Archive for September, 2011

Notes from the Journey with David – 18

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

18. The sword of Goliath the Philistine (1 Samuel 21:9).
With Doeg, the Edomite (Saul’s chief shepherd) nearby, David seeks a weapon on the chance he will need to protect himself. The only available sword was that of Goliath. I find this reminder of past victories to be a significant way that God encourages David. In his time of potential discouragement, he returns to a moment of victory and finds strength and protection in it. The sword wasn’t only for the physical protection David required, but it brought the emotional strength David needed at this time.

Don’t forget your past victories when you’re facing fresh ones. The things you learned back then and the way God helped you may be the resource you need now.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – part 9

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Old habits die hard.

One of the fascinating realities about being human is the ease with which we can develop bad habits. In fact, somehow we find bad habits far more compelling that good ones. Have you noticed that?

Try establishing an exercise habit and see how easy it is to change your routine in such a beneficial way. For me, I find exercise fun and beneficial, but if I miss a few days, I’m out of the habit and someday only guilt or a bad medical report will send me off to the gym. But, I can skip french fries for a few days and have no problem getting back into that habit at my next meal! Why? Not sure that matters. What to do about it might be a better question to have answered.

Good habits require intent because good choices typically come at  price. We must give something up for a good choice. And, usually the good choices pay off down the road rather than in the moment of the choice. But, the bad habits offer some short term good feeling or stimulation that makes our immediate participation attractive.

Yes, exercise is good for me, but it takes awhile for the benefits to start showing up. The aroma and satisfaction of french fries; however, is virtually immediate. Of course, there are worse habits than french fries, but things work the same way. Glimpses at pornography offer short-term attraction, even though guilt usually follows. But, the long-term benefits of logging off are much greater. The only problem is that the benefits are long-term.

The only way to resolve this challenge, or any other bad habit you’ve developed, is to start trading your short-term satisfactions for the benefits that come down the road. Disciplining your pursuit of instant gratification by making long-term goals your priority is a must. Look for ways to practice this in your spending, your time, and your business pursuits, and maybe the habit will start bleeding over into your efforts to make other good choices.

Remember, in life, winning tomorrow is usually a better plan than trying to win today…

Notes from the Journey with David – 17

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

17. The men’s things are holy, even on missions that are not holy (1 Samuel 21:5).
What an amazing statement. David’s daily commitment to God is seen in this discouraging moment. He has been rejected and awaits his opportunity to be king, but he remains pure. David’s men eat the sacred bread because they are desperately hungry and on a mission that’s become more challenging every day. But the future king doesn’t use his discouragement as an excuse to violate his own covenant with God.

How many let disappointment lead them to compromise? It’s easy to justify such carelessness when we are hurting. But David remains strong. He and his men have remained pure even now. Such integrity determines that right will be right no matter the excuses some might offer. That’s the kind of integrity the nation will want in a king they can trust to do what is right for them regardless of where the potential benefit for himself might be found.


Categories: Leadership Journeys

Transitions and the Staff Member

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

When a pastor leaves, everyone is affected. Deacons are thrust into a frenzy of activity, staff members find their future up in the air, and the people of the church are forced to face a future without the secure feeling their pastor provided. Because pastoral staff members are often the most visible of these affected folks, and since the people often assume these leaders know what’s going on, staff members must walk the minefield of transition carefully.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to lead a discussion with a pastoral team as they were grappling with their pastor’s decision and announcement of his plans to leave their church. Here are the notes from that discussion:

First, I’ve been there. The advice below doesn’t come from someone’s book or a workshop I heard a wise leader present. These principles are drawn from experiencing transition firsthand. Though I grew up under a pastor who led our church for 38 years (meaning no transition!), since adult life took me away from home, I have encountered transition at local church, district, and national levels. I wish I didn’t have so much experience because it was painful to acquire, but perhaps some of these notes can help you…

What should staff members do?
1. Love each other
This one is the first on the list by a long shot. Think about why Jesus gave such priority to this command. While love is the connector between Jesus and us, He also knew that His disciples would need each other. So do you. Remember that He prayed that the Father would “keep” them (John 17), or hold them in the same kind of unity He shared with His Father. That’s the first thing all of us are praying for you now. There’s a lot for you to deal with and each of you will be feeling your way through various emotions and uncertainties–with a lot of people watching. Those people who sit around your conference table need to be your closest friends in transition along with the deacons and their spouses. Keep these relationships at the top of your priority list.

2. Widen your view
In transition, you’re going to need to see more than your portfolio. There are many things the pastor and his wife have been caring for and someone will need to fill those gaps. Likely your pastors have done many things other people don’t see. I hope someone has been watching closely, because the interim pastor won’t likely be able to carry that full load. Remember, when things are cared for, people feel at peace.

3. Know your enemy
I’m not talking about any individual in the church, and while Satan can author a bunch of trouble, my first thoughts aren’t even of him. The enemy of transition is insecurity. On some level, everyone of you will feel it, and you will react in various ways because of it. Some people react with control, fear, gossip, scheme, or the desire to escape. All we are really after is some way to feel more stable, more certain that things are going to be okay. But none of the common reactions I listed are going to work. When you feel insecure or encounter such feelings in others, know what’s happening and confess your need to God and each other. Remember that some level of insecurity is normal! But don’t let these feelings dicatet your choices or behavior. Satan will be glad to pull those strings if you’ll let him.

4. Remember the power of your words
Be careful of your conversations. People see you as an authority because you’re closer to the decision makers than they are. Some people will offer themselves as sudden friends when they may simply want information. They’re not bad people; their insecurity is showing.
Don’t speculate on what’s happening with congregation members or offer your ideas on what should happen. Don’t practice speculating with ministry friends either. Even though they may be miles away and unconnected with your congregation, if you practice speculating with them, your ideas will become more entrenched in your own mind and make it harder for you to accept a different direction. Stay open to the Holy Spirit and know that everything you say will be quoted–and it will grow beyond anything you intended to say!

5. Aim your concerns vertically
Who can I talk to? First talk to God–He is the source of peace. Getting more info won’t bring peace. God is the Source of your calling. He knows the future and His is the will your looking for.
Second talk to those in authority. Deacons and transition leaders are the ones chosen by God to lead you. These folks should be able to tell you what they can, and be honest about what they can’t – respect that
Third – THERE IS NO THIRD PERSON TO TALK TO! Never discuss your concerns horizontally (with people at your level or below on the organizational chart)! It’s unhealthy for you and for that person. God will use this transition to grow your dependence on His leading.

6. Trust God’s anointing
Remember that the one with the responsibility is the one God wants to anoint. God will anoint the one responsible and his counselor. God won’t tell an outsider what “should” happen unless no one in leadership is listening. Those who say, “I know who are next pastor should be” are typically immature and looking for attention or control. Stay clear of them. Trust God’s plan to anoint and lead your transition team and leaders. Those in authority need prayer for their decisions and their implementation.

7. Honor yesterday and tomorrow
A critical principle for transition is to respect and honor at all times. That means honoring the one leaving and the one coming to take his place. Someday you may be the one replacing someone who is leaving. Never build your foundation on criticisms of your predecessor. And since there’s a new leader coming, be ready for new leadership. Be ready to embrace different ideas and even different vision. God is at work in transition and we need to give our best to the future He has planned. If God intended nothing to change, He wouldn’t be bringing new leadership.

Hope this helps…

Notes from the Journey with David – 16

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

16. But David wept the most (1 Samuel 20:41).
One can understand the sorrow David and Jonathan displayed when their only option was to separate. Saul’s grip on the kingdom would one day fail, but this was not that day. David’s honest emotion shows both his love for Jonathan and his disappointment that the kingdom hadn’t passed to him as he expected. He had been loyal and faithful and had been rewarded with evil and hate. The months ahead would be bitter as David wrestles with these disillusioning emotions.

But the larger question for us here asks who we have learned to love. Many are somehow able to separate leadership responsibility from loving those they lead. So leadership becomes their task with little regard for those who follow. For David, his call to leadership did not prevent him from genuinely loving Jonathan as a close friend. His leadership challenge did not divorce him from a meaningful relationship. Simply put, David didn’t simply chase the kingdom at the expense of all else. He also prioritized developing deep relationships.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – part 8

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

You gotta have a standard.

I’ve always believed that in order for anyone to live a consistent life of integrity, you’ve gotta have a standard–some guideline that exists apart from yourself so you can judge your own choices consistently. If we live by our own ideas, well, those ideas have a way of changing.

Don’t believe me? Look at how societal standards have changed in the last fifty years. Daily conversation today contain numerous references and ideas that would have never been discussed publicly back then. Television viewing shows we moved pretty far down the road too. Just compare any reality TV show with the likes of Gilligan’s Island or the Andy Griffith Show and you’ll see how far things have moved.

Frankly, that same kind of shift happens in us too. Things we steered away from in the past now show up in our lives in ways we think are no big deal. So, if we’re going to maintain a consistent life, we need a standard that’s more consistent than our own thoughts. Fortunately, we have such a standard–the Bible.

God gave us the Bible to provide the guidance for living that only a consistent standard could provide. So the dangers of lust remain consistent even when our access to lustful temptation increases. Lying is still destructive no matter how common it has become and adultery still destroys life’s most important relationships regardless of how prevalent it has become in the movies we watch. The life direction the Bible gives doesn’t move with the times, no matter how modern our translations become.

We need that kind of standard, and of course, we need to make full use of its benefits. God has given us the guidance we need for life, but it’s of little benefit if we don’t access it. Ask yourself today how effectively you’re making use of the Bible’s wisdom. Maybe you’ll find a good reason to crack its covers a bit more often.

Notes from the Journey with David – 15

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

15. Show me unfailing kindness (1 Samuel 20:14).
David and Jonathan’s covenant offers a superior lesson in friendship and loyalty. In spite of numerous reasons why they should have been divided, the two carve out a relationship that endures. David’s willingness to bless the family of Saul despite the way the latter treated him will be seen repeatedly in the years ahead. All such acts find their nexus in David’s integrity and in this moment and this friendship.

The point is that as a leader, you decide who you will be and how you will treat people. David could have hidden behind justifiable reasons to despise Jonathan. Saul would give him real reasons to reject such friendship. But the best leader is the one who doesn’t allow someone else’s behavior to choose his path. David acts out of his own heart toward Jonathan and his life and leadership are blessed because of it.

Categories: Leadership Journeys