Ministry Inside.141

IN67_cover_tweet_BWWorking with a congregation can bring great joy.  Yet, it is also very difficult work.

There are some behaviors which can irritate a congregation and even work to lesson a minister’s tenure with that congregation.

A minister can behave so that his own ministry is undermined and credibility is lessoned.

The following are eight behaviors that can cause a congregation to become irritated with their minister. The continuation of these behaviors over time can even lead to serious repercussions.

Don’t Assume Anything

check-your-assumptionsMy friend said many years ago:

Assumptions will kill you!

My friend was right!  Be careful about assumptions.

1.  Don’t assume I understand what you haven’t explained clearly.  So often we assume that someone coming into our system (church, school, university, workplace) knows exactly what to do. So it is Sunday morning and everyone is talking about the great dinner that took place at the church building on Friday evening. You are not sure what they are talking about.  You are puzzled.  After all, no one mentioned this last Sunday morning.  Finally someone says “Oh yes, we do this every year.  This is our annual going back to school dinner.  No one says much about it.  Everyone knows all about it.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start (1)Presentations

I enjoy reading and listening to Nancy Duarte. I have learned much from her work on presentations.  See “Nancy Duarte|Expert on Telling Stories Visually.”

What We’ve Lost

See this thoughtful article by Shane Parish “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection.”

Books

See “The Twelve Most Magnificent Bookstores in the World.”  I would like to visit each one.

Marriage Statistics Reconsidered  

On the blog Thoughtful Women, I read this very interesting post about statistics that are generally accepted regarding marriage.”

Learning

Lifehacker recently had a post discussing “13 Tricks to Help You Remember What You’ve Learned.”

 

 

Are You Tired?

TiredI am tired tonight.

No nothing is wrong.  However, this has been a long week.  School is about to begin.  I have several projects in the mix in which I would like to make progress.  Tomorrow, I am speaking at a one day school retreat.  Then, there were a few unexpected issues today.

Yet, it is ok to be tired.

  • It feels ok to be tired when you know that your work is making a difference.
  • It feels ok to be tired when you know your co-workers are working hard with you.
  • It feels ok to be tired when you believe you are making progress.
  • It feels ok to be tired when you like the people with whom you work.
  • It feels ok to be tired when you know you’ve given your best that day.
  • It feels ok to be tired when you’ve served the Lord and you know that in some way you brought him delight.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start1Life Long Learning

See Keith Ferrazzi’s fine post “Take Charge of Your Career: The Four Strategies of Staying Curious in Learning.” Ferrazzi is the author of “Never Eat Alone.”

Storytelling

See Brian Fanzo’s fine piece “My advice to Millennials: become a master storyteller.”  Good advice.

Ministry

Read Mislav Illic’s words from the Christian Chronicle regarding the death of his co-worker Mladen Jovanovic.

Free

10 New Yorker religion articles to read while the archives are free.

Scholarship

Robert P. George in First Things.  See “Advice for Young Scholars.”

Creativity

See Elizabeth Gilbert’s transcript from her TED talk, “Your elusive creative genius.”

 

 

Ministry Inside.134

conversation and coffeeI want to suggest a way of learning that I have practiced for many years.

For the last 35 years, I have learned from a variety of people by simply asking questions. These are questions that I have thought about in advance. My goal is to glean something helpful from these individuals. What I wish to learn shapes the questions that are asked.

Typically, I will ask a person to coffee, lunch, or simply spend some time at that person’s office.  We meet for an hour or less.

Some examples:

1. I interviewed the mayors of several of the communities where we lived in order to learn about the area. I simply asked these leaders for the opportunity to learn from them.

2. I have interviewed many, many preachers. I asked questions about ministry and preaching, as well as for guidance in experiencing a long term ministry. These conversations also included questions about spiritual formation, dealing with conflict, and overcoming discouragement.

3. I have interviewed business people. From these individuals I have learned much about personal organization, time management, and developing a process for getting things done.

4. I have interviewed husbands to learn about marriage. I have interviewed fathers to learn how to be a better father.

5. Finally, I have interviewed coaches, teachers, professors, and others to gain understanding about various aspects of work and life with the goal of personal growth.

Ministry Inside.133

thankful (1)I am very thankful. (Each Thursday I write a post with church leaders in mind. However, today I want to focus on what I am grateful for. Perhaps this will simulate your thinking and even your gratitude as you consider your own life.)

I am grateful for my family.

  • I am grateful for Charlotte who dared to move to Memphis at this point in our lives to begin a fresh new chapter in our ministry. I am blessed.
  • I am grateful for Christine, mother of two wonderful little boys. I can’t imagine a more attentive mother. So thankful for Phillip, a good and devoted husband and father.
  • I am grateful for Jamie, the social worker with such a heart. Thankful for the way she is thoughtful to so many. So thankful for Cal, an unassuming, gracious husband and man.
  • For those whom I’ve known for so many years. So grateful to receive those texts, e-mails, and handwritten notes. I take none of this for granted.

Ministry Inside.127

Each Thursday I post “Ministry Inside” specifically for church leaders.

I have been wondering

lately about church leaders who stretch themselves while others basically remain the same. Those who stretch and grow often do so by developing good habits.

Now some of us take a “Eureka!” approach to ministry. That is, we seem to always be looking for the missing ingredient. Someone reads a book and believes he has found it. Still another attends an incredible seminar and now sees this perspective as it. Then someone else visits a congregation on the other side of the country and perceives this church to possess the real deal.
As helpful as a book, seminar, or church visit might be, a church leader’s growth typically is not centered on eureka moments. Yes, there may be some breakthroughs in your thinking or practice. However, the growth that will sustain you over the long run is typically less dramatic.

Below are four actions to take if you want to grow spiritually.

Step forward.

Do something. Reading, thinking, and reflecting are very important even indispensable. However, ministry is not simply a seminar of ideas. At some point it is time to start. Start small, but start. Far too often I have waited until I was fully prepared or knew enough. Preparation and knowledge are important but at some point it is time to move ahead. Remember that the first step is not about trying to get others to do something. The first step is your own.

Step away.

Make sure you take adaquate time for reading and thinking. Don’t worry about reading the latest. Read what matters. Step away and go to a great seminar. Take a class. Audit something. Check out the many opportunities to learn through iTunesU. Talk to people you admire and appreciate and find out what they do for their growth.

Step up.

Some people make excuses (If we only had a better preacher or the right elders.) Others try to make things happen through manipulation instead of doing the hard work of leadership. Church leaders who are maturing step up and deal with their own functioning and their own maturity (or immaturity). People who are maturing focus on how they can take responsibility for their own behavior, words, and actions. Does my functioning reflect that I am maturing or that I am stuck in immaturity?

Step back.

Reflect on what is happening. Seek out a few trusted people with whom you can process what is happening in the life of your congregation and, in particular, your own functioning. Step back and consider your actions in a conversation, a meeting, a sermon, etc. What is the perception of your spouse and other people whose wisdom you trust?

Question:
Which one of the above has been particularly helpful to you? Is there one that deserves more attention from you?

 

5 People I Admire

Microsoft Word - anniversary11. I admire people who are respectful and gracious in their speech. I knew someone who would regularly say, “I’m just being honest.” In his mind, this seemed to excuse his crass, rude, and insulting remarks. Yet, speaking with honesty does not give one the license to put away their sensitivity filter and say whatever might happen to pass through their brain. I know people who are honest and transparent. Yet, they do not speak at the expense of others. They are not condescending or insulting. Rather, these people have a way of communicating in ways that actually invite others to hear.

2. I admire people who are quick to say “I’m sorry.” In a culture that seems to respond to most every problem by blaming others, it is refreshing to have someone say “I’m sorry.” I admire people who are quick to take personal responsibility and slow to blame.

3. I admire people who build up instead of destroy. These people are more focused on the impact they have on others than on what they are able to get out of the relationship. This calls for maturity on the part of a person. I knew a couple who were both attractive and likable. However, shortly after meeting them, I noticed that she walked with her shoulders slumped and would look down and barely make eye contact in a conversation. Then I began to hear about how “heavy-handed” he was toward her. In fact, he was very domineering toward her. Builders do not treat their spouses this way.

4. I admire people who don’t have to be the center of attention. Some people are obviously uncomfortable if they are not the center of a gathering. Yet, the truth is that others have stories that could be told; they have jokes that could be shared, etc. I enjoy being with people who do not feel compelled to dominate a conversation or pull away emotionally if they are not at the center.

5. I admire people who spread joy instead of cynicism. Anyone can be cranky, sour, and bitter. A friend of mine once told me about a preacher who was so negative and bitter that even his sermons on grace were depressing.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)Just read

I just read Rick Lytle’s book Abandon the Ordinary: Building a Distinctive Leadership Brand in Business, Family, and Church.  Excellent book!  Helpful.  Inspirational.  Encouraging.

N.T. Wright

See one of N.T. Wright’s recent presentations at Oklahoma Christian.  Wright is always interesting, insightful, and thoughtful.

Leadership

Joe Lalonde has written a nice post based on the book Leaders Eat Last.

Early morning

You might enjoy this video by Brett McKay “How to Become an Early Riser.”  Couldn’t help but smile all the way through this.

Preaching

If you preach, don’t miss this outstanding post by Thom Rainer “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Preachers.”  Very good.  Don’t miss this!