A Busy Week

This week will be filled with funerals – yesterday, tomorrow, and Friday. Two of the families we are ministering to are part of our church family at Port Royal Baptist. We find ourselves back in Florida today and tomorrow for the funeral of Terri’s aunt. With funeral prep, funerals, travel, sermon prep, and meetings with ministry leaders in preparation for my exit from Port Royal Baptist, I haven’t had much time for recreational writing. 

I posted last week I would resume my Leadership Lessons today. I am not going to be able to that, or any other writing this week. Please forgive me and pray for us this week and I will resume writing next week. Thank you for your patience. 

Interruption

I had planned on sharing the second part of the Leadership Lessons series today. We are  heading to Perry, Florida to look for homes over the next three days. I will continue the series on Tuesday of next week. Thank you for your patience. 

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #1

I have been in leadership roles most of my adult life. From leading Marines to leading churches, the privilege and responsibility offering guidance and instruction to is one I am comfortable with and enjoy. Positively, I have experienced solid and effective leadership throughout my life. I watched how these leaders interacted with people, motivated them to want to do better, and cared about the individual. I remember thinking these qualities were worthy of emulation. Negatively, I have experienced anemic and ineffective leadership along the way. I watched how people were discouraged, berated, and frustrated by these so-called leaders and remember thinking people deserve better.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the ten leadership lessons I have learned and that have been reinforced in my life. These lessons have shaped/are shaping who I am as a leader today.

Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Within any organization (secular or spiritual), each person is accountable to someone else. There is an employee/volunteer and there is a boss/department leader. There are some who allow who they are on paper to effect how they lead and manage. An effective leader does not have to continually remind those they are leading that they are, in fact, the leader. Phrases such as “Don’t forget who is running this place”, “I’m in charge”, or “Just do it, I’m the boss” are foreign to the one who knows that people follow what they see modeled. A leader whose actions genuinely demonstrate care, compassion, and consistency will not have to constantly remind people to follow them. They will want to do so because of what they see. It was former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who said, “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to remind people you are, you aren’t.”

In 2013, Tom Hanks starred in the movie, Captain Phillips. It was the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. A critical scene in the movie occurs when the pirates gain entry to the bridge. The exchange between the lead hijacker and Captain Phillips demonstrates this leadership principle.

Somali Pirate: “Relax, everything going to be okay. Look at me.”

Captain Richard Phillips: “Sure”

Somali Pirate: “Look at me”

Captain Richard Phillips: “Sure”

Somali Pirate: “I’m the captain now.”

When a confident and caring leadership environment is created within an organization, people will want to follow, not because they must, but because they see value and credibility in the leadership given to them and will want to follow.

Missional Monday: Missional Voices

mmI hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live an on-mission lifestyle. Enjoy.

Read:  I recommend The Hole in Our Gospel; What Does God Expect of Us? by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It is the true story of a corporate CEO who gave up worldly success for something far more satisfying. God’s calling on his life removed him from his corner office at one America’s most prestigious companies and allowed him to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world. His journey demonstrates how the gospel – the whole gospel – was meant to change lives and make people whole in Christ.

Follow:  Tim Rice. Tim is the Missions Mobilization Director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He is passionate about assisting individuals and churches to live missionally and engage their communities, state, and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Tim personally and you will be both encouraged and challenged by what he shares with others. You can find him at @timricesc

Get to Know: The Sunshine Girls – a weekly outreach ministry to women who work in the Adult Entertainment Industry in Savannah, Georgia. Their goal is to shine the life-changing light of the Gospel into these dark places. The mission of the organization revolves around establishing relationships and opportunities for another way of life. You can learn more about them here. Pray for the work these women are doing in some very hard and dark places. I am thankful to know one of these Sunshine Girls personally.

The Danger of False Assumptions

Some things are becoming clearer to me the longer I am a pastor. The different ways in which Jesus Christ touches the lives of people to reveal their need for Him is becoming clearer. The church’s commission and responsibility to love and minister to this fallen world is becoming clearer. It is becoming clearer to me how the Lord uses imperfect people in service for His kingdom. It is also becoming clearer to me that we (church leaders) make assumptions about ministry and people that are false and potentially harmful to the cause of Christ.

We assume everyone should conduct themselves the same in church whether they are a Christian or not. This is not possible. Being “in the building” does make you a Christian. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ does. This relationship brings about change in behavior. We assume the language we use when communicating is always understood. The “churchy” terms and phrases we use may mean something different to each person. People are sometimes left scratching their heads wondering what foreign language they just heard. We assume everyone knows the mechanics of connecting to a church body. Entering the “church” world can be an intimidating and overwhelming. Here we assume that everyone already knows how to join the church and why they should. The danger in assuming they will figure it out on their own is this: instead of connecting and belonging, they will simply drift away – frustrated, discouraged, and disappointed.

I wonder how many people want to connect themselves to a local church, but don’t know how to make that happen. I wonder how often our processes frustrate the individual rather than facilitating their entry. As church leaders, we must be aware that at times the “mechanics” of connecting get in the way. As church leaders, we must be careful to not let the “how-to” cloud the “why.” I believe we have the responsibility as church leaders to remove the man-made obstacles and barriers so that when the Lord speaks to their hearts, the only decision is obedience.

Serving People – Part #5: Empowered from on High

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

 Last words are important. They communicate what is most important on a person’s mind, while reinforcing what needs to be remembered. In today’s passage, we find some of the final words and instructions of Jesus for His disciples prior to His ascension. There are two important truths at work here. First, the strength to do what has been asked of us by Jesus does not come from within. Our power is from on high. The reality of this verse was experienced on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and the early church. That power is still at work today within the church and in us. We have all that we will ever need in Him. Second, every believer is employed in the task of introducing people to Jesus. His command to be witnesses should not be accomplished by verbal communication alone. Our life, as much as our words, is witness to the world about Jesus. What we do and how we live matters as much as our words. It is one of the reasons so many people are turned off to Christianity. They don’t see any difference between Christians and everyone else. Wherever we find ourselves, whether that be Jerusalem (your community), Judea and Samaria (your state and country), or the uttermost parts of the world, you are witness to the One who changed your life.

Reflection Questions.

How do people see you? Would someone else characterize you as a Christ-follower?

Where is there inconsistency between your life and your message?

How does it make you feel that someone else may make their decision about trusting Jesus based on what they see in your life?

 

Serving People – Part #4: The Church on the Street

“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:1-8)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation, perhaps as a result of an injury, surgery, or illness, that has forced you to be dependent on others?  For most of us, that is a very uncomfortable position. We watch those in our household getting their own food, dressing themselves, and performing other fundamental daily tasks while we cannot. We desperately want our independence restored.  One day Peter and John met a man in Jerusalem who had been crippled from birth. Without a doubt this man wanted to be like the others in his life. Instead, his disability sent him to the streets to beg for money, food, and help. As this man lay destitute and disheveled, Peter and John stepped into this man’s life, touched him, and offered him the one thing he needed more than anything. Not money. Not food. Not the ability to walk. They offered him Jesus. By God’s mercy and power, the man was made whole; both physically and spiritually. Christians are the church on the street. We encounter people every day who are hurting and helpless. We must be willing to dirty our hands in the work of the ministry. We must be willing to move past the comfortable to the uncomfortable. We must be willing to give away what we have. Above all, we must ensure that we give away the main thing. People might have piles of problems we want God to fix. Some may be serious: cancer, financial burdens, etc. Yet the most important thing people need is not a quick fix from God. The most important thing people need is the Savior Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions.

When was the last time you stepped into another’s life because their need moved you to action? How did you feel afterwards?

In our service to people, we must often meet a physical need before we can introduce them to their most important need: spiritual healing and forgiveness of sin. Do you agree? If yes, what would that look like practically?