Courage is not just a personal trait. It’s an organizational trait as well.
And we all want, in some way, to be part of an organization and team that demonstrates courage. That is willing to push up the hill, against the odds, beyond all doubts to achieve results and impact what most thought not possible.
So here are a few points about creating a courageous organizational culture:
This week, in Lynne Olson’s Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, I found this interesting depiction of Harold Ickes, a member of FDR’s cabinet during the Second World War:
“According to T. H. Watkins, Ickes’ biographer, ‘a world without something in it to make him angry would have been incomprehensible to him.’ A disgruntled Republican senator who had been the target of one of Ickes’ verbal assaults called him ‘a common scold puffed up by high office.’ To one cabinet colleague, Ickes was ‘Washington’s tough guy.’ To another, he was the ‘president’s attack dog.’”
"Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. ... Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ. ... And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. ... And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:4-8)
I’ve been thinking on this passage for a couple of days, and the more I read it, the more I see.
My faith is being challenged and my vision is being expanded.
Are you willing to believe God by actually beginning to act in faith on these three components of kingdom domination displayed by the first church in the book of Acts?
I spent most of my 20s floundering around, trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to do with my life. Actually, from the outside, it probably didn’t look much like floundering (I went to college, graduate school and got a great job). But on the inside, I felt lost. Chaotic. Confused. And really curious as to what it meant to find my “true calling.”
So by the time I was in my mid-20s, I had followed all the rules of adult life and had many of the things a “grown-up” was supposed to have, but I still didn’t feel like my life had deep meaning.
I still didn’t know what I was here for.
What was my calling? Did God give everyone a calling? How was I supposed to find mine?
Inspired by the story of the Rich Young Ruler and encouragement from a friend, I quit my job, sold everything I owned, moved out of my apartment and set off on a road trip to discover my true calling. I learned so much while I traveled, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was what it means to discover a deep and meaningful purpose for your life.
Based on that experience, here are two questions I think you can ask yourself if you want to discover what God has called you to do.
1. What am I passionate about? I was always so scared to ask this question—or to answer it—because although I would call myself a passionate person, my passions sort of scared me. If I were to follow my passions—really follow them—where would they lead me?
I wasn’t sure.
And besides, weren’t passions kind of selfish and frivolous? Wasn’t I supposed to chase what God wanted for my life instead of what I wanted? Wasn’t that what being a Christian was all about?
What I discovered when I started to uncover my passions—and admit them—was that my desires and dreams could actually act like a window to what God wanted for me. Talking about my passions helped to unlock my purpose in life.
For me, this looked like quitting my job to chase my lifelong dream of traveling across the country and writing a book about it. And yes, in the beginning, the “passion” was a little bit crazy and unbridled and even a tiny bit selfish.
But as I submitted my passion to God and invited Him into the journey with me, the passion has grown and matured to be something deep and beautiful and lasting. And it continues to grow in this way, as long as I allow him to be part of it.
2. Where do I see my passion changing others? This is important because if I ask the first question without asking the second question, I might end up chasing my “dream” of becoming a singer/songwriter.
And why not? I love to sing in the shower and the car and into my bedroom mirror with my brush as a microphone.
I assure you, if I were to chase that passion, the world would not be a better place. I mean, I love to sing, but I love to sing far more than other people love to listen to me sing, if you know what I mean.
Maybe you love to golf, but you have to ask yourself: How is the world being changed by your golf game? Maybe you love drinking coffee, but how can you help people and serve people and reach people with that passion?
It’s certainly possible. Callings come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to ask the question.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect formula. I’m not pretending like it’s failproof or that callings are cut and dry or that they don’t sometimes flux and change in different seasons.
Right now, I’m called to write. But I believe later in life I will be called to be a mom, and maybe even a grandma, and probably a whole host of other things too. I believe we have more than one calling in a lifetime and that our callings are constantly unfolding.
But I guess the biggest tragedy would be if we didn’t believe we had a calling at all or we didn’t believe that it mattered so we ignored our passions altogether or ignored our capacity for serving and connecting to others.
Please don’t let that happen. The world will be a better place when more of us wake up to what we were put on this earth to do.
Allison Vesterfelt is a Christian author. Her book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage was recently released.
Have you ever noticed how ideas seem to flow when you don’t need them? Throughout the year, you might have a dozen great ideas for a weekend getaway; but when a weekend is finally available for a trip, you can’t think of anything to do. Or maybe you’ve had a million “when I get around to it” moments only to find that on a rare day off, you can’t remember any of them!
Being a pastor is much the same way. For years you may have thought, “If I was a pastor, the first thing I would do is …” And then, when that moment finally comes—a church calls you to pastor—you can’t figure out where to start. Being chosen to pastor a church is a great honor. Much like the first moment holding your newborn, you are overcome with one thought: “I want to do this right!”
Have you ever had to lead change when no one knew for sure what change was needed, when there wasn’t clear agreement on where the organization needed to go, when some players on the team were uncommitted or complacent, or when the leadership pipeline—who is supposed to be leading—wasn’t clearly defined? Have you ever had to lead change when the season of decline has been so long no one remembers what success looks like, or when ... you get the idea.
It’s like navigating through muddy water. Have you ever been there?
Lakeside Wesleyan Church, in Lakeside, Calif., was the first church I served as a staff member. It was a small church, and I learned much!
Rich Lauby was the pastor then, and the church accomplished significant life-changing ministry. For more on that story, see the previous article in this series (Part 1), which includes “6 Words for Small Churches.”
The first church I “officially” consulted was a small church in Ruston, La. Ever been there? The pastor’s name was Mark, and we hit it off immediately.
It’s no secret that almost 90 percent of those who come to Christ do so before the age of 20. Youth ministries are built upon the premise that the younger years are when the harvest fields are richest.
But time and again, I hear senior pastors and church members express the same frustration: “I just don’t know what to do to get through to these kids!”
The good news is that “getting through” is easier than you may think. Put simply: Just feed them! (And I don’t mean just feed them pizza, though that may be a good start.)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.— Philippians 2:1-2
As author John Maxwell has noted, there is a difference between being a leader and being a manager. He often points out that management focuses on maintaining systems and processes, while leadership is about "influencing people to follow." One way to cultivate such influence is breathtaking in its simplicity: Influence involves caring sincerely about others.
While going through my senior year of college, there were days when it seemed as if the weight of the world had been placed on my shoulders. Classes were scheduled at odd times, so I had to plan meetings, work, and other errands as opportunity allowed. One day, I was feeling particularly frustrated when I stopped by my mailbox. Most of the time, there was nothing inside. But on this day, I found a card containing a few encouraging lines penned in blue ink.
What struck me was that it didn't have a name on it. It didn't have to. The card had done the job it was intended to do--to show me that I was cared for and appreciated.
Of course, showing someone that you care can be accomplished in ways other than sending a card to someone. A kind word can do the same thing. If somebody is struggling with an issue (or life in general), simply sitting and listening can be worth more than any words that may come to mind. And don't forget prayer, for "the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5:16).
However, encouragement isn't just reserved for those who know Christ Jesus. All people need to hear positive words, especially the words that tell of One who died for us so that we can have eternal life. Let's strive to be an encouragement to all we come in contact with daily.
Last week, I wrote about the three greatest temptations of leadership. This week, I want to talk about the three ways we can keep our integrity and prevent those temptations from destroying our testimony and diminishing our influence.
First, deepen your reverence for God. Never forget that God put you in the position you’re in today. Psalm 75:6 says, “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another” (LB). Great leaders realize that they are stewards. They realize that it’s not their world, their church, their business; they are just the manager, the steward. Promotion comes from God, not from other people.
But today some of the large legacy ministries are struggling. After seeing many of these organizations from the inside, and from my experience engaging today’s culture, here’s five things these organizations need to do to transition and stay relevant to the next generation:
This past week, I was contacted by a minister who was getting ready to start his new role of campus pastor at a multisite church in 2014. He asked me to share with him what my week and responsibilities looked like and to explain the role of the campus pastor.
Believe it or not, this is something I do often and will be doing more in the future as a resource and partner on my friend Scott Williams’ new websitecampuspastor.tv.
Kyle Searcy, pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., has a passion for developing a new generation of leaders in the church. He is a recognized and highly respected pastor, author and leader of a growing media ministry.
Searcy's multiracial, multigenerational and international congregation is launching a new campus in Norcross, Ga., just outside Atlanta. But if that isn’t enough, he also leads a network of 10 churches in the United States and more than 230 in Africa, including countries like Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana.
My alarm rang at 3:30 a.m. I’m not a morning person. My wife, Deborah, is.
Most mornings I stagger around like a cranky zombie. She bounces out of bed ready to attack a new day. Opposites attract.
We are on the 6:25 a.m. Manila to Tokyo to Detroit to Nashville. I’m thinking about starting a global campaign to ban all pre-noon international flights. Believe it or not, we encountered bumper-to-bumper traffic at 4:30 a.m. on the way to the airport—only in Manila. I am also campaigning for an early morning traffic ban.
Since I can’t sleep on planes, no matter how sleep deprived I may be, I turned on my iPad Bible and started reading 1 Corinthians 3:10-12:
Imagine a church breathing fresh winds of the Holy Spirit’s presence and joy throughout its entire church family—winds generated by God’s grace but rising specifically from His working among the teens and college-agers within that body.
For many pastors, this vision of the Spirit igniting a church’s youth to affect the entire congregation is a “prophecy in waiting.” And as with all prophecies, discernment is essential—to receive truth and to reject confusion or error. To do both, let me recommend two things you, the lead pastor, must sign off on.
To my friends in the Seattle area, those of us in East Tennessee are beginning to be able to relate to you. This year, we have been inundated with rain. While a normal summer for us is hot and fairly dry, our temperatures have hardly gotten over 90 degrees this summer, largely due to the overcast weather and almost daily showers that have kept the temperatures down and the humidity up.
All of this water reminds me of the lyrics of the Rich Mullins song "Screen Door":
They may not say it out loud, but I’ve talked with enough pastors through the years to know there are two key numbers they’re interested in: attendance and giving. Attendance matters because it’s one measure we have of the impact the church is having in a community.
Ironically, giving may actually be a better measure of the real heart change Jesus is having in people’s lives.
The first church I served on staff was Lakeside Wesleyan Church in Lakeside, Calif. I was the very part-time youth pastor and lots of other stuff, and a full-time private investigator—just out of college at the ripe old age of 23.
The church had less than 200 in total attendance but was thriving with meaningful ministry. Richard Lauby was the pastor then, and under his watchful eye I learned much in ministry. From delivering my first sermon to reaching teens for Christ, it was a great adventure in learning how to make things happen with modest resources.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.— Proverbs 25:28
In ancient times, cities were often surrounded by walls for their protection. If those walls were breached in any way, the city became vulnerable to attack from a wide variety of enemies. The maintenance of city walls, therefore, was of constant concern.
Proverbs 25:28 likens self-control to a city wall. When we maintain self-control, we keep ourselves safe from forces that would wear us down, attack our weaknesses, and prey on our failures. Scripture warns us that losing our self-control can lead to disastrous results. We may have tendencies to lose our tempers easily, gossip about neighbors or coworkers, or criticize those in authority. We may have an unhealthy desire to own many possessions, an addiction toward food, or an obsession with television. A careless word, a broken promise, or a disrespectful action is an outward sign that our inner wall of self-control has collapsed. Weak self-control makes us vulnerable to living a life of hypocrisy, and then we lose all credibility as a witness to the freedom and joy of the Christian life.
But developing self-control is not just a matter of willing right behavior. We all have experienced the "just do it" break-down. We decide that we will finally regain control of a certain personal weakness only to find a few days later that we have succumbed once again to temptation. Self-control is not as simple as just "doing it" or "not doing it."
Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit desires to guide our lives. Only he can overcome our sinful cravings and build self-control with staying power. As we turn our moments over to the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will find that we are more often able to resist those things that used to prey on our weaknesses. It is with the power of the Holy Spirit alone that our walls of self-control can be securely maintained.