Archive for the 'Leadership' category

A Word from God and A Time of Testing

Jan 13 2014 Published by under Leadership, Life

By Vicki Johanson

Vicki1Throughout the Old and New Testaments, demonstrations exist concerning people receiving a word from God and then going through times of testing.  One remarkable example of this is found in the beginning ministry of Jesus, himself.

When examining the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we see a pattern emerge.  At the moment of Jesus’ baptism, the Bible says that a voice out of heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matt. 3:17)  Immediately afterwards, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness, where He fasted and was tempted for forty days.

We can gain great insight into Jesus’ testing when we examine the Biblical reference He used to combat Satan in the first temptation.  Satan tormented Jesus by trying to convince Him to change the stones into bread.  Jesus quoted a scripture found in Deuteronomy 8:3b which says; “Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”  If we read the entire context of the scripture that Jesus used in Deuteronomy 8:3b, a tremendous revelation begins to surface.  Deuteronomy 8:1-3 begins by saying, “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.  2) And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  3) So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna .., that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”  The children of Israel had numerous, awesome miracles take place when God took them out of Egypt.  They experienced God’s greatness in the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, as well as many other undeniable contacts with the God of Israel.

Immediately afterwards, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  In Deuteronomy 8, God tells them why it was necessary to suffer for those forty years.  However, not only did they suffer, but God took care of them too.  He fed them with manna and quail.  He miraculously provided water, and none of their clothes wore out.  Deuteronomy 8:15-18 says, “Do not forget that He led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions.  He gave you water from the Rock!  16) He fed you in the wilderness with manna .., that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end.  17) He did this so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy.  Then you would say in your heart, my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.  Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to get wealth; that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is to this day.”

God gives us revelations and promises as we serve Him.  However, along with those promises, he gives us times of testing.  These come first because God wants to know what is in our hearts.  However, they also come so that we can know Him better.  We learn to trust Him, rely on Him for everything, as we truly seek His face.  God wants relationships with his children most of all.  He loves us, and He wants us to love Him back.  Psalms 119:49-50 says, “Remember the word to Your servant, upon which you have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life.”  His words to us give us hope and life.  They give us something to hold onto through the trials, but those trials are just as important in building our relationship with Him.

Vicki Johanson serves as the Study Network Director for Global University. She can be reached via email at vjohanson@globaluniversity.edu.

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Keys to Greatness

Dec 02 2013 Published by under Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Michael Goldsmith

photo 1My favorite verse in the Bible is Isaiah 46:6 which states, “….hire a goldsmith.”  Never mind the fact that I take it completely out of context.  And my favorite chapter in the Bible is Nehemiah 3 which is that long list of difficult to pronounce names of the individuals engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem.  Why do I love this chapter so much? The “goldsmiths” are mentioned numerous times. Again, out of context, but my people showed up for work.  Using each of the letters of the word ‘great’, I’d like to suggest five principles critical for achieving greatness, extracted from the book of Nehemiah.

1. Go passionately.  Nehemiah returned to his homeland to find it in total disarray.  After a time of personal evaluation, Nehemiah rose to challenge the people to join forces and resources in restoring their homeland to a standard of excellence.  With great passion, Nehemiah sold the people on the unifying idea of rebuilding the broken down walls.  In Neh. 1, the people were extremely discouraged. After Nehemiah’s passionate appeal however, the people rose to respond, “Let us arise and build.” (Neh. 2:18).  Having great passion will get you out of the starting block.

2.  Recover quickly.  The second principle of greatness is learning to recover from setbacks.  In Neh. 4, there is substantial resistance.  Enemies repeatedly threatened.  Ten times their enemies heaped fear, criticism and discouragement on them.  Nehemiah recovered quickly.  He came up with a game plan for protecting the workers and kept the people focused on productivity.  Setbacks have a way of taking the ‘wind out of our sails.’  When you encounter an obstacle, what are you going to do?  Quit?  Forget it?  Mark it off as one more over zealous idea?  Or recover?  Get back on your feet, brush yourself off, learn from it and go forward.  It’s not how many times adversity comes, it’s how many times you recover.

3.  Excel greatly.  Nehemiah 3 contains a list of people who were involved in the building project.  In the midst of these difficult to pronounce names you find in verse 20 this phrase, “…Baruch, the son of Zabbai, zealously repaired another section.”  In the midst of the building project at least one person was zealously approaching their work.  Excellence in American productivity seems to be suffering.  One thing to remember about everything you do – It’s a reflection of you. It’s your name.  It’s your reputation.  It’s your work.  It’s your fingerprint.  Excellence is about pride in your approach to life.  Baruch knew his particular section of the wall would always be a reflection of him.  People would either say, “That’s the lousy section that Baruch built.” or “Look at that incredible section that Baruch built!”  Baruch would always have the satisfaction of knowing that he gave it his best.

4.  Act persistently. In Neh. 4:6 we read, “So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”  About halfway through any project is the point where you most feel like giving up.  You’ve probably used over half your resources, there is still half a project to go, and your initial enthusiasm may be waning.  If you don’t think the half way point is critical, walk through your house and examine all of the half done projects. Persistence and follow through are critical to greatness.

5.  Triumph valiantly. Neh. 6:15-16 closes with, “So the wall was completed… in 52 days.  And it came about when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of God.”  Job complete.  Celebration time! You haven’t performed well until you’re done.  I particularly enjoy that last sentence where the enemies lose their confidence in the face of a completed project.  Finished work speaks for itself.

Greatness is not a matter of arriving at a certain level but of becoming a certain person.  Greatness takes effort and discipline.  Nothing more or less than old-fashioned, roll up your sleeves, put your nose to the grindstone, stay at it until it’s done, discipline.

Rev. Michael Goldsmith serves as the lead pastor at Timber Ridge Church in Catoosa, OK in addition to serving as Global University’s Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. Michael can be reached at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu.

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Porn Addicts, God Haters, and Gossips

Nov 25 2013 Published by under Church, Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Dan Rockwell

dan3The need for fairness destroys thankfulness.

Life isn’t fair and, more importantly, grace isn’t fair. Grace has nothing to do with fairness. The most unworthy, from a human point of view, receive just as much in grace as the “worthy.” What if Hitler trusted Jesus in his last breath and ended up in the same heaven you enjoy? The thought offends our fairness gene.

Fairness:

Fairness is about comparison. Is everybody being treated the same?

Suppose your employer hires a less experienced employee, who does what you do, but makes more money. You aren’t grateful for your job. You hate it.

1.   Superiority ends gratitude.

2.   A sense of worthiness ends gratitude.

3.   Comparing ourselves with others ends gratitude.

Categories:

Grace has nothing to do with comparison, worthiness, or superiority. Grace humbles the righteous and the unrighteous.

There are no categories in grace. Grace does the same for a gossip as a drug addict.

Who’s in your “bad” category?

1.    Adulterers

2.   Alcoholics

3.   Abortionists

4.   Transvestites

5.   Porn addicts

Surprisingly, gossips are in the same list as God haters in Romans chapter one. You say, “It’s just not fair.” And that’s the point!

Superiority:

Recently, someone asked one of our leaders if a lesbian could come to our Church. Here’s our six word response. “We don’t put people in categories.”

One reason Christians put people in categories is it makes us feel superior.

The only thing that makes a believer different from anyone else is Jesus, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Humbling isn’t it?

Gratitude emerges when you realize the only difference between you and a God hater is Jesus. You don’t really believe God is impressed with you, do you?

Everyone is in the same category so
that everyone can enjoy the same grace.

Your choice is to be self-righteous and thank God you aren’t like “those sinful people.” Or, you can humbly receive grace like the rest of us.

Gratitude bubbles up when grace is humbly received.

 

Dan Rockwell is the author of the Leadership Freak blog, recognized as the most socially shared leadership blog of 2012, in addition to authoring the Grace Freak blog. Currently, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentations. You can follow his blogs at www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com and www.gracefreakdan.wordpress.com.

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My Pastor Told Me He Wanted Me to Fail!

Nov 18 2013 Published by under Church, Leadership, Ministry

By Rev. Dennis Franck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI remember the day well! It was my first church staff position at First Assembly in Huron, SD as a youth and music pastor. My senior pastor had asked me to come to his office, sit down, and talk with him for a while. Being new to the ministry (my first few months), and eager to please, I welcomed the opportunity to sit and chat with him. We talked about how things were going for me in my ministry. He asked questions – I gave him excited answers.

Whether he thought I didn’t understand the need to take risks, or didn’t think I completely understood his style of leadership, I am not sure. One thing I do know, however, is that I will never forget what he told me and how I felt as a result of it.

Pastor looked straight at me with an intense, firm, yet compassionate gaze and said, “Dennis, I want you to make three big mistakes every month you are here.”

At first I thought I misunderstood him and asked, “What did you say?”

He repeated his words again, this time with a smile upon his face.  “I want you to make three mistakes every month.”

I couldn’t believe it! “You want me to make three mistakes every month?!” I asked. “I thought you brought me here to be successful, to be effective at reaching youth and helping them to grow in their relationship with the Lord and each other,” I responded.

“I did,” he retorted. “I DO want you to be effective in your ministry!”

“Then why do you want me to make mistakes?” I quickly responded.

I will never forget his answer. It was one that has helped me throughout my 36 years of ministry.

“I want you to be successful in ministry,” he said.  “To do that, though, you will have to stretch yourself by dreaming new dreams, thinking new ideas and trying new things. SOME of those new dreams and ideas will work. SOME of them will not. I want you to have the freedom to fail, Dennis!”

“You mean it’s okay to fail at some things?” I asked.

“Yes,” he confidently exclaimed! “I have, and you will too!”

I can’t describe the feeling of relief that came over me! I could fail and my pastor would not be upset with me!  From that day on, until years later when God moved me to another ministry location, I not only felt his support of me and my ministry, I felt I had a pastor who understood my desire to succeed, and also my fear of failure. He gave me permission to fail, so that I could learn to succeed!

 

I began to realize that failure does not mean I am a failure. I began to understand that to be effective in ministry didn’t mean everything I did had to be a big hit. Failure just helped me see that the idea, plan, or way I was doing it was not the best way, and inspired me to find a way that was effective.

I don’t know of anyone in ministry who wants to fail at what they believe God has given them to do. I know of no one who desires to be known as a failure! All of us desire to be successful in fulfilling our ministry pursuits. What I didn’t know years ago, until Pastor helped me understand, was that we all need the freedom to fail to learn to be successful in what God has called us to be and do.

As a leader, ask yourself these simple questions.

  • Do you give your staff the freedom to fail?
  • How do you react when someone under you does fail?
  • Do they know they have permission from you to make mistakes and not experience your wrath or extreme disappointment?
  • Do you realize if they don’t hear “permission to fail” from you, their mistakes may cause them to distance themselves from you, or even squash their desire to try again?

Failure…it’s not something we all want, but something we all need the freedom to experience.

Rev. Dennis Franck serves as the National Director of Single Adult/Young Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God. Dennis also authored the 2012 Global University course ‘Introduction to Single Adult Ministry’, the first course of its kind in the Assemblies of God. Dennis can be reached at dfranck@ag.org.

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