Thursday, March 23, 2006

A toxic mix for leaders

Among leaders who lack insight, abuse abounds.... Pr 28.16 The Message

As a student of Servant Leadership my senses have been heightened when it comes to leadership styles. I just started my second LLJ (Lead Like Jesus) group last night and each time I go over the material I am challenged to be more like Jesus in my leadership style. While some would say that your leadership style doesn't really matter, I would say IT DOES!!! Check out this quote from Lead Like Jesus:

Leading like Jesus is more than an effort to adopt a certain discrete set of behavioral principles, attitudes and thought processes. It is a challenging journey in daily surrender of your motivations to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It means laying pride and fears on the altar and letting them be transformed. (Inspiring thoughts from Lead Like Jesus: Beginning the Journey Participant’s Study Guide - Page 49)

Self serving leadership results in fear and pride and they are HUGE problems in leadership! Fear leads to self protection while pride leads to self promotion. Insecure leaders are typically leading out of either fear or pride, or a toxic combination of both. These leaders often abuse the people nearest them and the people that work for them. Is this what Jesus wants? What's the answer? (I'm glad you asked!)
Servant leadership! Servant leaders act in humility and confidence! This frees you to truly lead like Jesus! Here are some of the characteristics of a servant leader:
  • They use truth instead of distortion as a basis for decision making.
  • They have transparent relationships instead of isolation.
  • They value and build community instead of destructive competition.
What type of leader are you? Self serving or servant leading? Jesus was a servant leader - shouldn't we be?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Shamrock Around the Clock

Josh, me, Austin, and Andrew

YIKES!!! We got green hair! Welp, last night was our church's Shamrock Around the Clock youth event which is a city wide event that started last night at 6:30pm at ncbc and would conclude the next morning at 6:30am. It was tons of fun and I had the opportunity to be a driver for the event. Click here (or on the pic) for a slideshow of some of the pics I took. The night started at the church where the teens divided themselves up into teams of 3-6 for the scavenger hunt.

Each team had a 7 envelopes with puzzles in them that had to be solved one envelope at a time. We would then drive to the location indicated by the riddle or puzzle where the "elves" would then ask to do something crazy and we were scored on how well we did, but more for our enthusiasm. The puzzles and riddles were REALLY difficult and although we got off to a rough start, we finished all our envelopes and found the Leprechaun (Dave Sanders). Check back for a pic of Dave in the Leprechaun outfit!

There were about 300 youth involved and a ton of volunteers representing at least 8 churches that we know of. At the end of the scavenger hunt there was a gospel presentation on how to "find" Jesus Christ as our savior. All in all it was a great night and we had a great time!

Friday, March 17, 2006

March Madness? Church Madness...

I know that there are a lot of you who practically live for this special time of the year - March Madness. Well, I'm not one of those. I like sports and everything, but I just can't get into it. I just saw that our very own Ohio State Bucks just moved on in the bracket - good. But...

There is one thing I DO like about sports - teams. I love teams! I like Nascar teams, b-ball teams, v-ball teams, football teams, etc. It is thrilling to watch a team work together for a common goal. Unfortunately, many team's hopes hang on the shoulders of a few really good players. You know what I'm talking about. But while one player may emerge as the star, that one player couldn't win by himself (or herself - thanks Mia Ham for the memories!).

It's the same in church life. It takes a team to have a succesful church organization and that's what I love about New Covenant Bible Church. We are a team! In fact, a newcomer to staff meeting might have difficulty figuring out who is in charge - we are a team. I love a team - everyone works hard to ensure a win for the team. Individuals don't win or lose - the success of the team is first and foremost. No superstars allowed!

(Rant warning!) Church Madness...

Many churches today work on the superstar model of ministry! Free agency kicks in and they go looking for the best sermonator (ha!) they can find to build their church. These pastors (I'm going off the deap end now) become the cornerstone upon which the church is built - wasn't it supposed to be Jesus? From the top down, they build the church and for a while everything works great - attendance goes up, people get excited, and others say "wow, what a superstar pastor!"

Then, free agency kicks in! The pastor gets a better offer - more money, bigger church, more, more, more and then he leaves the church upon which he had been the cornerstone. What do you think happens to that church? You guessed it - they suffer, the church suffers, church madness.

(Rant off) While it may take a village to raise a child, it takes a team to lead a church. Alright, I'll confess that I was once a top-down pastor who didn't work with teams. Then, I went to a church that had the word team in it's mission statement - well almost. Now, I'm in a church that is made up of teams - lots and lots of them! WooHoo!

Is your church led by a team? I'd love to hear what you've got to say.

Kiss me! I'm Irish! (well, not really)

Alright, I'm not Irish. But I deeply value kissing, so if you see me today, I'll take a kiss (on the cheek of course!) Anyways, what's the big deal with St. Patrick's day? Some people really get into the act of things but not me. Sure, I'll wear green today and usually I'll eat corned beef, cabbage and those little red potatoes. But Cedar Rapids only has one place to get the traditional dinner and that is the Irish Democrat and you can imagine how long the wait will be today!

The kids are going to our churches annual Shamrock Around the Clock all night event. In fact, I'm going to be one of the drivers for the event as we go out all over CR looking for the 7 elves and the leprechaun. The best part (as always) will be eating the pizza (green of course).

Friday, March 10, 2006

Having a bad day?

Ok, I admit it. This week was not a very good week for yours truly. I know you'd rather hear your pastor and friend tell you that everything is GREAT and you too can be an overcomer! Most of us just put on our suit and tie (well, a few), put on the game face, and keep everyone at arm's length while we pretend to have it all together on Sunday morning!

Well, that's not how I operate and if you know me well you know that to be the case. I'm just me.

God has allowed us to walk through some pretty difficult times in the past 4.5 years. Everything from the resignation of my pastor (and everyone else for that matter!) to receiving the unbelievable news that after loving and serving our church for nearly 3 years we were asked to leave with no reason given. Then we couldn't find a church. Then, we couldn't sell our house. Then we sold the house and lost a lot of money. Then, then, then.

This week some of those painful memories came flooding back and it's not been easy. But, I know that God is working his plan out in my life even though it looks like he's made a terrible mistake. That said, I still have have some difficult days when I feel a little like that truck - the one under the wheel of the other truck.

I read an article today from Rick Warren, and since he said everything I would want to say, I'm going to let him encourage you today with some things to think about if you are having a bad.

How to overcome dark valleys (Click here for link to article)
by Rick Warren

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

How do we handle the dark valleys of life? These facts about valleys can help.

1. Valleys are inevitable. They are a normal part of life. Don't be surprised by them. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)

2. Valleys are unpredictable. They’re sudden and unexpected. Jeremiah 4:20 says, "In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment."

3. Valleys are impartial. No one is insulated from pain and sorrow. No one gets to skate through life free of problems. Problems don’t mean you're a bad person. They mean you’re a person. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus said, "He … sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

4. Valleys are temporary. A valley is something we go through – a situation that has a season (see Ps. 23:4). 1 Peter 1:6 says, “Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

5. Valleys are purposeful. God has a reason for taking us through them. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "These [trials] have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine.”

Pain can be productive. God wants to build our faith in the valleys. We love the mountaintops, but we build faith in the valleys. When we come face to face with a dark valley, we get on our knees.

(This column was adapted from Rick Warren's sermon God's Antidote For Your Dark Valleys.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

34.8% finished...

WOW! I am having the time of my life reading through the Bible this year and I have already completed 34.8% - thanks to a really cool website that keeps track for you. (Click here for info)

How did I get so far so fast? The Message! What a great Bible to read through. I actually find myself having to quit reading before I feel like I am ready because it is so enjoyable!

How's your read through going this year? Let me know!

Monday, March 06, 2006

American Girl Dolls & Pajamas

Nellie and Mackenzie

We are an American Doll family. Granny (Judy's mom) has purchased the girls and American Girl doll about the time they were 7 or 8 years old. This year was Mackenzie's turn and she was able to get her doll. Having looked at all the dolls, she really wanted the Nellie doll. The dolls each have a historical context in which they were born. Here's a little bit about Nellie:

Nellie O'Malley is a resourceful, smart and resiliant orphan girl growing up in 1906 New York who is trying to find a way to keep the promise she made to her dying mother - to keep her family together. Orphaned and abandoned by their uncle, Nellie and her little sisters are living with her best friend Samantha Parkington's family. Best of all, Samantha's Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia want to adopt all three of the O'Malley girls.

Nellie was added to the collection of American Girls in June 2004. Even though Nellie was the ninth historical girl added after the collection was launched in 1986, she is really part of Samantha's collection. It appears that Nellie will not be a limited edition doll as earlier reported, but this has yet to be confirmed by official sources.
Click here for more...

I really enjoy watching our daughters use their creative abilities when they play with their dolls. Congratulations Mackenzie on your new American Girl Doll.

Get your bills paid, supernatually (just for a laugh)

(Idea and some content taken from Monday Morning Insight)

I am grace-oriented, most of the time. But, those guys on TV that tell you that if you will only trust God and live for Him you'll be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Name it, claim it; blab it, grab it is their mantra. What are we supposed to tell the people in third world countries. And those poor people who send in there money hoping to get God's blessing. I like what David Ring said about this:

The glory boys tell you that it is God's will for you to be healed! Then, they take out their glasses to read the precious word of God - DUH!

Enough of the soapbox. Robert Tilton wrote a book telling you how to pay your bills supernaturally. Here's what his website says:

There's the world's way of trying to pay off bills, and there's God's way of supernaturally paying off bills. The Holy Spirit will stir you through these words that you will know nothing is impossible unto you.

Well, someone with too much time on their hands did a hilarious video that I promise will bring a tear to your eyes! Click here and prepare to laugh your head off!

WPA (Women Pay All)

Allyson & Josh

We never heard of it before. Here in Iowa we are learning new things every day. In Cleveland we learned about rigatoni, kolachki's, and kielbasa. Here in Iowa, they have what is called "WPA" which stands for "Women Pay All." Us older folks might remember it as "Sadie Hawkins." (who was that anyways?)

So, in the tradition of Napoleon Dynamite, Allyson built a cake and dropped it off at Josh's house to invite him to the WPA dance. Many of the ladies thought of creative ways to invite their prospective date to the dance. Nice job Allyson!

The young people had a nice time at the dance (so I hear). And as always, a bunch of them went together - eight in all!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Every Religious Trick in the Book!

Me and Eric Bramlett

Bob, Kim, Gary, Erin and myself just returned from a two day Multi-Site Practicum at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois. Community Christian has 19 services at 8 different locations in the Chicago area. This past weekend they launched their latest site in Pilson, the second largest Hispanic community in the United States. They have been doing multi-site ministry since 1998 and are considered one of the pioneers in the movement.

Religious tricks? Is it possible?
  • Three things you need to know about church growth they say.
  • Do this and you too can have growth in your church.
  • Double your attendance in just three easy steps!

In 1 Kings 18 Elijah is battling the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. The pagan prophets were losing the battle because their god wasn't answering their prayers. So...

...they used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar [think church], but nothing happened - not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.
1 Kings 18 The Message

We learned at this conference that leadership development is job one. There are no shortcuts to disciplemaking. You make disciples by uh, making disciples. There are no tricks! And, without the Holy Spirit working in the process you can try all the latest gimmicks of doing church and you'll wind up with the same result as the prophets of Baal - but nothing happened.

It was a great conference and we were inspired in many ways, challenged in others, and forced to think out of the box all the while and I am AMPED about it! Stay tuned for more!

Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age. Matt 28:18-20 The Message