May 22, 2009

What Drives Decisions In Your Ministry?

Lately I've witnessed a couple of things & been told stories about situations that made me ask, "How long has it been since churches made decisions based on their mission rather than on personalities?" If the decision making of your ministry is personality driven, then you may not even know it. But try to do something apart from those personalities that is in alignment with your mission as the church & you'll learn really fast whether or not you're a personality driven ministry.

I even heard a small, silly example recently about a church that was recognizing mothers for Mother's Day. They did some of the fun things like recognizing the newest mom & things like that. Well, it just so happened that a couple of the mothers who fell into these specific categories were guests in worship that day. The pastor presented them with a bouquet of flowers. The next day there were people who were upset because "that lady isn't a member". I agree. How dare we recognize & celebrate a guest! Coincidentally, that "guest" is very close to becoming a real part of that church's ministry. Finally, they will be a "member". Next year they can win one of those awards fair & square!

Now that's a silly example of how personalities & not mission can drive your organization. When that happens, you have two choices. First, take drastic steps to realign with your mission. This will be difficult. As the leader, you are the guardian of the vision & mission of your organization, & sometimes you're the only guardian. Your second choice is to close up shop. You might as well close because you will not be fulfilling the mission that you set out to accomplish. You will not solve the problems that your business or ministry was created to address.

In what ways do personalities drive your organization? How can you as the leader begin to get your business or ministry back on mission? Are you willing to pay the costs to do that?

May 13, 2009

Got Wisdom? Part 3-Everybody Lies

If you're a fan of the show "House", then you've no doubt heard this simple phrase on which Dr. House bases most of his medical practice as well as most of his life. Unfortunately, Dr. House is right. However he is incomplete in his assessment of humanity. I would say, "Everybody lies, especially to themselves." Sounds uber-jaded doesn't it? Yet Scripture & experience back it up.

Scripture warns us over & over again about deceiving ourselves. The book of James hits it pretty hard in chapter 1. James says that we're deceiving ourselves when we simply hear the word of God & do nothing with it. He goes on to say that we're fooling ourselves if we think we're religious but have no control over things like what we say & how we treat one another.

It's great to have Scripture to back up my statement, but in reality I've learned that "Everybody lies, especially to themselves." the hard way. No doubt you too can identify with this. Who among us has not convinced themselves that we were doing the right thing or that we could handle things in life? Meanwhile, everybody around us is saying, "Slow down" or "Are you sure about that". Oftentimes, when we lie to ourselves, we're the only ones who believe the lie. Oddly enough, it seems that not only does wisdom come from knowing & obeying God's word, but foolishness on the grandest of scales comes from knowing & failing to act on God's word. Ignoring action opens the door for lies that we would never believe otherwise.

If you saw the season finale of "House", you saw that even the smartest, most clever man could so easily deceive himself. How could that be? Because he, like us so often, relied on his own wisdom.
Our own wisdom only leads us into lies & deception, & it affects all our relationships, even with ourselves.

May 12, 2009

Got Wisdom?-Part 2

If wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age, then we don't have to wait around for years to get it, right? Technically that's true, but many of us still choose to take the long route to wisdom. It may be closer to the truth to say that many of us choose to take the long route that we think leads to wisdom when in fact, it leads us in circles.

The wisdom & understanding that is written about in Psalm 119 is a wisdom that comes from action, specifically the action of obeying the word of God. Did you catch that? It comes from obeying God's word. If you're like me, sometimes you fool yourself into thinking you're wise because you know so much of God's word. However, God draws a clear line in the sand. Obeying is the key to wisdom. In fact, knowing a lot of God's word can actually be a gateway to sin because to know what God would have you do & to not do it is sin.

Knowledge of God's word without obedience to God's word is not only foolish; it is sin. That's convicting to me. What about to the rest of us?

Don't take the path that leads you in circles or the path that takes you 30 years to gain wisdom. Instead choose today to obey God's word to us, & you'll be a little wiser than you were yesterday. It may not seem like much but compound that over decades, & you will be amazed & where God leads you & how God uses you.

May 11, 2009

Got Wisdom?

Lately I've been reading a good bit in & out of the Bible about wisdom. The other day I ran across an interesting little passage in scripture that should be of great encouragement to those of us who still like to think of ourselves as "young".

Psalm 119:99-100: "I have more insight than my teachers, for Your words are my meditation. I have more understanding than the elders because I have observed Your law."

I don't know about you, but I was always told that wisdom & understanding come with age & experience, but the Bible teaches that there is a lot more to it than simply circling the sun for a long time. According to the Bible, wisdom & understanding comes from knowing & obeying God's word. So the way I see it, someone who is 60 years old can still be making mistakes they were making at age 20. And a 25 year old can learn from his mistakes at 20 & begin to obey God's word & be wiser yet half the age of the 60 year old. Being old doesn't make you wise. It might just make you an old idiot!

I'll go into that a little more this week. But for me, it's great to know that I don't have to wait until I'm old to find wisdom. I can find more & more of it simply by obeying the word of God. What do you think?

May 8, 2009

Hitting The Links

Here are some links to some good stuff that you should check out when you get a chance. Lately, I've been focusing on reading more & writing less. For awhile, I got a little out of balance.

The 4 Ds of Leadership-Craig Groeschel

Infinity: They Keep Making More Of It-Seth Godin

Drive 09-Live Updates From Tony Morgan

The stuff from Craig is just solid reminders on leadership from the life of Joseph. It's nice to be brought back to some basics that we so easily lose sight of in the midst of the everyday stuff we deal with as leaders.

Seth's post is a great challenge to not necessarily pursue getting bigger, but better. The two are not always linked.

Tony's posts from the Drive Conference are amazing one liners from one of the most influential leaders in my life, Andy Stanley. If you want quick, easy to digest principles on leading & growing as a leader, Tony's posts from Drive are what you're looking for.

May 1, 2009

Are We That Out Of Touch?

Today I was driving down the road & heard that the United States Congress has begun formal investigations into the BCS. For those of you who aren't rabid college football fans, that's the fun but flawed way that we decide who plays for the college football national championship. It's flawed because you don't always get the best two team, but it's fun because of all the lively discussion it creates.

As I heard that story I thought, "Is this really what my government should be spending time & tax dollars on right now?" Supposedly we're in the worst economic downturn ever; although people from the depression era would disagree. Now we've got this swine flu that everybody (including my wife) is afraid will kill them or their children. But our wise government officials (that we elected, ouch) think that taking down the BCS should be a priority. One congressman compared it to communism!

Now I could go on & on about government waste & focusing on the wrong things when so many other big things are going on, but that's not what I do. That's not how I think. My mind went directly to the spiritual correlation. Many, if not most, churches are just as guilty of waste & "misfocus" as our government is. Churches will fight every fight but the one that matters most: eternity. We rant & rave over gay marriage, abortion, & a whole host of other issues while we let our own communities die & go straight to hell. Dealing with all of those issues have its place in the church's mission, but should those really be our frontline battles? Or should we engage our world with the one thing that we have to offer that can't be found anywhere else: Jesus? Maybe I'm wrong; I don't know. I don't think I am, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.