Category Archives: leadership

Restaurants & Relationships

I’d like to disclose one of my strong personal preferences that actually drives a certain set of behaviors in my life: I will not go to a restaurant that has poor service. Let me clarify that…I will go once to that restaurant but I will not go back again. If I will be spending money to eat out then I not only expect the food to be to my personal liking but I also emphasize that the people who work there at least pretend to be glad I have come. Call it snobbery, call it presumption or call it reasonable if you choose. In the end, it’s my choice and this personal preference determines my actions… and I have no plans to change my standards. It is one thing for me to take such an elevated view of my individual tastes when it comes to eating out. It would be an entirely different issue if I allowed this same principle to determine my relationships. By the grace of God I have been made to understand that I must not walk out on people, refusing to return, because they don’t serve my personal tastes. Let me explain.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” – Romans 14:17-19

The Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans (chapters 14 & 15) that we owe each other a debt of love and a commitment to work through our personal differences in order to cultivate lasting, meanigful relationships. Specifically, he is speaking to Christians who clearly have opposite views on some peripheral issues within God’s Kingdom. Paul takes off his scholar’s hat for a moment and has to replace it with a black and white striped referee’s cap as he tells the followers of Jesus that they must think a little more deeply and try a little harder at maintaining the unity of Spirit in the bonds of peace with one another. The people to whom he was originally writing were very frustrated with each other over things like eating meat, observing Jewish holy days and whether or not Christians were able to drink wine. Paul clearly identifies stronger Christians as those who were liberated from fixating on religious technicalities and presumably binding traditions. The weaker brethren were seen to be those believers who could not feel secure unless they obeyed their scruples – and they expected everyone else to obey those personal tastes also. To the freed, stronger Christians Paul gave a warning for them to be careful how they exercised their spiritual liberty. To the weaker Christians he offered the command to stop judging the freedom of the stronger brother. As a pastor who has navigated these waters many times, I can almost hear Paul sighing as he writes those two chapters.

Have you thought lately about how your particular views/preferences/standards are affecting your relationships with others?  What does it take for you to give yourself permission to stop associating with another believer? Are you thinking of breaking fellowship with your church and finding one that better suits your personal tastes? Sometimes you can convince yourself that your individual preferences carry the weight of Gospel truth. They do not and we deceive ourselves if we assume that God always allows us to step away from others because we do not agree with them in non-biblical matters. Going back to the restaurant metaphor, when we come to moments of decision like these we need to slow down and consider whether the saturation of other available “spiritual dining establishments” makes it too convenient for us to move along from where we currently dine. Let’s be honest: in the Bible belt where many of us live, we can head out a few miles in a different direction to locate a new home church every time we discover that our current fellowship serves up the Sunday meal with some seasoning we do not find appealing. We glibly call it church-hopping but I think we might do well to consider that sometimes it is simply outright selfishness and sin.

Paul told the Romans in the verses above that God’s Kingdom can never be reduced to our personal scruples. God’s Kingdom involves you but it is never all about you. As followers of Jesus we need to seek the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to become more like our Savior in this area. Think about it: everywhere the Son of God went He was surrounded by people, words, ideas and events that failed to meet His own holy standards. Nobody thought like He did, everyone was truly “beneath Him” but they never felt that way. Interestingly, He just kept revealing His commitment & availability to those people. He pressed further into the needs of those people. He remained in places where He knew that His words, Kingdom-offers and saving mission would not be appreciated nor accepted. Jesus even washed the feet of the betraying Judas… but some of His modern day followers cannot even give the right hand of fellowship to other Christians who don’t carry the same English bible translation as they do. Jesus went to a party at the scandalized Zaccheus’ house while some of His 21st century followers won’t go to a local church whose music style doesn’t meet their personal tastes or whose denominational banner doesn’t mimic their own . Jesus asked the Father to forgive His tormentors while He was impaled to a cross – yet today some younger Christians arrogantly write off the older as irrelevant and some older Christians callously judge the younger as irreverent. Turf wars never begin in the church house. They find their origin in proud hearts.

I won’t be going back to yesterday’s restaurant where I took my family to eat after church. The food was pretty good but the way I was served was woefully lacking. To not ever go back is not a difficult decision for me. They won’t miss me and I can just go across the street to the place I am more familiar and where I am always appreciated and served. Yet I don’t view my relationships with others in this same light. Do you want to know why? Because they are not here to serve me in my relationships. I am here to serve them. I am not a consumer negotiating a transaction with them. I am a follower of Jesus as they are and we are part of a forever-family. When that driving principle takes up home in our hearts we will love more selflessly, work more thoroughly, stay more lastingly and hope more enduringly. Set up your personal criteria for restaurants any way you may choose. Be a little more deliberate and humble when you are considering Kingdom relationships.

 

GUEST POST:

1476629_491674107618731_1861180599_n

 

Jeff Lyle,
Lead Pastor of Meadow Baptist, Lawrenceville, GA

@Transtruth

Advertisements

Baptist Dysfunction #3

As we walk through the list of Baptist distinctives, we come to an issue of church polity and practice. Jesus Christ entrusted the church with many things, two of which get a special spotlight (and rightly so): Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There’s not a lot of controversy here, but I’ve got a few questions about these…

SacramentsStainedGlass01Two Church Ordinances

#1 – Believer’s Baptism

I know why we baptize believers – in obedience to Christ, for identification with His death and His church, and to proclaim the gospel. I also get the picture from the New Testament that baptism symbolized rebirth, so why can’t a believer be re-baptized when he rededicates his life? What would be the issue with re-preaching the gospel or identifying again with the church if one has become distant? Why can’t a Christian be baptized again? I mentioned that idea one time to some Christian leaders and they shot it down with disdain. Their answer was, ‘Well Jesus only died on the cross once, so you should only get baptized once.’  Not only does than answer lack basic logic, but it also implies an unhealthy connection to salvation.

Furthermore, at what point did churches get so particular about ‘receiving’ the baptism from other churches? I understand that some baptisms are given under false pretense (as if it is part of salvation) or by the wrong mode (sprinkling instead of immersion), but why do we dismiss baptisms from other brethren? Is it to pad our numbers? Is it because we are that distrusting of their water districts? I truly don’t get it!

Also, why don’t we work as hard for baptisms as we do salvation decisions? Why do we compare our baptism numbers (isn’t that a little self-aggrandizing)?  Some don’t, but many IFB pastors worship the numbers… or rather worship themselves through the numbers. They judge their entire lives by how many are in the pew on Sunday. If we count, we should count how many families had devotions this week, or how many people showed real patient love with a difficult person, or many hours our church spent praying for their co-workers… Those numbers are worth counting (if you’re gonna count)!

#2 – The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper was given to the church as a sacred sacrament. It’s one of the major things that we are urged to do together that reveals the gospel. Some churches practice it once a year, others once a quarter, while others once a month. So why don’t we do it more often? I’ve know…because we don’t want it to get old / ritualistic… Right! So why do we do it exactly the same way every single time? We read the same verses and the same people pass the trays the same way. Every. Single. Time. Why? Would it be a sin to be creative with communion?

With regard to the ordinances, why -in most churches- are only ordained men allowed to participate?  I have never seen anything more beautiful than a father baptizing his child or when parents lead their family in communion.  Just because the church was entrusted with these doesn’t mean we get to monopolize them! Agree? (And by the way, I think foot-washing should be considered… maybe not as an ordinance, but at least practiced occasionally. Humility & soap would go a long way to clean up some of the stink in our churches!)

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Baptist Dysfunction #2

phariseesI was raised believing in the old BAPTIST
acrostic (below). These are the things that supposedly made us ‘distinctive’ in our faith. But as I’m reading and learning, I’m discovering that most -if not all- of these do not mean what they used to… what they’re supposed to. If you haven’t yet, you should catch up by reading Part 1 here.  This post will focus on the Priesthood of the Believer & Individual Soul Liberty. (I’ve decided not to go in the order below, but to group them by their logical sequence.)

B- Biblical Authority
A- Autonomy of the Local Church
P- Priesthood of the Believer
T- Two Church Offices
I- Individual Soul Liberty
S- Saved & Baptized Church Membership
T- Two Church Ordinances

NOTE: Some readers of my last article noted that I write with an evident hurt buried deep inside.  I can’t really identify one singular pain… but I do recognize certain ‘sore spots’ that are sensitive to me. This article, in particular, will really reveal a couple of issues that can affect my blood pressure in a negative way.

P – Priesthood of the Believer

The Bible teaches (1 Peter 2:5) that believers are priests, each having his/her own access to God.  Since Jesus is our High Priest, we need no other mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).  So why do so many IFB pastors stand in this role?  Why do so many say things like: “Before you buy a home or change jobs, you should consult your Pastor.”?  Why do they set themselves up as some kind of ‘priest’ that can divine and/or discern God’s will for the membership? I’ve heard preachers use a church member who didn’t get his advice as an illustration for foolishness or rebellion! I’m a firm believer in getting counsel, but I also believe that Christians don’t need to ask their pastor for permission to buy a car!  Then they take it a step further and take the initiative to assign standards for every family (what to wear, what to listen to, where not to go…), leaving little room for the Holy Spirit to convict.  I believe our standards are far too low & too many!

In addition, the IFB movement has become so governed by a ‘performance’ theology. We’ve lost touch with grace. Why do we continually allow our leaders to set the measurements for us?  Doesn’t the Bible say that when we compare ourselves by and with ourselves we are not wise? Yet we continue to do it – we feed off of it, and it becomes a way of life. Read more about this here.

We define our spirituality by checklists of do’s and don’ts and we let other the fear of man dictate the lists. It’s more human to call a suit & tie your church clothes than to really obey Colossians 3:12-14. After all, it’s easier to measure the visible than the unseen. I still do it (far more than I even realize) and it is sin. The fear of man is a snare! For me, it took a long time to “find myself” after leaving the pretense that I was under, in large part because I had always defined myself by another man’s opinion / approval. It was a terrible mixture of my own insecurities fostered by the emphasis on performance by those surrounding me.

I – Individual Soul Liberty

Much of what defines IFB churches are ‘standards.’  Unknowingly, churches are bound in the culture war more than they are in a war for doctrinal #oldpaths. In the 1950’s, when the Convention was going south (waffling on major fundamentals), a remnant of Biblicists separated from the whole and became Independent, Fundamental Baptists.  In so doing, they became defined by their culture. Women wore skirts, churches used only hymns (with piano music) and black-bound King James Bibles, and preaching against ‘movie houses’ was common.

Examples abound… A pastor-friend was asked to leave his church in the 70’s because his son wore a white belt.  I know a man who wouldn’t let his wife wear pantyhose because they were ‘split-legged.’ I heard about an addiction program which required all participants to wear proper attire. If they didn’t have any, they were provided with disposable plastic skirts (for the ladies) to wear during the class.  No wonder it never got off the ground!

We have become so wrapped up in the externals. How refreshing would it be if we could go to a conference (IFB) and not to hear messages entrenched in legalistic manipulation. (Is Legalism a Bad Word?)  We’ve used some Biblical words to justify our shallow preaching when — according to Jesus himself — there are far weightier matters to attend to!!  The IFB movement is becoming known for its Pharisee-ism, and it doesn’t seem that much is being done to turn that around.  That’s not the fringe, that’s the mainstream. And, thankfully, the younger generation of new fundamentalists are not willing to stand for some of these non-essentials or die in a culture war that their parents / grandparents started!

Romans 14 provides limits for Christians who are ‘strong’ in their faith as they help the ‘weaker.’  It clearly states (v5) that we need to let every man to be fully convinced in his own mind.  What that means is… Give people the space to come to their own conclusions and form their own convictions.  I can hear it now… “But I’ve given them 3 months and he still hasn’t cut his hair. “Well that’s just crazy! Do you expect people to make up their own mind? What if they don’t decide to give up _________, what then?  “I don’t think that she’ll stop wearing britches unless I talk to her about it.”  I know, right!!  Christian liberty is a dangerous thing.  Sticky stuff here, folks.  Which is precisely why we can’t get too far from Matthew 7… the splinter & the plank.

Brothers, we’ve lost sight of grace and become lost in our religion that emphasizes fancy footwork and performance.  Let’s get back to grace and leave the condemnation behind (Gal. 5:1). Just because you change doesn’t mean you’re compromising. Jesus was hated because he was too far ‘left’ for the Fundamentalists of his day… so that puts you in good company!

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Baptist Dysfunction #1

I have so encouraged to see a resurgence among young independent fundamental baptists calling for a revolution back to truth. It is encouraging to hear the stories from so many who are prayerfully seeking balance in their faith, their families, and their ministries.  For too long, legalists have ruled, dictators have oppressed, and ignorance prevailed. [If you’re a rebel, don’t click here.]

church_clipart_whiteI sincerely apologize if that sounds condescending – I know it’s hard to interpret tone on a blog – but I can vouch for the guy at the keyboard… it’s not at all condescending. I am very much a student. I am in process. I’m still growing – hopefully – toward Christ. But I do find issue with some things that many of my IFB friends continue to practice and preach. I have been silent, had quiet conversations with gentlemen in dark corners (okay, that’s a bit overstated and dramatic); but seriously, I feel like it’s time for me to step up and speak up…

I was raised on the old B-A-P-T-I-S-T acrostic.  The one that supposedly made us ‘distinctive’ in our faith. But as I’m reading and learning, I’m discovering that most -if not all- of these are not exactly as they seem. So, today I’m kicking off a 4- or 5-part discourse on our dysfunction. I will seek to be open and not authoritative, subjective and not snobbish, truthful but not negative. These first two deal with the F and the I of IFB…

B- Biblical Authority

Can I still be included as a “fundamentalist” – even if I don’t ascribe to all the extra standards? I had a preacher tell me once that the issue of women wearing pants should be included with the fundamentals (as in: biblical inerrancy, deity of Christ, etc). True story! Why can’t we fellowship if we aren’t exactly the same? (If Amos 3:3 applies like you say it does, then our churches should be a lot smaller.)  Speaking of that, why do we intentionally exclude people from our church?  For example, a friend’s church has a statement like this on their wall: “If you like the KJV, you’ll love this church!” What about someone who doesn’t know about Bible versions, will they love it? What if someone just loves the Lord, will they love your church… or just like it?  Why do we do that?  It sure doesn’t seem like the Bible is the ‘sole authority’ any more. (Speaking of the KJV, I’ve got Bible version questions, do you?) Seems more like Bible+ or Bible*! It’s as if I’m in the twilight zone and I’m the only one who sees that we are doing what we accused everyone else of.

We are not the only bastions of the truth. There IS more than one right way. Yes, there is right and wrong, black and white, and absolute truth. There are right ways to do things, just like there are wrong ways, but God’s will is not a tight-rope to be walked. Why am I saying this?  Because I was told many times that there was only one right way, but many wrong ways.  That’s nothing short of a lie.  God didn’t just create butterflies, He created over 12,000 varieties.  He loves variety.  Why do we demand sameness in our pursuit of unity and agreement?  Why do we force Borg-like assimilation? ‘Comply or be destroyed.’  Why is there no room for discussion, disagreement, or debate?  (More to come on this in the next few weeks… the P & I)

A – Autonomy of the Local Church

Why was I told that Southern Baptists (and other baptists, for that matter) are not autonomous? Unless you think autonomous means isolated, there are many other kinds of churches besides IFB which are self-governing. Baptists are not the only sovereign group. There are independent Christian churches, non-denom, and even autonomous protestants (settle down, that’s not an endorsement). When I was starting a church outside of Louisville, I was told there were no “gospel-preaching churches” in the county.  That was a lie! There were several.  Just because they aren’t IFB doesn’t mean they don’t have the gospel. I can name you at least 3-4 pastors in that county preaching the gospel and teaching evangelism (and practicing it). I regret not working with these great men many years earlier.  The tragedy is that I bought the lie that I couldn’t be ‘equally yoked’ with these men.  Lies!

IFB preachers are lonely and their fellowship meetings are growing boring. (Sorry for being Debbie Downer here, but we continue to isolate in the name of Biblical separation.)  There are great men who passionately love the Lord who are quickly discounted because they carry an ESV, sing a song written after 1950, or wear shorts in church. The term “ecclesiastical separation” has been egregiously misused and, therefore, been the tool of many a leader to abuse a congregation into cultish tendencies. Calling a man a heretic because he believes in God’s sovereignty and election (which are both Biblical terms) is sin. He is a brother – treat Him like one (but not like you treated your brother growing up, that probably wouldn’t be good!). I’m a firm believer in defending the truth, but destroying kingdom relationships and firing your #oldpaths bullets at brothers MUST cease.

Last year, I attended a conference where a prominent IFB pastor from Southern California was preaching.  He was very organized, very classy… until he proceeded to turn his message into a bash ‘Saddleback Sam’ (his words) session.  Three different times, he kept going back to it. Why? Is he jealous? Did RW do something to hurt him or his children? This guy isn’t fringe, he’s a leader.  He’s respected; his church is booming.  So why? When I wrote to him, he didn’t respond back.  I just don’t get it.

Conclusion

I’m NOT writing this to stir up stuff. In fact, for the last year, I’ve been almost totally out of the loop – and I LOVING it!  The P4G blog has sat quiet as I (and many other contributors) have been very busy for the kingdom, and that’s okay.  But two things have stirred this up in my heart: 1). Recent weddings/ funerals which have caused me to cross paths with several good brothers with genuine concerns;  2). Recent conversations with former church members with multiple questions about these very issues.

I am not a leader, so don’t follow me (Ha! Like I really needed to say that anyway!). I’ve found my tribe and it’s not in the IFB… although I’m still very much I, F, and B! So many men are considering deep questions. Questions that their peers don’t want to hear.  They are weighing the evidence. and nothing could be better for the movement. They shouldn’t have to choose between old paths and right paths!  Could a Truth-Revolution be on its way?

Feel free to leave a comment – a positive one. I’d love to hear how your pastor is different from the ones that I keep hearing about. Surprise me. Please be solution-oriented.  If indeed our movement is sinking, should a Christian jump ship or try to bail water? Is it too late or am I just not patient enough? What is the future of ‘fundamentalism?’  What do you think of this new fundamentalism?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Are You Satisfied with Being an Average Leader?

leadership-iconLeadership comes in all shapes and sizes.  Many different types of leaders have impacted my life: pastors, youth pastors, parents, principals, teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, managers.  Some of these have been great; others…not so much!

What separates good leaders from bad leaders?  You can probably spit out several obvious responses with little effort.  Good leaders treat everyone with respect; they lead by example; and they aren’t hypocrites.

However, if you are a leader, this isn’t the question you should be asking.  Instead, you should be concerned with what makes a great leader.  I have outlined below three ways to guarantee your leadership will be nothing more than average.  By simply doing the opposite, you can ensure your leadership is both exceptional and effective.  These are not necessarily tailored toward ministry, but they certainly are applicable in many contexts, including ministry.

Convince Yourself that Intentions Are What Is Important,
Not Impact

Have you ever been misunderstood? I’ll be the first to admit that the impact of what I say is sometimes divergent from what I intended.  This can present significant challenges in non-verbal communication such as text messages and emails.  Many leaders’ attitude is as follows: “If someone misunderstands me or gets offended, so long as I didn’t intend to offend them, it’s not my problem.”  Great leaders approach communication differently.  Their primary concern is how their message is received, irrespective of what they intended.

Effective leaders understand that how you say something is just as important as what you say.  And they are concerned with their impact, not just their intent.  Have you ever stopped to consider that your message may be perceived in a way that undermines what you intended?

Treat Everyone Exactly the Same

Though it seems obvious, two people can perceive the exact same actions or words occurring in the exact same setting in opposite ways.  If person A is making a presentation and you don’t ask any questions, he may view this as you not supporting him.  Person B, however, may view your asking of questions as an attempt undermine to his authority.  Similarly, if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, a meeting in your office might cause person A to resent you, but this might be exactly what person B needs.

Effective leaders know how to encourage and correct each person in their organization.  They know how to tailor a message to a particular person or audience to obtain the desired result.  Are willing to learn about each person you oversee and impact in order to communicate more effectively?

Don’t Worry about Power Dynamics

When asked to rank their own importance within their organization, most people rank themselves lower than their inferiors do.  If you don’t realize the level of your own authority (or power) and how this should impact your behavior, you cannot effectively lead.  Why?  Because you do not know what impact you have on others.

As an example, imagine you are an associate pastor who has spent a significant number of years at one church.  You must understand that a joke poking fun at someone might be appropriate if directed at a fellow staff member yet could be very inappropriate if directed at a congregant or teen.  The appropriateness of having a one-on-one meeting in your office with someone is likely dependent on factors such as age and gender.  An interaction that leaves a college-aged male intern feeling like you are his friend may make your female secretary very uncomfortable.  Power dynamics are multi-faceted and dynamic.  That is, they change over time.

Effective leaders are cognizant of how factors like age, gender, experience, and title can impact communication.  As their role within an organization changes, great leaders understand they often must modify their approach.  Do you understand your role within your organization and, more importantly, how that should affect your conduct?

Leadership comes with authority and responsibility. Both are important factors in determining how you can and should communicate with members of your organization.  If you want to be an effective leader, keep these three points in mind.  If you are ok with being mediocre, feel free to ignore them.

Read more about LEADERSHIP at P4G…

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

Articles

Empowering Reasons to Say ‘IDK’

5823288833_IDK_answer_3_xlargeFor years, I just couldn’t say it. I don’t know why, but I would say anything except those dreaded three words. Three simple words: “I don’t know.”  Why are they so difficult to say?  It’s because we have to admit a measure of ignorance.  It’s humbling.  But I want to encourage you to not fear saying IDK any more.  Saying “I Don’t Know” is very powerful.  To admit that you don’t know is to empower yourself because:

IDK is not threatening to others. Pride is abrasive while humility is disarming.  When you admit you don’t know, you disarm others’ defenses. Most people (whether they realize it or not) operate on the philosophy of ‘Law to the proud; grace to the humble.’  Saying “I don’t know” allows you a certain grace afforded usually to rookies.

IDK invites collaboration and builds teamwork.  If you’re interested in doing something great – then you know it can’t be done alone. Saying “I don’t know” gets the ball rolling to really make a difference and do something big!

IDK criques the status quo. When approached the right way, “I Don’t Know” queries deep into the heart of big ideas.  It merits honest answers and opens the doors of understanding.

I am proud to say that I’m more humble than I used to be (*sarcasm) – and I readily admit that “I don’t know.”  And I’m excited to say that it’s paying off!  What about you?  Have you ever had trouble saying “I don’t know” or is that something you are good at?

RELATED POST:  5 Practical Ways to Question Authority

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

Forgetting the Fairy Tale

fairy-tale-190x300I’ll take 100 copies in camouflage please!

My friend & new ministry teammate has yielded herself to God & written an incredible book!

I do, in fact, recommend that you read it.

It seems that most of the people who read my blog are men. Readers other than my Mom that is–hi mom!  Notice that I didn’t recommend that you buy this book for your wife, your daughter, or your mom—though that’s a good idea, first why don’t YOU read it.

I need to insert a confession here:

I did have a little trouble getting “into” this book to begin with. First, because many of the illustrations are girly; second, because some of the application was a bit harder for me to identify with (cause I’m a dude); & third, I kept seeing the faces of young ladies who I’d ministered to, as a pastor, who got caught up in the “fairy tale.”

This last one was most distracting:

Some of my “manly” readers will jump to a conclusion here. You’ll be thinking, ah, Brian is recommending that I read this book so that I can help ladies in my ministry more effectively.

Again, good idea, nice try, but that’s not my primary intent.

Instead, I want you to take the time to apply this book to your life! I think its concepts will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

You will find them Biblical & as a result meaningful.

Yes, some of the illustrations won’t “connect” immediately but if you change out “shoes” for “guns” you’ll get the message just fine. On the surface the application might feel different for you, but at the root our need for ultimate satisfaction in Christ alone is the same!

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

I challenge you to take time to consider the vastness of creation and the indescribable glory of our Creator, Jesus Christ. Ask Him to open your eyes to the truths of His majesty. Empty your mind of all that seeks to distract you from true communion with Him and give Him praise. Lift your hands and heart to Him in complete surrender and ask Him for the grace that you need to love Him as you ought. It is a prayer that we all need to pray every day of our lives. Our sinful natures prevent us from knowing true love as He is love, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, He can open your heart to love that is deeper and more fulfilling than anything any man on earth could ever provide for you and far more than anything you could ever have imagined. Let Love reign in your heart and life from this day forward.

Now, tell me you didn’t need that!

So really, I’ll take 100 copies with a camouflage cover and a few different illustrations but until that edition comes out, dudes, get over yourselves, grab a pink copy.

Go ahead, open up Forgetting the Fairy Tale, buckle your seat belt, and listen as my friend Donya walks you through the Word reminding YOU that Jesus is more than enough one story at a time!

It’s available on Barnes & Noble’s website & on Amazon too, check it out!

Article by Brian Norris

@BrianNorris

Articles  |  Bio

3 Things I Learned from Joel Osteen

osteenA wise man once said that he could learn from anyone… did you catch that?  He was wise… because he didn’t let anyone stand in his way of growth.  Not their successes or their failures. Not their preferences, their convictions, their methods, their mannerisms, their eccentricities.  We would be wise to learn from this as well… everyone can teach you something!  Some might teach you WHAT to do, HOW to live, WHY, WHEN – but others might teach you why, how, and what NOT to do!

Here are three lessons that I learned from the pastor of the world’s largest church:

I learned that a smile goes a lot further than a shout

Osteen is known for his trademark smile (it’s almost creepy how much he grins, isn’t it!?).  But the fact is – warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.  Happy creatures are magnetic while negative ones polarize.  The good news is truly that — good news!  How tragic when the good news is delivered with a frown or a tone of judgment.  I realize that the gospel incorporates ‘negative’ elements of sin and God’s wrath, of blood and death… but it’s overarching message is one of hope and grace.  Share His love with a smile.

Warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.

I learned that hope is a powerful thing

In his book, Osteen challenges the reader to believe in himself because of the ‘Champion’ within.  He convinces his audience that he believes in them, that they need to believe that things will not always be the same as they are right now, that they don’t have to live under the circumstances, and that they should take action to change their lives right now.  This is powerful because it offers people hope and a promise.  Personally, I believe that the source of hope needs to be more than just believing in yourself; it should be sourced in the great truth that God believes in you (although Osteen might see this as semantics / splitting hairs).  How might God use you to give hope to someone who is struggling today?  Believe in them because God does!

I learned that God can use anyone

Although Osteen was a PK (preacher’s kid), he has readily admitted that he didn’t see himself in the pulpit.  He avoided the spotlight and felt much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.  But, in spite of my many critiques of his methods and quirkiness, I believe that God is bigger than my level of tolerance or acceptance of his ministry.  I should admit that God IS using him to share the gospel and bring glory to His name.  God’s grace is bigger than anyone can imagine.  Don’t get me wrong… I’ll not soon throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would never deny hell or the sinfulness of sin on national TV (like he did on Larry King Live) – but then I’ll not answer to God for what Joel Osteen has done, will I?  I’ll try to keep my eyes on my own life and keep myself in check.  Aren’t you glad God uses us all in different people in different ways?  To think… Wow, God can even use me (and you)!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

4 Signs Your Leadership Isn’t Working

There are ALWAYS warning signs. It hardly ever comes as a complete surprise.

warning-sign-leadership-mistakes

Team members begin backing away. Meetings lose energy and focus. Complaints rise. Morale falls.

Then one day it becomes painfully clear – something isn’t working.

Here are 4 warning signs that your leadership isn’t working

1. Self-preservation

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

When self-preservation is present, leaders resort to manipulation. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant.

Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer. Because people and teams aren’t interested in following someone who is in it for themselves.

Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

2. Unhealthy

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to 4 critical gauges to assess health in my life and workPhysical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional.

You can read more about these gauges here.

How you FEEL about how you are doing does not matter nearly as much as how you’re REALLY doing.

You CAN make the conscious decision to live healthy in these 4 critical areas of life and work, so you have more to offer than a handful of years of frenzied activity.

If we are not holistically healthy, we simply cannot live and lead effectively. We cannot respond to challenges and opportunities calmly and decisively.

Ask yourself: Am I physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy?

3. Lost

There was a huge vision for growth. The organization restructured, launched a new initiative, and began gaining momentum. Then the negative feedback started – and it came from influential people. And that’s when you found out how committed the leader really was – and how committed the team really was.

YOU were doing great – then you weren’t. What happened?!

It’s not that you weren’t committed at all. You were! Maybe you just weren’t as committed as you thought you were.

What causes us to give up on our goals? Why do we so readily abandon our dreams?

Commitment doesn’t mean much anymore. But it still means something to you – you meant it and you’re going to follow through. You’re going to reach your goal!

Ask yourself: What one step can I take today to get back on track?

4. Sign language

Do your team members think you’re deaf?

Let’s face it – you aren’t really in a position to objectively answer that question. And neither am I.

Nobody – absolutely no one – is interested in me sitting across the desk from them waiting for their sentence to end so I can start talking again. They need me to listen – to actually give a rip!

Listening takes time and when you are willing to give your time, people know you care. [Tweet That!]

Ask yourself: Does my team know that I am listening?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

Articles  |  Bio

Do You REALLY Care about Your Family?

Do you care about your spouse? Does it matter to you what your children will become? Not what they will do for work – but who they will be – what they will become.

What legacy you are leaving for your grandchildren?

Happy family preparing a healthy dinner at home.

In our parenting journey, Sarah and I have noted essentials for healthy families. Every family can do these!

Discover and pursue their dreams

If you are spending significant quality time with family members, then it’s likely that you are intimately familiar with their ambitions, passions, and dreams. And when you are, you can help them fulfill those dreams.

Nearly every day I do something or say something to help my wife and children take the next step in the pursuit of their passions.

This is important – these are not MY dreams for them. Rather I’m encouraging them to pursue the calling and the passion that lies within them.

Consequently, I must regularly assess my understanding of their dreams as they evolve. And I must evaluate my motivations for challenging them to move forward.

Independence

This area was particularly challenging for me because of my tendency to be too engaged in most everything.

I’m a problem-solver. So I naturally want to fix problems – some before they even occur.

But my problem-solving occasionally robs others of valuable life experiences. So I’ve had to learn to back off of problem-solving and allow others to grow through their experiences.

When Madison was very young I began allowing her more and more freedom to make healthy decisions – decisions about spending and saving, planning family trips, getting involved in athletics, doing chores.

This week she told Sarah and me about a product that she’d like to invent and how she plans to do it. Another evening she drafted a simple plan for a business she’d like to start.

In reality, she often falls short of her ambition. And that’s ok – because failing facilitates growth.

I want those closest to me to know that I believe in their dreams. And I want them to know that I will do everything possible to support them. More than anything, I want to challenge them to follow their calling with abandon.

Pursue spirituality

I’m not sure if it’s your style or not – but Sarah and I encourage Madison to pursue spirituality. As a result, she loves church. She loves to read Scripture. She loves to pray with us…

Over the past 2 months our family has experienced a significant transition which included moving 1300 miles to a new home and community. So our schedules got all out of whack.

Prior to our transition we’d been praying with Madison every night. (We pray at other times throughout the day too – but our bedtime prayers have become a special time for us.)

This week we’re finally getting back into a routine. So last night I laid down with Madison to pray. She went first – “God, I know we haven’t prayed in a while…” Whoops!

I love that she understands the importance of faith and that it plays a significant role in her life.

It’s a non-negotiable, a top priority for us.

This post is part of the series – Non-Negotiables For a Healthy Family
Part 1: Family – It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

Question: What non-negotiable would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

Articles  |  Bio