Archive for the 'Leadership' category

A Huge Difference

Aug 04 2014 Published by under Leadership, Life

By Rev. Doug Clay

DClayI have heard it said that the only disability in life is a bad attitude. Well, whether that is true or not, I believe you will agree with me that attitude makes a big difference.

The Bible says there is a connection between our attitudes and the rest of our lives.

Proverbs 23:7a

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

I certainly don’t believe we just think into existence anything we want, but I do believe our thoughts can produce a good attitude and a good attitude can get you through even the worst of circumstances.

So, whether or not your “attitude determines your altitude” as some claim, I am convinced a good attitude can . . .

  1. Keep you positive when the environment around you is negative.

Psalm 37:5-7, The Message

Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. 7 Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.

  1. Give you hope when you feel hopeless.

Romans 15:13, The Message

Oh! May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

  1. Help you keep things in proper perspective.

Colossians 3:1-2, The Message

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective!

Make a commitment today to have a good attitude. After all, a good attitude can help you make a great day!

 

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer of the Assemblies of God. He can be reached at dclay@ag.org.

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3 Things to Look for In a Mentor

Jul 28 2014 Published by under Leadership, Life

By Dr. Jeremiah Gibbs

JeremiahIn my work as a University Chaplain, I talk with a lot of students about having a good mentor and becoming a good mentor to another. One of the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion is that only committed religious parents can have more impact on the religious faithfulness of young people than adult mentors. Mentors matter.

I suppose that one of the reasons that I grew in my faith so much as a young adult, from “never-been-to-church” to “pastor-in-training” in 14 months, was the great mentors that I had in my life. I don’t think just any mentor will do, however. Here are three traits that distinguish great mentors:

1. Good mentors are unwavering. We had a really spectacular youth ministry and a really spectacular college ministry. In fact, when I lead communities now, I’m often thinking about what I learned about community in that college ministry. Darrell Neal was the elder from our congregation that was appointed to oversee ministries with young people. Darrell was around often, encouraged us in life transitions, and was always centered when one person or another tended to some version of religious oddity.

The most important thing I learned from Darrell was after our congregation went into absolute turmoil. I won’t go into details, but our really healthy church experienced a crazy upheaval. People were leaving the church, hurting one another, and vying for power. Darrell refused to participate in the craziness and simply stood as a steady force in the storm. He eventually did leave our congregation (just as I did a while later), but even then he did so with respect, grace, and without malice.

Darrell’s unwavering maturity taught me to stand in the gap when life and ministry are difficult. My family and my churches have reaped the benefits from his steady leadership.

2. Good mentors can get out of their own way. I suppose that all of us have had mentors and leaders from whom we learned over time that their mentoring wasn’t really about them. Mark and Rose Diekevers taught me that the best mentors have the self-confidence that the relationship is not about filling a need they have to be important, needed, or in authority. When we started a small ministry for young adults out of the remnants of our former college ministry, Mark and Rose opened their home week after week to us.

Never once did they try to take the teaching and leadership away from the young leadership team. When asked, they responded with advice that was never motivated by their own desires. When I returned to college after a break of several years, they gave me the largest financial gift I had received from anyone at that point in my life. For a number of reasons, financial aid was not going to make ends meet that first semester before it would ratchet up the next semester. They filled a gap. No one knew that they were doing it but me and a couple close friends. They didn’t need to be recognized for the great ministry that they did in those years with me and the young adults in that group.

I have experienced mentors that were filling their own needs by “discipling” me. But I learned from Mark and Rose that the best mentors are ones that can get out of their own way to serve another.

3. Good mentors gently challenge you consistently. Often folks will tell you that a good mentor will challenge you when you are making a poor choice. That is true. At appropriate times, we need people to tell us simply, “That is a mistake.”

Bob Vanderburg taught me that we also need mentors to challenge us consistently. I worked for Bob as I was making my way through college (and by “worked” I mean that we went to the job site each day and talked about life, God, and ministry). Bob is a smart man and has an opinion on everything. As we “worked” and talked, he would push against my ideas for ministry and my theology. He never withdrew friendship because of our disagreements. He never tried to manipulate me.

He just gently disagreed with me and forced me to articulate myself more clearly. In many ways, my formation as a theologian began in these discussions. Similarly, when I went to seminary my friend Robert Lowery began to challenge me and force me to think more clearly. A safe place to be challenged, debate, and even argue is the best way to learn to think clearly.

This kind of critical thinking and articulation rarely happens in a classroom where the professor does most of the talking. Instead, it is often a good mentor that is able to challenge us gently and force us to articulate our vision.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What are the traits that you look for in a mentor? Who are some of the mentors that have taught you the most?

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Gibbs is University Chaplain and Assistant Professor at the University of Indianapolis. He blogs regularly about theology, gender, and justice at JeremiahGibbs.com

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The Dilemma of a New Generation

Jun 02 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Nino Gonzalez

Pastor-Nino2Joshua 24

A “dilemma” is a situation requiring a choice between alternatives in which one of them is not desirable. We are living in a generational tight spot. The challenge to believe in God is at its critical moment. How long will it be before this generation in its entirety decides to do away with morality, healthy values and everything that sounds like God? Some social experts believe that in two generations an entire system of beliefs can be gone. What guarantees are there that our children will accept, choose and be taught the things of God in the years ahead?

 

Joshua had to face the same dilemma that this generation is confronting today and that’s the essence of his message in Joshua 24. When we observe the context of the book of Joshua we find a few hints as to what Joshua did and what we, the church and its leaders, can do to influence a generation towards God.

 

First, we see a leader who witnessed God’s supernatural power. From his days in Egypt, all the way through the desert, and now in the promised land of Canaan, he witnessed God’s move firsthand. He ate manna; drank from the rock; benefitted from the cloud and the pillar of fire. I am of the conviction that Christianity without a demonstration of the supernatural doesn’t have a chance in this generation. The God of Moses and Joshua was a “show up” God. He was there, present, doing, speaking, moving, intervening, correcting. Today we defend thesis after thesis on Christian doctrines with seemingly no demonstration at all. What chance do we have against the modern serpents of Egypt? It seems like this world is Pharaoh’s palace and we need to demonstrate that Jesus Christ has more power than anything Egypt throws at us.

 

Secondly, Joshua was a leader with boldness and convictions. We need that type of character today. Christianity is fighting for a position on the platform called political correctness. We want to be accepted by the powerful and famous, (politicians, sport stars, Hollywood figures, etc.) and if that means compromising our knowledge of God, moral and holy living, so be it. Joshua knew that charging a generation to choose between God and the idols of his time meant discovering the hidden philosophies in peoples’ lives. Our pulpits and preaching opportunities have to be modern day Shechem, (Joshua 24:1), where people are confronted with their motives, ideas, philosophies and human principles ruling today’s life.

 

Thirdly, we need to pose the right questions and propose the right answers. Do we want to continue the path this generation has taken or do we want to see healing throughout our land? Our culture might not have the obvious physical idols like in the time of Joshua, but they are embracing the philosophy behind the idol. Some of these are the lack of respect for human life; violence, self pleasure; materialistic ambitions; sexual immorality, etc. These were the goals behind the idols of Canaan. Joshua charged his people to choose. That was a clear call to repentance. He boldly states, “Fear God” (v.14). He was calling Israel to a return to God.

 

Lastly, he made himself an example, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” We need to be examples to this generation. Christianity has the best opportunity when the messenger lives the message. We know we have a dilemma, but this could be the greatest opportunity the church of Jesus Christ has ever had. Let’s choose the right path.

 

Rev. Nino Gonzalez serves as the Superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District of the Assemblies of God.

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How to Be Joyful

Apr 21 2014 Published by under Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Michael Johnson

MJHow does one keep a smile on their face on a daily basis? Is joyful bliss simply a genetic trait or is it the result of hard effort? WebMD, an online organization that provides medical information, states in an article:

“Research has shown that your talent for happiness is, to a large degree, determined by your genes…and yet, psychologists who study happiness — believe we can pursue happiness.”[1]

This bifurcation in research is devastating because it leaves out a critical influence, the divine connection in Jesus Christ.

For this reason, it would be beneficial to revisit Paul’s letter to the Philippian church where he introduces some key “how-to’s” regarding joy. By both reviewing and following Paul’s admonition one can experience the type of joy only Christ delivers.

At the time of Paul’s writing to the Philippians, he was imprisoned and trying to deal with issues about disunity, worrying, and false teachers. So in Pauline fashion he handles these problems with a Christ-centered theology. Thus, he gives an exhortation to unite and live in peace, at which he also imperatively advises the church to rejoice! After doing so, he gives steps to help the church express their joy.

Step 1. Be gentle with people (vv. 2-5). This direction came as a solution to the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche who were advised to “agree in the Lord” (v. 2-3). Paul uses this case as a teaching point and says “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone; the Lord is at hand.” (v.5). In other words, let conflicts and disagreements be settled with this perspective in mind because in the end, relational problems do not matter in light of Christ’s coming.

Step 2. Pray about everything (vv. 6-7). The Philippian church was overwhelmed with troubles from without and within. Therefore, Paul gives an imperative exhortation to stop being anxious. In its place he encourages prayer and intercession with an attitude of thanksgiving. As a result of this discipline the believer experiences peace that acts as a guard (garrison, mounted guard) against an invasion of worry into the heart and mind.

Step 3. Think about good things (v. 8). Not stopping at prayer, Paul goes further in his exhortation for rejoicing and urges the church to engage in careful and intentional reflection of the following virtues and noteworthy actions: truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, commendable, excellence, and worthy of praise. These high traits encourage the believer to look upward in life, rather than downward; thus increasing the joyful state of mind.

Step 4. Learn from others (v. 9). “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things.” Paul offers his life as an example of how to live joyfully, that is, actively practicing the principles he prescribed when going through difficulties. Keep in mind that Paul’s experiences qualify him as a model to follow because in life he encountered multiple challenges to his faith: shipwreck, imprisonment, persecutions, etc. From this viewpoint, he gives a bold and yet humble plea to the Philippian church, which urges today’s believers to also learn from others through a discipleship and mentorship dynamic.

The search for living joyfully, given from Paul’s perspective in Philippians, offers solid answers because the “how-to’s” were given from a real life experience involving personal struggle, people conflicts, and dark human emotions. It is no surprise that God uses real life characters and events to deliver genuine instructions and guidance for his people. So with great joy I too urge everyone to REJOICE!

Scriptures to consider:

Psalm 98:4

John 15:11

Romans 14:17

[1] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/choosing-to-be-happy

 

Rev. Michael Johnson serves as the Director of Ethnic Ministries for Global University. He can be reached at mjjohnson@globaluniversity.edu.

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