How You See as a Leader

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How you see as a leader, shapes everything about your leadership. If you think in steps, that’s how you evaluate the effectiveness of a ministry or sermon. If you are highly relational focused on making people feel cared for, this will shape how you see things, how you lead and evaluate things. If you are a big picture, visionary, this will affect your outlook. If you care deeply about doctrine over everything else, that will also affect how you see things. The reality is, though no leader wants to admit this, no way is the “correct” way to see things when it comes to leadership. All perspectives are needed to lead an effective church.

The Old Testament establishes three primary leadership offices for the people of Israel:

  • Prophets: God’s messengers to his people
  • Priests: Mediators who approach God on behalf of his people
  • Kings: Rulers who govern God’s people

In the New Testament, we see that Jesus perfectly fulfills each of these offices. He is our final and authoritative Prophet (John 1:1). He is our Great High Priest (1 Peter 5:4). And he is the conquering King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15).

The prophet is the Bible guy (I’m using guy because it is shorter, women have the same lenses). When a prophet reads the Bible, they ask, “What does this tell me about God?” They love verses, mission, doctrine, theology. All they need is a verse for it to be true. They don’t need feelings, just a verse. For them, it is all about the mission and truth. This person will often post things about their beliefs on social media, whether it is about vaccines, theology, gay marriage, abortion, being gospel centered, etc. They seek to argue people into the kingdom of God.

The priest is the relational guy. When a priest reads the Bible they ask, “How does this passage make me feel?” They are all about shepherding, relationships, making sure everyone is cared for. They are on the lookout to make sure everyone is connected, feels loved, wanted. They want to make sure no one falls through the cracks. This person can often sacrifice truth in the name of keeping a relationship. Willing people to continue sinning in hopes they will turn around from more time spent together. Priests often find themselves wasting time in meetings or counseling sessions that never seem to end.

The king is the systems and organizational guy. When a king reads the Bible they ask, “What does this make me want to do?” They want steps. They love excel, spreadsheets, things that add up, budgets. They want systems to care for people, systems to move people from one place to the other. They want to be organized and they want the churches they are a part of to be organized. Most churches aren’t sure what to do with kings.

What often happens is if you have a priest leading the church, they will be intimidated by the kings because they are more efficient. They will struggle with prophets because prophets have a clear picture of the future. Kings will get frustrated with prophets because they can’t ever get to their vision, only cast it. They will also get frustrated at a prophet preaching because there will never be any steps. Prophets will often say what the bible says and sit down, “letting the holy spirit do the work.” Prophets will get frustrated with kings because “they don’t get it” and want to talk about how a church will get there, so a prophet always wonders if a king is on board. A prophet gets frustrated at a priest because they keep talking about people who need help or haven’t bought in and are slowing the church down.

Which one is right?

All of them. They are all needed on a leadership team and to help a church become who God calls it to be.

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Failing Forward

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Sunday is the last week of our series FightIt has been an incredible 5 weeks looking at the life of Samson and seeing the battles that men fight and how to beat them.

Sunday, we will look at Judges 16:22 – 31 and see one of the major battles of every man: the fear of failure. 

Failure, not measuring up, not making enough, not being all that you hope to be, not being man enough, or strong enough paralyzes many men. This fear keeps them from living the life God has called them to live.

Think for a minute about this: what would your life be like without fear, without regret, without being afraid that you won’t be enough or become enough, or being weighed down by past fear or failures?

That’s what we’ll unpack this week.

If you or someone you know struggles with fear, a fear of failure or struggles to move forward from past failure or hurt, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him

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Over time in a relationship, couples fall into typical roles. They learn how to push each other’s buttons. They learn how to control the other, how to manipulate situations to get what they want and ultimately, how to win. This might be through force, silent treatment, being on edge, yelling, withholding sex, controlling the money or the schedule.

Men do this. Women do this.

I’ll post another time about how men do this, but for today, I want to focus on how many wives manipulate their husband and the consequences of that manipulation.

Right now I’m preaching a series through the life of Samson at Revolution Church. While the series is geared towards men, there is a ton in it for women. Like this:

And in three days they could not solve the riddle. On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. -Judges 14:14b – 17

Samson tells a riddle to the Philistines, who are ruling over the nation of Israel. He makes a bet that they can’t figure it out.

They can’t.

So, the Philistines go to Samson’s Philistine fiance and tell her to find out the answer, so they don’t look foolish.

This passage shows a few things about men and women and their default sins under stress. Samson wants to win at all costs. Samson wants to avoid looking foolish at all costs.

His fiance makes the go to move that every woman uses, and uses a lot in marriage, manipulation. 

She wept before Samson for 7 days. She nagged, complained, gave him the silent treatment.

And in the end, she won.

But she lost Samson.

Every time you manipulate your husband, you lose him. 

You may not lose him to divorce, but you lose a piece of him. Trust is damaged. He begins to wonder if you are just using him. He begins to wonder if you have his best interest at heart or if you are out for yourself, your kids or someone else (maybe your mother, his mother-in-law). He wonders if you will fight for your marriage. He wonders what will happen the next time you don’t get your way.

It might be you stop talking to him, stop responding to him sexually, withhold information, give him cold stares, talk in passive aggressive tones, make snide remarks towards him.

Men will acquiesce all kinds of things for peace and the path of less resistance.

So, while many women “win” and get their way through manipulation, much like Samson’s fiance. They lose their husband and a piece of their marriage every time.

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How to Not be Bitter When Your Prayer Isn’t Answered How You Like

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On a regular basis, either in my life or in a conversation with someone the idea of prayers come up, specifically prayers not being answered in the time we set forth or the way that we want.

This is a crossroads everyone gets to. Maybe you pray for something to happen in your spouse, to get a spouse and nothing. It might be a child and you see no movement. A pastor prays for his church to grow and it is shrinks.

These are difficult moments.

They remind we aren’t in control.

They also lead us to a choice: will we continue to trust God or will we become bitter.

There is an interesting verse in the story of Samson in chapter 14:4, it happens so quickly that you can easily read right past it:

His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

Samson was sinning and doing the exact opposite of what his parents wanted him to and he was breaking God’s law. This is so heart wrenching to watch when a loved one wrecks their life. You feel helpless.

There is a crucial phrase that we can miss, that Samson, his father and mother were unaware of what God was doing and how God would work in this, in spite of Samson’s sin.

One author said, “What we don’t know may prove to be our deepest comfort.”

Maybe the prayer you are praying is not ready to be answered the way you want. Maybe it will never be answered the way you want. That doesn’t mean God is not listening or God does not care. Often, I find that when prayers are not answered how I want, it causes me to grow in ways I would not have chosen.

At that crossroads, we still have a choice: will we continue to trust God or will we become bitter.

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Daniel Silva Books

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I don’t normally read novels but I’m always on the lookout for a good one. I came across Daniel Silva this summer and was grabbed immediately. He has a series that centers around an Israeli Spy named Gabriel Allon, who also happens to be the world best art restorer.

What was fascinating about this series was how he wove so much real history and events into the books. Love it.

If you are looking for a great novel series to read, check this one out. Here are the books in order:

  1. The Kill Artist
  2. The English Assassin
  3. The Confessor
  4. A Death in Vienna
  5. Prince of Fire
  6. Portrait of a Spy
  7. The Messenger
  8. The Secret Servant
  9. Moscow Rules
  10. The Defector
  11. The Rembrandt Affair
  12. The Fallen Angel
  13. The English Girl

Perfect timing for the holiday vacation coming up!

What People Want out of a Sermon

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Every week, if you preach, you stand before a group of people. They are all different, but they have a lot of the same needs and desires. I was asked recently what my goal of preaching is (which is another topic than this post will cover) and what I think people want out of a sermon. Whether pastors like it or not, what people want to hear is important to a sermon. You need to preach what the Bible says and what God calls you to say, but if you don’t know what people are looking for, you will struggle to communicate in a way that makes sense to them.

As I thought about it, here are some of the groups that show up at church every week and what they want out of a sermon (just a note: I’m not saying these are true or even good things, just what I see as reality):

  1. was forced to be here. You have people in your service who were dragged to church by someone. It may be a friend, parent or spouse but they are there not because they want to be but because it keeps the peace. This person wants to not be bored. They simply want to survive church. They are counting the seconds til you are done. Not necessarily listening but sitting there with their arms folded thinking, “I’m here, impress me.” To communicate to this person, don’t be boring. Know what you are talking about. Don’t have rabbit trails. Say what you are planning to say and sit down. Make sure the beginning and ending of your sermon are solid and prepped.
  2. I know I’m broken. This person may be a follower of Jesus, this person may be exploring Jesus. This person knows something in their life is broken. It could be a sin pattern, addiction, negative emotions, a broken marriage or something else. Regardless, this person wants help. They are looking for something to fix what is ailing them. This person is incredibly open to the gospel and what Jesus can do in their lives. While the focus for them is on fixing their life and not necessarily Jesus, that is openness to Jesus because it can be directed to a biblical view.
  3. The feel good Christian. I would guess that most churches have a lot of these people. They are the ones who want to be inspired. They don’t want to be challenged to change or confront things in their life. They want to check the church box off the list and go home feeling better than when they walked in. They don’t plan on reading their Bible this week. More than likely, at least according to Jesus (Matthew 7:15 – 23), many people in this category are not Christians. This person will leave a church and say, “I didn’t get fed there.” They will decide if they liked the service if they feel inspired or if they sang songs they like and know. This person needs to be confronted with the reality of their sin and need for Jesus and need to be made to feel uncomfortable about their eternal state. This person needs the Holy Spirit in their life.
  4. The agenda Christian. This person knows a lot about the bible and can come across as a mature Christian, but they usually aren’t. This person wants you to talk about a certain topic, a lot. When you talk about that topic, you have to say what they want or else you didn’t preach it correctly. You should preach on the end times, a lot. Talk about Israel, a lot. Be political in you preaching. Everything is about the kingdom of God and their interpretation of what that means. When you present the gospel, if you don’t give the 4 spiritual laws, Romans road or their rendition of the gospel, you didn’t preach the gospel. While this person can help a pastor present things clearly and biblically, they often miss the mark in how they give feedback. Most pastors give this person an audience because they tend to be a squeaky wheel. When talking to this person, you need to lovingly listen and then firmly communicate your differences. Make changes if need be. Communicate the stance of your church and how things will not change if necessary. You may even need to help this person find a new church to attend where they will line up more in their beliefs. That’s okay as well.
  5. The mature Christian. This is the person who is a leader in your church, or growing their faith, bringing people with them, involved in a missional community, giving back to God, reading their bible during the week and praying. This person prays for their pastors. This person prepares their heart to hear a sermon, asks God to speak to them through his word when it is opened during a sermon. When convicted of sin, they repent and seek to live the life God created them to live. This person wants to grow, to be challenged.

While these are generalizations and have inherent problems with them because of that. There are also a few other categories I could’ve covered, I think these are the main ones and how to communicate to them.

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Your Idols Won’t Carry You

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I talked this past Sunday about the idols of the heart and what drives us to do what we do. Yesterday after breakfast, Katie pointed something out to me in Isaiah 46.

While our idols drive us and only the gospel can transform our hearts to be driven by Jesus. We also look to our idols to carry us, to give us rest, to complete us.

We look for achievement to give us rest. When we’ve accomplished enough, we’ll have enough. When we have enough school, we’ll be enough. When we’ve taken enough vacations, we’ll have enough experiences.

When we have enough power, we’ll have enough control. We’ll have enough followers, enough employees. We’ll be important and feared because we have power.

When we have enough stuff, we’ll be able to slow down and rest. We’ll be able to sit on our new deck furniture, watch our huge TV from our plush chair.

We’ll finally be able to rest, because our idols will carry us.

Except. We lose employees. This year award becomes next year’s forgotten winner. That degree becomes not enough in 5 years when someone else gets one more degree than you. That vacation next year will be a distant memory when you hear about a new place, a new resort, a new experience. That power will fade as your company gets bought out or a new boss comes in and the game changes. And stuff rots and falls apart and last years most amazing TV becomes next month’s “last season’s model.”

Our idols fail. They do not carry us. They do not give us rest.

Isaiah 46:8-9 says:

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • Not sure if you’ve ever had a week go not as you expected it to go
  • That’s how last week was for me
  • I was supposed to preach yesterday for the first time in 4 weeks
  • I’ve been enjoying my summer preaching break
  • 10 days ago, it looked like we would be hearing when we would fly to Ethiopia and that it would be soon
  • We made the decision to have Jared preach yesterday imagining that we would be in Ethiopia meeting our son for the first time
  • That was not to be
  • If you can imagine, as a parent, this was really disheartening
  • You can still help us we need to still raise 5K to complete our adoption
  • Watch the video below to learn more about our adoption and how to give
  • Any amount is helpful
  • I’m grateful to have Jared so he could step in and handle the sermon
  • He did a great job and it was a good reminder yesterday of who Jesus is and why I can trust Him
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • I had some cool things happen with writing last week in the midst of the frustration of international adoption
  • I had a guest post appear on Trevin Wax’s blog called The “Other” Celebrity Pastor
  • And one on gospel centered discipleship about The 2 Ideas that Change How we Think about Food, Body Image and Weight Loss
  • Over the summer, I always try to read some novels about something unrelated to leadership or church
  • This summer I started the series by Daniel Silva on Gabriel Allon
  • Super awesome
  • It’s about an Israeli spy/assassin
  • On the leadership front, over the weekend I read through Start with Why
  • If you are a church leader, you have to read this book
  • It is that good
  • Started texting with Jason Wood about fantasy football today
  • Can’t wait for it to start
  • Had a meeting yesterday with all of our MC leaders about the coming year
  • So excited for the leaders we have and what God is going to do in the coming year
  • If you haven’t gotten into an MC yet at Revolution, you need to
  • We are starting sign-ups for all of them THIS Sunday
  • Time to get moving into the week
  • Hopefully, my mind dump will be from Ethiopia next Monday!

The Past as an Indicator of the Future

There is a leadership principle that says, “Your past is the best indicator of your future.” Meaning, if you want to know what a person will be like in the future, don’t listen to their promises, words of how they think they will be in the future, look at how they have been.

I think the same can be said with God. One thing that has blown me away reading through the Bible in 90 days is God’s patience with Israel. He continually gives them second, third and fourth chances.

Followers of Jesus talk about the amazing God has done in the past. How he has rescued them. Jesus coming to earth, dying in our place, rising from the dead. We look back when we take communion, share in the celebration of baptism and hear the stories of redemption. Our thinking though, often stops there. We don’t take God’s past performance so to speak and look to the future. If what God has done in the past is so incredible, so life altering, imagine what the present can be and what the future will be like.

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What a Leader Does (What No One Else Will Do)

Recently, I’ve been reading through 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles. These books tell the stories of the nation of Israel, their worship of God or idols, but specifically, they look at the lives of the leaders of that nation. If you are a leader, these are some great books to read through in your time with God. Very eye opening.

One thing has jumped out. There will be a period of time of wickedness and the text will something like, “This King did what the others did, not what his ancestor David did” (my paraphrase). Then, a King will rise up that will re-open the temple, clean it out, destroy the high places and idols, bring out the law and call the people back to following God.

That is what a leader does:  What no one else will do.

Want to know if you are leading? Are you going somewhere new? Are you going somewhere that is different or are you following where others have gone? Are you going farther than others have because that is what God has called you to?

God does not call leaders to safety or to do what everyone else is doing.

He calls leaders to do something no one else is doing or willing to do.