Monday Start: Resources for the Week

coffeeA.jpgReading

I’m not sure how he does this much reading. Nevertheless, you might be interested in this piece by Albert Mohler “Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.”  It fascinates me to see the systems that others use for their reading.

Children

Not surprising but still disturbing.  “Many Children Under 5 Are Left to Their Mobile Devices, Survey Finds.”  Also see the piece by Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family.”

Displaced

Also see this feature article in The New York Times MagazineThe Displaced: Introduction.”  Very sobering look at the plight of 60 million people.

This May Interest You

Right now, I am reading Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.  I just read Dr. Ruth Chang’s How to Win Your Child’s Heart.  (Kindle $2.99)  A good little book with some very important reminders about what it means to be a parent.  Just finished listening to John Maxwell’s new book (Audiobooks)  Intentional Living.  An excellent and helpful book. Maxwell is very biographical in this book.  Just listened to the latest Mars Hill Audio (vol. 127).  I especially enjoyed Kevin VanHoozer.  I look forward to each edition.  This audio resource has helped me appreciate the offerings from Christians who work in a variety of disciplines.

Do any of these interest you?  Hopefully.  Of course I am also interested in any nuggets that you have discovered recently. Please leave these titles/authors in a comment or on my Facebook page.

 

 

Don’t Let Your Fears Take Control

Generalized-Anxiety-DisorderOver and over the Bible says, “Do not be afraid.”  

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isa. 41:10)

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Ex. 20:20)

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isa. 43:1)

Are you like me in that you know fear?  

I suspect I have overreacted in a number of situations with my children through the years because of my fear.  I also suspect this has caused me on occasion to be self-protective with my wife.  Fear has been a part of my ministry at times.  There have been times when my view of God was rather small compared to what I was fearing.  Fear has its way.

Fear can have its way when we consider our future.  Some people may allow their fear to cause them to seek perfectionism.  Nothing in their eyes is ever quite good enough.  They may obsess about the smallest details of most anything.  Such people may believe that they really can’t begin a project until everything is near perfect.  Still others allow their fear to lead them to procrastinate.  Out of their fear they put off starting what they could have actually finished months ago. 

How to Murder Your Own Ministry

church144-300x300There are many ways a person can murder one’s own ministry.  Sometimes ministers self-destruct by unwise choices and decisions.  Ministers who serve on a staff at a church can kill a perfectly good ministry through foolish words and actions. Sometimes such choices result in a minister being “fired” or “let go” from a church.  Yet, in some situations one might self-destruct and yet continue to stay in the same role for years.

A minister can get intoxicated by his own sense of self-importance.

This person can begin to believe that since he is retweeted regularly on Twitter or invited to speak at out of state events, that he is important and unlike the ordinary people.  This is the person who might place in his own biography, “He is a highly sought after speaker.”  Really?

A minister can regularly function by asking for forgiveness from others rather than asking their permission.

Do what you want to do knowing that later if you appear to be contrite, you will be forgiven.  After all, this person reasons, it is far easier to get forgiveness than go through the process of getting permission.  Of course, this person might never use the word “manipulation” to describe such  may never be used.  Yet, this is manipulation.

A minister can become focused on money for his own gain.  

This minister may move to a different church primarily due to a larger salary.  Or, this minister might keep score as he learns about the salaries of other ministers.  The problem is not money per se.  There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to support your family.  However, one can become totally focused on financial gain.

A minister can give himself permission to do what is apparently wrong for everyone else to do.

Through rationalization and self-justification, this minister may give himself permission to think too much about a particular woman in the church or community.  Instead of protecting his marriage, he seems to be playing with fire.  He pridefully rationalizes, “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m not even tempted.”

Yet, instead of dealing with the temptation, he seems to be getting as close as he dare.  Then one day he says, “I never thought this would happen to me.”

A minster can self-destruct in relationships with elders.

A younger minister would do well to find out why ministers sometimes have difficulty in their relationships with elders. In fact, this person might become a student of such relationships.  What are ministers doing in churches where these relationships seem to work well?  Are they doing something intentional or do they just have a good group of elders?

A minister can be a taker instead of a giver.

You know the givers.  These are the generous people.  They consider how they might encourage and help others.  Then, there are the takers.  These are the ministers who seem to always concerned about who gets the credit.  They want to position themselves to be able to be seen by any large urban congregation that might be looking for a preacher.  As one guy said to me, “I’ve got to keep my resume up to date.  I’m ok with the church I’m with but I want to be ready in case one of the large churches has an open position.”  When ministers model “taking” as a legitimate form of ministry, they are modeling before the church anything but servant leadership.

 

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

MondayConversation

From Business Insider see “How to Start an Interesting Conversation with Anyone.”  This is a good piece.  Far too many people are passive in the company of others.  This could be very helpful.

Goals

This post from Life Hack is a reminder that there is value in reviewing one’s goals.  See “5 Actions You Should Take to Plan Your Next 5 Years Well.”

Parenting

This is a good post by the former Stanford University dean.  See “Former Stanford dean explains why helicoptering parenting is ruining a generation of children.”

David Brooks

I like New York Times columnist David Brooks.  Like any writer, I don’t agree with everything he says.  I like Brooks because he makes me think.  I also like him because he is not predictable.  See his recent columns here.

On Being

I occasionally listen to NPR’s radio program On Being with Krista Tippett.  Recently I listened to a portion of the podcast with Adam Grant, “Successful Givers, Toxic Takers, and the Life We Spend at Work.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

w-Giant-Coffee-Cup75917Children

Some very interesting articles appeared recently regarding children, play, etc.  See “Schools Hire Consultants to Make Recess Safe, Structured, Sad” and “Kids Need To Get Out And Play.”  Also on the subject of children be sure to at least skim  (from the Washington Post) “Are parents ruining youth sports?  Few kids play amid pressure.”

Conversation and Technology

See the interview with Sherry Turkle in the Huffington Post regarding her new book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.  The article is “Texting Isn’t the Problem: A Conversation with Sherry Turkle About Reclaiming Conversation.”

Productivity

See Adam Toren’s “7 Healthy Habits that Maximize Your Productivity Every Day.”  (Reading these kinds of articles often reminds me of a bad habit I’ve acquired or a good habit that I’ve neglected.) See also “7 Invaluable Lessons from World Class Achievers.”

Parenting

Be sure to read my recent blog post “What Good Parents Do.”  These are some reflections on the practices and habits of good parents.

Odds and Ends

I am reading Tim Keller’s book Preaching.  This is an excellent book written by a seasoned minister who has been preaching for many years.  I especially pay attention to Keller’s footnotes as he is apparently one who reads widely.

This weekend I read several two articles and an interview by James K. A. Smith in Comment (print edition).  (See online edition here.)  In particular I enjoyed his “An annotated reading of your world.”  I will quote one section of this article:

The world needs your (continuing) education, and your soul is starving for it.  We are remarkably well-educated dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants who could only dream of what we enjoy.  Let’s not squander our inheritance. (p. 11)

 

 

What Good Parents Do

child-and-adultThose of us who have children are always learning, or at least we should be.  We have two daughters who are adults and are still learning what it means to be a dad and mom to two adult children.

James K. A. Smith, in an article in Comment journal (fall 2015) speaks of “the currents and dynamics of society that are essential but often ignored because they are banal and taken for granted.”  He observes that “While headlines focus on spectacles and draw our attention to controversy, the things that make a society tick hum away in the background, in the quiet of life-giving homes and the energy of formative classroom . . . .”  (“Health Beyond the Hospital” p. 2-3).

As parents, we need to be aware of the significance of the “quiet of life-giving homes.”  This may be where some of the most significant work of our lives will be done.  Yet in our busyness and fatigue, we may also ignore some of the most important realities of being a good parent.

What do good parents do who wish to raise children in life-giving homes?

Good parents continue to learn.  Pity the child who is being raised by a dad or mom who won’t learn, grow, read, or ask questions of others.  Their default is often their own experience.  “This is the way I was raised.  This is good enough for my children.”  Granted, all of us can learn something from our families of origin.  However, we bless our children when we continue to grow and mature as parents.

Who Are You Trying to Please?

(From Self-consciousness to God-consciousness)

1978cadillaceldoradoAt the time, it was a new luxury car.  It was a car that I could only dream of owning.  The owner was a wealthy man in our small church. I was a newly married, young preacher.  That morning, as I walked out of our church building, I could see him already sitting behind the wheel of his parked car, puffing on a big cigar.

As I walked by his car, I waved to him.  His window slowly came down.  He glared at me and sternly said, “Let’s don’t talk about race anymore!”

That morning I had preached a sermon and at some point had said something about race and the way we treat one another.  As I recall, I spoke regarding the way we as Christians are called to treat others, regardless of ethnic group.

Apparently this man did not like what I said.  This was a new experience for me.  I had never had someone immediately snap at me like this regarding what was just said in a sermon.   I responded by saying something like, “I was just applying the message of the text that I was preaching this morning.”

I thought about his remark throughout the day.  I knew he was used to having his way.  I also knew that he gave more money on Sunday morning than anyone else and that our small church was impacted by his gift.  I reflected on what I had said in the sermon and genuinely believed that what I said was appropriate.

On one level his comment was about race but it actually was about much more.  His comment forced me to reflect on why I preached and why I did any kind of ministry in the first place.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start3Why seminary?

Steve Norman has written a very fine post on some of the benefits of seminary.  Working with Harding School of Theology, I obviously believe there are great benefits that one can receive at a seminary.  See 4 Surprising Benefits of Seminary.

For your brain

These two articles deal with the kind of food that might enhance the brain.  See 7 Back to School Breakfasts that Boost Brain Power and Researchers Find 8 Superfoods That Drastically Boost Your Brainpower At Work.

Self-awareness

Bill George, a Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School has written a good article entitled Self Awareness: Key to Sustainable Leadership (Huffington Post).

Being with people in grief and loss

Maria Popova has written a great piece in Brain Pickings.  See Barbara Walters on How to Be There for the Newly Bereaved and Brokenhearted.  (Maria Popova often writes thoughtful and useful posts that are helpful and interesting.)

American Culture

Terry Rush has written a post entitled Anti-Religion is a Religion.  Worth reading.

Public speaking and preachers

Don’t miss this fine post.  Volume and the Public Speaker: Be Heard and Be Effective.  This post contains important reminders to anyone who does public speaking.

Marriage and the dangerous question

See this post by one of my favorite writers, Gary Thomas —  The Question That Can Destroy Your Marriage.

 

 

5 Attributes of Wise Leaders

diceWise leaders understand that life and ministry is a long game.  Far too many church leaders act as if real ministry began once they came on the scene.  It almost sounds like what the congregation may have been doing for many years long before the present leaders showed up is not as legitimate as what is being done today. Wise ministers know that God has been working long before they arrived and will continue to work in that congregation long after they are gone.

Wise leaders never stop growing in character.  For example, a minister preaches/leads/teaches out of a transformed life.  As Ruth Haley Barton has said:

What would it look like for me to lead more consistently from my soul — the place of my own encounter with God — rather than leading primarily from my head, my unbridled activism, or my performance-oriented drivenness? (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, p. 25)

When Ministers Lose Their Focus

woody-selfieMost ministers who I know are good people.  In fact, some of the best people I know serve as ministers in churches.  Many preach and some serve in other roles.

Ministers have the opportunity to influence other ministers as well as the elders of the congregation by what they model in their professional life as well as in their private life.

Some ministers are overly concerned with their visibility and their status among others instead of focusing on their character.

As a result, some ministers become preoccupied with things that just don’t matter that much. Some may keep score.  “They asked him to keynote a lecture at Pepperdine again!”  Or, maybe you see that your friend is preaching at a number of churches over the next few months and you can’t believe they asked this person instead of you.  Or, you find yourself checking to see how many Twitter followers that a certain preacher has or how many Facebook friends this person has. 

When the forming of our character is ignored, it may show up privately, publicly or both.  Privately, one may begin to harbor grudges, resentment, and hatred for others.  Or, you may begin to make poor personal choices and give yourself the license to follow your lusts.  Quite often this means opening the door to pornography.  Once that door is open, it is often quite difficult to ever get it closed again.

When we ignore the building of our character, it may show up publicly, perhaps in the way we do ministry.  We may lie about the attendance at our church.  We may exaggerate the good things that happen at our church.  Many ministers take short-cuts. Some plagiarize sermons while others practice manipulation and dishonesty with the elders or a congregation.