Tag Archives: Leadership

Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

It’s early on a Sunday morning, 15 minutes before 7 a.m., to be exact. I’m sitting here at the dining room table with my Bible and my laptop (graciously provided to me by our church), contemplating the Scripture I am going to be sharing a few hours from now.

What I am about to say is not for everyone, for not everyone has been given the responsibility to lead. Nevertheless, though not all of us will have the opportunity and calling to shepherd a congregation of believers, each and every one of us will at some point be responsible for communicating truth to those for whom we are one day going to give an account.

The verse from this morning’s text that has captured my attention is Titus 2:15.

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

That was the King James Version rendering. Now, let’s read the text as translated in another version.

You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Titus 2:15 NLT

What I think we as pastors need to remember is that what we have to say needs to be taken seriously. If, however, we stand before our flocks as shepherds with no staff, not only are we “despised,” but so is the Word we are called to teach.

Those who know me the best know that I am a nice guy. Seriously, I hate confrontation so much that I will go to great lengths to avoid it. I want to be liked, even to a fault.

But when it comes to preaching and pastoring, we must take very seriously Paul’s admonition to Titus. As Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order the things that are wanting,” so has God ordained us to set and keep things in order(1:5), speak those things which become sound doctrine (2:1), and remind believers of their obligations and responsibilities as representatives of God’s grace (3:1).

The problem we in leadership face is how to demand attention, to “let no one despise” us, without coming across as authoritarians or tyrants. Is a pastor to be a bully in the pulpit? Is he supposed to lord his authority over the sheep and force them to lie down in green pasture? Some think so.

However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention. It is this same kind of example the apostles left us when we read of their boldness after Pentecost.

Our authority comes from the Word of God. Our boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. We are equally accountable as both heralds and subjects.

If we find ourselves timid, skiddish, reluctant, or intimidated behind the pulpit, we must ask ourselves some very point-blank questions. Who are we trying to please, God or man? Why are we called to be heralds? Just to be heard, or to proclaim the Message of the King?

Should we actually “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” then we are accountable to God for what we say, for we are to speak what He is saying. If we are tasked with heralding the Word, then God will hold us accountable for getting the message out to those who need to hear.

If we cower or hesitate in our duty, then we either doubt the authority of the Word, or we proclaim it in the power of our own strength. There is no excuse for the pastor, the shepherd, the man of God to stand behind the pulpit or on the neon-lit stage and waste time offering suggestions and scratching itching ears when we are plainly told, “These things speak…”

“Let no man despise thee” tells us there is a responsibility incumbent upon the preacher.

Therefore, unless you are going to mount the pulpit this morning with authority as one tasked with an urgent message from the King of the universe. . . unless you are going to “be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesian 6:10). . .

Sit down.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preaching

I Shocked the Sheriff, But I Did Not Shock the Deputy

Command Staff Meeting

This morning’s agenda. I was #2 on the list.

This morning I was once again honored to offer the “Leadership Charge/Prayer” at the beginning of his weekly Command Staff meeting. It’s just one duty that I perform as a chaplain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office here in Chattanooga.

If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, once a week our Sheriff (Jim Hammond) holds a meeting with his Command Staff (all the captains and chiefs over the different divisions of the department). At each of these meetings one of our chaplains opens up the meeting with a charge/devotion and prayer, then later closes the meeting with prayer. And since the Sheriff is not only an intimidating figure in his own right, but also a student of the Bible, it’s always encouraging when he doesn’t find fault with what we say. LOL!

The Leadership Charge

Since today was the 16th of the month, I decided to see if there was something from the 16th chapter of Proverbs that might be applicable. So, I went to ProverbialThought.com and found the commentary I had written for verse seven.

Proverbs 16:7 became the text, and my post on the verse (click this link to read) became my 5-minute sermonette.

My seat was next to the corner on the left.

There, from my seat at the table, I spoke to the Sheriff, his staff, and his captains of the need to please the Lord, not men. I spoke of God’s commandments and how that when we keep them, even our enemies have a hard time finding fault with us. Then I read a verse from the New Testament:

And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; – Colossians 3:23

“It comes down to a simple choice,” I said. “Do we try to make people happy, or do we try to please the Lord?” If all we care about is pleasing people, we will always fail; they are too finicky. But if our goal is to do everything we do to please God, He will handle the rest – including our Sheriff’s upcoming election.

So, what about “shocking” the Sheriff and not the deputy? Nobody was shocked, not even the Sheriff; I did what was expected of me.

It was a catchy title for a post, though 🙂 Wasn’t it?

 

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Filed under Bible Study, General Observations, ministry, politics

Take Me To Your Leader

Today, on Presidents Day, many people across America took to the streets in protest, not celebration. With banners raised and voices lifted (or visa versa), the disappointed citizens, non-citizens, voters, and even non-voters (i.e., those who should just shut up and keep out of it) spewed out the following phrase:

“Not my president!”

Yes, in cities across the land the very same people who say they care about America, yet claim it was “never great” and are convinced the Russians have damaged our democracy, are marching around proclaiming themselves leaderless after a fair election. 

What would these protesters have said if a bunch of Republicans had said the same thing about Obama? I was deeply disappointed when he was elected, but I respected the result. The rule of law, you see, even extends to accepting duly-elected leaders, even when we don’t like them or their policies. Had we protested Obama the same way these today have protested President Trump, we would have been labeled both un-American and racist. Heck, I was labeled a racist for just not voting for the man! 

Yet, here we have a bunch of people who are boldly proclaiming that Trump is not their president, and that they will not submit to any of his policies. Are they racists, or just un-American? Because, as I see it, unless we were invaded by hostiles and forced to accept regime change, even a new constitution, the man in the White House right now is my leader. 

So, here’s my question: If the President of the United Stated of America is not your president, who is? Obviously you are not American, because ours has been elected. 

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations, politics

Resigning to Trust My Shepherd

Most of the time I can enter the title of a post before I begin to write it. In this case I don’t know what to call it. All I know to to do is start writing and let things fall into place.

That’s sort of where I am in life, right now; I don’t know where I am going, but I had to get going to find out.

Old News

By the time you read this post, someone in my former congregation will have read aloud my formal resignation as Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church – at least I hope they read it…all of it. It took me a couple of hours to craft it, all 1,026 words worth, and some of the words were painful to write. However, it had to be done.

Themes

In my resignation letter I focused on two main themes. First, it was important to note that the Church, including the local body of believers I pastored, did not belong to any of us; it belongs to Jesus Christ. Secondly, I stressed the importance of effective leadership: both the need to have it, and the willingness to accept it.

If either one is dysfunctional with either party (the pastor or the congregation), tension will grow…even worse, the power of the Holy Spirit will fade.

Feels like…

Therefore, based on several reasons, I had to accept the fact that my leadership was no longer effective, thereby necessitating a change, however painful and scary it may be. Unfortunately, it feels like a divorce (even though I’ve never experienced one). Maybe I could say it feels like a death, but that’s not really true – I have experience that kind of loss many times.

What it does feel like, however, is a missed opportunity…an “Oh, well” moment. I guess that’s why it’s called a “resignation.”

More to Do

Nevertheless, I will share with you the closing words of my resignation letter, for they express something that is more important than anything else – God is still sovereign! He’s got this! None of this caught Him by surprise, for He already has been working to make things new.

If you will remember, the Mission Statement of Riverside is as follows:

Reach the Lost, Rescue the Perishing, and Restore the Wounded for the Glory of God.”

Continue to reach the lost… We will. Endeavor to rescue the perishing… We will. And especially today, seek to restore the wounded, heal divisions, and move forward with grace and forgiveness… We will.

Pray for Us

Please, please, pray for my family and me as we seek to follow God to the next field of service, wherever that may be. Please pray for my former flock that they will find a more suitable shepherd and follow his leading.

Also, please pray that I will be able to put in to practice the lessons I have learned over the last eight years, thereby being able to replace the “missed opportunity” feeling with assurance that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

After all, there are still plenty of lost, perishing, and wounded out there.

 

Now I know how to title this post 🙂

 

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Filed under baptist, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Church, Future, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, the future

Don’t Feel Like a Failure

Depressing Motivation

I have been reading a great, classic book on leadership by John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You. The book is excellent (click here for a summary), but one part really made me question the author’s intentions. Was he trying to depress me?

In the 10th chapter, “Staff Development,” Maxwell decided to share with us a time when he took stock of his life. He went on to list what he was doing by the time he’d reached the ripe old age of 40 (I guess that’s because life’s about over by then?).

“When I turned forty,” Maxwell said, “I began to review my life. I made a list of all the things I was doing at that time.” Get that! At “that” time! Not what he had accomplished in his whole life, but what he was doing “at that time.” His list included (and I quote):

  • senior pastor of a congregation of 3,500 attenders;
  • oversight and development of thirteen pastors;
  • president of Injoy, Inc., a company that develops resource materials for thousands of people;
  • a national and internaional speaking schedule with over four hundred engagements annually;
  • producing a monthly leadership tape for Injoy Life Club subscribers;
  • writing a book every eighteen months;
  • working on another education degree;
  • and most important – taking enough time for my wife, Margaret, and our two children, Elizabeth and Joel Porter. – Dr. John C. Maxwell, 179-180

Give me a break! Are you kidding me? I’m nearly 45 and I’ve never had an international speaking schedule or even written one book! Good grief, John!

Bigger and Better

Today’s culture is all about “bigger and better.” Many people even think about churches in that way, too – the bigger the better. But is that really the case? Is bigger always better?

It may be news to some of you, but pastors sometimes get discouraged when they compare the sizes of their ministries to those of people like Dr. Maxwell. Instead of 3,500 attendees, most pastors lead churches with only 35 in attendance (1/100th). Does that make them failures? Of course not.

Don’t misunderstand, if a congregation is small because it refuses to follow God’s will, then that’s one thing. However, most churches are not mega-churches with coffee shops and book stores. As a matter of fact, most congregations average 100 or less. And that’s OK.

Little Flocks

I am encouraged by a little-talked-about Greek word, poimnion(ποίμνιον). Jesus used it when he spoke to the disciples in Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock (poimnion); for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Paul used it when he said to the elders of the church in Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock (poimnion), over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…” (Acts 20:28). In both instances the idea was not that of a mega-church, but of small groups of believers.

Pastor, God knows where you are. He has you right where He wants you. Don’t get discouraged when you see larger congregations. The King has need of shepherds He can trust to watch over the “little flocks” in His fields.

Do you ever get discouraged? Do you ever feel life has passed you by? There’s still time to make a difference. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, ministry, Preaching, Uncategorized

6 Weeks of Reading

Want a Book?

Some of you might find it interesting to know over the rest of the summer (the next 7 weeks) I will be taking a class in leadership.

Aside from the Bible, I will be reading, doing research, and writing papers based on topics found in four books (who needs to go to the beach, anyway?). They are listed below. Who knows, you just might want to pick one up and read along with me. (Insert hopeful-looking smiley face)

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Filed under book review, ministry