Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Catalyst For Change

I serve as an adjunct professor at Southeastern University. One of the classes I teach is Change Management. Change is all around us. Todays leaders must learn how to manage change in an organizational context in such a way that the overall vision and the basic values of the organization are moved forward in a way that is productive and Glorifies our Heavenly Father. John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Why is change management important? We are living in a day when society is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Because of this rapid pace, faith based organizations must be willing to change their methods if they are to remain relevant. The challenge is to change the methods, which are temporal, without changing the message, which is timeless. Many resist change for fear of compromising the message of Christ. For this reason, the 21st century leader must engage change management principles that can implement effective changes while making them palatable to stakeholders and guarding the values we hold dear. We must view change as a process and not an event. The process will involve understanding how people interact with change, as well as equipping ourselves with a basic knowledge of change management theory. As Christian leaders, it is imperative that we look to the Holy Spirit to empower us through the change process. The Holy Spirit can be a catalyst for change in people, situations and organizations. In organizational terms, a catalyst is someone that precipitates change without being altered in the process. The Holy Spirit has a clear view of every person’s heart and mind so that He knows what changes are necessary and will empower us to lead the change process. The Holy Spirit uses a variety of gifts, abilities and personalities to affect change. God is able to harmonize a wide diversity of gifts, talents and personalities for the most effective change in people and organizations. Paul wrote, "There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (I Cor. 12:6,7) We can ask the Lord to help us understand and cooperate with the way the Spirit is harmonizing a wide variety of peoples’ gifts, abilities and personalities to effect His changes in our organization.

Monday, April 30, 2018

What Is Your Vision?

In most churches the Lord planted that church in that place for His purpose long before the current pastor ever arrived. I know that is true in my case. In order to understand the vision we must come to grips with a very important question. Why? Why did God put this church in this place at this time? When a new pastor comes to a church the first question that is asked of him is “What is your vision for the church?” Most enterprising pastors have learned to keep a well-crafted vision in their suitcase should someone ever ask him about it. When asked, most pastors pull out the mission of the church rather than the vision, with full confidence that no one will recognize the difference. The mission of the church was given by Christ to the church as a whole. It will be the guiding force for every vision, but it is not the vision. The mission of the church is to “go then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples” (Matt. 28:19). This is the same for all churches. The vision, on the other hand, will be different for every church and every community. The question should be asked collectively: “What is God’s vision for our church?” By this means, the vision comes from the grassroots up as opposed to from the top down. As we redefine vision, we must realize the vision must come from the Lord by the Spirit through the grassroots—the people, God’s people. The way you find this “right” vision is to look for the activity of God in that church and in that community. Once we find where God is showing up we can more clearly see what God’s vision for that church is.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Let’s Talk Extraordinary

Recently, I was reading John MacArthur’s book: Twelve Ordinary Men. He points out how, in Matthew Chapters 8, 9, and 10, Jesus shares leadership responsibilities with his disciples. Our Lord chose ordinary men and trained them to become extraordinary leaders. There are four natural progressions in their training. First, they simply followed Jesus. These followers grew as they listening to and learned from His teachings. A fundamental principle of discipleship and leadership training is that you cannot be trained as a leader if you are not interested in learning and following. In other words, it is difficult to lead others if you have not first learned to follow. How can you lead if you do not understand being led? Second, there must be commitment. When Jesus called these men, they left everything to follow him. You cannot be trained to lead others if you fail to commit. If there is absence of self-sacrifice, there is absence of service. There is a connection between dying to self and service to God and for God. We are living in the most self centered society since the days of Noah. Jesus showed His followers the virtue of true servant leadership. Commitment to something greater than self gain is the key to becoming a servant leader like our Wonderful Lord. Third, there is internship. The Twelve had experiential opportunities and were privileged to spend premium time with Jesus being mentored and taught by Him. Think of it. How would you like to be mentored personally by the Son of God! Such education and experience can not be obtained in Seminary. It is through the process of internship that their character was shaped and their destiny fashioned. The final step of leadership training is empowerment for specific service. This is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructed followers to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the dynamic power from the Holy Spirit so that they might fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). These were ordinary men. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that made the difference. The lesson here is God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things so that He can be glorified. John MacArthur says, “God’s favorite instruments are nobodies, so that no man can boast before God.” (Reference: John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men (Nashville: Nelson, 2002), 15-19)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let’s Talk Authenticity

There are many people who have lost confidence in the church because of the abuses and misuses of a few. These days every shortcoming in the church of Christ is spread out over the media to such a degree that, to the outsider, it makes all of us look corrupt. There is a cynicism towards the church today that causes many people to turn us off before we ever get a chance to let them know how wonderful Christ is. I believe that anyone who has the opportunity to see Jesus as He really is will want Him. He is that wonderful. He is that loving and kind. The problem is that there is a distorted portrait of Christ out there that causes people to push away. This explains why conventional modes of outreach that were effective in days gone by are no longer effective today. When you mention Christ or the church, people in our society immediately think of a fallen evangelist or the latest scandal in the church world. If they cannot trust the preacher with their money or the priest with their children, why should they listen when we try to share life with them? The truth of the matter is the day of hard sell, cold turkey evangelism may be coming to a close. The best way to get people to listen to us may be by developing a relationship with them. The key is trust. We can only influence people if there is a bond of trust in place. Trust can best be developed through relationship. Relationships can only happen as we are connected with each other. It is the relationship that builds the bridge of trust. Our society as a whole is so sick and tired of the “phony baloney” religion they see all around them. Quite frankly, so am I. People are looking for something real. As they develop a relationship with authentic believers and get to know them, they will become exposed to genuine Christianity. They will realize that Christians are real people just like they are, not perfect people, real people with real issues. They will see how God helps the believer with those issues. They will see the difference Christ makes in a real persons life. May God help us to develop the kind of authentic relationships that will empower us to influence our world for Christ.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

To God Be The Glory!

I have a friend who prayed a prayer thirty years ago asking the Lord to help him remain humble. He received an astonishing reply from the Lord. The Lord spoke to His heart that he should look at his life as that of an instrument. The instrument is not what receives the glory in a concert, it is the musician. The instrument is the vehicle through which the musician expresses himself. The instrument is the prized possession of the musician. Keeping the instrument clean and shiny is all a part of the performance so that light is reflected by it. From time to time the instrument must have the impurities blown out of it so that the music will be pure. He said that the Lord shared with him that the wind that blows through the instrument comes from the musician himself. In other words, it’s all about the musician making music and expressing himself through the instrument. The challenge of the Lord is to always be willing to be the instrument in the hand of the master musician. If we are willing to fill that function then we will go to the concert and great music will be shared but all of the glory will go to the one playing the instrument. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leading Change

Change is all around us. There is only one thing that really never changes and that is the fact that everything changes. Society is changing at a faster rate than ever before. How we, as leaders, handle change is critical if we hope to remain relevant and be productive in what God has called us to do. What does a leader do when change is unavoidable? John Kotter in his book Leading Change lays out a process to implementing change in an organization. He places an emphasis on the processes by encouraging several steps to be followed by the leader. The process begins with developing a desire for change by examining the landscape and identifying and discussing potential opportunities. Next, the leader would create a guiding coalition by putting together a group with enough power to lead the change and encouraging the group to work together like a team. This coalition would develop a vision and strategy to help direct the change effort. The leader would then empower broad-based action by changing systems or structures that undermine the change vision and encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas and actions. Next it is important to generate short-term wins by visibly recognizing and rewarding people who made the wins possible. These wins lead to consolidating gains and producing more change by reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents. The last step is important as the leader must work to anchor new approaches in the culture by creating better performance through productivity-oriented behavior and more effective management. These steps should be effective in helping the leader become a change agent in the organization. May God help us to become that change agent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prioritizing Connecting

Jesus prioritized connecting by commissioning all believers to go out and make disciples of all people everywhere. This cannot be done without connecting. Connecting helps us to understand and comprehend the true essence of ministry. There is no higher goal than that of obtaining the standard of Christ Himself. When asked which is the greatest commandment Christ answered with the standard of God. That standard is to love God and to love people. Connecting Points is designed to connect people with God and with each other. It is by this means that we will begin to see people experience the two great purposes of God. These two purposes are communion and community. We were made for God (communion) and for each other (community). As we help people find their purpose singularly, we will see our church find its purpose collectively.