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How To Lead Critics
By: James Smith
Get up before they get up. If you are lazy and don’t get started on things until the last minute, your critics will have already accomplished an alternative less effective way of doing things.
Do your homework – Study the situation. Don’t take other peoples word for it. Research the problem and with God’s help, find the best solution.
You run the meetings – Never let anyone but you or someone you desire, to run a meeting. If they take the platform, shut them down. Don’t let them take over the meeting. Never walk into a meeting without knowing the direction and result that the meeting will bring.
Know the trouble makers past – Find out what makes that person tick. Why are they the way they are? Knowing more about them will enable you to understand why they feel the way they feel about things and enable you to change them.
Share your vision with others before your critic gets the opportunity to share theirs. These are busy little people and they work hard at spreading their opinions. Work harder! Have coffee meetings where you tell others your dreams and vision. Go to congregants homes unexpectedly (As your critics do.) and open your heart to them.
Be confident. No one wants a sissy for a Pastor. (Sorry if that sounds demeaning, but I’ve seen some.) Don’t be bullied. Be strong. Know your calling. Walk tall. Square your shoulders. Lead! People will follow. You may lose some critics along the way, (Let them go!) but you will gain a congregation who will follow you into revival.
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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...]
They may not sit in the back row. In fact many times they sit closest to the front. Most would say they are “Faithful” as they seldom miss a service. They appear to be the backbone of the church. They pay their tithes. They dress right. They look right, but once you really get to know them, you find that they are the Back Row Bullies of the church.
These people all too often run the church. They decide who is going to do what. They decide how loud the music is and what color the walls of the sanctuary are going to be. Little happens in the church that they don’t know about and don’t in some great way influence the out come of. Theirs is a mission. Theirs is a job that nobody else will do. Without them they know that the church would fall apart. They are the Back Row Bullies.
No one is quite sure how they gained such influence. Maybe it has to do with the amount of money they gave at one time or even still. They may have family within the church whom they have great influence over. Their measure of sacrifice is probably great, but nonetheless, they are Back Row Bullies.
We all know what a bully is. It’s someone who pushes their weight/influence/resources around to cause you to do something you would not ordinarily do. Let me break that down a bit. You ordinarily would not put up with someone creating division in the church behind your back, but since they give so much money… You otherwise would not allow them to have the position in the church that they have, but because their influence over so many in the church is strong…[ read more...]
Over the holiday season, I took my family shopping in Chicago. As we were heading home to Indiana, it was dark and you could see the lights of the city. As we topped the Skyway (a very high bridge), I looked out and viewed a sea of rows of lights from the street lights below. Thousands and thousands of illuminating beams of light in every direction. As I drove along viewing the endless rows of lights that make up the Chicago skyline, I couldn't help think about a man by the name of Thomas Edison. He's the guy who thought up the light bulb. Without him, we would still be in the stone age with regards to much of the technological breakthroughs of this century. As I thought about Mr. Edison, I couldn't help wishing he was there with me right then to see the spectacle of light that came from his dream.
Over 10,000 failed experiments went into the first light bulb being created. People all around him, inventors and investors alike said he was mad, even insane.
- He believed in something no one else believed in.
- He saw something no one else saw.
- The light bulb!
You can buy them for around a quarter today. Imagine, a world without the light bulb. I could go on and on telling of all the inventions and advancement which came as a result of that one human hair dipped in carbon and encased in vacuumed glass.
It's hard for us to imagine a world without cars, computers, airplanes, Palm Pilots or light bulbs. However think with me for a minute. For thousands of years, the best mode of transportation was the horse. From the beginning of time the very best thing the human mind could come up with was a saddle to put on that poor beast of burden. They thought they really came up with something when a guy from England came up with something called the stirrup to keep a rider from falling off.
This last century has been filled with incredible advancements which we credit to the superior minds of our century. However, I'm not so sure we should give the credit so vainly to our selves. Yes, the Wright brothers really had something with that small glider. Yes, Henry Ford had a great idea with that assembly line. But, let's not be so foolish as to think that the medical, technological, manufacturing, farming, space exploration advancements have come from the human mind.[ read more...]
- Tell your listeners what you intend to preach about.
- Set the mood, tone, and atmosphere of the sermon.
- Grab the congregation’s attention and make them eager to hear more.
- Catch the basics of the sermon without giving anything away.
- Give the listeners a sense of tension and create anticipation.
- Apologize for the content or nature of the sermon.
- Mislead people on the topic of the sermon.
- Be long and wordy. A long and wordy intro will quickly lose the interest of your listeners.
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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It’s not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it’s part of life and growth. But, getting “stuck in” and “growing through” situations are different. Here are ten ways to shift from one to the other:
- Step back and ask yourself what’s really going on. When you’re caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it’s easy to lose objectivity. It’s good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what’s happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example, in different garb, of an issue you’ve failed to confront before? If it’s the latter, maybe now’s the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a “problem” than parts of a larger “process.” There’s a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you’re heading is not as important as how you choose to get there. (For those who are strongly goal-oriented, this may be tough to swallow.)
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It’s the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don’t get sucked in by the suggestion that you’ve got to solve it all today.
- Do something – anything! When you’re stuck, taking any step puts you in a different place and helps change your perspective, even if it’s a wrong move! And, doing something could be a conscious decision to do absolutely nothing!
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)
"You can think your way to failure and unhappiness, but you can also think your way to success and happiness. The world in which you live is not primarily determined by outward conditions and circumstances but by the thoughts that habitually occupy your mind." -Norman Vincent Peale
Marcus Aurelius said, "A man's life is what his thoughts make of it."
It has been said that the wisest man who ever lived in America was Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Sage of Concord. Emerson declared, "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
If you think you can have revival, you can.
You get what you preach. If you are preaching revival and believe with all of your heart that revival will come, it will come. It will come with God's timing, and He is bound by His word. And His word says that He hears us when we pray. If we are seeking for His will and are sincerely seeking revival for our church and community, it will come. We have to believe!
"But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." (Mark 4:29)
If you think your church will grow, it will.
If you are praying for your church to grow, it will. If you plant the seed of faith, and water it with prayers and fasting, the church is destined to grow. It is the will of God for the church to grow. This is His church and He wants it to succeed. We have to get our thinking right, get our attitudes straightened up and get on board with what God has in store for us. Rick Warren, in his book A Purpose Driven Church, tells us to not ask the question "Why is the church not growing," but to ask, "What is causing the church to not grow." Whenever we get our thinking on the right path, the church will begin to grow and mature. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6)[ read more...]
It's not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it's part of life and growth. But getting "stuck in" and "growing through" situations are different. Here are some ways to shift from one to the other.
- Step back and ask yourself what's really going on. When you're caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it's easy to lose objectivity. It's good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what's happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example in different garb, of an issue you've failed to confront before? If it's the latter, maybe now's the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a "problem" than parts of a larger "process." There's a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you're heading is not as important as how you choose to get there.
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It's the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don't get sucked in by the suggestion that you've got to solve it all today.
The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]