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Busyness Or Fruitfulness
By: James Smith
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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What makes people act the way they do when they get in a car.
If I bumped into you as we enter an elevator, I would politely say "excuse me" and that would be it. But if my car comes into your lane and "almost" touches yours, Look Out! How many times we read or see where someone was even beaten up or shot over road rage. Testifying before a House transportation subcommittee, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials estimated that two-thirds of the 42,000 highway deaths last year were related to aggressive driving, which appears to have joined drunk driving as a perilous trait of American culture.
Otherwise seemingly, quite, reserved people who turn violent when someone cuts them off in traffic. I've done it and so have you. Nothing irritates me more than sitting at a 4 way stop and the person to my right doesn't know it's their turn to go. And so there we sit, waiting for the other person to go first. I wonder if some folks ever did read the driving manual.
I'm sure all of us at one time or another have been rewarded with that certain hand gesture by someone who felt we offended them in traffic. I've even had young girls offer that one now and then. (Maybe I'm just a bad driver.) How could someone give such an offending gesture to someone they don't even know?
Well, that's really what I want to talk about. I only reminded you about your road rage to make a point. The fact is, people experience road rage, because they don't know you. There is nothing personal about driving past someone on the road. Yours is only a very brief encounter. You will never see them again. They can say or do what they want to you and they will never have to face up to it. Your relationship has no value. And as a result, neither do you. Isn't that sad?! (I'll give you a little hint. If you need to get into a lane and no one will let you into it, simply roll the window down and give them a big smile and wave. Now they will let you in.) Try it.
As long as you are only another car on the road, you don't matter. But when you become a face and a person with a smile, well that's another story. They'll stop the traffic in their lane to let you in. I'll admit, I'm a horrible driver. Just ask my wife, she'll tell you. But even she knows that I can cut into any lane of traffic I want, because of a smile and a wave.
I wonder though how many of us have this same mentality even when we get out of our cars. Hmm, let's try a little test here. Let's say you are on vacation and a few hundred miles out, you stop to have dinner at a restaurant. You know, at one of those places where they cook everything in lard. What happens if the service or food is bad? Do you tip her any way? Well you don't have to do you?! After all, she doesn't even know you. Well, you might even be able to get off a couple of "complaints" to her since she won't see you in church this week.[ read more...]
Leadership seems to be the buzzword of our times. Bookstores now have multiple rows upon rows of books concerning this particular subject. Some of the content is very good and can help a person to hone their management skills and work toward becoming self-disciplined in a manner that will prove good for the organization that they are serving. I personally have benefited from some of the secular leadership books that I have read over the years. Despite all of these necessary and good resources only a small, in fact, microscopic amount of these books address spiritual issues in the life of the leader.
There aren’t any spiritual leadership concepts given in the books that Jim Collins has written. Patrick Lencioni does not address the spiritual side of a man who wants to build a Fortune 500 company. Peter Drucker’s works have almost elevated him posthumously to an exalted messiah among the leadership gurus of the last century. If we are not careful, there can be a tendency to think that we can build a church the same way that Steve Jobs made Apple successful. Once a spiritual leader buys into that particular idea that he can build a spiritual church with the same techniques that a profit-driven company is built, he deceives himself and he will create spiritual mayhem with the sheep he is meant to feed.
Spiritually abusive leaders are often very ambitious and driven toward success. It is important to understand the motives that drive men in spiritual leadership because our motives say much about our true intentions. Gary McIntosh in his book, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, identifies five types of leadership styles that lead toward tendencies to be spiritually abusive. The compulsive leader is characterized by being status conscious, looking for reassurance and approval from those in authority. He will have a tendency to try to control activities and keep order at all times doing this by being an extreme workaholic. They can be excessively moralistic, conscientious, and judgmental. He may have an angry and rebellious attitude but will repress his true feelings and hold in the anger and resentment. When these dark emotions turn on the church, the atmosphere immediately turns into one of control and extreme authoritarianism.
There are certain traits that usually show up in the preaching style of a compulsive leader. He will frequently be a gifted and charismatic speaker but has the tendency to minimize any impact of the Scriptures unless they are going to serve his own agenda. He will also be the hero of all of his stories and listeners will be “amazed” at his feats in personal outreach/evangelism, prayer schedule, and devotion to the Scriptures. He may even say something like this; “I am God’s appointed authority in your life. If you oppose me you’re opposing God.” He will almost have the capacity to turn himself into a rock star for a lack of a better description. He leads people to follow him instead of the Lord.
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Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always. Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change. Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems. Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people. This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.
Often times in ministry we feel that the problems we face in the church are usually people problems. After all we are in the business of ministering to people. So when a problem arises it must be a people problem - right? Not always.
Too often, but thankfully, a problem is not as it seems. It's not ALWAYS a people problem. Let's face it. People problems are a hassle. Dealing with personalities and character flaws is exhausting. Sadly, many Pastors and Ministers simply stop trying to improve the ministry capacity of their congregation simply because they have grown tired of trying to change the behaviors of people to create positive change.
Do you feel that people are most often the problem in your ministry? If so, you are among the majority of pastors and ministers. Would you be interested to find that not all problems are people problems? In fact, many of the situations that we believe are people problems are simply situation problems.
Here's an example of a situation problem: The person who is the lead minister over your churches Greeters ministry is growing frustrated. Too often, the people they employ to greet guests are calling at the last minute to say they cannot be a "greeter" that Sunday morning. This is very frustrating for the lead minister as they thought they had everything under control. Their work was done...everyone was in place. But now at the last minute, there is confusion and worse yet, disappointment in people.
This all creates another host of problems, as now the faithful few who the lead minister is about to call upon to "fill in" for the absentee are about to become burdened with the constant chore of being a greeter. These gracious people have limited patients too. If constantly obliged upon, they are going to begin to experience resentment at those who are "calling off" all the time. Worse yet, they are going to begin to feel frustration at their fearless leader who is once again asking them to fill in for someone else.[ read more...]
If you are like most Christian church and business leaders you have already discovered that "quick-fix" leadership solutions simply do not work.
At best they are Band-Aids that only temporarily mask the real problems. Perhaps you also have experienced the frustration experienced after spending precious dollars to attend conference after conference and realizing that the motivation received wore off shortly after returning to the real world at home. Or maybe you are one of the countless leaders who visit the bookstore for the latest catchy title, only to buy another book that never gets finished and simply winds up looking good on the bookshelf behind your desk. Impressive but ineffective.There is a solution to the leadership dilemma. For many pastors the real solution is less costly than hosting an evangelist, or for a business leader to hire a consultant. The real solution is one-on-one live mentoring with a gifted and seasoned professional who is focused on you and your needs.
Dr. Fred Childs is highly solicited by Christian church and business leaders for personal mentoring. He offers invaluable understanding, insights, and solutions to leaders on a wide range of topics.ChurchMentor.net has an inexpensive monthly membership fee that introduces its members to an abundance of relevant leadership materials in written, audio, and video formats. However, now the services being offered are expanding to include live mentoring as well.[ read more...]
The carpenter relies upon his tools to be correct for whatever job is being done and, also, that his saw is sharp and the proper cutting type. No real builder of various items would even think about doing quality work without the best of tools to aid his efforts. Consider what type of music would come to the ear, if the wrong instruments were played for certain parts, or worse; the instruments were out of tune or broken down - guitars missing strings, a drum with a hole in the skin, violins with loose strings, a trumpet clogged, and so on. Without the instrument being correct and in good shape, the person working or playing could not be able to perform at peak. Now, consider the same truth with regard to God and His saved vessels.
We are the instruments that God plays upon, works through and, if we are in terrible condition, or out of tune with His purposes, what can we ever accomplish for Him?[ read more...]
“You know you are a leader if you look behind you and people are following you.” There are many leaders who have people following them, but the leader is not leading them anywhere.
All too often, the leader himself is not being led. It is a shame when a leader is unwilling or unable to be led of the Holy Spirit. It is a tremendous loss of potential to the Kingdom. As well, those who want to follow that leader become discouraged as their willingness to be led turns to disillusionment.
A leader who refuses to move in the direction God would lead him lacks the courage to see beyond the obstacles in his way. Someone who’s intent is to wait until circumstances are perfect before he moves forward, will never move. There will always be some obstacle between where you are and where you want to be. Moses and the Children of Israel are the perfect examples of people who had a clear vision of where they felt God was leading them. They found that there were going to be many walled cities and giants they were going to have to face before they arrived at their place of promise.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to face your fear and move forward in spite of the uncertainty or risk.[ read more...]
The problem with life is that is shows up regular and so suddenly, leaving in its wake—Our Reality. Many of us wish that our Reality was something much different: all good and no bad; all sunshine, no clouds; all answered prayer, no waiting, or even worse…refusals. Reality can become a Prison Of Despair, which can drag the best of us way down. We must allow Faith to forecast change, so that our Reality becomes all God intends. Remember; today is not final; the God of Glory has the great power to alter and change what seems to be Final. Time is totally subject to God; He can use it to alter whatever in our lives that is not becoming what He wants.
So many of us have in our lives either hoped for or worked toward a Reality that was of our dreams. Reality, for most of us, is a far cry from the ideal, but that does not mean we cannot make some real progress, so that our Reality can become a better issue for us. I refuse to allow what is now existing to stop all that can be. Reality is not the final word; Jesus has that all to Himself.
How many of the followers of our Lord have found themselves in situations less desirable and not at all what they had believed for, yet they did not cave in, but, rather, moved ahead and did some great things? How many cripples were affected when He impacted their Reality? How many lost and sinful lives were greatly altered, even though their Reality seemed set in stone?[ read more...]
One of the most exciting and powerful methods of preaching is to share the story (biography) of a character in the Bible. This method is extremely valuable in building people and moving people from one level of ministry to another. God's desire is to grow His Kingdom. His Word is full of ordinary and less than ordinary people who He used to accomplish this purpose. It would behoove us as pastors and leaders to use this method of preaching a lot more than we have in the past. There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of a life that has been transformed by the power of God.
The proper definition of biographical preaching is;
The method of preaching that expounds a Bible character, based on careful exegesis, to deduce the principles that regulated his or her life and to apply the principles to the modern listener. A simpler definition is; Biographical preaching is preaching that provides a biography of the life of a person from scripture and draws a moral lesson or message from that story.
It is essential to understand that all preaching in its most basic of forms is (or at least ought to be) expository in nature. By that I mean that every scripture you share in a sermon should be exposed and expounded upon. Even when only one verse is used in a topical sermon, there is a degree of exposition that takes place. In the same sense, biographical preaching is a type of expository preaching. You are telling the story of an individual rather than the story of a chapter or a book. Instead of exposing a passage of scripture, you are exposing the life of a person in scripture. Your text may include several passages of scripture about the character.[ read more...]
The Bible says in;
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The final verse of Acts, chapter two, ends with two phrases that really catch my attention:
· Having favor with all the people.
· The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The last phrase ,"added daily to the church", is our goal, yet it cannot be accomplished without first having, " favor with people." You will never grow your church unless you have favor with people. You will never win people to Christ unless you first win peoples favor. One of the reasons that Jesus was so successful and had so many people following Him was because He had favor with man.[ read more...]