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The Brotherhood – Part 177

October 31, 2014 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.

As I near the end of more than three years of blogging weekly to men, I want to go back to the four commitments that brought us together. Around campfires, canoes, and even a few ballgame parking lots, we decided to be men of purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. We determined to give our best to our most important relationships so that we might be the men they need us to be and our culture is desperate to see.

Purity–a commitment we make to our spouses–is a choice to turn away from the onslaught of images and opportunities that dominate our daily lives. Sex is the chosen weapon of our consumerism. Sex sells everything, from tacos to automobile tires. It finds its apparently necessary place in every form of entertainment, both public and private. It equates itself with manhood, careless of the manhood many of its forms will destroy.

Like few others, sex is a focus that can be celebrated in one relationship, but must be rejected in all others. Simply put, there are times when it’s right and times when it’s wrong. You can’t say that about many other areas of sin. In it’s rightful place, sex offers a means of demonstrating intimacy between husband and wife (man and woman) that enhances the relational connection between them.

But in all other settings, sex destroys this primary relationship. It weakens a man, taking from him the focus and the virility intended solely for his wife. A man’s inability to keep sex in its proper boundaries reveals his weakness. He does not control it, but it has begun to control him, taking him wherever his lust can lure.

When we commit to purity, we make a firm decision to actively turn away from all opportunities beyond our marriage. We guard our eyes and our ears. These are key input mechanisms for the amazing computer that is our thoughts. We look away, walk away, and do whatever else is necessary to get away from such influences so sex will have no access to our hearts and minds.

When we commit to purity, we prioritize our wives. We aim our natural desires toward them, lovingly building them up, and expressing our passion in the one relationship where God has intended this gift.

When we commit to purity, we challenge one another to that same commitment. We recognize that carelessness with sexual behavior drains a man of his real strength. Virginity and fidelity draw no giggling or mocking from us. Instead, we celebrate such strength and admire those who live such priorities faithfully.

There is likely no choice that more clearly demonstrates God’s plan for man than the choice of purity. When we keep our eyes on God and on the woman we have chosen as partner for life, we find spiritual strength and wisdom for every other arena of life. We prove that man is greater than the animal kingdom and demonstrate our capacity to reveal the image of God that was stamped on us from the beginning.

With His help, we can be pure and we must be pure if we will live the life we truly long for.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 187

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

187. “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50).

Caiaphas’ cryptic words somehow seek to make the most despicable of ideas a patriotic necessity. These leaders do not feel the impact of a Roman crackdown on the people. They fear the loss of their places of prominence. If the Romans think we can’t control the people, they’ll get someone else. Loss of position has motivated many evil decisions throughout human history. One may rise to authority through excellence and good deeds, but the hunger to stay in that place often brings just the opposite. We must hold all things loosely. We must not allow our “place” to determine our direction. Righteousness exalts, but evil is the companion of those who want to maintain the status quo.

Building Your Team – Part 3

October 30, 2014 Leave a comment

As we consider the best approaches to building your team, there’s one idea that will make all the difference for you and your ministry. If you’re going to have a healthy, successful ministry team, you must learn to recruit ahead of need.

You see, too many pastors find themselves searching for the “right” person within minutes of learning that they just lost the most recent “right” person from their team. After all, why worry about recruiting when all the necessary positions are filled on your team. You don’t need anybody then, do you? After all, a leaky roof doesn’t leak until it rains!

But then a resignation, a sudden transfer, or an unexpected illness throws you and your team into chaos. Turns out that no one was waiting in the wings. So now, we have an empty slot and must begin the process of trying to identify potential replacements.

Imagine if you had been building your team all along and had someone ready to step into the sudden hole in your team. It can happen, but you must be intentional.

First, stop recruiting to positions and start recruiting to team. Let your values drive your team building. In other words, begin teaching people the values or priorities of your ministry heart and start including them in team functions. Get them on the road to becoming what you will need so you’ll be that much closer when you need them.

When you recruit for position, you let the needs of the ministry role define your direction. But when you recruit to values, you find yourself looking for people who seem to be growing the right heart and then all you must do is help them learn the tasks that are needed.

Heart trumps talent every day of the week!

If you can help shape someone’s heart for ministry, you’ll find it very easy to help them learn how to do what needs to be done. But if you’re recruiting based on ability, growing a ministry heart in even the most talented folks can take a lot of time.

So widen your idea of team beyond the number of positions you currently have in active ministry. If you keep waiting for resignations before you start recruiting a new team member, you destine yourself to one stressful week after another.

Instead, build a group of people who share your passion and heart for ministry and you’ll always have such folks just waiting for their moment to step in.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 186

October 23, 2014 Leave a comment

186. “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:42).

Jesus commands the dead man. When we pray for the needs of others, do we speak to them in their illness or do we entreat God, hoping He will respond? This is a complex question for the Christian worker. We want God to heal and we know that He is the only One who does, but are our prayers an effort to gain His attention, or do we believe He has given us the power to heal? Who are we talking to? In Acts 3, Peter spoke to the lame man in the name of Jesus. In other places, we see the power of God demonstrated when demons are commanded and sicknesses are ordered away. Perhaps, our relationship with God and the faith we have in His promise is more the issue, than even the faith of those needing a miracle. Will we step forward in His name?

The Brotherhood – Part 176

October 23, 2014 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.

Change is a radical teacher. She upsets what is and brings what you haven’t known before. She pushes you to new experiences, new ideas, and new responsibilities. While some say she must be managed, truth is, there’s very little that’s manageable about her.

Change frightens many. She seems so uncertain, so unusual, so completely different than any other we’ve known before. Many know they must face her, but few are willing to run in her direction. Her impact is life-altering in ways we didn’t expect.

But ultimately we say that Change is good. We applaud the new life she brings, the new opportunities, the sense of freshness that follows her in most of the places she visits. There are times where she leaves brokenness and conflict in her wake, but those are places where folks didn’t embrace her arrival. For others, the touch of her journey opens new horizons and gets them back on a path they’ve needed to be walking.

When Change knocks on your door, don’t fear her. Look at the doors she may open. Consider them carefully an without unnecessary criticism. She may be showing you a path to a greater future. Look closely ’cause Change may be inviting you to the future you’re really made for.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 185

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

185. “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor” (John 11:39).

What are the reasons we give that God cannot do the miracle we long for? Here, the tomb represents Martha’s greatest defeat, but opening it seems even more unacceptable. How can we do that, she wonders. But her miracle is on the other side of that stone, and the hope she can barely touch is just waiting to burst forth. Would she keep the tomb closed? Do we? How often are we within grasp of our greatest miracle, but then shrink back because something seems even more unacceptable to us? When one fully trusts God, he will allow His Savior to break through every stone that barricades the path to victory–even the unseemly ones. Everything must be given up if there is to be the victory we long for.

Building Your Team – Part 2

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

A few days ago, I found myself sitting at dinner with a now wiser, young pastor as he was recounting a recent error he’d made. Desperately in need of more people to aid his church’s hospitality effort, He had made a general announcement and placed a request for help in the church bulletin. In short order, the slots he needed to fill had names of volunteers, but these weren’t the people he really needed. He described many as the “odd characters” that often find a home in church. Good people, to be sure, but not the ones you want answering the front door.

My friend isn’t the first pastor to let need lead to mistakes in recruiting people for ministry involvement.

Now, certainly we know that there’s a place for everyone in the church. By His Spirit, God has invested gifts and abilities in each of us that He wants to use to strengthen His Church, but helping people find the right spots and avoid the wrong ones is a major challenge in recruiting. For many of us, it’s this part of building a team that gives us the most trouble. So let’s take a look at some of the more common mistakes:

  1. Fail to put enough importance upon recruiting.

How you recruit people for your team is extremely important. Simply knowing you need help and then asking around is hardly a wise approach. The pastor who doesn’t take recruiting efforts seriously is destined for a few disasters. You must do it and you must do it well.

  1. Lower expectations to get recruits.

Begging is never attractive when it comes to enlisting kingdom workers. Sometimes a pastor or ministry leader will lower the bar, accept less than adequate commitment, and settle for inadequate effort just to have someone fill the slot. But lowering expectations doesn’t create a ministry role people want to engage. Remember that people long for significance and the only way their ministry effort will be satisfying is if it requires a commitment to excellence.

  1. Provide unclear expectations.

Developing ministry job descriptions can be a good way to avoid this one. When you ask people to step into a ministry assignment, you must help them understand the role and the expectations clearly. How can people match effort to those expectations if they don’t really know what they need to be doing?

  1. Pressure people through use of desperation, guilt, or or friendship.

Sadly, churches often become know for the use of guilt to motivate people to action. “If we don’t find a Sunday school teacher to help us, look at how these children will suffer…” or some other kind of desperate appeal won’t glean the kind of commitment you need. Basing your friendship on their willingness to help isn’t appropriate either. The only lasting and legitimate motive for ministry is our love for Christ. All other motives will run out at some point.

  1. Consistently plead and scold from the pulpit.

If you use the pulpit to recruit, you’re probably making a mistake, no matter how you do it. Crowd recruiting will not reach the best potential leaders. You’ll likely only get those who are either looking to be seen or those who have unhealthy reasons to try to please you.

  1. Elect ministry leaders.

Many churches have relied to heavily on democratic models in choosing workers. Some churches still elect their Sunday school leaders or teachers, their women’s directors, and many more. Election may help you get everyone’s favorite choice for ministry leadership, but that doesn’t mean you have the best leader. And, it’s harder to lead the elected since their real loyalties and accountability is to those that elected them, not to the one who must lead them.

  1. Put out an announcement and wait for people to come to you.

This was my friend’s error—one a lot of us have made. The right people will respond to a more personalized approach to recruiting. If you use your bulletin to ask everybody for help, you’ll end up with nobody you want and somebody who wrongly thinks this ministry is for them.

  1. Recruit already over over-committed workers.

While we are always thankful for people who have said “yes” to our request for help, enlisting them again and again is a mistake. The over-committed are usually the first to “burnout” in their ministry efforts. They will figure out how tired they are of doing so much while others seem to do very little, and once they figure that out, laying down some of their assignments feels like the only way out.

  1. Provide inadequate support.

If you have no plan for training or support for your volunteers, people won’t be very quick to join your team. Asking people to do something without equipping them for the work will become frustrating very quickly. If you don’t have a plan to help ensure the success of their efforts, you’re probably not ready to start recruiting people.

10. Allow people into higher profile positions than their character will support.

I once knew a pastor who would find ways to put men on his deacon board when he heard they were about ready to leave the church. He thought that giving them leadership opportunity would keep them in the church and give them the influence they sought. So he ended up with a bunch of disgruntled, non-supportive leaders making major decisions for the church’s future. Good recruiting will always look to match both ability and character to the roles to be filled.

There’s an old human resources adage that says, “You hire all of your personnel problems.” The idea behind this slightly humorous statement is that making mistakes in the recruiting process guarantees that you’ll have problems down the road.

While these may be a list of ten ways to recruit ineffectively, there’s also some good wisdom for doing it the right way. We’ll look at those insights in our next blog…