Pastor Andrew closed the door to his study and leaned against the hard wood, letting out a long breath. A ball of anxiety grew inside his mind, threatening to shut down all functions.
There are times when that ball of anxiety threatens to overwhelm us. It might be because we have overwhelming responsibilities or because people problems loom. The anxiety can also grow from bills or that feeling that we are missing something.
Have you ever noticed how fear takes over your brain? What starts as a niggling feeling in the back of your mind soon has you comatose in front of the television, hoping to drown out the cacophony of "what ifs."
Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times, Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said ... but I say to you ... ” And even today, His thoughts on leadership go against the grain.
Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice: Be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.
I absolutely believe that divine judgment is in the earth today, and I reject the teaching that states that from the cross until the Second Coming, God’s wrath will not be poured out on the earth. There is a substantial amount of New Testament evidence that stands against this doctrine.
At the same time, we better be very careful before we start calling specific events “divine judgment.” It is dangerous and unwise to bear false witness about the Lord.
Recently, a caller to my Line of Fire radio broadcast stated that the Boston Marathon bombing was a divine judgment, one of the main causes being the legalizing of same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts in 2004.
In my past few blogs, I’ve talked about conflict—why people avoid it and why it’s better to lean into it.
One thing I’ve learned about working with teams of people: When two or more are gathered, there will be conflict!
Why? Because we all have our opinions about how things should be, and we’re rather attached to our opinions. Conflict is a reality of leadership. I’ve been all over the map on how to lead through conflict, from completely avoiding it to plowing through it and leaving a body count behind. Let me tell you, neither approach works out well.
I once took a course from Dallas Willard where he lined out 30-some-odd spiritual disciplines. “These are all tools,” he would say. “Use whichever ones help you personally.”
I’ve discovered one that wasn’t on his list. Call it the practice of mentoring.
It took me a few months, but when I found a pastor who could mentor me, his tutelage was so helpful that I haven’t been without one since. These are the traits I look for in my mentors:
Those of us who counsel pastors and teach future preachers sometimes caution them to “study the Bible for itself, just to receive the Word into your heart, not to prepare sermons.”
We might as well tell Sherlock Holmes to enjoy crime scenes for the beauty of the occasion and to stop looking for criminals; or tell Albert Pujols not to worry about actually striking at the baseball crossing the plate but to relax and take in the inspiration of the moment; or tell Joan Rivers to give up on plastic surgery.
Some things you do because this is who you are.
When a pastor reads a great insight in the Scriptural text, does anyone think for one minute that he is going to file that away in a personal-edification file, never to be shared with others in sermons?