Leadership http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership Mon, 27 Feb 2017 04:03:35 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 7 Much-Needed Ways Business Evangelists Can Equip Their Followers http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/calling/23619-7-much-needed-ways-business-evangelists-can-equip-their-followers http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/calling/23619-7-much-needed-ways-business-evangelists-can-equip-their-followers

In previous posts, I introduced the supernatural roles of business apostle and business prophet. Today let's review the supernatural role of business evangelist.

Role of Business Evangelist

Evangelist (evangelistes)—bringer of good tidings; announcer of the good news;

Business evangelists possess a supernatural gift of zeal for their product or service. They are passionate to get out the good news, of broadcasting the amazing advantages and power of the services and products they offer.

In the words of personal development icon Dale Carnegie, business evangelists know How To Win Friends and Influence People. They touch the hearts and souls of others through their overwhelming enthusiasm and relentless focus on "closing the deal."

Some biblical examples of business evangelists include Philip (food distributor), Andrew (fisherman and disciple recruiter) and the woman at the well (community outreach).

Key Characteristics of Business Evangelists

Some key characteristics of a business evangelist can include:

  • Enjoy getting the word out
  • Enthusiasm for their beliefs
  • Easily communicate and connect with others
  • Exude a contagious passion that excites others to listen and respond
  • Implement fresh approaches to broadcasting their message to new audiences
  • Actively spend time with non-enthusiasts
  • Outgoing personality
  • Persuasive verbal skills
  • Intense and often unrelenting focus to broadcast their message

How Business Evangelists Equip Their Saints

Business evangelists are called to bring a new message to those who have not heard or potentially may disagree with their message. Realizating that entering "enemy" territory alone could quickly turn into failure, they often look for others to join their team and their cause.

Some of the ways a business evangelist equips his team include:

  • Encourage their team to get involved
  • Exhort others to speak up
  • Help people feel good about themselves and their decisions
  • Champion positive, winning work culture (alongside the business pastor)
  • Ensure the team clearing understand the benefits of their products and services
  • Enthusiastically train up others to push back their competitors (enemies) and take their territory
  • Teach others how to testify to all groups on their core convictions

The Business Evangelist's Mandate

Business evangelists enthusiastically carry the enormous weight of being the first to break into enemy camps, to step into potentially tough situations with a message of hope, restoration and a better future. Additionally, they are called to raise up other business evangelists who will help carry this mantle to wherever the Lord sends them.

Although the potential cost of bravely entering new, even hostile territory is great, a business evangelists' laser-life focus is upon the positive impact their mission can have within the markets they are called to enter. Their willingness to potentially pay the ultimate price is critical to reclaiming territory for the Lord. {eoa}

This post is an excerpt from Dr. Jim's forthcoming book, Anointed to Lead: How to Discover and Unleash Your Supernatural Leadership Gifts to be released summer 2017.

Dr. Jim Harris is president of The Jim Harris Group, an international speaking and advising firm dedicated to helping believers in business unleash their unfair advantage in the marketplace. He is the author of Our Unfair Advantage: Unleash the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business and numerous other award-winning business books.

This article originally appeared at drjimharris.com.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Jim Harris) Calling Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
You Can't Be an Effective Leader Without This Foundational Character Trait http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23618-you-can-t-be-an-effective-leader-without-this-foundational-character-trait http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23618-you-can-t-be-an-effective-leader-without-this-foundational-character-trait

When it comes to leadership and influence, we rarely talk about trust. When we do, it's usually in terms of honesty and integrity. Questions like: "Can I trust you to honor your word?" or "Can you be trusted with finances?" usually come to mind. Those questions are important, but the truth is, trust is a far deeper issue, and when it comes to your team, employees, congregation or followers, trust may be the single most important connection you can build. Especially when it comes to leading the next generation, to achieve connection, here are four principles every leader and influencer should know:

1. Trust doesn't come easily. This is the most marketed, sold, pitched-to and promoted generation in history. Particularly when it comes to millennials, they've grown up around brand names, Super Bowl commercials and sales pitches. They make judgments about everything they encounter through apps like "Yelp." That's why when you tell them your conference will "shake nations" or your new book will "transform the culture" they're naturally skeptical—and should be. They're weary of all the hype and have learned to see through it.

2. They stopped trusting early in life. Half of all American children will witness their parent's divorce. In fact, nearly that many will see the breakup of a parent's second marriage, and one of every 10 will experience three or more parental divorces. We can pretend it doesn't impact kids or convince ourselves that "it's for the good of the children," but a study six years after their parent's marriage breakup revealed even after all that time, these children tended to be "lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure."

3. They've grown up in a skeptical culture. In the old days, the media gave celebrities and leaders a pass. Rarely was President Roosevelt's polio mentioned (or even shown), and the adulterous affairs of leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were virtually ignored. But since Richard Nixon and Watergate, everything changed. Today, reporters scour personal records and emails, or they dig back decades to expose mistakes and wrongdoing. Shows like TMZ were created to reveal "celebrity secrets." Watching TV and using the internet or social media today makes it virtually impossible to believe that anyone can be trusted.

4. The media can be particularly vicious when it comes to religion. Over the last few decades in most prime time programs, the "Christian" character will usually be the crazy person, the pedophile or the hypocrite. Religious belief is regularly ridiculed in science programs or made fun of on talk shows. With little to counter those images, it's easy to understand the lack of trust when it comes to faith.

Never in history has the concept of "trust" been so undermined on a daily basis. That's why leaders and influencers today need to be very intentional when it comes to building trust with your team, employees, congregation or followers. I could write a book on the subject, but here are a few places to start:

1. Just be real. Everyone sees through the hype, so tone down the exaggeration on your résumé, stop making everything about yourself and re-focus on others. It's been said often, but authenticity matters more than ever.

2. Stop hiding your mistakes. Be vulnerable and show your team you're not perfect. (Trust me, they already noticed.) Showing your imperfections can actually be a powerful way to connect with others.

3. Finally, create a culture where it's safe to fail. Developing trust is about creating an atmosphere where people are comfortable being themselves. Never relax standards of excellence or integrity, but allow people the room to stretch, take risks and do it without punishment. The trust that comes out of that experience will take your entire team to a new level of performance—not to mention friendship. {eoa}

An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world.

This article originally appeared at philcooke.com.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Phil Cooke) A Pastor's Heart Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
What God Wants You to Know When You Pray for Direction http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/23616-what-god-wants-you-to-know-when-you-pray-for-direction http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/23616-what-god-wants-you-to-know-when-you-pray-for-direction

Do you remember the childhood frustration of asking your parents for permission to go somewhere and then hearing the dreaded response, "Let me think about it"?

"Let me think about it."

Now, what in the world does that mean?

Oftentimes, my immature soul longed for a simple yes or an outright no rather than the dreaded, "Let me think about it."

A definite "No" would at least set me free to try from a different angle or to ask for a different privilege.

A much-anticipated and highly appreciated "Yes" would allow me the delightful freedom of rushing full steam ahead into my plans and desires, childish though they were.

As an adult, I have to admit that often, my conversations with God the Father mirror my childhood conversations with my earthly mom and dad.

"God, can I have that job?"

"Father, will You open that door for me?"

"Jesus, will You provide for this desire in my life?"

And although God has no need to think over a request, He often responds with words I dread to hear: "Wait."

"Not yet."

"Not now."


When I realize God is placing my request in a hold pattern, I immediately become 10 years old again and suffer from that fatal albeit immature impatience of the soul. I feel the familiar yet long-ago urge to argue with an authority figure suddenly arise in my infantile self.

"What? Wait? You've got to be kidding me, God! Don't You know how much this means to me?"

"Wait? God, don't You know that time is of the essence? If this doesn't happen immediately, I will never walk in my destiny!"

God gently smiles at my foolish assumptions and reiterates, "Child, it is best if you wait."

Waiting is never easy for an earthling; waiting can either bring out the best in one of us or the worst in us.

When I foolishly insist, "Now!", I can fully expect God to reply with a gentle but firm, "No, not yet."

When a child of God squirms under the pressure of delayed delivery, God is standing close to the frustrated whippersnapper, simply desiring the opportunity to nurture and to strengthen His dear and well-loved child.

I have learned, as I mature as a believer, no longer to dread the very common and divine answer: "Just wait."

I now understand that times of waiting are also times of strengthening. I have come to realize that waiting is often not a detriment but a pure blessing.

I have discovered that Father truly does know best, and if His answer includes that word, "Wait," then wait I shall.

I will not sputter and complain like an adolescent hothead, but I will graciously and wisely submit my will and my way not only to His plan but also to His time.

"Wait on the Lord; be strong, and may your heart be stout; wait on the Lord" (Ps. 27:14). {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More OrdinaryHoly Estrogen!The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book is Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. 

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Carol McLeod) Personal Character Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Why It Feels Like Your Plans Keep Failing http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/administration/23615-why-it-feels-like-your-plans-keep-failing http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/administration/23615-why-it-feels-like-your-plans-keep-failing

Business owners who have seen profit will tell you that planning is one of their top keys to success. By creating a strategy, outlining problems, and understanding resource flow, they can produce products and utilize employee talent to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, this idea has been lost in many congregations.

Becoming an effective planner takes time; it's not a skill that can be learned overnight but should be consistently practiced. Many church leaders and pastors assume they understand how to plan for their ministry when in reality they do not. And many leaders face severe opposition in their planning from members. Not all churches utilize sound planning practices when it comes to fiscal management, facility planning and other areas that necessitate preparedness. But for those who do, their ministry is far more likely to succeed.

Pastors may have the passion and know-how for planning, but their members may not be on board. Rarely is this resistance because they are mean-spirited or trying to disrupt the church's ministry. Rather, there are usually uncomplicated reasons that can be constructively addressed when the issue is recognized. If you're a leader who has found resistance within the congregation or member who is frustrated with the lack of planning on a leader's part, perhaps it's time to figure out why—and address the issues before it's too late.

Lacking an Understanding of the Value of Planning

Church members come from varied backgrounds with a wide range of life and professional experiences. On the flip side, many church leaders have been in their professional positions for possibly their entire careers, in which case they have little secular life experiences in business. Although this is not inherently bad, it may mean they have not been exposed to good planning practices. In these cases, a little knowledge will go a long way. Providing the right information of practices and explaining the reasoning behind them can help you navigate this tricky situation.

Lacking the Needed Skills

Understanding the importance of formalized planning does not automatically turn into knowing how to do it. Taking the time to assess and educate each church leader on the needed planning skills can help smooth things over in the long run. Creating teams where each person's weaknesses are covered by another's strengths is an excellent solution here. This will create a strong team of people who understand where you're going and how to get there.

Overwhelmed With Work or Life

Many times, regardless of how knowledgeable, skillful or well-intentioned your church members or leaders are, they might just be overwhelmed with life. Work may be busy, or they're going through a family crisis that is causing their resistance to planning. These people are overwhelmed, and allowing them the space to breathe may be a better solution than roping them into the process.

Planning Was Never a Factor Before

If you're a new pastor or member at a church that has been doing things the same way for a while, switching up the style can be met with disagreements. If people haven't utilized a formal planning process before, they may be reluctant to change from their ways. These types of individuals, although hesitant at first, may turn out to be great, active planning participants when shown the benefits of the process. Educate them while also giving them a say, and you won't be sorry.

Regardless of the reason, failing to plan can be a detriment to the church and something that can change with the right attitude and knowledge. By using a formalized planning strategy and techniques, churches can understand the barriers that might inhibit efforts while improving the likelihood of successful outcomes. Investing in learning how to plan as a pastor or church leader can be an effective way to create an even stronger ministry.

Dr. Tom McElheny serves as the director of Christian education for several Sarasota, Florida churches, holds advanced degrees in business and education and is CEO of his company ChurchPlaza.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Tom McElheny) Administration Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
New Research Reveals Disturbing Trend Among America's Pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/pastoring/23614-new-research-reveals-disturbing-trend-among-america-s-pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/pastoring/23614-new-research-reveals-disturbing-trend-among-america-s-pastors

A landmark new study by Barna Group, conducted in partnership with Pepperdine University, offers a revealing look into the lives of America's pastors. Drawn from interviews with more than 14,000 Protestant pastors from 40 denominations spanning the theological and political spectrum, The State of Pastors is both hopeful and troubling, with unexpected bright spots and worrisome levels of struggle for some clergy. The findings are available as a 175-page full-color book that includes the full study data, analysis and infographics.

The bad news for the church is the graying of America's clergy: "As other careers woo millennials and older generations struggle to hand the baton to younger pastors, the median age of pastors has risen from 44 to 54 over the last 25 years." Protestant churches face a massive leadership shortage in the coming decades, similar to that seen in the Catholic Church. The situation appears bleak: seven out of 10 pastors report that it's becoming more difficult to identify promising pastoral candidates.

The good news—one of the report's major findings—is that contrary to conventional wisdom, most pastors are faring well: 91 percent reports a good overall quality of life, and 88 percent describes their spiritual well-being as excellent or good. Still, a troubling number of pastors are at risk of burnout (one in three), and nearly half face relational risks in their marriages, families and friendships.

"Pastors play a vital role in the health and well-being of society," says Barna president David Kinnaman. "We explore how pastors are faring in a culture where attitudes are growing increasingly skeptical to Christianity. Our goal is for pastors to feel affirmed, challenged and informed to continue the transformative work they do in their churches and communities."

The State of Pastors is a comprehensive assessment of the mental, physical, financial, emotional and spiritual well-being of today's pastors. It's divided into three sections: Self-leadership, which explores pastors' understanding of their interior lives and feelings about their closest relationships; Congregational Leadership, which probes their everyday experience in ministry; and Cultural Leadership, which considers the influence and engagement of pastors beyond their congregation. Some significant findings include:

  • Pastors are not immune to mental health struggles: Almost half have faced depression, while one in five pastors has struggled with an addiction—most commonly, to porn.

  • Women now represent nine percent of senior pastors—triple the percentage of 25 years ago—but they frequently lead smaller churches and feel greater scrutiny. Women pastors are more likely than men to say they feel lonely or isolated from others.

  • Nearly all pastors say churches play an important role in racial reconciliation—but only half say it is among their church's priorities. Feelings about racial issues diverge according to denominational lines: nine out of 10 mainline ministers agree that "law enforcement and the judicial system treat people of color and white people differently," but fewer than six in 10 non-mainline pastors concur—still a majority, but a significantly smaller one.

  • Americans don't want to hear from pastors on social or political issues: Only eight percent of adults are interested in hearing pastoral teaching on issues such as same-sex marriage/LGBT rights, abortion, gun rights, tax policy, climate change, drug policy or religious freedom. Pastors' influence in broader culture has diminished in general; most U.S. adults express ambivalence about pastors: "Most don't actively hate pastors, they just don't especially care." Pastors perceive the culture's growing indifference; only 22 percent says respect for clergymembers by their community is excellent; seven in 10 say it's merely good or average.

  • Pastors experience doubt: one out of every four pastors has experienced a period during their ministry when they significantly doubted their faith.

  • Pastors report greater marital and parental satisfaction than the general population, though half say their current church tenure has been hard on their family.

  • Pastors don't do as well with friendships. They are more likely than the general population to feel isolated and lonely. Gen-X pastors in particular seem to have a harder time making friends and feeling connected—they're more similar to people their age (30s-40s) in the general population than to their ministry colleagues.

The partnership with Pepperdine University offered the opportunity for Barna researchers to have access to scholars such as Elizabeth Krumrei Mancuso, associate professor of psychology, who developed the Comprehensive Intellectual Humility Scale. Pastors ranked high in respect for others' viewpoints, with more than nine out of 10 agreeing that they welcome different ways of thinking about important topics (92 percent) and that they are willing to hear others out, even if they disagree (99 percent). On the other hand, many pastors seem to struggle with overconfidence. Seven in 10 leaders say that, when they are really confident in a belief, there is very little chance that belief is wrong (69 percent).

"This unprecedented study by Barna brings issues facing Christian faith leaders to the forefront during a pivotal time," says Rick Gibson, chief marketing officer and vice president for public affairs and church relations at Pepperdine. "It is important that our community takes the time to examine how the complexity of our era is impacting our pastors and how we can best support them. As a Christian university, Pepperdine is excited to be partnering with Barna on this opportunity to bring congregations closer together." {eoa}

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Barna Research Group Press Release) Pastoring Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
Letting Holy Spirit Dictate Your Leadership Style http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23613-letting-holy-spirit-dictate-your-leadership-style http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23613-letting-holy-spirit-dictate-your-leadership-style

Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles. In this article, I use the word "titular" to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term "functional," I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital.

I have found that those who attempt to lead merely through their official title have little or no respect in the organization. Through the past three-plus decades of serving as a lead pastor, I have only had to mention my title of exerting leadership perhaps two to three times. I have found if you have to tell somebody you are the leader, you are not really demonstrating it in your organization. This is not to say that titles are unimportant; titles are useful in the military, politics, business and the police department, not only to depict who is responsible for what task but to explain their job description.

However, in the context of the business and the church world, continually touting one's title is often unnecessary, since relational leadership trumps hierarchical leadership more often than not in these contexts. In the context of Christianity, the church went from a functional style of leadership in the first two centuries (as shown in the Way of Christ and the Apostles as written in the Gospels and epistles) to a hierarchical form of leadership. (Starting especially after A.D. 313, when Rome stopped persecuting Christians. The clergy became hierarchical and started adorning themselves with garments similar to the Roman prelates and officials).

Also, in contemporary times, many church leaders have titles without commensurate function. I have met numerous leaders with the title "apostle," "bishop" and even "archbishop" without apostolic fruit to back up their title.

Another thing to consider in this day and age is that the world is flat and more egalitarian and informal. Titular leaders are losing the respect of the younger generation. To be fair, we also live in an age when the "executive" position and authority in general are being attacked, which is unfortunate and unbiblical. For example, the attacks against the presidency of the United States for the past several decades continue to increase in its vitriol.

That being said, my goal in this article is to get titular leaders to transition towards functional leadership and to affirm those who are functional leaders.

The following are seven contrasts between titular and functional leadership:

1. Titular leaders tout their title for influence. Functional leaders earn respect by accomplishments.

Whenever I meet somebody for the first time and they have to say their title along with their name, my antennae go up and I suspect they are caught up in the titular style of leadership. When someone asks me my name, I do not have to say "Apostle" or "Bishop" Joseph Mattera because that is not on my birth certificate. I merely have to say "Joseph Mattera." The exception to this is when I am in formal political or ecclesial events and the title is necessary in order to be identified officially with my function. I have learned that our congregation and my peers respect me more because of who I am and what I do than the official title I or others have bestowed upon me.

2. Titular leaders find their identity in their title. Functional leaders express their identity through their assignment and relationships.

While titular leaders depend upon their title to feel significant, functional leaders are more concerned with what they are accomplishing than mere titles. I have never met an effective functional leader who was obsessed with their title.

3. Titular leaders are hierarchical. Functional leaders are egalitarian.

In hierarchical organizations, the culture creates a "pecking order" replete with people vying for position, along with cutthroat competition that makes it more political than performance-based. In the context of the local church, the New Testament seems to advocate an egalitarian spirit with apostolic government. That is to say, the top leaders should treat every person as a peer and not bully people with their title through a "top down" autocratic leadership style.

4. Titular leaders are often aloof. Functional leaders are often transparent.

Through observation, I have found that titular leaders are usually insecure people who rarely trust anybody enough to be transparent with them. The more comfortable a person is in their own skin, the less hierarchical and the more functional their leadership style tends to become. When a leader is secure, genuine and functional, they are usually very humble, approachable and transparent with those in their circle of influence.

5. Titular leaders strive for promotion. Functional leaders strive to serve.

Since titular leaders derive their sense of value and worth from their official title, they tend to continually strive to move up on the hierarchical "food chain" so they can exert more official authority over others. A functional leader's main objective is to strive for personal, internal and external growth so they can better serve the people to which they are assigned.

6. Titular leaders use people to get ahead. Functional leaders help others get ahead.

Titular leaders tend to size other people up according to their ability to help them with their agenda. Consequently, they are guilty of objectifying people instead of humanizing them. Functional leaders don't use people but equip them to get to the next level.

7. Titular leaders value their position the most. Functional leaders value people the most.

People with a tendency towards titular leadership often strive to get another academic degree, certificate of completion, or another official endowment that they can use for bragging rights. I am not against getting academic training or certificates of completion; however, many do this for the wrong reason and even when not necessary for their main assignment. I know some people who, every time I have heard them speak in a public gathering, mention their academic degree and or where they went to school. They must feel as though they have to claim the terrain of peer respect through their degree, similar to the muscle guy who feels he has to wear short sleeves or a tank top even in cold weather.

What these people don't realize is that they turn discerning leaders off by constantly mentioning their credentials publicly, since they demonstrate their primary identity is derived from their title. This behavior usually triggers all sorts of red flags such as: This person is vying for position, this person is insecure, this person may try to use you to get ahead, this person is self-promoting, this person has fleshly ambition and so on. The most powerful, transformational and significant leaders I know are informal, secure within themselves, operate with a functional leadership style and rarely mention their accomplishments in public, unless necessary for their presentation.

In closing, may all of us in the church and marketplace replicate the way of Christ and His apostles in every aspect of our leadership style. Therefore, only truly transformed leaders can transform others. {eoa}

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on charismamag.com called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Joseph Mattera) A Pastor's Heart Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Why You're Not Thinking Big Enough as a Spirit-Filled Leader http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/23611-why-you-re-not-thinking-big-enough-as-a-spirit-filled-leader http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/23611-why-you-re-not-thinking-big-enough-as-a-spirit-filled-leader

My first pastorate was in a town of 300 people. It was a very special church. Each Sunday, I would go to lunch at a different member's home. We will never forget those days. It was a great place for me to learn.

I learned one of the greatest lessons about vision in the simplest manner while I was at that church. Some of the church's leadership determined we needed to air-condition the building. This led to a business meeting. We were discussing the situation as the ping-pong match began. One of the men felt strongly we did not need to do it because "times were hard." A godly woman in the church had heard about all she wanted to hear. She stood up and said to them, "God will take care of this. Let's help the church move forward to the future for our younger families." In her passionate speech and plea, she nailed the hard time's issue by telling them she would give the first $1,000. Needless to say, within minutes, the whole issue was solved. The church was getting its own central heat and air unit.

In the middle of the match, I had resolved that the deal was over. However, I learned that night I was not thinking big enough. I had forgotten the power of vision and how people love to rally to a better future. The lady had called people to a better future, even demonstrating sacrifice toward it.

What God etched in my heart that night I will never forget. A godly lady had a vision and was not going to let anyone torpedo it. She painted a vision, and people ran toward it.

The Lord has used the lessons I learned that night and built upon them, church by church and situation by situation. God wanted to build me into a man of vision and faith.

When I came to my present church in 1986 and preached for the church to vote on me becoming their pastor, I was grilled with questions for a long time. That night, I began to cast a vision in many areas.

I remember saying to them, "Surely He wants to use our church to place Jesus and his gospel all over the world from Northwest Arkansas." That was a strong statement of vision and faith. On that night, I rallied people to a better future.

Through the years, I felt there was no way that would happen, but I continued on in the vision. With the limited population in this region, I lost my vision and faith periodically. Sometimes I would believe we had peaked, and there was no way for growth to continue. Yet it continued to happen. Every time I felt the lid was on, God would blow the lid off the church. I was not thinking big enough. Each time I would look back and say to myself, "I should have known God better than that." Each time, vision and faith were contributing factors. Each time, people were rallying to a better future for their lives and our church.

Vision is rallying people to a better future. Vision is helping people see what you see already. Vision is calling the invisible into visibility. Vision is usually determined by your burden and by your faith.

Jesus Thinks Big

When Jesus was about to ascend to be with his Father in heaven, he demonstrated the big idea. It all fit into his extraordinary plan. He had died for our sins. He had been raised from the dead supernaturally. Moments before his ascension, he laid some major visionary plans upon his faithful followers. He stated, as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:8, "'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'"

This was a big idea. Jesus was thinking big! He was calling his followers to expand their belief in Him and His good news. He wanted His followers to begin sharing where they lived, then stretch to their own country and eventually go into the entire world. This plan for reaching the world with news about His gift of eternal life became the marching orders to the church from our commander-in-chief, Jesus Christ. Any vision we have needs to be a vision that is tied to the vision of Jesus. He pulls for your vision to be fulfilled when you join Him in fulfilling His vision for the entire world, beginning with your own world.

When we do this, we experience a better future. We see things happen that do not logically make sense. We begin to realize that when God factors into our lives and churches, He creates something powerful. The supernatural power of God is unleashed upon you and your church when you have the heart for and begin to step toward reaching your region with the good news of Jesus with great intentionality. The power escalates along with the vision.

Whether you are trusting God for central heat and air to be placed in your building or something else, ensure the vision somehow connects with reaching others for Jesus. When you connect what you desire to do with His vision, you send your vision to an entirely different level. The commitment from the divine toward you and your church begins to escalate.

Are you thinking big enough? Is your church thinking big enough?

It all begins with our vision. Do you have one?

A Personal Account

Pastors and church leaders, Great Commission strategizing ignites my spirit like nothing else. I long to exhaust all approaches and all resources in telling every person in the world about Jesus Christ and making disciples of all the nations. This has been my heart's vision for many years.

There is no way I could share a word about vision without mentioning an experience that changed me forever. Johnny Hunt, then president of our convention, appointed me to serve as chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2009-10. I led a task force team of 22 diverse leaders in bringing a report and recommendations to our convention of more than 40,000 churches and congregations, on the question of how we might better work together to fulfill the Great Commission.

I led this gifted team for one year through long, exhausting and exhilarating hours. I knew this was the most wonderful, significant opportunity I would ever undertake in my earthly life. At times, I felt overwhelmed with our task.

The Lord taught me many things during my time with the task force. Through my interactions with these 22 leaders, he ultimately matured my vision for the Great Commission. I concluded that time in my life still holding a deep passion and vision to see every person in the world hear the great name of Jesus Christ, but with a matured vision to encourage the next generation of pastors and church leaders to join me in this passion.

As part of my Great Commission vision, today I diligently make time to engage the next generation and encourage them in every way possible. I see tremendous value and importance in pouring into the lives of the next generation of church leaders. I encourage you to come alongside and invest in your developing leaders and share your vision with them—and may the Lord ignite your vision in them as well. {eoa}

This post originally appeared at ronniefloyd.com and is adapted from the book 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd has been a pastor for over 37 years. Since 1986, Pastor Floyd has served as the Senior Pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, which has baptized over 17,000 people during his tenure. Cross Church was one of the first churches in America to go multi-site. Pastor Floyd served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has authored over 20 books including FORWARD: 7 Distinguishing Marks For Future Leaders, releasing in 2015.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Ronnie Floyd) Vision Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
Beware of Misusing These 2 Powerful Kingdom Catalysts http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/23606-beware-of-misusing-these-2-powerful-kingdom-catalysts http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/23606-beware-of-misusing-these-2-powerful-kingdom-catalysts

The U.S. economy is showing signs of life. Last week, the S&P 500 stock index closed at record highs for the fourth straight week. The New York Fed (Empire State) manufacturing survey index was reported to be 18.7 compared to 6.5 the previous month and forecasts around 7.5 (the highest in two and a half years). The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing report was 43.3 compared to 23.6 the previous month and expectations of a little more than 19 (the highest reading in 33 years). The NFIB small business optimism index is the highest in 13 years. Retail sales and housing permits were both up for the month.

Politicians are known for hyperbole and even misrepresentation as they fallaciously claim credit for outcomes which were not their doing. President Trump tweeted "stock market hits new high with longest winning streak in decades. Great level of confidence and optimism - even before tax plan rollout!" While the tweet may be an exaggeration on the length of the winning streak, the confidence and optimism are mostly accurate.

The S&P 500 stock index has had the longest streak of gains in about 40 months. But the index has gained the most in the first month of a new presidency (3.8 percent) since the 1960s; for Republican presidents, it is the largest ever.

While it might not be the only factor, much of the recent strength in the economy can be related to confidence and optimism in the current administration. The business community is hoping for a significant reduction in taxes, a more cost-efficient regulatory environment, lower health costs and a significant infrastructure program. Time will tell whether these expectations are fully met. But confidence and optimism in President Trump's proposed policies are creating a stronger economy today.

For believers, our confidence and optimism should be in the Lord. Confidence and optimism are closely related to trust and expectation. If we trust in the Lord's wisdom, love, sovereignty, grace, mercy, timing and power, we will have confidence and optimism regardless of this earth's circumstances. We will obey because we love and trust the King of kings. Psalm 37 enumerates many of the things we should not do, things we should do and outcomes which we should expect. Some, but not all, of the directives from Psalm 37 include:

We Should Not

1. Fret (v. 8), because of evildoers (v. 1) or because of those who prosper or make wicked schemes (v. 7),

2. Be jealous of those who do injustice (v. 1),

3. Hold anger or be wrathful (v. 8),

4. Be an evildoer (v. 9) or

5. Entertain evil (v. 27).

We Should

1. Trust in the Lord (v. 3, v. 5),

2. Do good (v. 3, v. 27),

3. Practice faithfulness (v. 3),

4. Delight ourselves in the Lord 9 (v. 4),

5. Commit our way to the Lord (v. 5),

6. Rest in the Lord (v. 7),

7. Hope in the Lord (v. 9, v. 34),

8. Be meek (v. 11),

9. Have integrity (v. 18),

10. Be gracious and give (v. 21) and

11. Keep His way (v34).

We Should Expect

1. The desires of our heart (v. 4),

2. Him to bring forth our righteousness (v. 6),

3. Evildoers to be cut off, experience loss and be destroyed (v. 9-10, v. 13, v. 15, v17, vv. 20-22, v. 28, v. 38),

4. That we will inherit the earth (v.9, v. 11, v. 22),

5. An abundance of peace (v. 11),

6. Threats and plots of the wicked against the righteous (v. 12, v. 32),

7. An eternal inheritance (v. 18),

8. Our needs to be met in times of famine (v. 19),

9. The Lord's support (v. 24),

10. Provision (v. 25),

11. To inherit the land (v. 29, v. 34),

12. To be wise and just (v. 30),

13. None of our steps to slip (v. 31),

14. Refuge in times of distress (v. 39)

15. Deliverance (v. 40) and

16. Salvation (vv. 39-40).

Confidence and optimism in man, or in any of the world's systems or philosophies, will always disappoint. Trust in the Lord will always bring peace, blessings and security. We can have the confidence and optimism of a child of a heavenly Father who loves us without measure. {eoa}

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (James Russell) Personal Character Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Try This Christlike Response When People Interrupt Your Schedule http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23608-try-this-christlike-response-when-people-interrupt-your-schedule http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/a-pastor-s-heart/23608-try-this-christlike-response-when-people-interrupt-your-schedule

Interruptions can be frustrating.

But as long as you're in local church ministry, interruptions are not going away.

If you are involved in the lives of people and the real issues they deal with, interruptions will be part of your work. You can choose to fight that reality or embrace it.

The goal isn't to pretend that interruptions don't bring complexity to your schedule. They do. The goal is to learn how to best navigate interruptions so your ministry has the greatest impact and you continue to experience inner peace even on difficult days.

It's important to focus on what you can control and not get frustrated about the rest. You can't control everything that happens to you, but you can control what is going on within you. You can manage your emotions, which are the place to start.

Fighting against the natural flow of interruptions is like getting stressed about being stressed, it serves no valuable purpose. We know that too much stress is not good for us, but stressing about stress is completely counterproductive. It's the same with interruptions. They produce complications to your schedule and maybe even stress you out, but fighting them only makes it worse.

Here's a helpful approach:

1. Establish routine and margin.

Intentional routines are not boring and confining; they are healthy and needed. They require discipline to maintain, and they help you establish healthy and productive rhythms for your life.

For me, a weekly routine is not a legalistic straightjacket. In fact, it's often interrupted and ends up changed. But the routine provides the necessary guardrails so I can make good decisions when interruptions come.

I also believe that some margin helps make it all work. For example, I try not to book a full day on Thursdays until the week of. So when "stuff happens" every week like it always does, I have a place to put it. By the time Thursday hits, it's usually full. But if I filled it weeks in advance, there is no place to help handle the interruptions (and opportunities.)

2. Cultivate your generosity.

An important part of governing your perspective involves how you think about the interruption. Because it nearly always involves a person, it's important to possess an internal disposition that you want to help if you can, rather than seeing the person(s) as an inconvenience.

One of the ways I cultivate a generous spirit within me is reminding myself how I feel when I want to see someone right away, and I don't fit into their schedule. Whether it's a plumber, doctor or a personal trainer, when they "make room" for me, I'm very grateful.

3. Lean into the moment.

Never underestimate the potential life-changing impact of an interruption.

One of my favorite stories (Mark 5:21-42) takes place after Jesus had just again crossed over to the other side of the lake. A large crowd gathered around Him.

He was interrupted on the spot, in whatever He was doing.

Jairus, a synagogue ruler, had a daughter who was dying. He pleaded with Jesus to go with him to heal his daughter, and Jesus went with him.

On the way to see Jairus' daughter, Jesus was interrupted again. His interruption was interrupted!

In the crowd of people, a woman (bleeding for 12 years) touched His garment, and Jesus stopped to heal her. Jesus was aware (sensitive to divine interruptions) of even a sick woman touching his clothes, and took the time to identify who she was and say: "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction" (Mark 5:34).

Wait for it. Yes, Jesus was interrupted yet again (in verse 35, while He was still speaking). Some men came from the house of Jairus, and reported: "Your daughter is dead" (Mark 5:35b).

And the end of the story: Jesus said, "Do not be afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36b) and "The girl is not dead, but sleeping" (Mark 5:39b). They laughed at Jesus. And Jesus healed the little girl.

When you are sensitive to divine interruptions and invite the Holy Spirit to guide you, you will likely experience some incredibly powerful ministry moments.

4. Sometimes you need to say no.

Not every interruption is a divinely inspired moment. Sometimes you must say no. In fact, the larger the church, the more often you may need to say no. However, in many cases, you will have the staff to help you handle the interruptions.

Here are some practical questions to help you think through how you should respond.

  • Can someone else can handle the situation?
  • Might you be doing this just to please someone?
  • Would saying "yes" prevent you from fulfilling an important family commitment?
  • Is this a non-urgent, low-impact request?
  • Are your gifts and abilities not well suited to meet the need?

These questions do not represent a formula, but they give you a sense of how to think about the question. {eoa}

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

This article originally appeared on danreiland.com.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Dan Reiland) A Pastor's Heart Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
Telltale Signs Your Ministry Is Growing Stale http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/23572-telltale-signs-your-ministry-is-growing-stale http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/23572-telltale-signs-your-ministry-is-growing-stale

This week during one of my quiet times with God, I read this verse, and a word jumped out at me.

"The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel" (Is. 29:19).

I don't like stale bread or any other kind of stale food. And I'm sure you don't either. There's no comparison between stale bread and fresh bread, is there? Don't you love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven? Or the taste of fresh, hot rolls with butter dripping down the sides. Why settle for stale bread when you can have fresh bread?

I wonder how many times we settle for stale ministry? A stale relationship with God? A stale vision? A stale program? A stale event? A stale service? 

Here are some signs your ministry is stale:

  • You talk more about what God has done than what He is doing.
  • Attendance is waning.
  • You are doing it simply because it's what you've always done. 
  • People yawn at the vision. 
  • The baptistery is collecting dust. 
  • Bible reading is something you endure rather than enjoy.
  • The past is dictating the future. 
  • Volunteers are serving out of duty rather than delight.
  • Few, if any, tears for the lost are seen. 
  • Smiles and laughter in the hallways are rare.
  • You sense yourself just going through the motions. 
  • No one wants to leave their comfort zone. 

We don't have to settle for stale. God wants to give us fresh joy! Fresh ministry! Fresh passion! Fresh vision! Fresh anointing! Fresh spiritual food!

He's already got it baking in the oven for you. He's just waiting for you to ask for it. {eoa}

This article originally appeared on relevantchildrensministry.com.

jennyrose.curtis@charismamedia.com (Dale Hudson/Relevant Children's Ministry) Vision Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500