Monday, November 29, 2010

The Last 5 Books I Read...

I have read some really good books lately. Here are the last five I've read in the last two weeks. Remember, leaders are readers...

1. Knowing Jesus Through The Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright.
This book helps today's Christian understand Jesus in light of the Old Testament. We cannot really know Christ without knowing his story. His purpose, ministry, identity, and values are all wrapped up in the Old Testament.

Critique: Very in-depth. Somewhat devotional but more academic. The writer does a good job of explaining how Jesus ministry was shaped by the Old Testament. He also shows how the OT complements and is as important as the New Testament. About 250 pages.

2. You Were Born For This by Bruce Wilkinson
Dr. Wilkinson tells how God wants to do a miracle through every believer. We just have to be ready for it. In his other book, The Prayer of Jabez, Wilkinson talks about being blessed. This book is about being a vessel God can use to bless others.

Critique: I just finished this book tonight. I walked away from it ready for God to do a miracle through me! A powerful read. You must get this book and let God start working through you. People all around you today need a miracle. God wants to use you to help them and show them Him! About 225 pages. A fast read, but don't go too fast.

3. The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
This book on leadership was formed out of a conference by John Maxwell. The five leadership practices the authors propose are powerful and go hand-in-hand. We must 1) challenge the current methods and not be satisfied with business as usual, 2) share our vision with others and inspire them to join us, 3) we must enabling others to act in the vision, 4) we must model the vision and 5) encouraging those who we lead.

Critique: One of the best books on leadership. I read it all at once - I couldn't put it down. The stories the contributing authors (John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, Nancy Ortberg, Patrick Lencioni, etc.) share are very inspiring. About 250 pages.

4. Doing Church As A Team by Wayne Cordeiro
Wayne Cordeiro is the pastor of New Hope Church in Hawaii. He shares great insight about how the church should be done as a team of people. The church is full of gifts and abilities and we as pastors need to learn how to help people join together and build the church. He gives great insight through examples of his church.

Critique: One of the greatest things he said was "church should be a battleship, not a cruise ship". A cruise ship has only a few people working to serve the others there. On a battleship, everyone has a job to do. Great book on using the spiritual gifts of people in the church. About 230 pages.

5. The Peacemaker by Ken Sande
One of the best books on bringing peace and restoration to relationships. Conflicts will happen. The Christian response to conflict is making peace and restoration. Do you know how to do this? Do you know what steps to take? This book will tell you how.

Critique: Great book on restoration. The "4 G's" were really good - 1) Glorify God, 2) Get the log out of your own eye, 3) Gently restore, and 4) Go and be reconciled. About 300 pages. Great workbook and website as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ten Random Thoughts on Teams

Teamwork is essential to success. We must learn how to function in our teams. We must learn how to be better teammates in whatever we do. Here are some thoughts on teamwork:

1. Team members work together. This precedes winning together.
2. Team members each have their own voice, but only one heart.
3. Team members resolve to always find solutions, not faults.
4. Team members improve themselves so the team will improve.
5. Team members are relational - they get along. Relationships are the glue that hold the team together.
6. Team members are prepared. Preparing is better than repairing.
7. Team members are not selfish - they put the other ahead of themselves. Getting separates. Giving unites.
8. Team members change for the benefit of the team. They are flexible.
9. Team members are dependable. Don't just do your best - do what is required.
10. Team members never quit - especially over petty issues or disagreements. When times get trying, don't quit trying.

- adapted from John Maxwell's book "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Resist The Urge To Walk Away

Ever feel like giving up? Be honest. I've been there this week already and it is only Tuesday. Feelings are not the best indicator of how things are going - especially in ministry. How do you press on? How do you endure? How do you resist the urge to just quit?

Here is a simple formula:

Faith > Struggle = You Endure
Faith < Struggle = You Quit

The greatness of a man is not determined by what he achieves in life, but by what it takes to get him down. What does it take to get you down? Is it just a little? What is causing thoughts of quitting? How is your endurance? Better yet - how is your faith?

You have to move past resignation towards revolution. The urge to fight back has to overcome the urge to walk away.

Sometimes becoming great is simply resisting the urge to walk away. Don't walk away from what God has called you to. Let your faith rise up over your feelings. Resist the urge to walk away. Trust me, what is driving you to walk away is not nearly as big as what has driven you to stay to this point. The best, for those who resist the urge to walk away, is yet to come!

Here is a video of someone who didn't quit despite their problems:

Monday, November 8, 2010

A 20 Year Old With 14 Kids

Check this out...truly a heart of gold. A 20 year old girl went to Uganda for a mission trip. She felt like God was telling her to stay there, adopt 14 orphan girls and leave her fiance - she did. One year later, she is still doing it.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying support this ministry financially. Please don't read into it. I just wanted to share a story of someone who is truly making a difference in the lives of orphans. This is true religion according to James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Her story really touched me and made me want to go all out in what God has called me to.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Matthew 18:15-17

When confronting people, we should use the procedure Jesus offered in Matthew 18:15-17.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

I want to look at this step-by-step for a moment:

Step 1. Talking privately
This isn't usually confrontational at first but merely an attempt to understand where the other person is coming from. Sometimes there are misunderstandings or misconceptions you can come to terms with by just simply sitting down and taking time to talk. If there is an impasse or an offense, forgiveness or repentance may be needed. Be humble and open in your confrontation. Don't go into it judgemental and ready for a battle. Check your motives and heart. Be full of compassion as well. If you cannot get past the one-on-one meeting without resolution and reconciliation, step two may be necessary.

Step 2. Witnesses
Sometimes private conversations are not enough - even when you've tried everything. The witnesses you choose must respected by both parties and willing to defend or oppose both parties. These are not people you are trying to get on your side. Don't pick a "yes man". Don't pick someone who will be for you. You want a mediator. You want someone who can look at both of you and say "you are both wrong". You want someone who you know will always reside with the truth of Scripture. Don't act alone. Get an elder, pastor, small group leader or someone mature in the Faith involved. Remember, the point of this is still reconciliation, not "sick em".

Step 3. Tell It To The Church
This probably is the most misused and misunderstood part. It does not mean run and tell. It is not, at this point, public information to be posted on every Facebook wall and emailed to the entire church. It is not a trial with the congregation as the jury. It is not a public hearing. It is not for the permission to list their name in a sermon. Not everyone in the church should be told as most cannot handle or discern correctly. The point is to tell other mature believers who can help in the reconciliation and restoration process where your attempts have failed. The point is not punishment but restoration. Only in extreme (I mean extreme) situations where this sin affects the entire church should it be brought before the entire church. This is only done by Senior leadership (Senior pastor with elders in agreement). Still, love and restoration are still the motives.

Step 4. Treat Them As A Pagan Or Tax Collector
This also misused and misunderstood. Sure, this is a recognition that they are no longer part of the body - but by their choice alone. It is not booting them out but simply recognizing what has, in fact, already take place by their choices of resisting restoration and repentance. This is not shaming or despising them either. Think about how Jesus treated sinners - especially pagans and tax collectors. He loved them. He didn't pretend they were soul mates. He knew they were not part of the church but still tried to love them back into it. He always confronted sin, but He loved the sinners in the process. Steps 3 and 4 are always the last resort. These steps, especially 4, are only used in situations where continuing, confirmed, unconfessed sin resides.

These last two steps are only done if the leadership of the church supports it and, for the most part, leads it. Go to leadership first before taking action on your own. Don't be a rogue renegade and do these on your own. You'll be as bad as the offender you are addressing. Don't move too quick either on these last two steps. Give time for the Holy Spirit to move. You should pray through situations at length and give lots of room and time for the offender to repent and seek restoration before steps 3 and 4. I would and have even repeated step 1 and 2 a few times before moving on. Remember you don't wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). People are not your enemy. We also must remember that we are called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We must also expose deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The balance must be walking firmly in truth, loving the sinner, and humbly confronting sin - all at the same time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Team Leadership

I took this next part from a book on Team Leadership. I thought it was a great illustration on teamwork. If you have ever water skied, you'll know exactly what he's talking about. (By the way, this is a metaphor of their teamwork style, not an actual event of them water skiing.)

In ORBITING THE GIANT HAIRBALL, Gordon MacKenzie, longtime creative director at Hallmark, describes what, in that environment, seems to me to be a healthy team leader:

"My last boss at Hallmark, a fellow by the name of Bob Kipp, sat at the wheel of one of the corporate speedboats. I was at the end of a towline on water skis. We spent our time together skimming across the great Lake Hallmark. Kipp was so sure of who he was and why he was where he was and where the power was that he was not threatened at all when I would ski around in a wide arc until I was up even with the boat and sometimes even past it. He knew I was not going to start pulling the boat with him in it. It just doesn't work that way. The power remains in the boat. But, in allowing me to ski past him — in a sense, allowing me to lead — he would unleash in me an excitement about our enterprise that served our shared goals."

Then MacKenzie drives home his point: "If you are in a position of power and want to lead well, remember: Allow those you lead … To lead … when they feel the need. All will benefit."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ten Random Thoughts

1. Spend time with you kids! I'm having lunch with Kylee tomorrow at school. While it's only 20 minutes, that time means EVERYTHING to her. She didn't stop talking about it tonight when I told her and it will be the first thing she talks about in the morning - hopefully it is because she gets to see her daddy, not because she gets a Happy Meal!

2. Our church is a serving machine! We had somewhere between 3,000-4,000 people at our Fall Festival. We gave away about 1,400 bags of candy to that many kids. We served (I was told) 5,000 hot dogs. Our people came early, stayed late, served and loved everyone they came in contact with. Our church ROCKS!!!

3. Found People Find People! (Read John 1:35-51) We who have been changed by Jesus must be attentive to those who need changed by Jesus. Keep your eyes open for people who need Christ in the middle of their problems and obstacles.

4. Christians must share their faith. Philemon 1:6 - "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Who have you spent time with for the purpose of sharing your faith? Set up that meeting today! Lunch, coffee, an outing, etc.

5. Having power without expressing love always leads to legalism and domination. It's an abuse of power. That is what sometimes happens in government, marriage, businesses, etc. A "power trip" is a dangerous place. We must love and serve those we have been given authority over. This means listening to them to pick up on things they need and are going through. This means spending time with them. If you don't spend time with the people you are over you'll only see them as tools - a means to an end - you'll only use them for gain. Gain is always good but not at the expense of people. The good news is you can do both well simultaneously.

6. Most couples who come in for counseling don't have a marriage problem - they have a Jesus problem. A life formed and filled by Jesus is usually lacking. It is hard to be one with your spouse if you are not being (note the tense "being" - this means ongoing and ever-growing) formed and filled by Christ.

7. Parenting question: Are you more concerned with what you are getting your kid for Christmas or more concerned with what your kid will get out of Christmas? I'm saying this early so all us parents will have time to get creative on teaching our kids the true meaning of Christmas.

8. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to pick out the imperfections or mistakes of one's spouse. Any idiot can do that. A wise spouse, though, can pick out and own-up to their imperfections and mistakes. When you start doing that, you are truly fighting FOR your marriage. The other just leads to fighting IN your marriage.

9. Don't ever forget what it was like to be lost. Don't get into the trap of looking down on people far from God - remember that is where we used to be. If you have forgotten this, read Ephesians 2:1-10. You'll soon remember what Christ has saved you from and realize how much you desire others to have the same awakening.

10. As pastors and leaders, either people believe what we say or they think we are full of crap… Let me explain: INTEGRITY AND CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER!!! We must do what we preach. We must do what we expect others to do. We must love our people by our actions and getting involved in their lives. We must do what we say we are going to do. When we screw up, we admit it. When we don't do our part, we fix it. We must tell our people "thank you" and "I believe in you" a bunch. We must honestly listen to the input of our key people - give them an ear (and a voice) and realize God speaks to them too. We must trust our people we put in place to make decisions without them feeling like they have to run every minor detail past us first. Sure, we must inspect what we expect and there must be accountability, but we must give them room to lead too.