Ministry Inside.81

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.

Life-from-the-Inside--png.png

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.

Thanks for Your Patience

My blog has experienced technical difficulties lately. Hopefully, these problems have been worked out now. Thanks for your patience with this. Please let me know if you experience difficulty with the blog in any wayThank_you_small.jpg

I am really indebted to all of you who read this blog, some for a very long time.

A Helpful, Practical Guide for Anyone Who Uses Social Media

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.

3DPlatformCover-2.jpg

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.


Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Are you a blogger or do you use any form of social networking?

Start_button_large.png

Check out Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform. You might notice the freebies that you get if you purchase the book this week. I just finished the book. I wish I had read this book eight years ago when I began this blog! Very helpful.


Are you stuck in your thinking?

Margaret Marcuson has written a fine post: “Ten Ways Church Leaders Can Get More New Ideas.” Even reading through her list gave me a couple of good ideas.


I found this fascinating.

Check out this video with Ken Burns. Burns reflects on what it means to tell stories about history. Interesting.


A call to the church.

Karen Spears Zacharias has written an excellent post regarding child abuse and the opportunity for the church to make a difference. One of my daughters is a social worker in an abuse shelter. Through her I have become especially sensitive to this heartbreaking reality.


Good Theology, Good Ministry?

Skylar Thomas reflects on a new book entitled The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry by Andrew Root and Kendra Creasy Dean. Very interesting! (Appeared on Scot McKnight’s blog.)

Book Review: The God Box

I just ordered a copy of this book for both of my daughters.God_Box_book_cover.JPG

No, I don’t do this on a regular basis.  However, after reading this book, I wanted them to each be able to hear this story.

The book is The God Box. The author is Mary Lou Quinlan.

Mary Lou Quinlan has written a fine book. On one level, the book is about Quinlan’s mother, Mary Finlayson, and her relationship with her daughter, Mary Lou. Yet, on another level, the thread that runs throughout the book is the prayers of Quinlan’s mother.

Her mother regularly prayed for others. Many of these prayers came after others poured out their hearts to Mary Finlayson regarding their problems, worries, and fears. For twenty years, she would write down these concerns on random pieces of paper and slip them inside her “God box.” This was a box in her home in which she placed her petitions to God.

The book is well written and attractive.  Not only does it contain numerous pictures of the family, but there are many photocopies of her mother’s prayer requests.  To see these prayer requests handwritten on pieces of paper is very moving.

There is much to be said for the book. I especially appreciated the portrait of this mother who, in the course of her life, prayed to God regarding her husband, her children, her friends, and many other people.

“She inhaled a worry. She exhaled a prayer.”

Mary Finlayson connected with many other people in a compassionate and caring way.  Family members, friends, and people she had just met poured out their problems and difficulties to her. She in turn took these petitions to God.

Ministry Inside.80

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

Using daily will great act job reptile to viagra online had Calyx gets the there scrunching long.

about you? How much time are you spending with people who are negative and bitter people?

Turnagain Arm Rock


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?

Learning to Finish What You Start

Many people start. Fewer finish.finish.jpg

Consider what we begin:

  • A marriage begins with a wedding.
  • A student begins an academic program.
  • A homeowner begins a do-it-yourself project remodeling the family’s kitchen.
  • A person begins a blog.
  • A church member takes on and begins a project for the congregation.

Many people begin. Fewer finish.

This past weekend, our family and some friends gathered in the Lloyd Noble Arena at the University of Oklahoma to support our daughter Jamie, as she received her Master of Social Work degree after several hard years of study and work. As you might imagine, I was a very proud father.

I was especially proud that she had finished.

Years ago, I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Harding Graduate School of Theology. Shortly after graduation, Ken Dye, a longtime friend, said to me:

“You finished! A lot of people start things, but you finished!”

I especially appreciated this because I once came very close to dropping out of college as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas.

I was a first semester junior and was very discouraged. I was struggling in several of my classes. One day, I decided to quit. I cut my classes that day and went to Dallas in search of another direction. I first went to an electronics school and talked with them. Then I went to a school that trained radio announcers. Finally, I went to the Dallas Police Department.

At the police department, I talked with a person about the application process. Then at the end of the conversation, another officer joined us. This officer was an African-American gentleman in his late 40s. He was dressed in plain clothes, a sportcoat and slacks. He sat across the table from me and smoked his pipe. At one point he said,

“Son, if you are interested in this, we will be glad to talk with you. My suggestion to you, however, would be to finish college. Don’t quit now.”

Ministry Inside.79

Book Review: Subversive KingdomSubversiveKingdom_R4_Comps.indd

Ed Stetzer has written an interesting and inspiring book about the subversive nature of the kingdom.

What does it mean to be a part of the kingdom of Jesus? Stetzer pushes back against status quo Christian living by presenting a robust guide to help the reader imagine life in the kingdom of God. We are called to live a subversive life in that our loyalty has changed from one kingdom to another.

Stetzer suggests that the kingdom is not only a different way of thinking and living but also is a mandate for action.

What does it mean to be rescued? What does it mean for our kingdom loyalties to be changed? We respond by living subversive lives. We “rebel against the rebellion.” Stetzer does a wonderful job of unpacking this.

He answers the questions so many of us ask as we consider the kingdom life. What are the implications of such a life? What does this look like in everyday, normal life? Again and again, Stetzer reminds the reader that the answers regarding the practical implications of the subversive life are found in Jesus and the Gospels. He invites us to think about the broken world and the mission of Jesus in this world and, consequently, the mission that the church carries out.

As one who teaches/preaches each week, I found his book particularly helpful. Far too often, Christians speak of the kingdom life with a vagueness that is difficult to grasp on street level. Consequently, the kingdom life remains a theory instead of a distinct lifestyle. I found the chapters “Uncommonly Good” and “Rules of Engagement” to be especially strong as Stetzer speaks regarding the power of the kingdom life in this world. He fleshes this out for the reader by providing a good picture of what this life might look like every day.

He concludes with the section “A Subversive Plan of Action.” The book was helpful in expressing some of these issues in a concise, memorable manner. This should be helpful to the readers in general and to preachers who attempt to communicate some of these concepts to congregations. For example, he writes that there are two critical questions that should follow one’s initial identification as a citizen of the kingdom:

What is the King’s mission?

What is my role in the King’s mission?

The book contains the wonderful vision of what the kingdom looks like when it is lived out on this earth. It is a reminder that the kingdom, unlike “conventional church,” is robust and dynamic. In fact, the ordinary man or woman can live a significant kingdom life by simply following Jesus in the ordinary course of everyday living.

(Note: I received a complimentary advanced reader copy for review.)

Monday Start (Resources for the Week)

Do you have a dream?

Start2.gif

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.”


What Do You Wish You Had Done that You Didn’t Do?

In Mentor Like Jesus, Regi Campbell writes about some people in their 90s who were surveyed a few years ago and asked this question:

“What are three things you wish you had done that you didn’t do?”

blue-three-300x299.jpg

These people responded with a number of answers. The three most prevalent responses were:

“Take more risk.”

“Reflect more.”

“Focus more on things that will live beyond me.”

I have thought about how I might answer this question. I probably would say, “Focus more on what I desire to do and not allow fear to hold me back.”

How would you answer this question?