Archive for October, 2013

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 86

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

86. When Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone (John 6:15).

He had not come to be the king they were looking for. Instead, He was the King they needed. And that’s what Jesus is for us as well. We often want a king that solves all of our problems and magically gives us everything we want or think we need, but He is a King with His own plan for our lives. When we allow Him to be that leader, He guides us to life’s best, even if what He brings wasn’t on the menu we ordered from. His kingdom is perfect and He is the ideal King for our lives. It’s up to us to accept that truth and rejoice in what He has brought. He really is the King our lives crave.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 116

October 30, 2013 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.

Do the little things.

The longer I live and the more experiences I engage, the more I see the importance of little things. No matter the size of the project or which layer on the organizational chart you occupy, there are little things that stand between you and the success you want. If you are going to get your desired results, you have to be a man of the little things.

For example, if you want a great marriage, you need to take care of little things. After thirty years of marriage, I know that while my wife appreciates big gestures and significant effort, she is usually most affected by the little things I do to demonstrate love. Paying attention to small things shows that you’re really watching and listening to the life you’re living together. When I buy a gift that she showed interest in a few months before, she loves that I remembered. Yes, you can take big steps with big moments, but the little ones have a way of lasting even longer.

On the job, it’s the little things that set you apart from others. There are usually a lot of people who can do the job, but the ones who do it well are those who take care of the little stuff. As I write, I’m on my second flight this morning. What a difference between the two flight attendants I’ve encountered. Both did the job satisfactorily, but one stood out. She seemed to be engaged at a completely different level. How do I know? She cared for the little things.

Throughout your life as a husband, dad, son, employee, boss, neighbor, leader, or any other hat you get to wear, your attention to little things will dictate the quality of what you do. Yes, I know that many leadership gurus tell us to focus on the big stuff and the little stuff will take care of itself. But that’s not really true. Doing little things well can make all the difference.

So commit yourself to a few details today. Take care of something extraordinarily well and watch the results. Likely you’ll feel better about your effort and those on the receiving end will notice a difference as well.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 85

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

85. “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost. (John 6:12).

Jesus isn’t tossing a scriptural bone to those who insist food shouldn’t be wasted. And He’s not affirming the importance of cleaning up after a big event. The entire miracle moment of feeding the five thousand is wrought with symbolism. Jesus has provided bread and fish for thousands, a miracle that would remind them of manna once given in the wilderness. Twelve baskets are leftover, one for each of Israel’s twelve tribes, and now every remaining morsel must be collected, because God will gather His children from the four corners of the world and none will be excluded. The disciples may not have grasped this imagery immediately, and one wonders what was done with all those brimming baskets, but Jesus is sending them and us a message. God is not willing that even one should perish, but that all would someday eat at His table. This is the heart of God in action.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Things You Haven’t Heard About Leading Change – 1

October 28, 2013 1 comment

In many ways, the local church can be quite a unique organization. Though it sometimes functions similarly to other groups (businesses, civic groups, etc.) there are several realities that make the local church unlike anything else you’ve ever led.

In this series, we’re going to take a look at several such realities because these facts greatly affect your ability to lead change within the local congregation. Yes, there are numerous books and resources that provide great insights into the process of organizational change, but what about those things that make the local church its own unusual arena? Where is the help you need to bring successful and enduring change to your local church? Hopefully, you’ll find some assistance in this series of articles.

Perhaps we should begin by considering why change is uniquely difficult in this setting. We know that churches struggle with change more than other groups. While our culture lives in a state of rapid change, the church only achieves significant change over a long period of time. Little wonder, so many congregations have become disconnected with those they are trying to reach. But why is this true? There are a lot of possibilities.

First, the preference for familiar things at church can be a reaction to the constant change people experience the other six days of the week. We are weary of trying to keep up. It can feel good to have one day where stuff doesn’t move, but feels like it felt last week. Most people find a lot of security in the familiar and since they don’t get enough of that all week, keeping the church the same becomes a refuge of sorts.

Of course differing agendas affect our ability to achieve change at church. People are slow to trust the agenda of a new pastor, especially if they feel a previous leader has taken advantage of them. They want a pastor who will care for them and be available for their needs, while often the pastor is living in the challenge of reaching others. He sees what can be, but the people tend to treasure what already is, so these different motivations make the battle lines are to draw.

We know all the reasons about change being difficult, or sometimes being perceived as a criticism of the past. Frankly it’s easier and more affirming to keep running down the same paths, especially when those paths meet my personal needs. As we have often said, inward focus is the core cause of ultimate decline in a church, so having things the “way I like it” not only prevents change. It becomes destructive as well.

Another odd reality is that many people see God through older eyes. Their sense of the sacred is more easily attached to older practices. So older music becomes more valued, even though it was a bit radical in its early years too. Older ideas take on more than a nostalgic value—they become traditions that we feel a need to honor. A leader desiring relevance frequently runs into those who simply have an old view of what God prefers.

And that’s another dangerous place. After living with inward focus for a while, we can start “creating God in our own image.” That odd statement simply means that we decide God prefers what I prefer and wants me to do what I want to do. So if I like things a certain way, I find myself insisting that my way is the best, or even the only, way to please God.

There are many additional reasons why organizations struggle to achieve change, but these are the realities we must add to a look at church change. Next time, we’ll discover that the primary reason people have connected with your church can also become a deterrent to change.


Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 84

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

84. but what are they among so many? (John 6:9)

It’s a fair question. The enormity of need dwarfs the available resources, such that Andrew’s locating of the boy with the lunch seems hardly useful. What’s the point?  But Jesus can do more with nothing than we imagine. Andrew’s apparent lack of faith might be easy to criticize if it weren’t so common. Who could have guessed what Jesus had in mind that day? And how often does He have plans that seem beyond comprehension for us. The best point is to trust what Jesus says and be obedient in such unlikely moments. He may be about to do what you have never imagined possible.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 115

October 23, 2013 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.

Be careful what you watch.

Yes, I know that you have rights and that sociologists haven’t made clear connections between what we watch and what we do, but be careful what you watch. Our culture has made an art form of helping media and game makers avoid responsibility for those moments when people seem to act out what they see. We insist that movies and television only portray the lives we’re already living. We can’t charge the guy who prints the magazine with the crime his literary voyeur subsequently commits, but can’t we use some wisdom and be careful of what we let into our thoughts?

I’m not going to attempt a case for cause and effect, but I know (and you do too) that when we watch the sins others commit, we open doors in our thoughts that might have stayed closed otherwise. If you’re going to live a life of purity, then guarding your mind by controlling your eyes is an important first step. Don’t watch, don’t download, don’t peruse and you won’t be as likely to lose those battles yourself.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that to be a godly man, he must run from such stuff. Those things which feed our lust—the desire for what we don’t have—increase the power of sin in our lives. In the battle between flesh and Spirit—the war that rages within us—the strong will survive. Feed your flesh and you’re naming a future winner.

Good choices of what you let into your life ultimately determine what comes out of your life. Everything you put in is coming out in some way, either in attitude or actions. So don’t put bad stuff in, and you’ll have an easier time keeping your output under control.

Stop believing the lie that these things don’t affect you. Your heart and mind are sponges that soak up whatever stimuli you provide. You can’t throw mud in their direction and expect to keep your windshield clean!

Be careful what you watch.


Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 83

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

83. He asked this to test him for he already had in mind what he was going to do (John 6:6).

When Jesus asked Philip where bread could be bought to feed the multitude before them, he already knew. He could already picture stunned expressions, baskets on top of baskets, the strong smell of abundant fish in the afternoon sun and bread crumbs littering the ground. He knew, but Philip didn’t. All Philip had as a resource was himself, and the available answers weren’t sufficient. Sometimes Jesus tests us in this same way. He allows an overwhelming circumstance so that he can ask, “What can we do?” Truth is, when God is in the “we,” there’s nothing that’s impossible.

Categories: Leadership Journeys