Ministry Inside.94

I read a very good article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “The Peak Time for Everything.” Basically, the article explores the importance of matching the tasks you need to do with the energy level of your body.  The author suggests times of the day that may be better suited for a particular task given where the energy level of the body normally is at that point.  For example, the author suggests that when it comes to doing cognitive work most adults tend to perform better later in the morning.

I have found the following practices to be helpful as I attempt to manage my time:

1.  My best study is done very early in the morning.  I often awaken early and get much reading and preparation done before I ever go into the office.

2.  One of the first things I do upon getting to the office is form my to-do list.  I may add several new items to what was unfinished from the day before or the list may be totally new.

3.  I write on a large white board in my office a few items that I refer to as “blocks.”   That is, I intend to spend a block of time working on a particular project.  For example, I may be thinking about a meeting or a talk I am to give in a month or two.  I might choose to spend a 30-minute block of time working on this item.  (Otherwise, what is pressing or seemingly immediate will usually consume my time.)

4.  I typically write most e-mails and make most phone calls in the afternoon when my energy is lower.  In fact, I save tasks that require less energy or creativity for the afternoon.

5.  Each day, I want to do something that adds energy to my life.  Typically I go to the gym four days a week in the late afternoon to work out.  This practice makes a huge difference in my energy level.  Also, I am energized by reading, visiting with friends on the phone, and enjoying conversation (normally by phone) with family members.

Questions:

What are some of your daily practices that impact the flow of your day?

 

5 Suggestions for Making Better Decisions.

pumphouse1We had all just gotten off work at Jack-in-the-Box (a fast food restaurant).  It was early Saturday morning, about 2 a.m.  I was about eighteen years old and a freshman in college.  It was the early 70s.

I was with three co-workers — two guys and one young woman.  We were all about the same age. Someone had the idea that we ought to go to White Rock Lake and drive around.  About twenty minutes later, we got to the lake and began the drive.  We came to the old White Rock Lake Pump Station (built in 1911).  During those years, it was apparently not being used.  The door was open.

We walked inside where it was damp and very, very dark.

Ministry Inside.92

So much of one’s effectiveness in ministry has to do with the matters that may appear small but in fact are very important.

1.  Attitude.  This is huge!   A negative attitude, a cynical spirit, and a fault-finding disposition have a way of wearing out a congregation.  The content of a minister’s teaching may be correct, but the teaching may not be taken seriously because of the attitude of the minister.

2.  Humility.  Some ministers have a way of bringing every conversation back to themselves. Instead of asking others to elaborate after they have shared an experience, some people will immediately interject, “Yeah, you should have seen what happened to me, blah, blah, blah.” People see through this after a while.

Five People I Need Around Me

Quote-of-the-Week-EncouragementWho in your life makes you a better person?

I just had lunch with a friend who is such a person.  He is older, wiser, and helped me think through a life issue and a church issue as well.

I am better off for having spent time with this friend.  He is the kind of person who makes me want to be a better man and leader.  I enjoy being with him.

Now I realize that not everyone is like my friend.  Some people complain constantly. Some people enjoy arguing. Some are pessimistic and cynical.  Others are manipulative. Many of us deal with all kinds of people every day.

I have learned that I am better equipped to deal with these kinds of people if I am deliberate about surrounding myself with five different kinds of people.

1.  A joyful person.  I am grateful to know some joyful people.  These are people who may have challenges but their attitude is joyful.

2.  A person who is a learner.  I love being with people who are always learning and growing.  I find that so stimulating.

3.  A person who will help me.  I am thinking of a couple of people who will ask me a question or two and then have the patience to listen.  Through their genuine interest in my life, I feel valued and appreciated.

4.  A person whom I can help.  I get energized by being with a person who genuinely wants my help and will even follow through regarding what we discuss.

5.  A person who believes in me.  I am fortunate enough to have been given this gift through my wife, Charlotte.  I find her confidence in me to be energizing and helpful.

Are all five kinds of people in my life all the time?  Not necessarily.  I do tend to gravitate toward these people. They have a way of adding value to my life and I am better for having known them.

Questions:

What kinds of people add energy and value to your life?  What would you add to the above list?

Ministry Inside.91

appreciate“Do you feel appreciated in the congregation you serve?”

It took this minister only seconds to answer his friend’s question.

“No, I don’t feel appreciated.  I feel taken for granted by my elders, my co-workers, and many people in our church.”

He went on to say, “Now of course that is not true of everyone in our congregation.  Some people regularly communicate their appreciation.”

Sometimes those of us who are church leaders do a poor job of communicating our appreciation.  I am not referring to public recognition or statements, etc.  Rather, I am talking about simply communicating to another person your appreciation and how much you value that person’s ministry.

Why doesn’t this happen more?

  • Some of the very same people (pastors, elders, ministers, youth ministers, etc.) who do not show their appreciation are not expressing appreciation to their own spouses or children either.
  • Sometimes we get used to a certain person being in our lives and we fail to notice him/her anymore.
  • Some of us have no idea how important appreciation can be to the human spirit.
  • Unfortunately, there are some who don’t show appreciation because, quite frankly, they really don’t appreciate that person’s ministry.  In fact, some may say, “That’s what he’s supposed to do.  That’s why we support him financially.”
  • Still others (and this really does reflect a level of immaturity) will say, “No one shows me any appreciation.  Why should I be expected to appreciate that minister?”

I remember a time in life when I was deeply bothered because I felt taken for granted by the leaders of the congregation in which I served.  It felt like most of the affirmation I received was coming from outside our congregation.  Meanwhile, after a significant conversation with a counselor, I began to realize that I was far too dependent on receiving the affirmation and appreciation of others.  This was something I had to work through.  (I have to continue paying attention to this.)

A few suggestions:

1.  Lower your expectations.  Some people, some groups of elders, some co-workers are just not going to express their appreciation.  

2.  Know that your obedience as a Christ-follower gives the Father pleasure.  Remember the words of the Father as he affirmed the pleasure that his son brought him: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Know by faith that your life before God is noticed by him and brings him pleasure.

3.  Show your appreciation to others.  Do what you would like others to do toward you.  I don’t mean this as a manipulative ploy.  Rather, it is important to live out what you want others to practice.

4.  Receive the appreciation that is shown to you as a moment of grace.  Refuse to believe that you are entitled to appreciation.

5.  Find your identity not in the appreciation of others but in your calling.  Some ministers may receive much appreciation and affirmation in their congregations.  Meanwhile, others may receive very little.  That has nothing to do with one’s value or identity as a minister.  Rather, it may say more about those particular congregations.

 

Question:  

What has been particularly helpful to you in dealing with the issue of feeling taken for granted or unappreciated?

10 Ways to Murder a Marriage (Part 2)

Learn-How-to-Heal-Your-Broken-MarriageThe following post is a continuation of an earlier post (find it here) describing behaviors that can murder a marriage.

6.  Refuse to forgive.  Some couples fight and refuse to forgive.  They stuff their anger, their resentments and their bitterness.  They refuse to forgive and move on.  The old negative behaviors of the past are allowed to accumulate in one’s heart and mind, like smelly garbage that is never taken out.

At some point, when this couple is in a heated battle, they open the garbage bag and drag out the past failures of their spouse.  Out comes nasty resentments and more anger.

Refusing to forgive can destroy the intimacy in a marriage and put one another at a distance.

7.  Be disrespectful to one another.  I once knew a couple who regularly showed disrespect toward one another.  They didn’t just disagree.  They wanted to hurt one another.  She would accuse him of not being a real man with any backbone.  He accused her of being cold and unresponsive.  Their language toward one another was demeaning and hurtful.

Disrespect can slowly destroy the tenderness that a couple may have had toward one another at one time.

8.  Act in an untrustworthy manner.  A man in his late thirties has been on a number of business trips with his company.  He never wears his wedding ring when he travels and is very flirty with female co-workers.  At one point, his co-workers were shocked to learn that he was married. Eventually, his wife found out about his reputation at work.  Now she refuses to trust him.

Behaving in an untrustworthy manner is a major breech in a marriage and destroys the trust that might have once existed.

9.  Be manipulative.  Manipulators attempt to get what they want without being honest enough to be transparent.  A woman once said regarding a family member: “I feel like he is always up to something.”  The manipulator is always trying to put himself at an advantage so that he can get what he wants.

Husbands and wives who manipulate one another destroy their opportunity to practice self-giving love while they opt instead for power and control.

10.  Put yourself first.  

Putting yourself first in your marriage destroys the opportunity to follow Jesus while you decide you choose instead to go your own way.

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Wrong way run!  (Hope your week started better than this)

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Don’t miss this great post by Seth Godin

This short post entitled “Most People” made me think.  A reminder not to measure ourselves by what we perceive most people to be doing.

I will listen to this podcast again.

How to Become a Happy Person Others Want to Be Around (podcast).  This is an important podcast by Michael Hyatt and one that could be helpful to many.  I once heard a guy complain because no one seemed to care to listen to his ideas.  He perceived that his ideas were too progressive for his friends and fellow students.  Years later, it occurred to me that it was not his ideas that his friends rejected by his attitude.  He complained constantly and had a very cynical attitude.  His ideas may have been good.  However, his attitude became a barrier between his friends and those ideas.

Tim Keller’s New Book

Go here for the table of contents and introduction to Tim Keller’s new book Center Church.

Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed.

Don’t miss this very good post by Jeff Cook on Jesus and desire.  Jeff’s post is thoughtful and worthy of serious attention.

The quarterback with one leg.

Wow!  Be sure to check out “The Amputee QB