Some Leaders Never Stop Learning

button LearnNo doubt you have known some people like them.  They diligently prepare, study, and do their best to equip themselves with the best tools available.  Then they begin the ministry for which they have been preparing themselves.

For some reason, some of these leaders stop growing and learning. They no longer read and no longer engage themselves in serious thinking.

Contrast these leaders, however, with those who continue to grow and learn throughout their lives.  For example:

A 90-year-old man and former college president continued to take notes of various talks and classes at our church.  He often approached me with a pen in hand, wanting to know the name of a book that I recommended earlier.

Each summer, a 70-year-old minister spent one month at a seminary auditing classes.  He had been doing this for a number of years.  Both he and his wife traveled to the city, stayed in a dorm, and spent the month learning.  At one point, he told me that it had also been an important time for marriage renewal.

A minister in his late 60′s worked with a church in an urban center.  The predominant age groups in this church were the 20s and 30s.  I told him one day how impressed I was that he could continue to relate to such diverse age groups.  He told me that he had simply tried to continue growing and learning.

The leader who is a lifelong learner will bless his/her church or organization.  Think of your learning as an investment in your mind, your family, and in those whom you have the opportunity to serve.

Tomorrow, I will offer seven suggestions to anyone (and particularly a leader) who wants to be a lifelong learner.

Question:

Have you known people who impressed you as lifelong learners?  What were some of their practices?

 

 

Leaders are Lifelong Learners

He sat in the large auditorium on the campus of a small Christian college. Chapel would begin soon. Students began to fill the auditorium.

LearningHe was a longtime professor at the college. For many years he taught undergraduate Bible classes. He was a student and a scholar. Long ago, he had earned a Ph. D. in New Testament and continued to learn and grow for many, many years. Today was no exception.

As the chapel program began, a young undergraduate walked to the lectern to “make a talk.” The old professor did what was his custom each day in chapel. He opened his notebook and, with pen in hand, began to take notes of the young man’s talk.

One day, a colleague asked him about this habit. The old professor explained that he wanted to learn and grow. He said, “I never know when I might learn something. So I

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want to be ready to write it down.”

This gentleman had never stopped learning. He had never stopped growing.

So what are some characteristics of people who are lifelong learners?

Ministry Inside.97

Elders, pastors, preachers, church leaders, ministers, and deacons ought to consider some of the following realities of shepherding. Yes, I realize that elders in particular ought to pay attention; however, anyone who works with people in the context of a congregation might consider the following:

5 Realities of Shepherding

1. Shepherds should expect people to change. After all, the life-giving Spirit and his transforming power are really present in the congregation.

2. Shepherds move people toward Jesus when they practice being authentic believers. God’s grace frees shepherds to be fully present with the people of the congregation.

3. Shepherds need to remember that the goal of ministry is discipleship, not pacifying the least mature.

4. Shepherds who will compromise their integrity in order to keep people happy will find that in the eyes of the immature no compromise is ever enough.

5. Shepherds are called to help a congregation move toward maturity in

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Christ. The single most powerful witness that shepherds possess is the transformation of their own lives.

Book: A Faith of Our Own

TrailerSlideA Faith of Our Own

The subtitle of this fine book is Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.  The author is Jonathan Merritt.

Jonathan Merritt is a young author who has written an interesting, even compelling, book about what it means to take Jesus seriously while engaging in both political and cultural issues.

Merritt has an unique background.  In the book, he describes a breakfast meeting that he and his father (a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention) had with Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Virginia, when he was 17 years of age.  Shortly after that meeting, Merritt would begin his study at Falwell’s Liberty University.

From there, Merritt began a journey of reconsidering the phenomena of the culture wars in light of Jesus and his kingdom message.

The book is laced with interesting biographical sketches of Merritt’s life including some interaction with a prominent Washington think tank and a meeting with Billy Graham.

5 Marks of Immature Behavior

13888675-caucasian-man-unshaven-portrait-sulk-bored-isolated-studio-on-black-backgroundI handled the situation poorly.

In a word, I acted immaturely.  My wife had made a request.  Perhaps my response was due to my own self-centeredness or maybe I just reacted without thinking.  Regardless, my response was immature.

Far too often, marriages become stuck in immature behavior, with the relationship regressing instead of growing.  Sometimes families struggle as extended family members behave immaturely instead of maturely.  Church leaders sometimes sabotage their own influence due to consistent immature behavior.

Immature behavior from others can be very frustrating.  After all, immaturity is a natural characteristic of a child.  A 40-year-old should not be known for his or her immaturity.

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

StartPorn

“It eats you from the inside out.”  Excellent article from The Christian Century regarding ministers and porn.

Writing

“Every Writer is a Mentor” by Jeff Goins.  Good post!

Questions

Tim Keller’s five questions for the biblical text.  When I agree or disagree with Keller, he makes me think!

Books

Top ten most read books in the world posted by Mark Wilson.

It’s Not About You

This is a very good article by David Brooks to recent college graduates.  A keeper!

Mentoring

Margaret Feinberg has written an excellent post “4 Keys to Finding the Perfect Mentor You’ve Always Wanted.”

What is your impact on others?

How Are People Left When You Leave Their Presence?” by Michael Hyatt.  Well worth reading!

Ministry Inside.96

The Dark NightGood preachers occasionally reflect on this question:

What happened the night before?

Shortly after we moved to Waco, I began serving as a police chaplain for the Waco Police Department.  Practically, this meant that I rode with an officer one night a week.

One night, the officer I was with was called to a home near the school where my wife taught.  There had been a fight between a young woman and her boyfriend.  The fight turned into an assault. When the officer arrived at the home, the paramedics were already there.  It was on a Thursday past midnight.  Blood was on the floor and on the bed where the guy had cut his girlfriend.  She was in the bedroom receiving the attention of the paramedics.  Another officer arrived and they began taking statements from witnesses.

In a nearby bedroom, I saw four children, all elementary school age.  Their schoolbooks were stacked on a chest of drawers. The television was blaring in the living room.  It was almost 1:00 a.m. Six hours or so later, a school bus would stop nearby to pick them up.  I wondered what they would be like in their classes the next day after staying up so late, having the police come to their home, and witnessing their mother’s assault.

On Sunday mornings, ministers need to occasionally think about what might have happened the night before (Saturday night) in the lives of the people to whom they are speaking.

  • The night before, a family was in turmoil, with children wondering what will become of their family.
  • The night before, a young single woman was planning to visit your assembly and felt anxiety wondering whom she would sit by and would she know anyone.
  • The night before, a guy spent much of the night by himself watching old movies.  Now on Sunday morning, he is anything but alert.
  • The night before, parents received a phone call informing them that their son had been arrested and put in jail for public drunkenness and resisting arrest.
  • The night before, a young high school girl had sex with a guy at a party.  Her parents thought she was elsewhere.
  • The night before, a discouraged, lonely widow thought about how difficult it was without her husband.

The point?

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the real life situations of the people hearing our message. We need to be reminded that life is often hard and complicated for people.  I think this just might impact the prayers and passion of the one preaching.

 

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3 Suggestions for Breaking Through a Boring Marriage

marriage-broken-eggPeople are in a variety of places in marriage.

1.  Some describe themselves as “happy.”

2.  Others describe themselves as “unhappy.”

3.  Marriage is on hold as they are preoccupied with children, career, etc.

4.  Some see themselves in crisis.

5.  Some are newly married and attempting to find their way.

6.  A married couple may be entering a new phase (children, grandchildren, empty nest, etc.).

7.  Some are stuck and not sure what to do.

8.  Some are married but focused on a particular child, an in-law, a dysfunctional family system (one’s own extended family or in-laws).

9.   Married couples can create an imbalanced system.  One person seems to be “carrying” another.  This seems to be their “normal” – for now.  Often, the one carrying the other comes to a place where he/she resigns from this.

Many people describe their marriage as boring.

It is not uncommon (for a variety of reasons) to experience boredom in marriage at some point in time.  However, it is another matter when we experience this and refuse to acknowledge or address it.

The point?

All of us who are married are in different places in marriage.  However, those of us who are Christ-followers have at least one thing in common.

The most important issue in marriage for a Christ-follower is how we allow God to shape and form us as we relate to our spouse.  This is true whether we have been married four years or forty years.

Unless we are committed to our growth and development, we will likely become dull, stagnent, and passive.  If we are not being shaped by God, our marriages may be shaped more by our own selfish desires than what God wants to do through us as a couple.

When man and women become boring people, they often experience a marriage that is boring as well.   One of the most common ways to create a boring marriage is to first become boring people who stopped growing a long time ago.

Their friendship with one another receives little investment.  Conversation becomes boring. Romance and sex may be minimal if it exists at all.  Yes, I realize that our expectations regarding marriage can be totally unrealistic.  However, through neglect and selfishness, a once vibrant friendship can be reduced to something that is stagnant and lifeless.

A few suggestions:

1.  Make the first move.  Refuse to let passivity dominate your life!  Sitting in the recliner waiting for something to happen is not what mature people do.  Far too many marriages die because of the refusal to take the first step.

2.  Deal with your own mess.  Pray that God will give you the clarity to see your sins, your selfishness, and your stubbornness.  These become clear not by comparing yourself with other people or by keeping score with your spouse.  When we follow Jesus into our marriages, we will see the contrast between ourselves and him.

3.  Grow together.  The answer to bordom is not to find someone who seems more exciting.  The answer is to commit yourself, along with your spouse, to growth and development.  Do this together. If I want to avoid a boring marriage, I must first address my own life and behavior.

 

Question:

What might especially be helpful to couples who want to avoid long seasons of boredom in their marriage?

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

startHelpful for anyone serious about growing.

On the Job: You Are Never Too Old to Improve.  Appeared in USA Today.  Some great suggestions!

Do the extra!

Seth Godin can say so much with few words.  Don’t miss Do the (extra) work!  Also, last week my son-in-law, Cal, passed on this wonderful piece by Godin, Waiting for all the facts.

Confessions of a former preacher.

Don’t miss these two very good posts by Dan Bouchelle.  See Why Burnout? and Willingly Walking into a World of Pain.  Good insights into ministry.

Missional.

See Ed Stezer’s post Finish the Mission: To Our Neighbors and the Nations.”  Ed Stetzer makes me think.

A Question About Dads

dad heartI’m curious.

Many people grow up with memories of a father relationship that was less than adequate.  I’ve heard many stories of some fathers being emotionally and/or physically absent.  Other fathers regularly made critical remarks to their children and had no significant relationship with them.

In your experience, how does emotional absence and even disconnection, by a father, impact a young son or daughter?