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Archive for April, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 78

78. Don’t let this upset you. The sword devours one as well as another (2 Samuel 11:25).
David’s effort to console Joab likely feels sickening to the General. He has lost men because of David’s scheme to cover up his sin. Now David consoles him by turning him loose to exact his anger on the city under attack. Joab will vent that anger and destroy the city, but the true target of his anger remains–David. Breaches of integrity become gaping holes. The effort to cover them or fill them with justification looks and smells bad to those closest to us. By doing wrong and not taking responsibility for it, much corruption is allowed to continue until everyone but the perpetrator has had enough. That day is coming for David.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 39

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.

I spend a lot of time with pastors. That’s my life.

Eighteen months ago, my denomination asked me to leave the local church where I was pastor and help pastors like me. There are thousands of them.

I’ve spent this week around lots of pastors, who like me were attending a convention of, well, pastors. We’ve laughed together, worshipped together, heard someone else do the preaching for once, and even chased a white ball across a large wilderness. (Okay, it was golf but I did see a big group of people and a guy named Moses wandering around out there!)

I know a lot about pastors. I’ve been one for a long time and, as I mentioned, I spend my life with them now. And I think there’s something every man needs to know about pastors. A LOT OF THEM ARE LONELY!

In fact, a few nights ago the leader concluded his message (a really good one) with a chance for pastors to admit they are lonely. And, there were more pastors streaming to the altar than there were remaining in their seats. Pastors don’t get to run to the altar at the end of their own sermons, but it’s clear that they haven’t forgotten how.

Why am I telling you this? I guess because it’s easier to criticize a leader than to stand by him. Pastors are people too, but God has placed them in roles of leadership that often cause them to be more criticized than followed. They need a few men around that they can count on. They need lieutenants that respond and lead others when they call us into spiritual battle. They need men to step forward who want to make a difference. They need…friends they can count on.

In the Brotherhood, one of our commitments is loyalty–a commitment we make to God and to our church. A big part of that commitment is the relationship we offer to our pastor. He may not need us to be his BEST friend, one he confides in or shares his personal hurts with. But he does need each of us to be A friend. And the Bible says that one of those “loves at all times.”

So today’s blog is just a simple reminder that one of your greatest ministries for God can be the friendship you extend to your pastor. He serves a task that is often overwhelming and easy to critique. You can make a real difference by standing beside him–and “having his back” when needed too!

Notes from the Journey with David – 77

77. Why did you get so close to the city to fight? (2 Samuel 11:20).
Joab’s anticipation of David’s criticism starts with David’s effort to have Uriah killed. Joab is insulating himself against his Master’s reaction by using David’s own lack of integrity against him. How does David think he will maintain the trust of his men when he acts in such a horrific manner? David’s sin has corrupted him, his captain, and his army. If David might wonder at Joab’s actions, won’t the men fighting with him see the reasons for criticism too? Lack of integrity and unwholesome actions have a way of spreading through an organization, damaging many more than those who were targeted.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

What Makes a Great Church?

What makes a church great? Good question, and one that would likely get plenty of different answers.

Some might immediately respond with a description of something occurring on Sunday morning. You know, a great church has great music or great preaching or really friendly people. Others might jump on the outreach efforts of the church or the ways that the congregation serves the community. Still others might point to the discipleship successes–the way people’s lives are being changed.

While these factors are very important and certainly add to the list of things great churches do and do well, there is just one problem with this list. It can be a little too focused on what OTHER people are doing at church. Good preaching means our pastor is doing a good job. Good music means we have excellent musicians doing their best. Great discipleship or outreach implies that whoever runs those programs is getting the job done.

But, my church can’t be a great church unless I’m giving my best too!

As I travel, I sometimes hear people complain about their church. Yes, it’s usually something off of the list above. You’ve heard the same kind of stuff. “I don’t like the ___________ at our church,” or “I think we should do ____________ differently.” Again, the focus is on something someone else is doing.

The bigger question may be, “What am I doing to help my church be a great church?” Now I realize that everyone can’t be the speaker. No, you don’t want to orchestrate a coup so you can personally improve the preaching. And if musical ability isn’t your thing, don’t feel obligated to inflict your friends by taking a microphone. Instead, find a way to give your best to what you CAN do to help your church be more effective.

For example, a friendly church is made up of friendly people. Are you one of those? Start treating your church’s guests like your own personal guests and help insure that they feel welcomed and at home in your church.

Take charge of your own discipleship by spending time every day reading and reflecting on the truth of the Bible, and have your own regular conversations with God. If you’re waiting on the church to grow you spiritually, well, studies have shown that’s not the best strategy for continued spiritual growth.

If you’re a football fan, you probably know the term Monday Morning Quarterback. Since most professional football games are played on Sunday, a Monday Morning Quarterback is a guy who has all the answers and knows what the team should have done on every play the day AFTER the game was played. Yeah, he’s brilliant with his shouldas and wouldas. Of course, when the game was being played, these guys were just watching from the sideline–no jerseys, no sweat, no real help at all.

Don’t be a Monday Morning Church Boss either. If you have the answers on Monday, why not start getting involved on Sunday? You can help make your church a great church by chipping in with your gifts and your heart and your desire to see your church do great things.

A great church is a place filled with great people doing great things for a more than great God. Be one of them and before you know it, you’re church will become a little bit greater than before.

Notes from the Journey with David – 76

76. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace (2 Samuel 11:9).
It’s war time and Uriah knows he is on duty. This warrior shows remarkable integrity by refusing to go home for one night while others are in the field. What a contrast with his king, who avoided battle altogether that season. Does Uriah have a sense of what the king is up to? Perhaps not. He is one of David’s mighty men and likely cannot understand why he has been called home. But regardless of whatever confusion he might feel, he acts on what is right. Uriah will go down in history as a hero who was abused by his leader, but a hero nonetheless.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 38

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’ve got to know the big rocks from the little ones.

Okay, kind of a weird statement to start this blog entry, but this odd phrase is the key to effectively managing your life.

What is really the most important stuff in your day? I mean really? I’m not talking about the things others want to make important, but what is most important to you? Too many people live in other people’s crises or get bogged down by the latest gossip and the worries it brings. Many times an entire day can get derailed by something that wouldn’t look that important if you’d just take a step back and look again.

Loving your wife? Now that’s important. Don’t miss a day of doing that!

Spending time with your kids? Yeah, keep that one at the top of the list too. Few things can give life greater meaning than the relationships you share with your sons and daughters.

Listening to God? I’m amazed at how many people say they don’t have time for that each day! Really? You almost have to not understand who He is to think you’d want to miss a day of connecting with His wisdom for your life.

Get the job done? That should make the list too. Serving well in the workplace not only makes you valuable to the boss, but it demonstrates the character of your life and reinforces the best things about you.

Okay, so there’s four big rocks. Now there’s a bunch of little rocks that can make your day fun too. Time spent with friends, maybe some exercise (sorry), and a few minutes with that favorite hobby come to mind. But these are little rocks, and if you’re going to get everything important accomplished today, you need to add the little rocks AFTER you get those big rocks in there! Don’t be the guy who won’t miss a day at the gym, but has kept God on hold for a month…

And there are some little rocks you don’t need, like relationships that drag you down, water cooler gossip, stress over the latest political polls, and even getting a message to Facebook friend #2437. These life wasters aren’t getting you closer to the life you were meant to enjoy. In fact, they are keeping you from it.

So separate the true big rocks from the little ones and make sure that the main things in every day stay the main things. You’ll have to be diligent because there are a lot of people who love pouring little rocks on your desk. But if you give your focus to the things that truly matter, well…you’re life will matter too!

Notes from the Journey with David – 75

75. At the time when kings go off to war (2 Samuel 11:1).
Much is typically made of David’s sin with Bathsheba starting when he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. But why did David stay home from battle? His recent victories had formed alliances and strength that perhaps he is relying too heavily upon. Bottom-line: He didn’t go to war because he didn’t think he needed to. But it’s hard to imagine a Middle Eastern kingdom to be so secure that kings can take a season off. David’s pride and inflated sense of his success not only has him at home, but also fuels his decision that he can have the wife of one of his men. David’s sin with Bathsheba didn’t start when he saw her in the bathtub. It started with the pride that changed how he approached his work as king.

Categories: Leadership Journeys