No Compromising

Being a godly leader will cost you something because true leaders stand up for what is right. They do not make moral compromises, and they do not take the easy way out in order to get ahead or keep the peace. We see this again and again in the lives of the apostles in the New Testament, and we see it down through the ages, embodied in the countless saints who suffered, and sometimes died, because they took a bold stand for Jesus. Though it may not be your freedom or your life on the line when you make a stand, it takes a measure of the same boldness.

Jesus is King. To compromise on the values of the King and His kingdom is tantamount to treason. Leadership success in Jesus’ eyes is not about fame, power, or position. Instead, He looks to see whether or not we have been faithful. And being faithful to Jesus will often cause us to be at odds with this world.

Whether there is a benefit to honesty and integrity, authentic leaders need to take a stand for the truth and for their values. As one leader said, “If I compromise on one principle with one customer, where do I draw the line?”

In John 2, Jesus, the greatest leader who ever lived, stood boldly against the religious leaders of His day because they had turned God’s house into a flea market. He braided a whip, strode through the temple courtyard, lashed at the money changers and merchants with the whip, and overturned their tables. As He did so, He rebuked them for their wicked practices.

Have you ever made moral compromises to fit in or to get ahead? If you haven’t already done so, confess the sin to Jesus and ask Him to help you display complete integrity in every area of life.

Prayer: Lord, strengthen my faith as I obey You and lead with integrity. In the past, I’ve cut corners or taken shortcuts. Forgive me, Lord, and cover over any of my wrongdoings with Your grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Photo(s) /Resource(s) Youssef Michael

Don’t just be Effective be Efficient: Do You Know the Difference?

I talk to myself (and the Lord) quite a bit as I put together the material for this website. I spend most of day in a tiny office) working on the computer creating publications, wrestling materials into formats for distribution online. After a training seminar I took yesterday I wondered all last night if mine writings are efficient, effective, or efficiently effective? As I focused on getting things done efficiently I  may be making very quick decisions. I rapidly move through tasks and check things off your To-Do list one, two, and three. I look productive!!! Because there is activity, your list is full of check marks or strikeouts showing completion, and my calendar shows meetings. That To-Do list isn’t too long and overwhelming because I’m on it. The question is:

Are doing the right things? The key to effectiveness is that you’re doing things that lead to results in the realm of your responsibilities. Meanwhile the key to efficiency is getting your things done in a manner that consumes just the appropriate amount of energy and resources. Effective and efficient are very common business/marketing terms. However, most of us tend to mix their meanings and usage occasionally (including myself), and that is why I decided to write on the topic.

First of all if you look for both terms in most dictionaries you’ll find very similar definitions (which make the matter even more confusing). Some dictionaries get it right, however. Here is the definition from Dictionary.com, which I like:

Effective (adj.): Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

Efficient (adj.) Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of tyme and effort.

If you want an easier way to memorize the difference, remember this sentence: “Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing the things in the right manner.”

Examining efficiency in automobiles: a fuel efficient vehicle gets more miles to the gallon. A car with a mile per gallon (mpg) rating of 50, like a Toyota Prius, is thought to be a mighty efficient car. And it is. However, a Prius wouldn’t always be an effective car. For example, if you had to pull a trailer loaded with your favorite outdoor toy; a camper, a power boat, or a fleet of motorcycles, a Prius probably doesn’t have the horsepower to pull the trailer. It might not even move away from the parking spot. It’s effectiveness in the specific application is low or null.

From its earliest pages, Scripture teaches us people are more important than processes; how we get results is as important as getting them; effectiveness is more important than efficiency. Christians who work must reflect these principles if they are to accurately reflect the character of God to their coworkers. They also must constantly walk a fine line between efficiency and effectiveness. Sometymes the right choices aren’t easily discerned, but often the problem isn’t deciding which is right, but having the courage to make and stand by the right choice.

When it comes to managing our personal tyme, effectiveness almost always trumps efficiency. Consider the story of Martha and Mary. Read Luke 10:38-42. (For more information on these two women, you can also read about them in John 11 and 12.)

Listen to how Paul describes the battle between efficiency and effectiveness.

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your tyme, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

As we read about the many individuals Paul lists at the beginning and end of his letters, we get a clear understanding when he says “making the most of our tyme”; he’s referring to God’s view of how we best spend our tyme. While we may start our days earnestly hoping we can be faithful to the Lord, frequently the stuff of life crams itself down our throats, and we fail Him more than we honor Him. Then late at night, when the careening, chaotic pace of the paths of work and relationships relinquish their grips on our conscious actions, our thoughts turn back to God. It can be utterly discouraging in those moments to realize how little we’ve thought of Him in the course of the day.

Then maybe sometyme during the week we finally find tyme to read His Word, and we are ever more astonished at just how holy He demands us to be, and how utterly unfit we are by ourselves for His service. How can we possibly fit this tent of unfaithfulness into the tent-bag of His call on our life?

One of the enemies of faithfulness is pace. Sometymes others dictate pace to us, as in tyrannical bosses, small children, extraordinary circumstances, or the consequences of wrong choices. Often, though, the reckless pace of our lives is our own fault, chasing after the windmill of plenty, prosperity, security, power, or a place of significance. A relentless pace condemns us to a focus on the moment, leaving little tyme for earthly, tangible relationships, let alone God. If the goal of our tyme management system is designed to cram more accomplishment into our day, then our focus is on tasks and not on the relationship that gives meaning to those tasks.

We must each look to the pace in our lives and govern it prudently. It strengthens not only our relationship with God, but with all those God has given us: family, friends and coworkers.

We cannot think of God in the shorter journeys of our life if we fail to consider His place in the longer journeys. Planning those longer journeys—like “where is God working and what’s my place in His wall” and “what do my children need to know about God” and “am I ready to give an answer when my coworker asks me the hard questions of faith”—those journeys require the planning and preparation done in quiet moments which refuse to yield to the world’s demand for activity.

Even as we recognize our continuing unworthiness, though, we must never stop yielding ourselves to obedience. The irony of “more fruit for the kingdom” is often that it demands we be less busy. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, both of which are found not in action but in relationship, and everything else, including our labors, will become acts that honor Him and matter eternally. As a young Armor bearer I was taught the Pareto Principle by my Spiritual Father, which basically was that Efficiency, is doing the job right. Effectiveness is doing the right job right. My goal as his assistant was that I should be to be effective, and not just efficient.

Vilfredo Pareto was a nineteenth century Italian economist. Studying the distribution of his country’s resources, he determined that 80 percent of the wealth was held by 20 percent of the people.

Researchers have discovered Pareto’s 80/20 rule applies in countless circumstances. For instance, 80 percent of your church’s offerings are likely given by 20 percent of the membership, 80 percent of the leadership provided by 20 percent of the people. And, probably 80 percent of your problems are generated by 20 percent of the congregation.

On your to-do list, 80 percent of your productivity is in the 20 percent of your list designated as As. If you do only the As, the most important 20 percent of your list, you will have accomplished 80 percent of your productivity. But, if you work from the bottom of the list and do eight things, all the Bs and Cs, you do 80 percent of your list but accomplish only 20 percent of your productivity. The 80/20 rule graphically illustrates why it is so important to stick to your priorities, as to being effective, and not just efficient.

As I have been writing, I have received many “Common Sense and Eternal Principles” Revelations:

■ God values relationship over activity.

■ Jesus teaches us people are more important than processes and achievements.

■ The pace of our life is often one of the most serious challenges to our spiritual journey.

■ A hectic pace is also one of the most serious challenges to our earthly relationships.

■ Seeking God’s priorities first (love God, love others, teach others about Him, tend His

Creation—in that order) put our priorities in place.

 

 

Photo(s)/ Resource(s): Daniel Scocco, Yvon Prehn

 

Hallelujah We Are Free to Struggle!!!

Those who follow my blogs know my wife & I just had our first child;(Ava Camille). And I must admit that it has been life changing! Hold up! Not for the reason you might first think of?¿

In the last 12 weeks I found the truth, NO! I accept the truth:

I’m free to mess up. Im are to fail. Most of all, I’m free to struggle. WOW! Not something we hear all the tyme right? You were probably not expecting that?¿ My daughter was not 10 minutes old when I dedicated her back to The Lord. I meant it when I said I was going to be a”Perfect Dad”! I wasn’t going to do any wrong towards “AC”. Not 5 minute after I gave her first bath, I placed her diaper on backwards. So already I was not perfect.

The world around us is striving for perfection. The best you do is never good enough. No matter how hard you try, you always seem to make a mistake. Is this true with other people or just me? I can premeditate doing a task, take so much tyme in the planning, but in the end something still goes wrong. My walk with Christ is the same way. I plan to spend tyme in God‘s word. I plan to say something nice to someone instead of something hurtful. I plan to pray for others consistently. I plan, I plan, I plan. What happens most of the tyme? I fail. I forget. I fall on my face hard.

But you know what God says???

“It’s okay. I still love you. In me there is grace enough to cover any mistake you make, no matter how big. I FORGIVE YOU!

We are free to struggle, but we are by no means struggling to be free. What does that even mean? How do we make sense of that? God’s grace is strong enough to cover ALL the mistakes we make, and then the healing process begins. God wants to deliver us from our struggles. We are free because of the price Jesus Christ paid when he died and bled on the cross. We are free because of the chains that were broken when he burst forth ALIVE on the third day. This is where our freedom is found.

Why is it so hard to accept that? We really do want that perfection. But we want to attain it ourselves. We have to realize that only IN CHRIST can we attain our righteousness. The struggles we face day to day are what make us imperfect on our own. These are the things that bring us to our knees and make our relationship with Christ stronger. These are the things that help us see that our identity is now found in Christ.

So yes….We are free to struggle, but we are not struggling to be free!

God loves us so much that sometymes struggles are an act of his love in our lives. They bring us closer to him. They also help us realize that these struggles and pain are only temporary. Our life on Earth was not meant to be free of pain. That’s what sets heaven apart and makes us long for it to come soon.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

May my prayer be that God would do anything it takes to keep me close. Even if that means going through patches of pain. In the end it will be more than worth it.

(This blog was inspired by the song by Tenth Avenue North, the Struggle. It’s a great song with sound doctrine…listen to it sometyme.)

Be a Childlike Grown-up

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I was recently listening to a pastor I love and respect talk about childlike faith and how the Bible teaches us that we need to be like children. You get this from verses like:
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4 ESV)

I was flowing with him. But then I also started thinking about all those verses where we’re told to be mature. Verses like Hebrews 5:13-14:
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature.
 
That seems a little bit contradictory. We’re supposed to be like children. But we’re also supposed to grow up and be mature. How do we handle this tension?

Here’s where I’ve landed:
Be a childlike grownup.

When it comes to your faith and your prayers, be naïve. Never lose your sense of wonder. Never get to the point where you know better. Always come before God with the belief that He’s your Father and is ready, willing, and able to do anything you need Him to. That the only limit to His power is your ability to believe Him for it. But when it comes to things like your decisions, your ambitions, and what offends you, be a grownup. Continually increase your responsibility. Continually grow in wisdom. Make sure the development of your character keeps pace with the advancement of your years.

Far too many Christians have equated maturity with what is really cynical unbelief. Far too many Christians have equated childlike faith with what is really juvenile immaturity.

While increasing in your maturity, never decrease in your faith. Or vice versa. Do what the Bible tells you. Increase in both.

Be a childlike grownup.

 

Photo(s) / Resource(s): StevenFurtick

Breaking Free From the Obsessive Comparison Syndrome

make_calling_election_sureQuestion: When I compare myself to others who are doing or have done great things for God, I feel inadequate … like I don’t belong and can never measure up. Honestly, I have a hard time relating to other people in ministry. Have you ever experienced this?

When I was a young leader, this “ministry comparing” really messed me up. I didn’t relate to anyone in ministry, which kept me from trusting myself to lead in the unique ways I was gifted and motivated to lead. In fact, for the first six years, I came very close to leaving ministry. In my heart, I knew I was called. But comparing myself to others really messed with my head. I couldn’t find anyone else in ministry who was young and thought like me. It kept me from being all that God created me to be. And, it will do the same to you.

This also was a huge problem for Jesus’ first disciples. They were always comparing themselves with one another, trying to figure out who was the greatest. Jesus hammered Peter for it (John 21:18-23). After the resurrection, He had just given Peter a not so positive glimpse into his future. Peter immediately asked, “What about John?” His primary concern wasn’t that he would experience difficulties. It was whether John would experience the same difficulties. Think about how Jesus responded: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

I would classify that as an official smackdown. The point is clear. Comparison has no place in our lives. God’s will, plans and expectations for each of us are unique. Comparison serves no purpose. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Because it’s so natural for us, (in truth, I still find myself battling with it at times in life and ministry), I’ve found that breaking the tendency to compare myself to others requires understanding its consequences.

Comparing ourselves to others robs us of our own uniqueness and creativity, causing us to lower our leadership, teaching and ministry to a cheap copy. Even worse, we allow the way we do ministry to be boxed into centuries-old formulas. It also robs those God uniquely created us to reach and impact.

Comparing ourselves to others can lead to perceptions that we’re doing better than we really are.

If Peter compared himself to Judas, he could have seen himself as one of the better followers of Christ even after the rooster crowed. Though he denied Jesus three times, he didn’t sell Him out for 30 pieces of silver. If the guy with five talents compared himself to the other servants in the parable, he could have seen himself as an overwhelming success even if he was turning in a subpar performance. Comparison leads to wrong, very dangerous conclusions.

It can make it appear that we’re doing worse than we really are.

What would have happened if David compared himself to Saul to see if he was qualified to take on Goliath? One look in the mirror while wearing Saul’s armor would have told him he wasn’t good enough. But God didn’t create David to wear Saul’s armor. The comparison wouldn’t have been fair. It never is. Too many of God’s people are discouraged for no legitimate reason.

Comparing ourselves to others can get us way off track.

Scripture clearly shows us that we all have different callings, talents and experiences. Comparing ourselves with others can lead us to invest ourselves in the wrong ways.

It can cause bitterness toward God and envy toward others.

Think of Asaph in Psalm 73. Until he stopped comparing himself to others and remembered God’s truth, he was jealous and “hopeless.” It happens to me, to all of us, when we don’t keep comparison in check.

It creates the wrong standard for our lives and ministries.

As Jesus told Peter in John 21, the only standard we should ever measure ourselves by is His standard.

It causes us to miss what God values.

As 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Look at the Pharisees. Comparison caused them to ultimately hate and reject the One they should have most loved and accepted. I believe the same thing is happening today. Many pastors and churches are living for and valuing the wrong things because they’re comparing themselves to their traditions or other churches instead of God’s Truth.

It motivates competition, not cooperation.

God created His people to walk together and, in so doing, to change the world. Instead, we have a tendency to compete with one another. Just like the first disciples, we’re trying to be better than each other rather than helping to make one another better.

It keeps us from loving one another.

Comparison robs us of love. In light of John 13:35, it’s keeping the world from recognizing we’re Christ followers. It’s keeping us from reaching the world and fulfilling our purpose.

Remember that the way God has made and called each of us to accomplish His will is unique. God doesn’t want you to be or to do ministry like anyone else. It’s why He didn’t make you like anyone else. Psalm 139:14 tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God’s plan for each of us is different and perfect.

 

Phot(s) / Resource(s): BradPowell  

Your Pulpit Is a Place of Spiritual Warfare

Whenever the subject of spiritual warfare is raised, there is a danger of falling into one of two extremes. On the one hand, it is easy to become paranoid, “seeing demons behind every tree” and giving Satan far more credit than he deserves. On the other hand, it is easy to become overly relaxed and essentially treat the spiritual realm as having no effect on our lives. 

Yet if there is a realm in which we should be aware of spiritual warfare, surely it is in the realm of preaching. Surely the enemy would love to disrupt or damage the proclamation of God’s Word, the presentation of the Gospel, the encouragement of believers and the praise of God.

First of all, spiritual warfare and the preacher. What tactics does the enemy use against us as preachers? Here are a few; perhaps you have others to add. 

One danger constantly facing us is that of pride, which leads to a lack of dependency on God. Then there is temptation to sin—how often do we face waves of temptation in areas of vulnerability while preparing to preach, or the day after we preach? Perhaps distraction is a tool of the enemy—things thrown in our path that keep us from the task at hand. Then there are lies, the discouragements meant to bring down our high goals with their high prayers.

I’d like to pursue this subject further, but let me ask you—what tactics does the enemy seem to employ in relation to your preaching ministry?

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing unusual technical difficulties before presenting, or out of the ordinary family tensions on a Sunday morning. Then there are the more overt attacks both before and after preaching. Not always, but sometimes. But if we are thinking about the work of the enemy, it is important to remember he can also target the listeners in a preaching event. Our ancient foe seeks to work woe on various fronts.

As 2 Corinthians 4:4 states, the enemy works to blind listeners to the gospel so they cannot see the truth. There is also the possibility of distraction before and during preaching, as well as discouragement whispered direct. I do not want to give any credit to an enemy who stands defeated, but it would be naive to ignore this dimension of preaching. We tremble not for him, but must be sure to stand firm in our role as God’s spokesmen.

 

Photo(s) / Rersource(s): Peter Mead