that I think of myself as less; it’s that I think of myself less.” (Mt. 20:26-28; Phil. 2:5-7)
  2. To go end-around and not face problems directly. Going to others (with the problem) that are not a part of the problem or a part of the solution. (Mt. 5:23, 24; Eccl. 7:21, 22)
  3. To not guard the spiritual environment. Examples of spiritual environments would be natural parenting, being a husband/wife, spiritual parenting, eldership or being a small group leader. To not allow gossip, broken relationship and bitterness into the environment. Handle people as God’s people, not yours – caring about the spiritual health of those whom you lead. We will answer to God for our spheres of influence and what we fail to guard, we give to the evil one. (II Cor. 10:13-15; Rom. 12:18) (Sphere of influence or metron (Greek) – see II Cor 10:13.)
  4. To make excuses for the inner, felt symptoms rather than stopping to consider and listen to them. Often you cannot put your finger on the issue, but you know it’s there. Follow your gut – the spirit. Too often we give in and trust another’s opinion. (Is. 30:21; Eccl. 8:5, 6)
  5. To guard your mind and spirit from legalism. Legalism is often a cover up for sin or at the very least, false humility. Legalism brings control and breeds autocratic leadership. The more religious some leaders become, the more strict and legalistic they can become, which means less grace and less freedom. (Gal. 3:3-5; Gal. 5:1; II Cor. 3:17, 18)
  6. To guard against promotion of persons who have chronic problems with sin, or finances, or anger or negative habits. You will Peter Principle them. (Num. 32:23; Ps. 119:133; Jn. 8:34)
  7. To work very hard at not rescuing people. Sometimes the consequences are the best training tool from God. Work as preventively as possible. If you rescue once, you will have to rescue again. (Prov. 19:19; John 5:1-6)
  8. To consider expansion before considering depth. The current church has become known to be a mile wide and an inch deep. We want to avoid this syndrome. We must go deeper before attempting to go broader. (Prov. 24:27)
  9. To take responsibility for another’s accomplishment. Always give credit where credit is due. Someone once said, “The first time I give a quote I mention who said it. The second time I quote it, I fail to mention who said it. The third time I quote it, I said it.” Let others promote you; do not promote yourself. (Prov. 27:2, 17, 21; II Thes. 2:6)
  10. To promise promotion without at the same time promising tests and adversity. Anointing does not necessarily mean a person is full of character. Character and discipline, holiness and integrity come first, then promotion. The next generation may desire what we have, but do not skip the process of tests and maturation. (Ps. 26:2; James 1:12)




Praying For and Adjusting to the Slightly Imperfect

5 03 2018

Our family often had the nations around our table as our children grew up. We loved the cultural examples each one brought to us. I remember in particular a couple from Zimbabwe who we invited from a local college for Thanksgiving. In the middle of the meal the wife told us, “You throw away the best parts of the turkey.” We all had a great laugh because we do not eat the head, liver or the feet of a turkey. But we desired our children to know and understand that every life is valuable to God and His design for them. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of nations and nations represent people.

Proverbs 12 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What does your tongue bring to those around you, your co-workers and your acquaintances?  I am personally challenged by my thoughts (not often spoken, but still thought) that do not think the best of others or those thoughts which do not give those different from me the benefit of the doubt.  To have the privilege of traveling the world and to experience different cultures is enlightening, while at the same time difficult to not think comparatively, i.e., my culture vs. their culture.

I can remember being invited to a wedding in Central America that was to begin at 11:00 AM.  My wife and I were there and ready for the ceremony to begin at ten minutes before eleven o’clock.  The funny thing was, no one else was there other than a few people who were setting up.  I had my wife recheck the invitation and sure enough it said 11:00 AM.  The wedding actually began sometime after noon.  It was our introduction to a significant cultural difference.  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  Our North American mindsets needed to be desensitized so that we could accept the cultural norms of another nation.

How creative of God…warm cultures, cold cultures, on time cultures, fashionably late cultures, brash and bold cultures…all to His honor and glory,  All cultures representing differing characteristics and attributes of the nature of a loving Father. Did you know the word nations is found in the Bible 564 times? In the book of Revelation, chapter 21 reveals, “The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it [The New Jerusalem].”  The nations will be represented in that new city.

Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with us, our lack of understanding and proverbial comparisons. How You love the nations!

 

 

 

 





The Men In Your Life Are Looking For Respect

26 02 2018

Recently while in the nation of New Zealand, a friend pointed to a fellow teacher and said, “See that older gentleman?” I assured him that I did. He went on to explain, “I am younger than him and I am retired from teaching.” I asked why he chooses not to retire figuring the conversation was leading that way. My friend replied, “He tells me he wants to continue teaching because it is far better than going home and living with his critical wife.”

 

Men long for respect. Paul, the Apostle, admonished wives to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33) A man can handle not being loved, but he cannot handle not being respected. I think God knew that about a man. If a man does not feel respected by his wife and family, he will stay at work longer, he will hang out at the bar after work or he’ll go to the fire company and loiter with the guys. Men don’t care if their friends do not express love, but if men feel disrespect it will be the demise of the relationship. Men do not need their supervisors to express any form of love, but they long to hear words of affirmation on a job well done – respect.

 

I read a recent study that indicated 74% of men would choose the preference of feeling unloved in the world around them rather than feeling disrespect. These men indicated they would choose to live with a wife who respected them, but did not love them. Do men need love? Of course, but the need for respect has a higher personal value. Consider this: Even while a sports team is performing poorly, they will still resonate with the female cheerleaders on the sideline pushing them forward with their optimistic, upbeat and affirming cheers.

 

Be a cheerleader in the life of your husband, your son, your brother or your Dad today.





Pursuing Personal Steps to Change and Healing

19 02 2018

 Wholeness is a lifelong pursuit.  Here are a few steps to help:

  1. If God were mean-spirited, angry and going to “get me,” I’d already be “got.” Instead, He placed all of His anger on His Son, on the cross and not on me.
  2. My heavenly Father planned me from eternity (Ephesians 1: 4) and He so much wanted me born that the family I was born into was/is inconsequential. The truth is, He so much desired a relationship with me, that according to Acts 17: 24-28 this is the time, the season and the place of all eternity that I would be on the earth.
  3. I was presented the gospel and I asked for forgiveness of my sin and received the unconditional love of my Savior, Jesus, and became born again.
  4. I stopped blaming my earthly parent; he/she was not perfect. The revelation from God is, “You were never a perfect son.” To this day, I am not a perfect father/mother or son/daughter. I had to let my earthly parent off the hook from perfection and realize he/she carried with him/her lots of generational pain and hurts themselves.
  5. The more of the love of God I received for myself, the more of the love of God I received for my earthly parents and family. I am a child of the King and a vital part of His kingdom and through me He changes culture, even family culture. I am an adopted son in which I now cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
  6. I was no longer in need of the approval of my earthly father or mother when I knew I had the approval of my heavenly Father. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…”
  7. When my heavenly Father told His Son on the earth He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, He also said that to me. My identity and my esteem were no longer in who I thought I should be, but in who I already was in Christ. I was destined for adoption as a son, according to His will and His purpose. (Ephesians 1: 5-6)
  8. Life is not about me, my stuff, my need for healing or my brokenness. If it were solely about me, I would still be broken and walk in the curses of the generations before me. Christ became a curse for me, so that the curses from my father’s father to my father, to me, and to my children are broken through His death on the cross. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)
  9. There is no longer a need for retribution or justification. What happened to me became a reason to pursue wholeness, maturity, security and sanctification in my God and His truth. I needed to get back at no one. Jesus took this need for human justification by being the only Just One that could actually justify. (Romans 3: 21-31) I am justified by faith.
  10. Today through health and healing, I set the boundaries. I speak the truth in love with respect and a spirit of honor.

Prayer For Healing

Dear Heavenly Father, out of my personal brokenness I have allowed things into my life known and unknown that do not honor You. I confess to You my need for ongoing healing and restoration. I give freedom to You or Your representative to help me step down into and expose my own sewers. I give permission for You, the One who was broken for me to reveal, to bring to light rebellion, deception, independence, insecurity, comparison, compulsions, guardedness, self-justification, pride, critical judgment of myself and others and any and all ungodly beliefs. I repent for any and all of these and trust You to do the work of healing that only You can do so thoroughly.

 I now come to renounce the beliefs, the thoughts, the emotions and the reactions that the evil one has perpetrated in my life from these beliefs. This is not who I am in You. For by Your grace I am a son/daughter, forgiven, regenerated, redeemed, restored and filled with the Holy Spirit of God no longer to be afflicted or harassed in these areas again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.





Where Did You Develop Your Beliefs?

5 02 2018

Where did your beliefs come from? Have you ever thought about that question or do you just assume your beliefs are mostly correct? It’s a simple question that takes a fair amount of reflection.

Your family raised you with certain beliefs. Influential persons, while you were growing up, infected you with certain beliefs about yourself both good and not so good. You faced difficult times and such seasons of life challenges reinforced undeniable beliefs. Pain and sorrow had its effect. Rejection or being bullied also exposed firm beliefs about you.

Life has its way of forced training, mind manipulation and soul-searching encounters that have helped to craft your personal beliefs over your lifetime. Those beliefs can move you forward in a healthy fashion or stunt your growth by limiting the identification of truth.

There is a Biblical process called renewing the mind and the origination of that phrase is taken from a scripture found in Romans 12:2. From the point of your rebirth until your last breath on this earth, your mind is in the process of renewal. Why? Because your heavenly Father longs to bring you truth. And why is that? The truth… it sets us free. (John 8:32)





How Important Is It To Take a Sabbatical?

18 12 2017

Should we wait until our leaders are experiencing physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion in their lives before we develop a sabbatical policy for our local church or ministry? In a New York Times article titled, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work” (Aug. 1, 2010), Paul Vitello wrote, “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen.”

Leaders are failing and quitting at alarming rates. Do they need proper financial support? Yes. Do they need vacations? Yes. Do they need time with their families? Yes. But, is this enough? Could these failures be a direct result of depleted spirits, drained emotions and not enough rest? Could the lack of healthy recharging today have something to do with those untimely failures affecting so many lives?

Leaders burn out and leaders need intervention. Leaders get into unhealthy life patterns in order to serve others and miss out or set aside certain godly disciplines that will help to maintain their personal health. A two to three-month sabbatical can change that when the right plan is attached.

For Biblical insights into a plan, how to take a sabbatical and the four-step process of a healthy sabbatical, see or recommend the book, The Value Of A Sabbatical, Refocusing Your Life for a Healthy Future. You can order it here.








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