Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A New Look at the Role of Your Spouse in Ministry

Face it, the thing that makes us want to quit the ministry more often than anything is our spouse's struggle with their role in it. A fascinating and engaging article in The Wall Street Journal caught my eye and my imagination yesterday. In fact, I read the entire article to my carpool pal and LifeWay colleague, Chris Ediger.

The article, titled "Our Better Halves Sometimes Expose Our Worst Side," basically says that we should not seek business or career advice from our spouses. The article's author, Jared Stanberg, maintains that the love and support we receive from our family is invaluable for our well-being and our ability to do our work and advance in our career. However, because our spouse knows very little about what actually goes on at work or in our work world, they often provide faulty, short-sighted, and potentially disastrous advice. He calls them "badvisors" and recommends getting workplace advice from elsewhere.

Mr. Stanberg quotes David Maister in the book he co-authored called The Trusted Advisor:

"advise should be helpful reasoning, not conclusions that can be tainted by bias - "a negative bias or a positive bias, which gets in the way just as much."

This immediately made me think about pastors or other ministry leaders and their spouses. I began to think about some basic principles for how a minister and their ministry spouse should deal with this. I don't think there are universal principles for this.

I do think it's vital that a husband and wife be aware of this potentially damaging dynamic. The best thing they could do is to sit down and talk about it. Ask the difficult questions and take responsibility for complaining too much and for offering to much advice.

I remember my wife catching herself one time when she wanted to tell me what do in a specific situation. She said, "I need to be careful so that I don't try to be your Holy Spirit." That was a good catch. I need to be careful about asking my wife to fill that role that only God can.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why the Wealthy Don't Give More

One e-mail has remianed in my inbox all week because I wasn't sure what to do with it. In Bob Buford's latest e-newsletter he deals with the topic of Why the Wealthy Don't Give More. It's very helpful, especially for his "half-timer" or successful over-50 audience.

His main takeaway is that the really rich are aware of three main risks to giving their money to charities. These risks are Fear – of not having enough, Failure – even embarrassment, and Doing more harm than good.

I think he's on to something. In my years serving as a pastor a pastor in Hawaii, I had a chance to meet many Christian men and women who had been entrusted with wealth beyond my imagination. I feel that after years of struggling and agonizing over how to relate to, encourage, and disciple those who have great wealth, I still don't have the answers.

However, I feel I learned a few lessons I'll share with you...

1. Treat them as individuals, as fellow believers, and as equals.
There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28 (HCSB)
2. Beware of asking them for money every time there is a need in your ministry.
  • First, you become dependant on this person instead of on God.
  • Second, you may give this individual too much power. You will be tempted to listen to them instead of the Holy Spirit.

3. When they give, allow them see the "Kingdom Impact" of their giving.

  • Write a thank you letter or e-mail detailing the use of the resources.
  • Send pictures of individuals impacted by their generosity

4. Don't become enamored with their lifestyle. Recall Jesus' words in the Parable of the Soils...

Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19 (HCSB)

Bob Buford is author of Finishing Well. You can visit his website

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rationalization for Taking a Nap at Work

In case you walk by my office and my head is laid back, my mouth wide open, and I appear to be contemplating the ceiling tiles through my eyelids, please read this article from before you wake me...

When You Snooze You...Win!

"A daytime doze is a stress buster and heart protector. Just 30 minutes midday, three times a week, is all you need. Middle-aged working men who did just that cut their risk of a fatal heart attack and other heart problems by a whopping 37 percent."

While you are there, be sure to check out their RealAge Test to see how old you really are! Once you take the test and get the results, they will give you ideas of how to lower your Real Age.

It was very helpful and inspiring for me.

David Jeremiah on Being Prepared to Give an Answer

Over at Baptist Press, David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and founder of Turning Point for God, comments on 1 Peter 3:15, "always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." (HCSB)

He shares a simple outline. Knowing God's Word ...
  • gives assurance of salvation
  • defeats Satan’s attack
  • enables us to witness to others
  • helps us know our heavenly Father

You can read the whole commentary on Baptist Press - Know for an answer

Friday, March 23, 2007

How to Stop Your Church from Growing

I just posted a new article in the "Pastor as Missionary" area.

Let's Worship Magazine editor Matt Tullos sticks tongue in cheek to take a funny look at church growth. He says, "For some people, church growth can be rather tedious. There’s the parking problems, the new people to get to know, the reduction of political power due to the influx of new people that don’t know you, the extra wear on the carpet, the noise of young children, the overuse of bathroom facilities . . . you name it."

So he shares 25 Easy Ways to Curb The Annoying Problem of Church Growth

My favorites are ...

  • If your auditorium slopes downward to the platform give every kid under 12 a handful of marbles before the service.

  • Replace the pictures of former pastors with pictures of Larry, Moe, and Curly.

  • Before the offertory hymn have the worship leader scream,“Show me the money!”

  • Use the “American Idol” format for staff hirings.
Read all 25 and share it with your fellow ministers...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spirit-Led Preaching

Greg Heisler is Assistant Professor of Preaching and Speech at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of a new book published by Broadman and Holman Publishing Group called Spirit-Led Preaching: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Sermon Preparation and Delivery.

I stumbled on to his blog at today and found some excellent resources.

I don't want you to miss his article on The Expository Method

In the article Heisler says, “I believe the aim of all preaching is the glory of God through spiritual transformation. More specific, the goal of a Spirit-empowered, expository ministry of the Word of God is to change lives through preaching that engages the mind, inflames the heart, moves the will, and engenders faith in the hearer.”

While the alliterative style of this article is a little “old school” for me, he really has strong content here. I’ll list the main points of his article but you’ll want to read the whole article to get what he means by each point.
  • Surrender Yourself to the Spirit’s Illumination
  • Saturate Yourself in the Spirit’s Inspiration
  • Survey the Context of Your Text.
  • Scrutinize the Contents of Your Text
  • Scan the Structure of Your Text
  • Stick to The Authorial Intent of Your Text
  • Support the Central Proposition of Your Sermon through Explanation and Illustration
  • Secure Your Sermon to the Heart through Penetrating Application
  • Show the Savior Throughout Your Sermon
  • Spark Interest with an Intriguing Introduction To Your Sermon
  • Specify the Response Your Sermon Seeks in the Conclusion
  • Seek Sinners Through the Invitation of Your Sermon
Good stuff, don't you think. You'll also want to see the Excerpts from Spirit-Led Preaching that he posted there.

This is excellent training for pastors...

You can buy the book from the LifeWay Online Catalog here…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Be a Better Small Group Leader

One of the new LifeWay authors is Michael Zigarelli. I've been telling my pastors this year about his great study for Adults called Freedom from Busyness: A Biblical Remedy for Busyness and his amazing book for pastors called The Minister's MBA: Essential Business Tool for Maximum Ministry Success.

I posted an article that Michael sent me this week - it's from the leader helps section of Freedom from Busyness and is some of the best stuff on how to lead a small group. Read The Art of Leading Small Groups


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