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The Brotherhood – Part 124

December 31, 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.

 Sometimes the timing of certain events can be quite challenging. Today I had the opportunity to speak to a group of friends. But just moments before, I read Jesus’ words in John 7…

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

Many of us speak as a career. We stand before crowds who anticipate that we will have something to say. And the larger the crowd, the more likely our reputation for saying meaningful things has elevated the expectation.

So we do our best to master the craft and demonstrate our capacities for such significant assignments. But how much do we think about the One we’re speaking for? Sure, we know that His Word makes our words more powerful, but which words are our primary focus?

Messengers usually aren’t lauded for their creativity in communicating a message. Instead, those who hear are encouraged to hear the message clearly and think about the One who sent it. While we prefer that people not “shoot the messenger,” perhaps we should be equally diligent in resisting their applause. This kingdom isn’t about us!

What a privilege to speak to people about things that will endure forever! But what a mistake to let our own self-seeking take the focus off of the One who has made such eternity possible. A servant must honor his master and not seek an attention that only can belong to the One he serves.

So, yes, we want to speak well–but only so the truth and love of the One who sent us can be clearly perceived. How much better for people to walk away celebrating what you said than magnifying you for saying it. Remember that plagiarism is taking credit for what someone else has said. When you speak God’s truth, be sure to credit your Source. 🙂

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 101

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

101. For Jesus had known from the beginning (John 6:64).

Jesus always knew what Judas would be. He knew Peter would deny Him. He knew how each would shrink back from the crucifixion and struggle to believe. He knew, and yet He gave Himself fully to growing them. He knew where they would fail and apparently couldn’t stop them. What an amazing lesson for leaders! Those around us will fail at times. That doesn’t excuse us from giving our best to leading them. Of course, we will fail too so our commitment to grace should be even stronger.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Things You Haven’t Heard About Leading Change – 9

December 30, 2013 1 comment

In our last blog, we revealed the key element in leading change – PURPOSE. You have to help people discover or rediscover your church’s true purpose if they will ever be willing to engage the change needed to get there. Change for any other reason won’t help you in the long run. Only a return to a clear sense of purpose can create the best environment for your future.

As we said, the first step toward that purpose is to revisit your mission. How are the Great Commission and Great Commandments being lived out in your church? Are they clearly in focus? What steps can you take to bring them clearly to the surface and into the windshield of your church members?

Once those priorities are engaged with renewed commitment and passion, the next step is to lift up your eyes. The real vision God has for your church can on’y be found when you are looking at the harvest He has placed before you.

Sadly, many churches have vision statements and no vision. They worship in rooms with three cleverly crafted phrases on the wall, but the words mean nothing to them. They nod approvingly each time church leaders read those words, but they aren’t driven by them. Words cannot create a vision for a church. Only a clear view of people can do that. (Then we find some words to describe what we see.)

For people to embrace change, they must embrace the need for it. Get them outside your church walls. Involve them in community projects. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen. Play with children at a park. Go to a high school football game. Find an opportunity for your people to see the harvest field up close and then guide them to see their mission in the eyes of those they encounter. Once that begins to happen, real vision starts to emerge.

What’s your dream for your neighborhood? What do you want God to do in your high school? (C’mon now, don’t give me those expected Sunday school answers.) What’s in your heart? What is God speaking to you as you look on the faces of people at the local mall?

As such passions begin to grow, missional urgency is just around the corner. Soon some of your people will insist that we must change to reach those people!! And when that begins to occur, you have entered a new era in your church–one where change is not only possible. It’s now demanded!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 100

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

100. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63).

Jesus’ answer to their confusion over his eat-my-body teaching isn’t really an answer at all. Why doesn’t Jesus clarify more clearly for his little band of insiders? Perhaps it’s because their relationship with Him and with the Father can’t be dependent on always understanding. Instead it is to be built on faith. The whole idea of following another is to let them lead, even when you are unsure of the way. If we must understand or be able to connect all the dots, there is no room for faith and we end up becoming our own god. Faith only works in the dark.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 123

December 18, 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 your best!

That’s the challenge we all rise to as men. We want to be our best for our families, our employers, and ourselves. Settling for half-hearted effort just isn’t acceptable. It’s not an expression of our true manhood. From the days when a coach shouted his motivational tirade in our faces, we have been reaching higher, straining forward, giving all we have to be our absolute best.

But a key word in that mantra is ‘your” as in “Be YOUR best!”

It seems quite easy for us to admire the life built by others and want to create that world for ourselves. We want what they have so we are determined to do what they do. Or, some of us can never be happy because there is always one more hill to climb–someone else’s hill.

When we try to be someone else’s best, we are headed toward a disconnect. We lack the skills, the perspective, and the experience necessary to walk someone else’s path. Their road is just that–their road. You can’t be them so you can’t be their best.

Sounds logical, but it’s not so simple. The desire for someone else’s path is overwhelming at times. If we are driven by lust (the desire for what you don’t have), then we are easy targets for this type of self-dissatisfaction. Any time we reach beyond the markers of our own lives, we get life out of balance.

Contentment (and its friend–thanksgiving) come from knowing what your path is and rejoicing in it. Giving your best to your life is the only way one can find real and lasting satisfaction. So, be the best you can be–and make sure that it’s you that you’re trying to be.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 99

December 17, 2013 Leave a comment

99. Your forefathers ate manna and died (John 6:58).

Jesus’ continued discussion of himself as the bread of life stumps his hearers. What they can’t see is the fading nature of their long-held connection to God. They think that because they are sons of Abraham, they have a permanent place established. But the game has changed. God has sent a new revelation–His Son–and He must be received or the relationship won’t endure. Manna is no longer enough. Jesus alone is the path to the Father. There is no other way. Those who put confidence in their history and their connection to Abraham must now embrace God’s new “meal.” Otherwise they are revealed as having no faith at all.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Things You Haven’t Heard About Leading Change – 8

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

In our last blog, we identified the necessary step for leading change–you must connect people to your PURPOSE. But how do you do that?

First, you have to identify that PURPOSE. And that starts with understanding the mission He has given you.

Jesus gave us the foundation for a world-changing mission. He launched His disciples (and us) with the command to “go and make disciples.” This is the assignment, the reason-for-being, the priority of every congregation. Frankly, if we’re not making disciples, something has to change.

But Jesus didn’t leave us with only a command. He also provided the method in what we know as the Great Commandment. He told us that the means of our efforts would be love–for God and for others. This is the “how-to” of our mission. We make disciples by focusing our hearts toward “Him and them.” When we give our very best to God and to others, then He promises to care for us.

Now, I could say a lot more about that mission (and I will in another blog), but the question of mission asks, “Are we doing that?”

You see, the desire to change flows from urgency–the need for a result different from the one we’re getting. Some churches engage change with a survival urgency. They face change because they will cease to exist if they don’t. Many declining churches are approaching the edge of extinction unless something changes. So they grudgingly accept change (often radical change) because there is no other way forward.

Survival urgency can help people accept change, but it’s usually short-lived. Once the crisis is passed, survival urgency diminishes and people return to what they have always been.

A better form of urgency is missional urgency. Missional urgency says, “We’re not fulfilling our mission. Something must change.” This kind of urgency is far more powerful that survival urgency because it can carry us to whatever change is necessary to get us back on track with our mission. As a leader, you want to create missional urgency. You want people to care deeply about the mission and become dissatisfied when its challenge isn’t being met.

So finding PURPOSE starts with exploring our mission. Are we getting the job done? Are making disciples? Are we loving God deeply? Are we encountering people with genuine love? If not, those requirements must spur us to a new dream, and ramp up our courage to chase it fully.

If you sense a need for change in your church, start reflecting on the mission Jesus gave us. The right steps can only come if we are aiming at the right target.

Next time, we’ll look at a second critical step, but no healthy change can come until we are prayerfully immersed in the Church’s mission, so go ahead and start hungering after it in new ways.