Archives For Ministry
Each Thursday, I write a post particularly for church leaders. The following is part of a list of habits for church leaders who want to grow and develop. You can find part 1 here.
Habit #3. Choose to contribute to healthy communication.
James Bryan Smith, in a seminar on The Good and Beautiful Life, said that our technology is way ahead of our ethics and etiquette. Remember that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. Yes, email, text messaging, and other forms of communication are all helpful. Yet, they do not take the place of actual conversation with people who are right in front of us. I once heard of a family who spent an evening together — sort of. Throughout the evening, though they were in the same house, they emailed one another.
Choose to be the bearer of good news. Look for what God is doing in your church. Make a list of what you’ve witnessed. Catch people doing what is good, right, and godly. Far too much time and energy is wasted talking about what people did wrong.
Habit #4. Speak about others in their absence in a way that would not surprise them if they were present.
Stay away from anything that even remotely resembles manipulation. Love and manipulation are two very different ways of treating people.
I remember the first time I heard the expression, “It is better to ask forgiveness than seek permission.” A minister was telling some others that he typically did what he wanted in the congregation and then later asked forgiveness if that seemed necessary. I heard an elder justify his practice of not communicating with his fellow elders with this practice.
Really? Is this what we want to teach our own children? What if everyone practices this? Is this really the way of Jesus with one another?
The truth is that God in Christ is greater than whatever obstacle might stand in the way.
1. Lean into your life. Don’t hold back.
2. Push forward. With God’s Spirit in you, the wind is at your back.
3. Take at least one step in the right direction.Continue Reading...
Each Thursday, I write a post focused on the needs of church leaders. The following is the first in a series of habits for church leaders (in particular) who wish to grow and develop.
Habit #1 Practice self-awareness.
With whom am I spending time? I have to monitor just how much time I spend with negative, critical people. Too much time spent with others who are constantly griping and complaining will sure enough drain me of energy. I have a friend who described one preacher as so negative that his sermons on grace had a negative edge. Yet, I can’t listen to (what seems like) an endless stream of negative talk because it really does impact me.
What am I putting into my mind? On a typical day, I talk (email, phone call, personal conversation) with people about matters that are very serious. Someone has learned that they have cancer. Someone else is deeply concerned about personal financial debt. Still another is wrestling with marriage issues. At the end of the day, it is easy to go home and immerse myself in the national news, which much of the time is going to be very negative. As a result, I have to be very intentional about what I put into my mind. I can’t think about sad and tragic situations all of the time.
Often I make sure I watch something funny on television. I might watch a good ball game. I might read a biography, especially one that is not filled with tragedy. What I put into my mind really does matter.
Whom am I resenting? Unresolved conflict and resentments can be such energy drainers! It is amazing how much energy I can spend thinking about a person I am frustrated or angry with. Occasionally I need to ask myself, “How much time do I spend thinking about old resentments or things that long ago should have been forgiven?”
When do I re-create my body? I generally work out at the gym four times a week. My motivation for doing this is not my weight nor is it because I am a health nut. My motivation is rooted in the way it makes me feel when I am regularly working out versus how I feel when I am not. If I am not getting some kind of exercise, it really does impact how I feel. Not only do I feel sluggish, but I also tend to have less energy and motivation, particularly in the afternoons.
Some ministers get their emotional strokes by talking about how hard they work. They go on and on about what everyone has asked them to do and how busy they are. There are ministers who do not even take a day off. Not taking time to rest, to get away, and to recharge will eventually catch up with a person.
I just finished reading Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
I really wish I had could have read this book eight years ago when I started my blog. It is an ideal one-stop shop for anyone who writes a blog.
Platform is a wonderful, generous guide for anyone who uses social media. A platform, Hyatt explains, is about how you connect with people who have an interest — and even passion — for what you are about. The question is: How can a person be heard when there is so much noise and activity already on the Internet?
The book has 60 chapters of helpful information. Hyatt covers principles related to blogging as well as using Twitter and Facebook. Each chapter consists of useful lists on various subjects related to social media.
Why is this book helpful to someone who uses a blog as a part of ministry?
One may write good content but unless you know how to use social media, you can severely limit the good that might be done otherwise because fewer people are exposed to your message.
Think of it this way. Today, public speakers, preachers, etc. typically speak in rooms that are fairly large. The room may seat hundreds or even thousands of people. In such a setting, a quality sound system is very important if the message spoken is going to be heard. The same principle is true when writing. One may write quality material that has value to a reader; however, if very few people read the blog or see the website, that written material is severely limited in its impact. The content may be good, but somehow one has to be heard among all the other voices.
Hyatt has written a valuable work outlining how a writer can use social networking so the most people hear one’s message. In fact, today there is great potential not only to be heard by but also to engage with one’s readers.
Eight years ago when I first began my blog, I thought that I simply needed to write a post and put it on my blog. I could not, however, figure out why so few people were reading it. I thought that if the content was good, people would naturally begin to read my blog. I have since learned there is more to this process than simply focusing on my content. This is where Michael Hyatt’s book can be very, very helpful.
Four Critical Questions Church Leaders Need to Ask Themselves if they Expect to Last
With whom am I spending time? I have to monitor just how much time I spend with negative, critical people. Too much time spent with others who are constantly griping and complaining will sure enough drain me of energy. I have a friend who described one preacher as so negative that his sermons on grace had a negative edge. Others seem to be constantly critiquing everyone else and finding them lacking. I want to love these people but I do choose how much time to spend with them.
What about you? How much time are you spending with people who are negative and bitter people?
What am I putting into my mind? On a typical day, I talk with people (email, phone call, personal conversation) about matters that are very serious. Someone has learned that they have cancer. Someone else is deeply concerned about personal financial debt. Still another is wrestling with marriage issues. At the end of the day, it is easy to go home and immerse myself in the national news, which much of the time is going to be very negative.
As a result, I have to be very intentional about what I put into my mind. I can’t think about sad and tragic situations all of the time. Often I make sure I watch something funny on television. I might watch a good ball game. I might read a biography, especially one that is not filled with tragedy. What I put into my mind really does matter.
What about you? What do you intentionally put into your mind? What adjustments do you need to make?
Do you have a dream?
This may be one of the best posts Jeff Goins has written: “When You’re Scared to Death, Do Something Anyway.” I really enjoy reading Jeff’s posts. You might enjoy this great interview with Jeff Goins.
Pictures of the day
You might enjoy these pictures from The Telegraph (UK). I especially like the first one.
Do you read fiction?
I confess. I read very little fiction. I am wondering if I should not be reading more. See this post from Scot McKnight.
What they are thinking
You might be interested in this chart from Scot McKnight’s blog entitled “What Young Adults Care About.”
How to Kill Your Ministry
1. Live an insular life. Live as if you were on a remote island. You have probably seen ministers like this. Some live this way within their own congregations. Others exist like this within their fellowship or denomination. They live and function with their lives centered around concerns that are small and unrelated to kingdom issues.
As a result, my concerns become either the intramural concerns of a particular group/denomination or the local concerns of my congregation. As a result, I fail to see the larger issues and concerns that impact the world.
An insular ministry can be toxic! It will shrink your thinking and dwarf your faith. This is a slow death which is often painful for the congregation to endure. Unfortunately, its victims are often unaware of its presence until it has become a chronic condition.
Nothing has been more refreshing to me than to explore the issues and concerns of the world through reading, conversations, etc. If I don’t do this on purpose, my thinking will be reduced to the immediate. One way to begin is with drinking coffee and eating lunch with some people who think beyond your immediate context. Start with college students or if you are fairly young with an older, thoughtful person. As they speak about their concerns, listen intently – not to answer but to understand.
I couldn’t believe it.
The house was huge.
It seemed like the house covered much of the block. I was in college working for a company based in the Dallas area. On the instruction sheet were directions to this home located in an exclusive part of Dallas. I was going to the home of the daughter of the president of this company. I didn’t know what was in the envelope. I just knew that I was supposed to have it signed and return it.
I pulled the car in front of the house and walked to the service entrance and rang the bell. A woman answered the door. She apparently was a part of the domestic staff. She told me to follow her. We walked through a very long room. I looked through the plate glass window to the outside and couldn’t believe how big the yard was. Swimming pool, gardens, etc. It was huge!
A woman was sitting on a couch. She looked very somber. She looked as if she had been crying. I handed the brown envelope to her.
It was then that I realized I was delivering her divorce papers.
I thought about how quiet this house was. It was a big house. It was a beautiful house. It was a house like no other I had ever been in. Yet, here was this woman who was in tears over what was happening.
You May Be Thinking About Technology and Relationships.
This TED talk made me think. Professor Sherry Turkle speaks about why we seem to expect more from technology and less from each other.
You May Be Thinking About Ministry.
Gene Wilkes (a great guy!) has written an important post: “4 Things I Learned in 25 Years of Ministry.” Ministers really ought to read this post.
Rick McKinley interviews Eugene Peterson (video). “‘Pastor’ is not a job description; it really is a life that is shaped in a certain way.” Eugene Peterson really makes me think about ministry.
You May Be Thinking About Your Faith.
Lanny Davis (attorney and political commentator) has written a fine post. “What Chuck Colson taught me about using the word hate.‘”
Perhaps You Are Thinking About Your Life.
Kara Alexander has written a very thoughtful post about raising small children and the tendency to enroll them in numerous extracurricular activities.
Here are some very practical ideas for living a missional life. Josh Reeves has written: “25 Simple Ways to be Missional in Your Neighborhood.” Be sure to read his second post as well: “25 More Ways to Easily be Missional in Your Neighborhood.”