Tag Archives: leading a congregation

Christian Leadership Development #6

Essential Skill #4

Communicating Grace

grace02

            Once we have given our due diligence to skillful listening we enter the arena of communicating grace.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Grace is one of the most important words in the Bible and can be easily defined as,

“The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”

            Grace is God’s influence, not necessarily ours. Keeping in mind that God’s influence, should be palpable in our speech will keep us humble, gentle, and conscious of what is being imparted in our conversations.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

            The word corrupt in the previous passage simply means, “Worthless and of no value.” If our words are not ministering grace to the hearer it shouldn’t be coming out of our mouths. We should constantly be judging our words before we speak, asking ourselves, “Is this going to edify, help, and bless? Am I truly speaking from the Lord’s perspective, or just mine? Is my tone right, are my motives pure?

grace05            As leaders, we must understand that God uses us as a mouthpiece to speak to others. God does not take this lightly and neither should we. The Bible is replete with scriptures about the power and significance of words and the effect they have on our lives. What we say and how we say it can literally be ministering death or life into a person’s life or situation.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

            This reinforces the importance of being a skilled listener, but even more so, the importance of our own intimate relationship with God. Our spiritual condition has a profound effect on our ability to communicate the heart of God.

Love is the license to speak truth

            An area I see young leaders often miss it is in their delivery of truth. Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Let me explain:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            This is the most misused misinterpreted and misunderstood scripture in the New Testament to justify the Bible bashing, finger pointing, and judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. Actually it is a self-centered, self-righteous assault on people that comes from not understanding their identity in Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits.

            Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” God is love according to 1 John 4:8. So we can conclude that if the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.

nausia.03            Let’s say you love a perfectly cooked ribeye steak. It may be your favorite food in the world, but if I serve it to you wrapped in a dirty diaper you aren’t going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.

            If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot we may need to stop and reschedule a time to finish the conversation giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader. Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.

            There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.

silence speaks

“When we speak, be sure it’s an improvement on silence.”

            Following this rule does a few things,

  • It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
  • It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
  • It teaches us the value and power of silence.
  • It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
  • It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.

            Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. I think Jesus was simply giving His heart time to tell His mouth what to say.

            Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson that every leader should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.

            As leaders, we think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently so as to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence speak to the person and God speak us.

“Godly communication isn’t merely a skill, it is a discipline.”

Question: What is the definition of grace as it pertains to communication?

Question: What defines a “corrupt” word as stated in Ephesians 4:29?

Question: What are 3 things to keep in mind before we speak?

Question: Before we speak, what should our words be an improvement on?

Question: What license must you have before you can speak on God’s behalf?

Christian Leadership Development #2

Leadership Mentoring Development

            Not all followers of Christ are qualified to lead and not all potential leaders are qualified to lead now. Being a leader requires two main things, development of Christ-like character and development of leadership skills. Character without leadership skills causes frustration and discontent from the body and with other leaders. Skill swithout character produces animosity and mistrust from the body and other leaders. Both situations can set the leader up for failure and hinders the growth, development and fruitfulness of the body.

            Developing both character and skills ensures the leader will become a pillar in the church and not a stumbling block.

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Character

            Character reflects nature. It is the nature of God being expressed in our lives that is the ultimate goal. This applies to all believers, not just leaders. The character and nature of God is what all leaders are leading others to. You can’t lead another person to a place you have never been. God’s nature must be established in a leader before they are qualified to lead.

Love is God’s Nature

1st John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1st John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

            According to John, love isn’t just the nature of God, love is the embodiment of God. God IS love.

fruit6.jpg           In 1st Corinthians 13 we see how God (love) behaves. These behaviors must be developed and continually strengthened in a leader so that God’s nature can be evident to all. Embracing love (the nature of God) will bear the fruit of the Spirit.

fruits

Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

            In Matthew 12:33 it tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, so let’s take a closer look at the fruit that should be hanging from the tree of a leader.

1) Love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. A leader lays down his life for others, sacrificing self in favor of another. It should never be about you.

2) Joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy not only brings strength to the leader but to those around him. A good leader enjoys what he is doing and others enjoy working with him.

3) Peace. Peacemakers create an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships with God and others. They avoid unfruitful confrontation and diffuse strife and contentious situations. A leader will find common ground to build on and will magnify the positive, not the negative.

4) Patience. Patience makes room for others to grow in their gifts and calling, providing a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes without the danger of condemnation and shame. Patience doesn’t just see the individual but has a view of what that individual will look like when completely submitted to God.

5) Goodness. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Being good to people even when it costs you and doing the right thing even when it is not convenient causes people to turn to God and away from self-centered living.

6) Gentleness. 2nd Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.

Being mindful of proper etiquette and the emotional state of those you are dealing with, using kind words and expressing genuine concern for the individual creates a platform that you can minister from and gives you the influence to speak effectively into the lives of others.

7) Faithfulness. 1st Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Leadership is a stewardship from God. Being steadfast, reliable, honorable and consistent speaks volumes about the heart and character of the leader.

8) Meekness. Meekness is not being a pushover, it is the humility of controlled strength. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man in all the earth and yet he was the one used most in the earth at that time. There is a connection between meekness and a vessel that God can use.

9) Self-control. This can’t be accomplished without a healthy prayer life. You don’t have the ability to control yourself without the Fathers help. The more intimate time you spend with God when no one else is looking, the easier self-control will be. A robust prayer life creates constant awareness of God that makes it easy to resist temptation and make right decisions.

Question: As a leader, are you stronger in your character or your skillset?

Question: Do you, or did you have strong leaders to mentor you and help you develop as a leader?

Question: What are you a steward over right now, and what would you like to be a steward over in the future?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank you faithfulness?

JC

How To Deal With Goats In The Church

This is mainly for all the pastors out there but it is important that we all know this principle and understand how to identify a goats behavior. As pastors, you know how to shepherd the sheep and protect them from wolves. You know what to do FOR the sheep and you know what do TO the wolves. But what do you do with goats?

They are there! They are either in your congregation now, they have been or will be. Goats are like tares, you can’t remove them because Jesus said you would just hurt the sheep. Matthew 13:29 So how do you deal with goats?

First lets define what a goat is; A goat is one who likes to hang out with the sheep, eat the sheep’s food, go where the sheep go and do what the sheep do. But goats don’t like to listen to the shepherd. Goats will only follow a shepherd when it serves their own purpose and their own agenda. By the way goats always have an agenda. 

A goat may be a big contributor financially but they give a lot of money because they want recognition, respect, and to gain some form of control in the congregation. They may even become pushy about it. They may serve in areas of the church faithfully because they eventually want some form of authority or a certain position with a title. Typically a goat will have an elevated opinion of their own spiritual maturity, to the point of believing that they are just as mature and spiritual as anyone in the church, including the pastor.

The clincher is that goats have a real problem with any kind of correction. If an elder or the pastor has cause to bring any kind of correction, they usually get offended and leave the church. While they are leaving they will gossip to everyone that will listen and lobby for support of their sad “goatly” cause. Goats will ALWAYS feel like you owe them something, at the very least an apology. Any people come to mind yet? If you have been in the ministry any length of time you recognize the pattern I just described.

So how do you deal with the goats? You can’t shepherd them because they do not want to be shepherded and yet they wish to remain in the fold. There is always a chance that they will convert and become sheep but until that happens  …. What do you do? Here is what Jesus does to goats on the day of judgment;

Matthew 25:32 ~And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

But what do you do with goats?

 First and foremost, you LOVE them! Love never fails and love is the best way to preach Christ to a person who really isn’t interested in listening unless it serves them.

Second, Goats don’t really know who they are. They suffer from an identity crisis, so it is important to preach a clear gospel message about their identity in Christ.

Thirdly, YOU MILK THEM. The only way to deal with a goat, apart from loving them and teaching them truth is to milk them. Milk them for everything that they choose to give and every service that they choose to provide. Love them, but watch them! Watch who they associate with because eventually goats will flock together. Make sure they don’t cause division within the body and convert a sheep to a goats way of thinking, BUT MILK THEM. If you do put them in charge of something make sure that it is task oriented only and that they are NOT in charge of other people. The desire to control sheep is at the root of every goats agenda.

This may sound cold and unloving but it is not. Milking a goat is an important part of the goats learning process. Goats will typically get offended and leave after they have “given so much” and were not recognized or appreciated. They may do this a number of times before they realize that THEY are the problem and humble themselves and repent. Some goats will never repent and they will be separated at the day of judgment. The goats have a terrible fate awaiting them.

Matthew 13:24-42  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. 31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As a pastor, you are responsible for the sheep, not the goats. However, protecting the flock from goats is an issue most pastors will face repeatedly. God will allow Satan to send goats into your midst for their perfecting and for yours. Remember to love them but never let a goat gain any kind of control. Allow them to give to the ministry in any way that benefits you and your flock, but watch them…and pray for them. Above all, be merciful, compassionate, and love them. Remember that Jesus saw fit to pay the same price for their redemption as yours.

JC