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Archive for November, 2013

The Brotherhood – Part 120

November 27, 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.

I  saw a clever Facebook post this week that captured the irony of the holiday ahead of us. While I won’t get the quote just right, the idea of the statement was…only in America would one spend an entire day giving thanks for what one has and then push others out of the way the next day to buy what he doesn’t have. 

Yeah, the Facebook post said it better, but you get the idea.

Lust is the desire for what one doesn’t have. It’s the thirst for something more, even if obtaining it wouldn’t be healthy. It’s a longing that’s never satisfied because when you get what you thought you wanted, you’ll always end up wanting something more.

Gratitude, on the other hand, is the contentment one finds in what he already has. Many men struggle with lust in its many forms–sex, possessions, power, etc. The solution? Gratitude.

When I am truly grateful for what I have, my thirst for more isn’t as desperate to be quenched. My life is at peace, my need for security is soothed, and I find satisfaction in the truly best things of life. Gratitude isn’t just an attitude. It’s a weapon against the lust that will ultimately destroy me.

So take time for gratitude this week–not because its a holiday, but because you want to knock your lustful thoughts down a few notches. And try to establish a gratitude habit on the other 364 days each year. Prove to yourself that you don’t need turkey and football to be thankful!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 93

November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

93. I am the bread of life (John 6:35).

He gave them bread, but they said that Moses gave them more. He showed them that the bread Moses’ gave came from the Father and that the Father had now given them the Bread of Life. And then He said that He was that bread. So they were left confused. When we mix the literal and the symbolic, those who refuse to believe cannot see. Those who think literal bread will satisfy them remain unwilling to engage something more. They cannot see past their desire for more of what they know. If they could, they might begin to recognize that there is more than what they’ve known. They just wanted another day of bread, and it caused them to miss what could fill them for eternity.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Things You Haven’t Heard About Leading Change – 5

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Why are people at your church? What causes them to think that your church is, well, their church? 

Last time, we looked at PROGRAM–the third of our five reasons people are at your church. The reasons people make a home at a local church are critical to keeping them there. And reason #4 is important to understand as well.

 

PEOPLE is the next reason many have made your church their home. They claim your church as theirs because of the meaningful relationships they have established there. People will naturally want to be where their friends are, so the friendships at church become a “glue” that “sticks” people to your church, increasing the frequency of their attendance and elevating their enthusiasm for the work we are doing together.

This is a really good reason for people to love your church. We should be friends. Many churches believe they are friendly, but what we are usually saying is that we find our friends there. Whether or not we’re being friendly to outsiders can be a different issue–and one for us to consider another day.

Every pastor knows that true assimilation happens not with programs, but with friends. When people establish relationships in our church, they feel connected, and the church becomes “our” church.

When change comes, however, my PEOPLE connection can be affected. What happens when someone’s friend leaves the church (for any reason)? When my PEOPLE are no longer there, the church feels different–like with our other connectors, I feel disoriented. If my friend leaves town, I feel lonelier than before. If my friends start attending another church down the street, I am tempted to join them.

So when a pastor makes changes to the church’s ministry in a way that results in some choosing to leave, the friends of the departing are affected too. As long as everyone’s happy, well, the more friends the merrier!

So, as we’ve seen with PLACE, PERSONALITY, PROGRAM, and PEOPLE, the reasons to connect to a church are many, but each of these is risked when a leader seeks to initiate change. There’s one more to consider next week before we begin discussing a strategy that can help us make change without disorienting those we lead.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 92

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

92. What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe (John 6:30)?

Sadly, the signs don’t always bring faith. Those who are determined not to believe always need more proof. They that must be convinced by the miraculous can always find a reason to discount the miracles they have already seen. Here, the people ask for a sign and just yesterday, He has fed thousands of them from a little boy’s lunch. They even go on to say that Moses proved himself with manna, as if He’ll need to feed them for several years before they will put Him in that league. Our response to a miracle can reveal our level of self-centeredness. When we refuse to believe, we realize that in matters of faith, seeing isn’t believing. But for those who choose to see, the evidence is overwhelming.

 

The Brotherhood – Part 119

November 20, 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.

In the past few days, I’ve found several reasons to be thinking about “excellence in speech.” Facebook has a way of piling up a fair amount of foolish talk, political criticisms, and…well, a lot of stuff I hope people wouldn’t waste time saying in person. I’ve often wanted to remind some that just because your keyboard can type it doesn’t mean it should. 

What is excellence in speech? No, it’s not the demand for proper grammar (though a bit more effort there wouldn’t hurt either). And it’s not the use of vocabulary stretching words that cause others to inflate their view of your intelligence. (Remember, if you try to talk like you don’t really talk, people may correctly conclude that you’re a bit odd.)

Excellence in speech connects with Philippians 4:8. You remember that verse don’t you?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Now, I realize this verse speaks of the kind of things we think about, but it’s usually better to speak from things you’re thinking about rather than to disconnect your thinking and speaking.

The point is to let your thoughts and your subsequent communication flow through the filter of what is good. Use words to lift up, to encourage, and to call others to righteous choices (not your particular side of the political aisle). Words have a way of lingering in the air until they bore their way into someone’s heart. Don’t throw careless ones at family and friends because you don’t know how deeply they might penetrate on impact.

Never forget that what you say says a lot more about you than you might realize. Words matter, and those that aren’t excellent paint themselves into the portrait others see of you.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 91

November 19, 2013 Leave a comment

91. The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:28).

The disciples want to know what they must do so they can do “the works of God.” In other words, they want to manufacture bread and fish miracles like Jesus did. They want to be able to perform the unexpected too. But Jesus’ answer quells such desires a bit. He says God’s real intent is that they believe in Him. For them, the focus must be on their relationship with God, and then He will determine moments when their hands will become His. This is the real nature of Spirit-empowered living. Everything flows first from relationship and then we see God begin to work through us.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Things You Haven’t Heard About Leading Change – 4

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Why are people at your church? What causes them to think that your church is, well, their church?

Last time, we looked at PERSONALITY–the second of our five reason people are at your church. The reasons people make a home at a local church are critical to keeping them there. And reason #3 is important to understand as well.

PROGRAM is reason number three. Many people connect to your church through the ministry programs you offer. Some are drawn to women’s Bible studies, others to the children’s program. Some proudly participate in a certain outreach program–it’s the reason they call you church home. Whatever you do as a church holds the potential to become a reason people assimilate into your congregation.

Now, first, let go of any negative emotions you have toward programs. They are highly valuable. Programs are the means by which we fulfill our vision. They are the tools to get the job done. Some pastors are worn out with programs because they have a tendency to fill the calendar and create a lot of work, but they are vitally important. Programs are only a negative experience when they become separated from your vision. Programs without vision are just busyness. But programs with vision help us get the real job accomplished.

People who connect to your church because of your programs can occasionally think the means is the end. They can become very focused on what the program is doing and miss out on the vision it seeks to accomplish. But that’s not the biggest danger of a program connection. A greater struggle occurs when leaders decide to change programs. Maybe the meeting days need to change or the focus changes. Imagine the day when the program is replaced by something we think will work better. What happens to our program-connected folks then?

When you change a program, you can disorient those who are primarily connected to your church because of that program. Things “feel” different. My reason-for-being-there has been altered, and I may be left with the feeling that I don’t know where I fit anymore.

In the local church, programs are the things we change most often and with every change, we run the risk of disorienting a few people. So what should we do? Should this prevent us from making needed changes? Must we simply have an attitude toward those who loved the old way that says, “Get used to it!”

Actually, that’s not going to work very often, so there is something we can do to help “PROGRAM” people accept needed change. And that answer is coming in the blog posts that follow. First, we need to bring to the table a couple of more reasons people connect to your church. Each of these must be clear to the leader so he or she can anticipate the challenges and lead effectively.