Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leaders are a Resource

2 Timothy 2:2
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."

Paul was training Timothy, and in doing so, teaching him to teach others. Timothy was called to “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others”, or to invest in those who would move from mere consumption to a deliverer of the Gospel. In the church today we know that those “who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1), or in the least understand the sentiment that leaders should be held to a higher standard. Often though, we of the congregation misuse this truth as a shield against the scrutiny of Scripture in our own lives. We focus on the supposed “higher calling” of leaders to the exclusion of the “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1) of every believer. Yes, the mantle of training and teaching was here laid upon a leader, Timothy, but there also exists a calling upon the “faithful men and women” to be trained, and be taught.

There exists then a unified calling, applicable on both sides of leadership; a calling upon the leader to train, and a calling upon the follower to come forth, count the cost, and pay it. Is it time for you to live as a resource for others instead of constantly consuming investments poured into your life? Consider then,
the “land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8).
All too often, modern leadership is guilty of living as parched ground that greedily swallows the life giving rain, but never yields a useful crop for others. Our culture is thirsty for great leadership. Yet, leaders are not a resource, they are a predator. Leadership is not to bear the “thorns and thistles” produced by bondage to your sinful flesh. In contrast, Godly leaders are a resource that assist people to thrive. A good leader will bring buckets of rain into a group or team and replenish the hearts of all he or she touches.

Lord, help me to be a committed leader that uses the gifts and talents you have given to me to be a resource in raising up faithful men and women. Amen.

You know I love ya, Don


for more information: leadership devos


Monday, May 27, 2013

May we never forget....Happy Memorial Day!


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

For more information and Memorial Day historical facts click "Memorial Day."

I am remembering those we love that have gone on before us and those that have died giving there all for our freedoms on this day. We love you....Don

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Leadership knows when and when not to....

Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were walking down a country road on their way to visit a local monastery. They came upon a lovely young girl dressed in fine silks, who was standing in front of a muddy stream afraid to cross it.
 

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan. And he picked her up in his arms, and carried her across. The two monks did not speak again till nightfall when they had returned to the monastery. Ekido couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
 

“Monks shouldn’t go near girls,” he said “certainly not beautiful ones like that one! Why did you do it?”
 
“My dear fellow,” said Tanzan. “I put that girl down, way back at the crossing. It’s you who are still carrying her! (Peter Pauper Press, Zen Buddhism, 1959).

This is a great story for the church today. There are many muddy paths that people must cross in today’s organizations and leadership needs to be clear, decisive and appropriate to the situation. Tanzan in the above story shows unique leadership. He sees the situation and is able to do what is needed. He is not encumbered by ideas, rules and procedures but looks at what is needed. Even more importantly, he is able to move down the road after the event with a clear mind. He lets go of any anxiety about whether he acted rightly or wrongly. Tanzan would have been able to see and respond to the next action because his mind is not still carrying his last action.

Ekido, however, is still carrying his judgements, thoughts and concerns. Ekido needs rules and procedures to control him in his journey. On the outside Ekido may look like the “perfect” monk – but inside he is torn by the rules of being a monk and needs these rules to manage his inner yearnings.

While concepts, rules and ideas may help guide a person in training, a true leader carries his/her mission in his/her heart – it is not external rules that make the person. The leader models the way not by following outer form but by seeing their work as their way of being. Our love to God, for each other, and for life needs to permeate every fiber of our being so that we can let things go that are not essential while passionately carrying dynamics of life that are essential!

You know I love ya, Don

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leadership!!! Do you really know what it means?

There are many questions about leadership. I am leader in my own life. I am a leader in my home. I am a leader as an ordained minister. Being a leader has often come naturally to me. So, what is a leader? At the most basic level, a leader is someone who leads others. But what makes someone a leader? What is it about being a leader that some people understand and use to their advantage?

One can define a leader as a person who has a vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skills to make it happen.

Let's look at each of those in detail.

 

The Leader's Vision


A leader has a vision. Leaders see a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal that needs to be achieved. It may be something that no one else sees or simply something that no one else wants to tackle. Whatever it is, it is the focus of the leader's attention and they attack it with a single-minded determination.

It doesn't matter the leader's dream, the leader always has a clear target in mind. This is a big picture sort of thing, it is the new product that makes people say "why didn't I think of that", not just a toaster that lets you select the degree of darkness of the toast. Edison did not set out to build a better candle, he wanted to find a whole new way to illuminate the darkness. That's the kind of vision a leader has.

A minister of a church will discern God's direction and develop that direction to a goal and purpose gained through God's people united in a cause of loving God, loving each other, and loving life. This is the greatest of gifts God has given beyond the new life in salvation. God has already established the purpose of the church as to grow in faith, reach out to others, and serve the less fortunate.

 

The Drive To See It Through


It is not enough to just have a vision. Lots of people see things that should be done, things that should be fixed, great step forward that could be taken. What makes leaders different is that they act. They take the steps to achieve their vision.

Is it a passion for the idea, an inner sense of drive, or some sense of commitment? Whatever it is, it is the strength that lets leaders move their vision forward despite all the obstacles, despite all the people saying it can't be done, it's too costly, we tried that before, or a dozen other excuses. The true leader perseveres and moves forward in truth and grace always loving beyond the call of duty.

 

Trait And Skills A Leader Must Have


There are things that set leaders apart from other people. Some people are born with these characteristics. Others develop them as they improve as leaders. These are not magic bullets. They are fundamental traits of a leader from my perspective:
  • Has integrity. People have to believe that you are pursuing your dream because it's the right thing to do, not just because you are ego driven.
  • Is a people person. Understands the differences that make people unique and is able to use those individual skills to achieve the goal. I think this is my favorite part of being a leader.
  • Is positive. A leader encourages and rewards people and makes you want to do it and do it right. A leader is not a negative person and doesn't waste time and effort telling everyone what they're doing wrong. Encouraging....encouraging....encouraging!!!
Beyond the personal traits of a leader, there are specific skills someone must master if they want to be a leader.
  • Effective communication - it's more than just being able to speak and write. A leader's communication must move people to work toward the goal the leader has chosen.
  • Motivation - a leader has to be able to motivate everyone to contribute. Each of us has different "buttons". A leader knows how to push the right buttons on everyone to make them really want to do their best to achieve the leader's goal.
  • Planning - the leader has a plan to achieve the goal. He/she doesn't get too bogged down in the details, that's what managers are for, but rather uses a high level plan to keep everyone moving together toward the goal. A leader is willing to do the homework it takes to develop a high level plan and then communicate and motivate so as to implement the plan. It is more than details...it is about leadership.
Leaders dream dreams. They refuse to let anyone or anything get in the way of achieving those dreams. They are realistic, but unrelenting. They are polite, but insistent. The constantly and consistently drive forward toward their goal. I love being a leader and I know you can be a leader.
1 Peter 5:2-3 - "Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock."

You know I love ya, Don


For more information on leadership - check out Andy Stanley's "Deep and Wide"; Lance Witt's "Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul"; and management.

Monday, May 13, 2013

To be known or not to be known...that is a great question!!!

Philippians 3:7-14 (English Standard Version)

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

That I may know Christ is a profound statement. I have been in an Ignatius of Loyal study of listening. Ignatius was a spiritual director and wrote a guide for spiritual development. These writings are known as the spiritual exercises. The unit I am currently developing in my listening to God is that God truly desires to know me and desires for me to know him. God has created me for the purpose of relationship, but more than a relationship, God truly wants to live with me and allows me to live with him. The same truth is offered to you.

Paul was satisfied with Jesus Christ but He was not satisfied with his Christian life. To many, Paul was a spiritual giant. However, he wanted them to know that he had not yet obtained his spiritual goals (v. 10). He was still actively pressing...straining... toward these goals. When Paul spoke of his gain he was referring credentials, credits and successes (vv. 7-8). He could beat the Judaizers at their own game  (being proud of who they were and what they had done) but it is the wrong game. We need to be careful of considering past achievements so important the they get in the way of our relationship with Christ. Paul gave up everything (family, friendship and freedom) in order to know Christ and His resurrection power (vv. 9-11).

Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their life with that of other Christians. If Paul had compared himself with others, he would have been tempted to be proud and perhaps to let up a bit. Instead Paul compared himself with himself and with Jesus Christ! He had not arrived at perfection (v. 12), but he is striving for maturity (v.13), and one mark of that maturity is that he is not perfect.

Paul pursued Christ likeness with the enthusiasm and persistence of a runner. Vigorously and with concentration Paul sought to win the prize to which God had called him. He kept his eyes on the goal and he refused to let anything distract him (v. 14).

It does not matter what my age or where I am in my Christian walk,  I am running to win and have a goal of finishing well for the Lord through "straining" to reveal myself in relationship with him and then accepting the revelation of God in my own life.

You know I love ya,
Don

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm Hungry in a whole new way....

Karen S. Wylie (Texas, USA) offers this story and it resonates with me today....
Four-year-old Brenda slipped unseen from her mother’s pew. She walked down the aisle to the front of the church, where her pastor stood making the weekly announcements. Taking the pastor’s hand, she announced, “I’m hungry!” The embarrassed mother hurried to retrieve her child and bring her back to the pew. She assured the youngster that they would eat when they got home. The little girl’s statement stuck with me as the service continued. How many of us have come to church “hungry” today? Are the others in the congregation spiritually hungry for more of God? Am I? Did I enter the sanctuary expecting to be spiritually fed from the Lord’s table? 

Now each Sabbath I make a conscious effort to come to church hungry. I wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to feed my heart and soul. Then I continue my spiritual journey, nourished, invigorated, and fed.
This is a great story and it has some very strong teaching elements to it. It reminds me of Matthew 5:6 which states; "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." I want to know God more in everyday. 

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Comfort, Replenishment, Safety, and Courage!!!

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul.
 
He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.