Archive for October, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 132

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

132. His father had never interfered with him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” (2 Kings 1:6).

Seems way too easy for leaders to neglect the needs of their families. The responsibilities of leadership can be overwhelming and the pressure to hold everything together is often all-consuming. But, David’s failure to give needed attention to his children has already cost him a great deal, and he is about to pay for it again. Leaders often speak of legacy, but fail to see their greatest gift to the future is the lives of their children. So many kids have crashed their lives because dad or mom were never in the passenger seat showing them how to drive. So, much of the good accomplished in one generation evaporates in the next. This reality begs the question, “If you fail as a leader among those closest to you, should you really be viewed as a great leader by those who see you at a distance?”


Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 66

October 31, 2012 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.

Hard to believe that the holiday season is just weeks away. And, soon thereafter, we will launch into a New Year. 2013 seemed like a long way off at one point, but here we are, ready to live, laugh, and love life for another year.

I was thinking that might make this a good time to renew our commitments to the core choices that brought us together as a Brotherhood.

First, we are committed to purity–it’s a gift we give to our wives or, for some, the woman they will someday choose to love forever. Purity is where a man’s greatest strength can be demonstrated. When a man lives in purity, he guards his heart from the intrusion of unhealthy thoughts that can destroy the intimacy he shares with his wife. In today’s culture, the opportunities to entertain thoughts and images of unhealthy conduct seem to be everywhere. It takes the determination of Job who “made an agreement with his eyes not to look upon a woman.” That choice keeps one’s heart pure and ready to genuinely love the one God has prepared for us.

Second, we make a commitment to self-sacrifice for our families. As we’ve said many times, a man is at this best when he is laying himself down for someone else. There is no strength in self-centeredness. Instead, it is through sacrifice that we demonstrate our greatest power. It takes a lot more to care for others and do what they need us to do than it does to live simply to satisfy our own desires.

Third, we choose loyalty both to God and to our churches. The kingdom of God needs dedicated men who will provide leadership and strength to the local church. I want to be faithful to God in all His commands and purposes and serve in my local church in a way that can bless my spiritual leadership there and impact the community we are all trying to reach. As a pastor, I know there is no greater blessing than men who are committed to making a difference. They are the backbone of the local church and God uses them in amazing ways to fulfill His purposes.

Finally, we choose excellence for ourselves. Living just about the acceptable line isn’t really living, but giving my best every day helps expand my potential, my capacity, and ultimately my life. When I give my best, I find that I am capable of far more than I ever imagined. When I give my best, God can grow me into places I would never try on my own. God’s plans are greater than me and they will require my absolute best, so I don’t want to live carelessly or just exist at minimum levels. My life unfolds more powerfully when I lay my very best before Him.

These are the choices many of us made years ago. Why not recommit yourself to this path. Jesus called us to “take up our cross and follow Him.” These commitments will help us continue to do that in the strongest manner possible.

Notes from the Journey with David – 131

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

131. Adonijah put himself forward and said, “I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5).

Not every leader gets to choose their successor, but in a monarchy the king is expected to dictate the future. David has failed to do so. Given Israel’s long history of family blessings and patriarchal ways of passing the baton to the next generation, David’s silence seems out of place. And when there’s a leadership vacuum, there is always someone ready to fill the void. Adonijah may have been the logical choice to some. Joab agrees to join him. But Adonijah puts himself forward. He has no approval from the king or mandate from the people. When leaders take authority by force, they seldom hold that authority for long. How much better to live by Jesus’ ideal of letting others elevate you.


Categories: Leadership Journeys

Go Out There!!

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I love the journey of discovering what we do well. It’s a blast! We all like doing what we do well. If you’re good at something, you usually enjoy every minute of doing it. But the more time I spend doing what I don’t do well, the more frustrating life becomes.

But once you’ve identified your church’s strengths, it’s time to take those abilities OUTSIDE the walls of your church. To be a missional church, you must learn to take what you do well and GO out there! Find ways to aim your best efforts, your strengths into your community. Let those abilities bless people outside your walls, and many of them will choose to come in.

For example, does your church have a few excellent teachers? If I have to attend your Sunday school to discover that, I probably never will. Why not give that teacher a break from the Sunday school class next quarter and have her do a six-session parenting series out there? Do it in the community room of the bank building or the Pizza Hut basement. Promote it well and you’ll connect with some new friends as you add value to their lives. You’ll also change that teacher’s life forever when she gets to use her gifts out there she’ll never be the same!

Is fellowship your strength? Usually that means our ladies can cook. So why not take those gifts out there. I was speaking to a group of Arkansas pastors on this subject last year and I asked, “What does your church do well?”

A pastor’s wife excitedly shouted, “Funerals!” We all chuckled, but then we started unpacking that with them. She meant that their ladies do an amazing meal, their men do such a great job hosting and ushering and treating the grieving families kindly, and her husband is at his best in a funeral message. She said it kind of sheepishly—“He’s a really good preacher, but at funerals, he’s amazing.”

In seconds, the light bulb came on and they began planning how they would offer this service to the local funeral home so anytime someone in their small town didn’t have a church to help them, they would be ready and available with their special skill.

How can you serve your community with excellence? In times of crisis, we must do anything and everything we can, but day-in-day-out our efforts to serve should flow from our abilities and our passion. That’s the formula for excellence.

If you’re blessed with musical abilities, singing Christmas songs and Easter anthems for the church folks is wonderful, but why not use those gifts in a patriotic musical your community might attend? How about a concert in the park? Your youth group kids are experimenting with guitars anyway. Why not set them up in the community where their friends will come hear them?

Take what you do well and GO out there!

There are some great spiritual lessons that can only be learned out there. You can tell me a thousand times that I need to grow a prayer life, but you take me out there where I’m trying to do something for Jesus, and I’ll learn to pray my guts out. If I stay in the house, I don’t feel the need to pray or to grow or even to wear sunscreen! But if I’m taking my abilities out there, I begin to grow in ways this greenhouse can’t accomplish.

Do you realize that every bit of the future growth of your church is in people who aren’t a part of your church yet? That’s right! 100% of your growth potential is out there! Find your best and aim it out there! You can do that!

Notes from the Journey with David – 130

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

130. David built an offering to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings (2 Samuel 24:25).

Second Samuel ends appropriately–David is worshipping God. David’s greatest quality as a leader is his continued dependence on God. Though he stumbled at points, David’s trust in God seems to escalate in the later years of his leadership. He is simply known as a worshipper–a remarkable reality for a sovereign king. Why is it that leaders tend to be less and less dependent on God? Why does pride take root and bring an unfortunate harvest in so many stories? David’s example offers extraordinary proof that a leader can grow in his dependence on God.


Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 65

October 24, 2012 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.

What do you know?

Wait, I’m not asking about the latest office news or the “scuttlebutt” that you’ve heard around the water cooler. No, I’m asking what you have learned in the decades of life you’ve enjoyed.

And who have you told?

I currently make a living being a consultant to help pastors and church leaders with what I know. Before that, I was a pastor, and spent my days “consulting” with people what I know about life and God’s love. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m a “know-it-all” character. But, I do think it’s important to share what you know–especially with those you love.

So who are you telling?

A lot of dads remain quiet when their kids need to hear what life has taught them. I’ve made that mistake a few times, thinking I was just giving my boys room to learn for themselves. But they’ve told me they wanted more input. And, I had to remind myself that sharing what I know is a big piece of the parenting puzzle.

In life, knowledge is hard earned. Some of us think that in the School of Hard Knocks, we should be graduate students by now. If you’ve learned a lot of life “the hard way,” I’m sorry for your difficulties. But doesn’t it make sense to pave the road for others a bit more smoothly–especially those we love.

Don’t be silent, Dad.

Your wisdom, insight, and opinions may not always be received and your counsel may not always be followed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Let your decades of knowledge be accessible to the searchers in your life and you’ll be a greater blessing than you can imagine.

It will pay off. No, your bank account won’t be bulging because you share your wisdom with your kids and their friends, but there’s a lot of other ways that your effort will pay off. And those are the often the rewards we treasure most.

Notes from the Journey with David – 129

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

129. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).

While God offers David the steps to take to remove the reproach of his actions from Israel, David brings a truly contrite heart. He knows he has chosen poorly and the people have paid a deep price. So when Araunah offers his threshing floor and whatever David needs for the sacrifice, David turns down his generosity, He insists, rather, that a true sacrifice must be a sacrifice. David won’t offer an offering that’s not from his own pocket. Here, David lays down a core principle of worship–it costs us something. Giving someone else’s property doesn’t allow my own heart to exalt God.


Categories: Leadership Journeys