Ministry Inside.116

hard-lifeMesses are a part of life and ministry.

When my daughter Jamie was seven years old, she decided that she wanted to go fishing with me.  The next day we got up at 5:30 a.m., grabbed our fishing gear, and went to the water.  Her favorite part of fishing, besides catching a fish, was casting. When I say cast, I mean rare back and let it fly!  That is exactly what she did this time. She came back over her head very near where I was kneeling behind her.  I could feel her lure brush the top of my head.  Off came my cap.  The hook was struck to the top of the cap with the minnow flailing about to get free. I took her rod and reel and began to work with it to get the hook loose from the cap.  Meanwhile, I let her use my rod and reel.  A few minutes later I looked at her and saw that fishing line was everywhere.  Finally, in utter disgust, she said, “This thing is a mess.”

This week our area has been dealing with the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.  My office is about a 30-minute drive from West.  We have several families in our church who either live or work, or both, in West.  On Tuesday afternoon, one of our families drove me through much of the area that suffered badly from the explosion.

Ministers and other church leaders deal with messes quite frequently.  Divorce.  Cancer.  Death. Crime.  A member sent to prison.  The child of a church leader on drugs.  The following are five suggestions for church leaders who must navigate through a mess.

1.  Don’t rush to fix the situation.  Quite often ministers will become uneasy with the questions or doubt that may be expressed.  In our uneasiness, we may attempt to rush in with much advice and very little patience.

2.  Don’t pronounce the situation as God showing us this or that or what trying to teach us whatever. The truth is we don’t know why so many things happen.

3.  Do be present.  There is great power in simply showing up and being fully present.  In fact, when words are at a loss and when you don’t know what to do, one’s presence with another or a family can be huge.

4.  Do be a safe place where people can ask the questions that are burning within.  Loss is tough. Sometimes we are in such a rush to move on, we don’t allow others the opportunity to feel loss and its implications.

5.  Don’t be trite.  Some years ago my friend’s wife died of cancer leaving behind this young husband and their young children.  The following Sunday, the minister began the sermon by talking about how he understood the loss that many people felt.  He then proceeded to tell the story of his car being involved in a parking lot fender-bender and how frustrating that was.  Some family members of the woman who died were angry that this minister insinuated that he understood how they felt by comparing their loved one’s death to a fender-bender.

 

Question:

What would you add to this list?

 

Now is the Perfect Time to Make Your Move

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Many people witnessed Michael Johnson when he won the gold in Atlanta.  I remember standing in front of our television amazed at how fast this man could run.

However, I will never forget one particular Saturday morning.

Gold medalist Michael Johnson was about to run at the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex at Baylor University.  He was running in an invitational meet.  About an hour before he was scheduled to race, Charlotte and I arrived at the track and found a place to stand at the fence surrounding the track.  We wanted to get as close as possible to the track to see what we would probably never see again.

Finally, the race was about to begin.  The runners were at the starting blocks.  The gun sounded.  Off they went!  In seconds, they came around the curve and very near where we stood.  Johnson had already taken a commanding lead.  As he passed us, I could not believe his speed.  Oh my!

It was a day to remember.

Now is the perfect time for you to make your move.  We know that we are coasting and accepting the status quo of our lives.  Far too many people are holding back.  Some of us are fearful.  Others would rather play with the remote control to our televisions than really live.  Consequently, we watch the next ball game instead of getting in the game ourselves.

Remember who you are.  You are God’s child and Jesus’ disciple; the Holy Spirit lives and works in you.

Make your move!

  • By the grace of God, give up living for yourself.  Stop spending your energy on trivial pursuits
  • Lean into the future.  Your life has a kingdom destiny.
  • Grow up into Christ.  Decide that you no longer will behave childishly.
  • Embrace the love that Jesus has given you.  Show an incredible love to your family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Stop holding back!  If what you want to do is of God, he will empower you.
  • Follow and obey Jesus with intention.  Far too many of us aren’t counting the cost of our decisions.
  • Finish well.  Don’t run a great race only to slip and fall on the final turn.

What about you?  Isn’t it time to make your move?

 

 

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?

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.