Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)Sabbatical

See this post by Eric Geiger “Why Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical.”  One way to bless your entire church.

Scripture

Students should watch this video.  “My Advice to Students” (series).  Matthew Barrett says, “Don’t Forget to Read Scripture.”

Interesting

John Saddington has written a good post “Mr. Proctor, Mr. Gamble.”  Two unlikely business partners.

Worship

Richard Beck has written a very good post on singing, worship, and hymns.  See “Worship Songs Aren’t Just for God: On Lament and Old Hymnbooks.”

Sobering

See Thom Rainer’s “The Most Common Factor in Declining Churches.”  I rarely miss one of Rainer’s posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Comfortable With This Person?

Pretense

When someone refers to another as “unpretentious” it is often quite a compliment. Such a statement is not typically made with cool detachment but with great pleasure. After all, unpretentious people are not only people we like but are often people who cause us to feel good when we are with them.

Meanwhile, we may know also know some people who we might describe as “pretentious.” These people perceive themselves to be important and have a way of being with others that may cause them to feel critiqued and evaluated.

I recall a conversation with a woman who had walked into a social setting where she was to meet a new friend. She sensed the eyes of others staring at her. She felt as if others were thinking, “Who is she and who invited her here?”

Meanwhile, her new friend came into the room and warmly greeted her guest. In spite of the rather cool beginning, she actually enjoyed the evening. The nice evening was attributed to her friend whom she describes as being completely unpretentious.

Have you been in situations like this where you were put at ease by another’s lack of self-importance?

Ministry Inside.129

taunting-businessmen-620x250I love to laugh.

A funny story can be told in a sermon, class, elder’s meeting, or in a small gathering of friends. It is particularly enjoyable to laugh with friends. Laughter can often draw us together.

Laughter, used in the wrong way, can also be deadly. Someone’s laughter can be embarrassing or even humiliating. A public speaker or a person in a small gathering can actually use laughter as a weapon.

Beware when humor is used in the following ways.

1. Beware of humor that causes another to feel embarrassed, exposed, or shamed. This can happen when certain people share stories about another’s humiliating moment. Yes, everyone laughs. However, more than once I have suspected that the person about whom the story was being told was dying inside. Do I really need to tell these kinds of stories?

2. Beware of humor in which you find yourself telling or laughing about another’s misfortune. A joke about their son’s arrest? A joke about a wife’s unfaithfulness? A joke about someone’s bankruptcy?

3. Beware of humor in which you intentionally tell a story that exposes the private moments of your spouse or children. Your spouse and children ought to be able to relax and live in your home without fear that you are going to trot out their latest mistake in a sermon. Far better for one to tell about his own mistakes and his own blunders than those of family members.

3 Ways We Lose When We Don’t Connect with Others

disconnectionThe other day I was on the telephone with one of my daughters.  We talked for a few minutes when suddenly she said, “Well Dad, I guess I had better go.”

I responded by saying, “Already?  What is your hurry?”

She then said, “Dad-I can tell you are distracted.”

Uh-oh.

I could not argue.  I was distracted.  Charlotte and I had just arrived home after a trip to Arkansas.  I was distracted the moment we walked into the house.  I apologized and said that I would love to talk with her.  She said, “Let’s talk some other time.”

I suspect many of us have experienced such conversations.  However, sometimes the failure to be fully present with others is more than a momentary occurrence.  Some people are just not emotionally present regardless of the circumstances.  This is just the way they function.  In other words, they live each day not really present in the moment they have right now.

What do we lose when we are not fully present?

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

StartThird Third of Life

See this fine post by Walter Wright from Fieldnotes Magazine regarding his book The Third Third of Life: Preparing for your Future.  I really enjoyed this book!

Productivity

Note this info graphic regarding productivity and time wasters.  “The Four Biggest Productivity Killers in Your Office.”  Sobering!  (Thanks Tim Spivey).

James Bryan Smith

I enjoy reading anything James Bryan Smith writes.  See his post “Defining Spiritual Formation: The Need.”  I have read almost every book Smith has written.  A very good and helpful writer.

Leadership Lessons

Shane Duffey has written a fine post on Perry Noble’s blog entitled: “Five Leadership Lessons I Learned When I Began to Work In A Church.”

Ministry Inside.128

ThirdWho do you intend to be?  Will you finish well?

I recently read Walter Wright’s most recent book The Third Third of Life: Preparing for Your Future.  Wright is the former President of Regent College in Vancouver.  Wright suggest that one’s life can be divided into thirds.

“I like to think of life in thirds.  The first third (one to thirty) we spend in incubation, education, preparation, exploring identity and purpose, intimacy, and relationships.  The second third (thirty to sixty) is dominated by family and work: we define our core relationships and commit to a career path.  The third third (sixty to ninety) encounters the unexplored terrain of life after the working career.” (p 9)

The book explores the “third third” of life. You may not be there yet.  Before you stop reading, however,  you might note this paragraph:

“Planning for the third third of life draws heavily on the first two thirds. Who we have become is the result of a lifetime of learning, work, and relationships.  Who we will be is a choice that builds on this foundation. Preparing for the future is not a uniquely third third concern.  It is an agenda for life.” (p.  114)

Given these realities, who do you intend to be?  Will you finish well?

When You Fail to Show Respect

respect-dotRespect.

I suppose it may not a word that immediately gets your attention.  Perhaps it doesn’t have much buzz or flair.

Yet the importance of showing another respect is huge.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

  • A young husband is condescending to his wife, making her feel as if she is less intelligent than he is.
  • A teenager has a confrontation with his dad.  He tells his dad to “shut up” and walks away.  Thirty minutes earlier the boy was in a Wednesday evening Bible class.
  • A young woman is disrespectful to her mother-in-law, speaking to her in way that is demeaning and hurtful.
  • A man disrespects his wife, flirting with women at the office.  One woman at the office remarks, “You mean he’s married?”
  • A minister degrades the elders to others in the congregation and then kisses up to them in an elders meeting.  Disrespect.
  • An older man in the church abruptly approaches a young minister and says something insulting and crude in front of a visitor.

I am not suggesting that people needed to be “nicer.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

StartIn your backpack

Pete Scazzero writes thoughtful posts regarding the interior life.  See his post “Removing the Clutter.”  Scazzero asks this important question, “What are you carrying in your “leadership backpack” that needs to be removed so you can listen for God in your interior world?”

Self-differentiation

Also, don’t miss this post by Scazzero  “Am I Becoming a More Mature, Differentiated Leader?”  This is such an important concept for any leader to grasp.  I am thankful for Ed Friedman whose books, papers, and speaking introduced me to this concept many years ago.

Creativity

See Ann Voskamp’s post “Why Your Soul Needs You to Make Time to be Creative: 7 Keys to Being More Creative.”  This is a good post!  Like so many of Ann’s posts, it has numerous pictures and a fresh way of expressing the ordinary.  Be sure to finish the post since the seven keys are actually listed at the end.

Time

Lifehacker recently had a post entitled “The Best Time of Day to Do Anything.”  Agree or disagree, these posts typically make me think.  For example, skim through this post “The Best Sounds for Getting Work Done.”

Sex

See Thom Rainer’s post “Sex, Millennials, and the Church: Five Implications.”  I appreciate Rainer’s tone as well as his research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start (1)Wisdom  I often read posts written by Dr. John Willis.  I read him for his wisdom. Today he writes about Movers and Shakers.

Stackhouse

John Stackhouse is interesting.  I find his writings stimulating, provocative, and thoughtful.  Agree with him or not, he makes me think. Even this post regarding upcoming courses this summer at Regent makes me think.

Again speaking of wisdom

Bill Mounce has written an interesting post based on a new book by John Walton and Andrew Hill.  The post deals with the meaning of wisdom.

Fear

Here is a great post by Harold Shank on fear.  Much needed regardless of one’s age.

Storms of life

John Mark Hicks has posted a number of videos of a class he taught recently entitled, “Yet Will I Trust Him: Trusting God In The Storms of Life.”

 

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?