Leadership

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YOU

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Pat Williams, a leadership writer and also senior vice-president of the Orlando Magic, once wrote:

A leader is not just someone who takes charge. A leader is someone who takes charge and does the right thing. It’s not enough to make a decision; it needs to be the right decision resulting from strong character. It is not enough to take action; it needs to be the right action, prompted by strong character. (Leadership Excellence)

There are three illegitimate sources of influence people fall back on: Position, Power, and Prestige. None of those will “hold their weight.” When push comes to shove, they are nothing more than a house of cards.

In your mind, what is the single, most important character quality a leader (or anyone for that matter) can show? If you said “being a servant” give yourself an ice cream treat!  If you don’t like ice cream, I take gift cards. 🙂

Teams won’t be winning teams until they learn to serve each other.  As long as each player is in it for himself or herself, that team will not win. No pitcher has pitched a no-hitter without 8 other guys on the team. We should use our influence not to gratify or satisfy self, but to serve others. We take that very seriously here at OVCF and have worked hard to make that part of our church culture. This Sunday we have one service followed by a meal with The Connection (a church in town we have asked to join us) and then the two churches will spread out into the community doing free service for everyone who called to ask.  No strings attached…just service.

Your prayers for good weather (chance of rain) and for safety would be much appreciated.

Integrity

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Part of my sermon Sunday was on being Authenticity-Minded. That brought in the subject of the title:

INTEGRITY

When I was studying I ran across a couple of quotes which said volumes to me and, of course, used:

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

Another one came across loud and clear:

Integrity doesn’t come in degrees: low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you don’t. Tony Dungy

It is never easy being real. Or honest. Or vulnerable. Or a person of integrity. Tragically we live in a world where people are more shocked by a display of integrity than the lack of it. More and more people are surprised when someone does something right or out of the ordinary to set things right than when someone fails.

Authenticity involves our integrity. Practicing integrity means our behavior matches our beliefs. But keep this in mind: personal integrity is not the same thing as your reputation. Your reputation is who other people think you are. Your integrity (or lack of it) is who you really are.

Craig Groeschel wrote a book called Alter Ego. In it he tells a story of when his golf coach caught him stealing a golf ball from a miniature golf course and kicked him off the team.  He said, “If you’ll steal a golf ball, you’ll steal other things.” After some pleading on Craig’s part, the coach took him outside to talk and said words Craig says he will never forget:

If you have integrity, that’s all that matters. And if you don’t have integrity, well…that’s really all that matters.

Wise, wise words. And in my mind, that about sums it up.  Any thoughts?

Lazered-in

Friday, October 27th, 2017

When our girls were born in 1975 and 1979 there were no such things as sonograms. Least we had never heard of them. Today, they are pretty much a staple in pregnancies. Most couples have a sonogram done because there is nothing quite like going to the doctor’s office, hearing the assuring rhythms of a little heartbeat, then seeing the image of the baby on the screen. The doctor prints off the black-and-white picture, says, “See that? You have a boy!”; and the parents treasure the opportunity to show their parents and friends, even posting it on social media. The wait for the birth seems excruciatingly painful (in more ways than one), but they do it for the sheer joy of holding the baby in their arms.

The sonogram (in theory) serves as a picture of what is to come. They provide wonderful images, but are really only a shadow of what is to come. And so it is with Scripture. The shadow of the OT gives way to the substance of the New.

There are two core values we hold dearly at OVCF which go hand in hand.  Those values are Word-Focused and Authenticity-Minded. As Paul told Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned…all Scripture is breathed out by God…” A proper focus on Scripture brings a proper focus upon our lives.

My sermon this morning continues the HILLS series by looking at our Core Values.

Jesus-Centered

Word-Focused

Authenticity-minded

I’ll cover the other two next week. Your prayers would be appreciated this week. Thanks.

Awakened

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Several years ago I reviewed a book by an online friend. It was called Shaken Awake by Allen Madding.  Since it was before I met many of you here, you can read my review of that book here. Several weeks ago, Allen contacted me and asked if I would review his newest book, Awakened.

Product Details

Shaken Awake was centered around a snow storm which hit Atlanta and literally crippled the city. After all, since when has it snowed like that in Atlanta? You can read my thoughts on Shaken Awake by reading the review.  Allen follows on the heels of that book with a sequel, which he has entitled Awakened.

The sequel follows the soul-stirring result of Pastor Sam and one of his leaders, Phil, as they are both moved to the depth of their soul because of the snow storm. Not only that, Pastor Sam is deeply rocked by the death of a homeless man on the steps of the Peachtree Church which he pastors. The church is in dire straits financially, as well as morale, and “what will we do about our future?” Pastor Sam comes in contact and befriends Fred, Miss Gladys, Lewis Davis and other homeless people in his continuing journey to come to grips with the homeless population and how he can help. We also meet others who are not part of the homeless community- community leaders, movers and shakers- who take an interest in the homeless of their city.

Eventually Pastor Sam and Phil hear of a community in Austin, TX (a real-live one in real life) called Community First! Village and its corresponding outreach called Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which has done an amazing job of listening to and addressing the needs of the homeless in Austin. That real life ministry is led by Alan Graham. After a visit to Community First!, Pastor Sam and Phil know they have their work cut out for them. Community First! is a planned community designed to address homelessness. (I have Alan’s book in my Amazon cart).

I don’t want to say any more about the gist of the book because I would have to put up Spoiler Alert! all over the place. So let me just encourage you to buy Allen’s book. I had trouble putting it down, but forced myself so I could go to bed several nights in a row. My reading time was limited so finding the time to read was a real struggle but I made time after I started reading. 10 minutes here. Half hour there. An hour or two here. That is how caught up I was in this book. My emotions were all over the place. My mind raced to make application to my little town. I want to do something to change this whole situation. I believe you will also be stirred by reading this book and may even want to become locally active in addressing the homeless situation in your community.

Allen has written a great book and has presented a doable challenge to all of us.

Politics

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

I’m not big on politics. Frankly they turn my stomach. I simply refuse to preach politics from the pulpit. I won’t endorse any candidate from the pulpit and seldom say much on a more personal level of discussion. But while the following article from Chuck Swindoll might be speaking of politics to start, it switches gears quickly and speaks about an even more insidious cancer which eats away at pastors, churches, and people in general. Here’s Chuck:

I see it every night on the news. The politics of backslapping and handshaking and making sure “so-and-so” isn’t turned off—it’s maddening! (We call it “smoke-blowing” here in Texas.)

At the end of the political rainbow the pot of gold is “favorable public opinion.” Period.

If we’re not careful, we can let politics work its way into our churches. And even worse, into our pulpits. In fact, the pastorate is a breeding ground for this sort of thing—maybe more than most professions.

I love the way the apostle Paul keeps our motives clean and focus sharp:

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4–5 NLT)

People-pleasing is a very tempting allurement, especially for people in ministry, because most of what we do gets done through people.

When needing volunteer positions filled—whether . . .

  • In the nursery
  • For a Sunday school class
  • Among the ushers
  • In our music ministry

It’s easy to massage our words and say more than we mean . . . or say something other than what we mean. (That’s called a lie.) The pastor must resist the temptation to flatter. We must refuse to play both sides against the middle.

Don’t go there. Why? Because once you start, it’s hard to stop.

When a pastor is a people-pleaser, he sits on the fence so as not to offend anyone. He remains neutral when he should NOT be playing it safe.

He tells people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

That’s not pastoring . . . that’s politics.

Look at the apostle’s words one more time. I find myself both challenged and refreshed by Paul’s transparency:

Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

—Chuck

I spent way too many years as a people-pleaser, i.e. playing the political game. As I got older I realized that was a losing game. So today, while I try to be sensitive to people and their feelings, I also realize sometimes “politicians” can be the biggest hindrance to the church being the church.

Are you a people-pleaser? Is your pastor one? Are you part of the reason he is? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Humbling

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

On this Labor Day weekend I salute all who work, those who labor honestly and do all they can to take care of their family. But in all our work there is also something we need to be aware of. It is in this story:

When George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously answered, “Because it is there.” But in a personal letter to his wife, Ruth, he revealed even more about what drove him. “Dearest…you must know that the spur to do my best is you and you again…I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.”  George left a meaningful legacy that proved worthy of history’s remembrance. But George’s son John wrote something that has challenged me. Proud of his father but sad too, John wrote, “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.  (copied from The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine- page 78)

Sadly, we live in an age where “making a living” or “making a name for ourselves” seems to be much more important than making a name with our children. The mountain “was there” but so was his son. It is far more important in my eyes to be a successful father in my daughters’ eyes than to be rich, powerful, or well-known.

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on what you have been blessed with. Work hard at what you do. But don’t forget there are people whom you come home to who don’t care if you are a CEO or a common laborer. Being a hero in their eyes is the prize worth pursuing.

ProblemSolved

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Jo saw this and sent it to me. I laughed.

There are all kinds of leaders and all kinds of people. Some are “take charge” kind of people. Some are “sit back and see what happens” kind of people. Some are “bull in a china shop” type of people. Some are very “laid back” kind of people. Some are “bury their head in the sand” kind of people.  And there are some who are “go with the flow” kind of people.

I am an extreme extrovert. Jo is the opposite. But God has made us this way and put us together for some “odd” reason. She needs my “get-up-and-go” influence and I sometimes need her stabilizing “just slow down” influence. She needs my “here, let me introduce you to my wife” approach and sometimes I need her “let’s just wait to see how this develops” approach. We make a good team.

One of the things that makes me the most upset is when I hear her say, “I’m not a very good pastor’s wife.” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! And I tell her that. She thinks that way because she doesn’t fit the mold of the “model pastor’s wife.” I’m sorry to say my late mother was one of those and never gave Jo a chance. No, she doesn’t sing solos; lead a ladies Bible study (although she can); speak in public (in front of big groups…although she has done a superb job on Mother’s Day); play the piano; or take charge. She prefers quietly encouraging me in the background, being a fantastic mom and mamaw par excellence; typing the Power Point each week; and a whole host of other things.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world or for any amount of money nor for any woman on the face of the earth.

We make a great team. I’m honored she still wants to be my wife. 🙂

And it is amazing how a post develops because all I started with was a funny saying. (And for the record, that saying describes her. I suspect that is why she sent it to me).

Messiahs

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

There are two sides to this post.

Side one: those who have a “Messiah complex.”

Side two: those who put people on a pedestal which sets them up for a fall.

We all know about those with a “Messiah complex.” We usually associate that with a cult or some overbearing leader (usually religious) who thinks he/she is God’s gift to mankind. This person takes control and takes over peoples’ lives, pretending to care, but really seeking the opportunity to pounce. They had them in Jesus’ day. We have them today, most often found in legalistic churches, word-of-faith communities, and sadly, in the daily lives of many unaware people.

It is Side two which gives me greater concern. For some reason, we set people up as our “personal messiah.” What I mean by that is we put too much stock in one person; what they can/cannot do; how they can help us; meet our needs; answer our longings, etc. This can be seen in looking at another person as the one who can make us happy or fulfilled. The plain, rugged truth is only God can do that. If someone sets me on that type of pedestal, I am nothing more than a cheap “knock off.”  I was struck (I chuckled) by something from today’s New Morning Mercies: “Asking someone to be our personal messiah is “like requiring him to be the 4th member of the Trinity and then judging him when he fails.” {Note: substitute the female gender if you prefer}. It just can’t be. It can’t happen. No human can or should shoulder that responsibility. There is only one Savior and people “we aren’t Him.”

This is an important lesson to learn.  Bitterness and disappointment is the result of someone failing to meet our expectations. It is impossible for people to meet my needs. And it is impossible for someone to expect me to meet their needs. Not just impossible. Wrong. My focus, your focus, needs to be where it belongs…on Jesus.

Types

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

I am a leader. I have not always understood that. I have not always embraced that. And I most certainly have not always lived like it.

BUT I AM A LEADER

The important question to answer right now is this: What kind? Sunday’s sermon from 3 John has got me thinking about my leadership type/style.

First, I am not a hard-driver. I strive for relaxation in the office. I will not/cannot/won’t ride herd on the other two in the office. It just isn’t me. John Maxwell I’m not. Been there. Tried that. Failed that test. We laugh a lot. A LOT. Our staff meetings might be suddenly interrupted by a “video reference,” most likely by Ryan or Diana bringing up a scene from Big Bang Theory. I am more prone to music videos or YouTube.

Second, I am not wired tightly. I know that. I haven’t studied the Type A/Type B personalities. God has not made me wired like a guitar or tighter than a drum. I am who I am. I repeat: I would not do well in the Maxwell School of Leadership.

The three men mentioned in 3 John had different leadership styles…obviously. Gaius had an open heart and home. Diotrephes had a “Messiah complex.” Demetrius had a good reputation. Churches are not perfect. It is made up of humans. {Go figure} The early church had the same issues churches today have: Leadership. Love. Power. Conflicts. All imperfect. But God can still use the church…and does.

What kind of leader are you?

Candid

Friday, June 9th, 2017

One of the hardest things to do is recognize that all is not as it seems. For example, if you follow a Christian singer around you will eventually find some inconsistency. When I was younger I used to idolize sports figures. It was devastating when I read or heard of their off-the-field antics. I cringe whenever I think of my rudeness and, sometimes crudeness, and how I brought reproach on the Name of Christ.

Hearing the truth is not always fun. That is especially true when hearing it about a church. It is even more “crunchy” when it involves leaders in the church. 3 John, the passage for this weekend, is just such a letter. It might be easy to say, “Hey 2 out of 3 are good ones!” and that’s a pretty good average, but John is not thrilled at all with the prospect. There are three men mentioned in this book and their names and attitudes form a natural outline.  Here is my outline for this week:

  • Candid Truth about Gaius’ Faithfulness
  • Candid Truth about Diotrephes’ Preeminence
  • Candid Truth about Demetrius’ Testimony

Three men. Three teaching opportunities for John. A 3-point sermon for me. 🙂  Your prayers are appreciated this week. This sermon concludes my series on “Branded!” 1-2-3 John. It has been a challenge. For podcast info you can go here and then use the left side bar.  Next week: The Man God Uses then I begin a summer series on Grace.