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Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb

EVERYBODY LEADS…

Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny.  There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader.  Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes to intrude our brains the instant we hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post simply states that everybody leads.  I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence.  So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone.  With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which has been given to some and not to others.  The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;  (“Whoomp, there it is!”) 🙂 
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing about this, because it has become personal to me.  By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally.  Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena.  I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader.  They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader.  The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others.  If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in.  Other answers are found in a lack of strategy.  Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how he/she is spiritually gifted.  (In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches.  Have we considered whether or not that parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?”   If you have time for more reading…then read the parable here and transpose the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use the word servants instead of the word talents.)  Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different.  Better or worse?  That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership.  No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.”  Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.


A Warning To My Enemies…

To those who have been in my way for so long…you are my enemy!  You have tried to block me, stop me, haunt me, taunt me, belittle me, embarrass me, and forget about me.

It is not working.  It will not work.  May the lyrics of the song “I Want It” by my fav band, Blue October, teach you why you have failed…and any further attempts from you, my enemy, will never succeed!

To all of you in the way
I push you aside
Flames burn down together
I refuse to ignite
I won’t walk away (that is not in me)
I’m here to stay

So I raise my hand in grace
Pray for the ones I wish I could erase
Cause we are who we are and we’ll be who we’ll be
Live for the moment and the mystery of everybody owns a scar
To show us how we got this far
Cause we are who we are and we’ll be who we’ll be
Don’t ever think you’ll take away the fight in me

I want it…
I want it more then you ever did…

Here’s to starting over
I heard you’re shutting down shop
Boy I’m taking it over
I’m never gonna stop
Here’s to the ones who said that you couldn’t win
Here’s to the crazies getting under your skin
They’re always gonna talk
But I’m never gonna stop
I won’t walk away
(I want it, crave it, bottle up and save it)
I’m here to stay
(I want it, crave it, I won’t behave I’ll turn it up more)

So I raise my hand in grace
Pray for the ones I wish I could erase
Cause we are who we are and we’ll be who we’ll be
Live for the moment and the mystery of everybody owns a scar
To show us how we got this far
Cause we are who we are and we’ll be who we’ll be
Don’t ever think you’ll take away the fight in me

I want it…
I want it more then you ever did…

In case you are wondering who my enemy is…let the Holy Word of God make it clear…know-your-enemy3

12 “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”  Ephesians 6:12

To the reader of this short blog.  Your enemies are not people! There is one thing I am positive about.  Every one of us are fighting a battle. Please make sure you are not confused as to who the real enemy is.  Kick your enemy’s butt, by wanting “it” more. Jesus is THE ultimate “IT” factor!! The devil is defeated by the power and blood of the Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ!  If Jesus lives in you…then welcome the scars…He has them too.  They make us better.  They create the story that inspires the life change in others.  Fight the good fight…never give up.

If you need to go further and read more from the Word of God, then click these passages below for further battle prep…

Ephesians 6:10-17

Romans 8:31-39

Philippians 3:12-21

Philippians 1:21

If you have other Bible passages that encourage you and strengthen you, then please add them to the comments section so that others may benefit from them too.


How do I know my name is written in The Book of Life?

There is this list.  This list hasn’t earned the superlative ranks we call Oscar’s, Santa’s, Schindler’s, Craig’s, America’s Most Wanted, or My Bucket…but the day will be upon us sooner or later where this list will be parallel to none.

In the Bible, specifically Luke 10:20, Jesus said to a group of His Disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”  Specifically in the Book of Revelation chapter 3 verse 5, the list is mentioned again, “They who overcome will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase their name from the book of life, and I will confess their name before My Father and before His angels.”  

Book of Life

Every human being has been given a gift…our names have been written in THE Book of Life.  Every person that Jesus died for has their name written in this Book of Life.  What a gift! You didn’t earn having your name penciled in. You are not so outstanding that your name got written in, and other’s, who didn’t put in the work ethic like you, did not.

This is no human standard’s list.  No, this list has written on it every name that the Blood of Jesus was shed for.  This list contains every name that was ever knit together in a mother’s womb, plus Adam and Eve.  Every human, from the beginning of time, has their name written in this book. Jesus’s death, His obedience to the Father, secured your name being written on The List.  You weren’t asked, and you did not earn it. You aren’t capable of earning such an entry in The Book of Life.

But…

Be warned. Every name is written in pencil. Please note, in the Revelation passage above, the critical words, “overcome”, and  “not erase”.

To keep the free gift of having your name written in The Book of Life, the only thing required of you is to LOVE JESUS.  Jesus said, and it’s recorded in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey Me.”

It’s a fair standard.  This standard is the exact same standard the Father requested of Jesus, as He was sent to become one of us, and live in obedience to the Father’s commands on earth.  Such a request to Jesus from the Father, killed Him.  He laid down His life.  He laid down His own desires. (Don’t forget Jesus asked the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to find another way to pay for our sins.) God didn’t change his way, so… Jesus obeyed and laid down His own desires, to honor the Father’s desires.  Jesus, did all that was necessary to Love/Obey the Father, specifically this, “NOT MY WILL BE DONE, BUT YOUR’S”.

Jesus referred a lot to laying down your own life, picking up your cross, suffering for Him, etc. He earned the right to command such of us. Your life is not yours.  Your desires are not your God, Jesus is.

Keep your name written in the Book of Life.  Our life choices influence the great eraser mentioned in Revelation 3:5.

Speaking of lists…is the list below full of items that are worth doing so as to cause “The Great Eraser” to erase our name from The List?

Manipulation-Theft-Pride-Arrogance-Unforgiveness-Cheating-Dominance-Unfaithfulness-Disbelief-Disobedience-Apathy-Porn-Gluttony-Laziness…

My goodness…that list could go on for eternity. Did you read that list and think to yourself, “Impossible…My name is going to be erased…there is no way I can live my life free of those…”

First, let me challenge you with this.  Re-read that list again and ask yourself which ones on the list you HAVE to commit?  Which of the listed, or unlisted items, are you FORCED to do today or tomorrow, or the next?  Never forget the Bible verse that says, through Jesus, we can do all things. Never forget that those who confess Jesus as Lord of their lives, are titled OVERCOMERS, and CONQUERORS, and VICTORIOUS!

When Jesus said, “If you love me, obey me.”  Repenting and confessing your sins are things we do to obey Jesus.

My challenge is this…have your repented of your sins?  To repent doesn’t mean to simply say “sorry” like an apathetic child, who called his sister a bad name, and then was told by a parent to apologize.  No, to repent means to stop and go the opposite direction. 

The Bible says in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Receiving the Holy Spirit is what gives you the strength to witness your name NOT being ERASED from The Book of Life.  The Holy Spirit is what gives you the strength to be what I wrote above…overcomers, conquerors, and victorious ones.

Ultimately…you have a choice of what you want to be a slave to…Be a slave to the obedience/love of Jesus, not a slave to the sins of this world.  What sin is so fulfilling that if it ultimately means having your name erased from The Book of Life…you will say to yourself, “That was worth it!!”?

This post, should strike a little fear in our hearts and lives.  The Bible, written in Proverbs 9:10 says, “Fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.”  What do you need to repent and confess of? If you have been keeping secrets and living in sin…Get on your knees before God and stop the sin you are commiting, confess it all to Him, and work diligently the rest of your life to live a forgiven and free life!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

It will be a very cool day, when you stand in line to meet The Creator of the Sun, Moon, and the Stars, receive a handshake and hug, watch The Book of Life be opened to where your name is written, and be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

There are two great eraser opportunities while our hearts still beat.

The first is to live our lives selfishly by ignoring the commands of Jesus, and thus erasing our names from the Book of Life.

The second and best opportunity is to dedicate our lives to the Teachings and Commands of Jesus, thus erasing the sins in our lives, through His blood sacrifice, so that we can be forgiven and remain in the Book of Life for all eternity.

If I can personally help you give your life to Jesus, please just ask in the comments section or email me and I’ll do all that I can to walk with you through such a life changing decision.


March Madness! 7 Ways Basketball is like Life…

elite basketball

I love March Madness!  I love the game of basketball, but you’ll rarely see me taking the time to watch any games unless it’s my kid’s games or it’s officially March Madness!  March Madness is when the phrase “Game On!” truly incarnates into the 10 young men that step on the NCAA basketball floors all over the USA.  It is the time of year when the Elite players gather in 5’s and live out other vital phrases such as, “Give it your all!” — “No Regrets!” — “No Retreat!” — “Bring it!” — “No do-overs!” — “Go Big or Go Home!” — “Do or Die!”.

With that…it seems Basketball and life have a lot of parallels.  Here are 7.  I’m sure there are more.  If you have another one, write it in the comments section!

Here you go…7 things about March Madness Basketball that relate to real life…

1.  I play better relaxed. 

In life, when I’m frustrated, I live horribly. When relaxed I focus on wise and pro-active choices. When frustrated I tend to argue and fight and that just rarely ends in productivity.

2.  The measure between in-bounds and out-of-bounds is the difference between ASSERTIVE and AGGRESSIVE.

Assertive actions are focused on what is necessary towards what you want. Aggression clouds my focus and causes fouls from a heavy hand. Assertive behavior leads to goals achieved. Aggressive behavior causes pain and harm.

3.  Practice does = Permanent.

Work hard and smart because we all know it will be worth it.  Find what works and repeat until it doesn’t work anymore.  Practice…a lot.

4.  Good Self Esteem = Good Performance.  Performance does NOT = Self Esteem. 

5.  It’s a TEAM game. 

You can’t win basketball or life on your own.  Many Christians mistake the passage of Philippians 4:13 as a passage that means you can do everything on your own.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”  Most people stop with that verse…but verse 14 says, “yet it was good of you to help me.”  

There’s a lot of arguing going on about this in our culture from prominent people such as Barack Obama, Michael Jordan and others.  Somebody told Michael Jordan that there is no “I” in team…His reply was, “But there is in “Win.”  🙂  Makes me smile, but it’s just not true.  Some have discovered that there is actually an “i” found in the word “team.”  See pic below to figure it out yourself.

The-I-in-Team1

My spiritual gift of immaturity causes me to laugh and shake my head at that pictorial proof that there is on occasion “i” in team.

6.  You have to score to win.

Basketball is like life because it is vital to set goals and be assertive in pursuing them.  It is important to understand that great goal achievement in basketball is at between the 50% – 60% success rate.  And…basketball is like life in the fact…The tougher the shot/goal the more satisfaction there is in attempting it and scoring it! Man…some goals can just make the crowd go crazy!!

7.  You cannot hold on to your mistakes for long…

So…you gave the ball away.  You missed a crucial shot.  You tripped and looked silly in the moment.  LET IT GO!  The game of basketball and life is fast.  It moves on with or without you.  Dropping our heads to pout will only be another error.  The best players in the world miss 50% of their 2 pointers and nearly 70% of their 3 pointers.

Philippians 3:13 says, “But one thing I do…forget (let it go) the past and strain (assertive) to what lies ahead.”  

 

Basketball and Life do have a lot of similarities.  There are others…I’ll leave it up to you to add them to the comments section if you’d like.  We could brainstorm many other parallels with basketball and life… Boundaries. Refs. Coaches. Racing the Clock. Strategic plays. Momentum. There’s always a crowd watching. Retaliators get called for the foul. Locker Room talk. Having the right shoes. Dunking! Having the right players on the team.  Making the Cut. Rest and Recovery. Shirts and Skins…etc. etc.

Let’s get our game on!

 


Truth and Nonfiction versions of the Church…

The title seems redundant. It is not.

Truth is purely what Jesus says. Non-fiction simply means facts of a reality. nonfiction

My intention here is to simply describe the Church from Truth’s design, and pray that we all measure our reality, and reset our targets accordingly.

Here goes…

It doesn’t matter if you are The Lord Jesus, the Lead Pastor, an Elder, a Nursery Care Volunteer, or the Wednesday Night Janitor, your mindset in the Church is the same because everyone knows they must rely on one another.  This united mindset is that the whole body of Christ experiences operational excellence and consistent holiness effort with minimal error. Whether it’s preparing a message to preach, a song-set to be led, a business CEO strategically planning around the staff meeting table, a man sitting in his living room at home by himself with his computer, or the three ladies meeting for tea and coffee to talk…they all, always, strive for holiness and excellence, and rely on the entire body to do the same.  It is in every tribe, every nation, every tongue, and every household.  You do right for yourself, but more importantly, you do right for your fellow body members, and most importantly for The Lord and Savior.  It is in our blood and in our brains, and it takes all our brawn to live it minute by minute, day after day, until Jesus arrives to gather this united group and restore us all on a fully remade Heaven and Earth…simply called Heaven.

Thy Kingdom come on earth…as it is in Heaven.


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