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Archive for November, 2011

The Brotherhood – Part 18

November 30, 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.

Does integrity matter anymore?

Once again, the Presidential election season brings us face-to-face with the issue of integrity. One Republican Primary candidate stands accused again of infidelity. We’ve heard it all before.

But what is intriguing about such news today is that the question commentators ask isn’t, “Is it true?” No, instead the hot question they have for the random voter is, “Does it matter?” Will the allegations force a candidate to abandon his presidential dreams or can the accusation be added to the pile of things he’ll try to overcome? Wow? How did we get here?

Sadly, familiarity breeds apathy. We’ve seen this before so the shock potential is virtually non-existent. We allow the headlines to roll past without the emotional response we might have had two decades ago. At the end of the day, most Americans will look past infidelity and dishonesty, if they can find a leader with a good economic plan.

Isn’t trust still valued today? I believe it is. We may have given up on the integrity of national leaders or decided that no one’s life can hold up to the scrutiny of the national spotlight, but here at home integrity still matters a lot. Living a life that is trustworthy is an absolute must for  a healthy marriage, raising healthy kids, and establishing healthy neighborhoods. Whatever values have been abandoned at the national level remain rock solid here at home.

Sadly, many prominent people are proving every day that they’re not worth following. Posters come off the walls as we make our choice to “don’t be that guy.” But this dearth of high character among the elite makes commitment to integrity even more critical on the local level. Someone has to live a life worth following or we leave a generation without the examples they need.

Let the man of integrity be you…

 

Notes from the Journey with David – 35

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

35. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting (1 Samuel 29:4).
David’s scheme to gain the trust of Achish has its limits. Even though he has effectively deceived the Philistine king into believing him an ally, Achish’s men are not fooled. They know David’s heart and fully expect him to turn back to Israel at any opportunity. David isn’t where he belongs and they know it. As such, David’s scheme has reached its limit. The time of decision has come and the right choice is for David to be the man God has called him to be rather than continue his self-designed exile.

Perhaps the point here is that you can’t build the life you want to have if you’re not where you’re supposed to be.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Turning New Friends into a New Day for Your Church – Step 3

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

As we’ve been discussing, many churches fail to invest in the new life opportunities that come their way. They continue to pour their resources into familiar holes, often because the long-term members demand it. A church must invest in its new life, then begin to follow where that growth is leading, and finally, the third step emerges into view.

Now we must EMPOWER that new life!

If step one is investing in new life, and step two is to start allowing that new life to reshape our ministries, then step three is to begin moving that new life into the leadership structure of the church. Many years ago, I taught a Sunday school class filled with young couples. It was an amazing group of nearly fifty couples–the kind of group that any pastor would think his church could enjoy for decades. But in spite of the fun we had together each Sunday morning, I could see an emerging problem. All of the leadership roles in the church were filled by an older generation. Not one deacon slot had been opened to anyone under the age of fifty. The result? My group didn’t see the church as their church, but instead saw themselves as attending someone else’s (the older folks) church.

Ownership is the ultimate assimilation goal. When people see the church as theirs, they will fully invest their lives in its efforts. I don’t mean “theirs” in the sense of possession or control, but there is a sense of deep connection that occurs when someone speaks of the church as “us.” We had that ownership in our class, but because leadership hadn’t transferred to this younger group, the larger church wasn’t theirs–at least in their thoughts.

The result? After my wife and I moved away the class broke up and in less than three years, only a handful of those couples were still in the church. Most had moved to a congregation where the leadership was vested in others their age.

A church that reaches younger adults must find a way for those young adults to step into leadership roles. Too many church boards are dominated by the older members of the church. We may argue for their experience, and that experience must be valued, but we must begin to integrate the new life of our church into leadership roles. If that new life is a different ethnic group, steps must be taken to bring some of these new friends into leadership.

Look around the conference table at the next deacon meeting and you will see the representatives of the groups that have ownership in the church. If the new life you’ve achieved is missing, you’re only a few months or years from losing their contribution to the future of your church.

So three steps must be taken to turn new life into a new life cycle for your church–Invest, Follow, and Empower. This is the road to leading your church into a future greater than its current reality.

Notes from the Journey with David – 34

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

34. Why do you consult me now that the Lord has turned away from you (1 Samuel 28:16).
Samuel’s question seeks an explanation for Saul’s sudden interest in God’s direction. Clearly the Philistine threat has humbled him to a place he has not been in a long time. As Paul later says, “every knee will bow.” Unfortunately for many like Saul that moment will not come until it is too late. His disobedience and unrepentant hatred toward his successor has brought him to his end. Saul is one of thousands of stories that illustrate the importance of maintaining a heart that is tender and humble before God.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 17

November 22, 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.

Choose your friends carefully.

That’s a piece of advice I repeatedly offered to my sons as they faced the challenges of wise choices in their teen years. Now that they’re adults, I find myself still celebrating every quality friend choice I see them making. It still matters.

Frankly, at age 50, it still matters in my life too. In fact, I’m guessing we never outgrow the need to use wisdom in selecting the people we walk closest to on life’s road. Friends influence our decisions as much in the adult world as they do when we’re pre-teens. Perhaps the real difference is that as adults, we have probably made enough mistakes in this area that we’re running out of excuses for continued carelessness.

While career choices and marriage partners have enormous impact on the altitude of our lives, friends are a factor that makes equal impact. In fact, I’ve seen friends influence decisions for career change and even marriage problems. Friends seem to shape the way we view the world, and if that input isn’t healthy, well…

I think a man’s choice for friends needs to be most careful in the area of purity. If our friends live carelessly with their marriage relationships, the chances that we will skirt the edge of the same trap are increased. Bottom-line: Your friends look more like you do than you realize. You’re on the same road!

So choose carefully. Find men who are committed to their wives and walk beside them. Choose friends that avoid pornography or impure conversations. Those who chase such things have stepped over lines you don’t want to cross. You may think such care would seem judgmental, but WHO CARES?!

Your marriage relationship is your #1 earthly connection. Don’t let even your closest friend damage that. Choose friends that will help you value your marriage. Those are the kind of relationships that are good for you…

Notes from the Journey with David – 33

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

33. If I have found favor in your eyes (1 Samuel 27:5).
It seems that in his weariness over the Saul matter, David has run to a land that will fear him. After all, he is the one who killed the Philistine champion so the region of Goliath’s hometown likely would fear David’s presence. When he asks Achish for a place to settle, he does so with proper respect, but I would imagine Achish is highly motivated to offer David anything he asks. David’s presence in Philistia underscores the human tendency to respond to setbacks by returning to places of former victory and confidence. When we lose a battle, we often want to visit a former battleground where our strength and success were evident. This is likely why David led himself to Philistia rather than continuing to trust God in his conflict with Saul.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Turning New Friends into a New Day for Your Church – Step 2

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

As we pointed out last time, many churches fail to invest in the new life opportunities that come their way. They continue to pour their resources into familiar holes, often because the long-term members demand it. But once a church wisens to the need for investing in new life, a second step begins to rise on the screen.

Now we must FOLLOW where that new life leads us!

If step one is investing in new life, step two is to start allowing that new life to reshape our ministries. Most pastors will tell you that the people most excited about the church are those who started attending in the past two years. There’s something about familiarity that often takes the enthusiasm out of us. That’s why most of the people bringing their friends to church just started attending our church in the past several months.

So, if we will have a new life cycle, we need to begin building outreach efforts, missions priorities, ministry programs, and every other forward movement initiative around the new life God has brought. Don’t expect your new people to simply plug into the outward priorities of the old bunch. Yesterday’s projects tend to smell like yesterday and they rarely provide the excitement your new friends can generate with projects of their own.

You must FOLLOW new life!

Listen to your new friends as they dream of ways to impact your community. Listen to their conversations about people they know who can be reached. Listen, and look for ways to follow where they might lead.

Now, realize that people who hop from church to church often come in with their ideas of what your church can do. These transferring friends like what they like, but most of their ideas are old ideas too. And, there’s probably a reason why their former church stopped doing “their thing” or why these new friends stopped doing “their thing” over there. In other words, your future isn’t to be found in their past.

But your future is to be found where new life can lead you. Let me illustrate. Suppose an older congregation welcomes two new young couples to their church. First, they begin to invest in new ministries toward young couples (maybe a small group, ministry to their children, etc.). But now, the young adults have an idea for a community outreach effort that can reach other young couples. Of course, it’ll cost some money and most of the current resources are aimed at an annual church picnic that’s been declining in attendance for the past few years. What do you do?

The church that wants a new future will FOLLOW where new life leads them. Doing new things with new priorities is what chasing new life is all about. Yes, there will be loss as the church lets go of some of yesterday’s priorities, but that’s the only way to get to a new life cycle and a new future.

Step one in a new life cycle is to INVEST in new life; step two is to FOLLOW where that new life leads. Next time, we will look at step three – EMPOWERING new life…