My wife and I recently obtained two horses. I love horses, but it has been years since I spent time around them. The horses we got are three-years-old and very much in the training stage. In the past the horses I owned were trained and I enjoyed the fruit of someone else’s labor. Not so this time. I am taking up the training that was begun by someone else. I am learning valuable lessons about working with people, from a horse. Consider these lessons, as you work with people.
This coming week welcomes a new year, 2015. As each New Year begins I ask myself this question: Am I going to seek anything new or watch things remain the same? It is easy to teach, preach and challenge others about the New Year, but what about me? Am I seeking something new? Am I seeking fresh inspiration? Am I seeking fresh ideas? Am I seeking fresh ways of serving God?
Pastors are continually solving problems! You know the ritual of disturbed sleep when your mind subconsciously works to solve a problem. Or, your wife recognizes that blank stare when your body is present but your mind is not. It is impossible to avoid problem solving. So the question becomes, what am I learning or how am I resolving the problems I face?
All of us are in learning mode. Each day offers a new adventure and new lessons. This past week I considered Jesus’ approach to problem solving. These lessons are not new but they certainly added to my resume as a problem solver. Also, they can reduce our stress load as we seek a more balanced approach to problem solving.
In Romans we find a warm word of thanks from Paul for his co-workers Priscilla and Aquila. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” (Romans 16:4)
As we are in transition between the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I want to take this opportunity to give thanks for you and to offer a holiday greeting.
All of us have them, difficult people. This is not new. Leaders and writers of the Biblical era also faced difficult people. While reading this morning I was reminded of one such situation. When John wrote 3 John, he mentions one person with whom he had to contend.
Several years ago I became a Director of Missions in Southwest Louisiana. A Director of Missions works with a group of churches (in my case 46) as an encourager, adviser, servant, pastor’s friend and resource provider. When I accepted this position I had the impression that most church/pastor conflicts are because of dysfunctional churches. Since that time I have come to believe otherwise. Now, I realize, church/pastor conflicts can be a two way street.
The title of this piece may cause you to raise an eyebrow. When we discuss the subject of tolerance or intolerance actions such as immorality and liberal theology tend to jump to the front of our minds. That should certainly be the case in reference to the aforementioned subjects. However, there are occasions when intolerance may burn fuel that should not be wasted.
Consider this example. In Philippians Paul discusses people who were preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry (1:15). Paul says they are preaching Christ, not with a spirit of love, but from selfish ambition in order to stir up trouble for him.
Have you ever been guilty of forcing things? This can happen with people, circumstances, projects or God’s will. I recall an experience I had while building a chain link fence. This involved one of the chain link fence post tops. The post tops are made of a soft but inflexible metal. Too much pressure and they will shatter. While constructing the fence I came to the point when I installed the tops on the metal posts. Everything went smoothly up until a point. However, one of the post tops did not readily slide onto the post. I decided to help it. I gently laid a piece of wood on the piece and struck it with a hammer. I forced it. Guess what? The piece shattered.
Does it disturb you that God sometimes takes the path of silence? Not only is God silent, but His silence comes at the most (seemingly) inappropriate times. What are those times?
Obviously these examples are a small sampling of God’s silence.
For me, the challenge of God’s silence would be more difficult to bear had He not allowed us to sample this reality in His word. In Matt. 27:46 we find the agonizing prayer of Jesus as He hung on the cross. He felt forsaken by His Father. He felt the silence of Heaven.
Are you a person who will ask for and accept directions? It has been joked that men are not good at following directions. Some smart person said, “The reason Moses wandered in the wilderness for forty years was because he would not ask for directions.” A woman must have made that statement.
The past three years I have worked closely with pastors. I see both the good and the bad side of pastors. I love being a support and encouragement to pastors. However, one of our major drawbacks is a refusal to ask for, accept and follow directions. I realize some of this drawback is who we are as leaders. Leaders lead rather than waiting around for directions. This is a part of our DNA.