“3 Humiliating Questions”

You and I live in a social media society that is self-centered and glorifies our self. We tweet, update our Facebook status, post photos to Instagram, then eagerly wait for the all important notification that someone retweeted our tweet, favorited a tweet, commented on our status or liked the Instagram photo of our latest dinner creation. Is anyone guilty of that? I know I am.

As ministry leaders, we can be slowly sucked into a self-centered ministry, often times unaware that our ministries are built around our leadership abilities, successes, and strategies. Although leadership strategy is important in leading people, we must ask ourselves does our ministry structures point people to programming or to the presence of Jesus Christ? We must protect ourselves from the problem of pride that tries to pry its way into our hearts.

 

tweet  “What is in your heart will come out in your leadership”

 

The solution to severing the self-centeredness from our leadership is humility. Consider reading about the humble leadership of Christ in Philippians 2:1-11.

 

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Philippians 2:3 (ESV) “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

To be honest, this is not my feel good favorite verse. When I read these words, I slightly cringe on the inside causing me to examine my motives, the ambitions of my life and it forces me to face what is in my heart. Overtime, I have identified a few questions that I regularly ask myself in my journey to conforming into a Christ-centered, servant leader:

Question #1 “Will you pray for me?”

We often pray for people in our ministry. We feel good praying for people. We enjoy being used by God to minister to a person through prayer, but conceit can creep into our hearts and ministry when there is a constant flow of people who come to us for spiritual care and guidance. When was the last time you asked someone the question “will you pray for me?” A while ago, I could not recall the last time I had asked someone this question, which was convicting and humbling.

By far this is the most important question that can help humble the heart of your leadership. Asking for prayer exposes your heart, worries, fears, and needs. Asking for prayer avoids the appearance that you have all the answers and have it all together. Prayer positions your heart in a place of humbling dependence upon God.

 

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“In the Kingdom of God, leaders are not saviors, rather they are servants.”

 

Suggestion: Form a personal prayer network of people who you can ask for specific prayer regarding your personal life, marriage, family, ministry or work.

Questions #2 “What areas of my leadership do I need to improve?”

Once a year I do formal, one on one evaluations with my staff. In this evaluating process, my staff has the opportunity to provide me with critical feedback that will help me be a better leader. It’s a tough question to ask along with hearing the areas of where I need to improve.

In the culture of our staff leadership, we are constantly putting ourselves and our ministry underneath the microscope of improvement. Throughout the year, I ask my staff members to critique me after presentations or messages that I do. While making a decision, I ask my staff members occasionally “if you were in charge what would you do in this situation”.

Far beyond being a better leader, I found this question has kept my heart humble, it helps my staff know they are being heard, and cultivates an overall servant leadership attitude amongst the team.

Question #3 “How can I serve you?”

Each week I have a staff meeting with my team. On the top of the agenda are what I call “connection questions”. This is always part of my meeting agenda, and it always precedes the business aspect of the agenda. One of the connection questions is “How can I serve you?”

I remember when I first asked this question I received blank stares. I was not sure if I received that reaction because I am that selfish and they were in shock that I would ask such a question or they just didn’t know what to say!

Regardless, this is part of the role that I choose to play in the lives of my staff members. As leaders, we are calling people to a cause, which requires some sort of service. As a leader you expect people, whether they be employed or volunteers to serve in accomplishing your mission.

 

tweet“The best inspiration you can give to those who you lead is to serve them.”

 

This week I challenge you to ask these humiliating questions to humble the heart of your leadership!

What are other helpful questions to humble the heart our leadership? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

“A Sinner’s Prayer”

After our CrossWalk service, I was in the normal post service chitchat with those around me. As I looked up, I saw two sisters who are in high school waiting to talk to me. The sisters had been recently attending our service on their own since January. To my knowledge, the older of the two sisters had recently committed her life to Christ. I couldn’t help but notice their urgency in wanting to talk with me. Thinking to myself, I am a pastor right? I must have something they need… wisdom… nope! A prayer request… wrong again!Image

It’s not what I know, but whom I know.

 The younger sister without hesitation spoke up quickly,

“John, I want to be saved!”

 Now, this is every pastor’s dream. Similar to what the disciple Peter was asked, “What shall we do” (Acts 2:37). Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm in ministry, but shouldn’t it be the normal expectation? To be honest, I was caught off guard.

 As a pastor, in previous years I have felt more pressured to be a salesperson; promoting Jesus more like a product than the person who is the savior from sin.

I am not suggesting we shouldn’t be thoughtful in our speaking with persuasive words. However, I have learned to lean more on the Holy Spirit; praying to the Lord for the harvest and embracing my role as a “witness” (Jn. 1:8).

 After hearing the words from her mouth, her words longing for salvation, in my great wisdom, I responded, “Awesome, let’s chat”! We headed to a room and as we sat down I asked “what has led you to the conclusion that you need to commit your life to Christ”? She authenticity stated with a smile.

 “I. need. Jesus”!

You can’t get any more theologically real and rationalizing “I need Jesus”. She and I talked about salvation, the forgiveness of sin, and the life of being a follower of Christ. We also talked about the confession of sin and commitment to Christ.

As a follower of Christ, you might feel the pressure of getting the person to pray “the prayer”. This is where you are more like a Jesus sales person, asking your sinful client to “close the deal” with the all to familiar “repeat these words after me”. Is there something saving about a specific prayer? We often put words in another person’s mouth, putting a person’s salvation into pre-packaged prayer. When I ask people to share their salvation story, what I hear is “Oh I prayed “the prayer”, rather than actually hearing about an encounter with God. Now, I don’t discredit their salvation, but somewhere we place salvation in a prayer.

 Our salvation is NOT in a prayer, but the person of Jesus Christ!

I am committed to pointing people to Christ, and not a prayer. Please don’t misunderstand me, confession and repentance of sin is important (1 John 1:9), in choosing to follow Christ. Remember, you are not a sales person or someone’s savior. So, let the person use their own words in expressing their need for Jesus, gratitude for grace, and whole-hearted commitment to Christ. You are a servant sent to share your salvation story to with your friends who are non-believers to be apart of God’s.

Knowing all this, I still felt the pressure to close the “deal” with her in a pre-packaged, sinner’s prayer. Resisting the urge, I said to her, “ I want you to cry out to God, confess your sin and express your need and love for Him in your own words.” There was an awkward pause. Her sister and I stepped out of the room to give her a moment to gather her thoughts and words.

We gathered back in our little circle, looking at her there were already tears of joy developing in her eyes. Closing our eyes, and with heads bowed came forth the most authentic, sinner’s prayer I have ever heard or witnessed. She cried out to God repeatedly with these words:

 “God, I need and want you! Free me from my sin! I want to know you! I want to live my life for you! I want to be consumed by you! I want to love you and I want to receive your love!”

Hearing her heartfelt words to God “I want to be consumed by you” brought me to tears of joy and conviction. Now, if that is not a real sinner’s prayer, I don’t know what one is. We left that room celebrating her new identity in Christ as a beautiful, beloved daughter of God.Her salvation story taught me to let a person express his or her own words to God. I am not a Jesus sales person, nor a savior, but a mere servant of Christ.

You and I serve to point people to Christ, not a prayer or a program.

I hope this post serves to relieve any tension that you may feel as it relates to sharing your faith. Pray and pursue your non-believing friends! Soon enough in God’s mighty power you too, will witness a sinner’s prayer.

 

4 Apps To Help You Achieve Your Goals.

As you enter 2014 you may tell or think to yourself “enough is enough”, “no more excuses”, “I must make a change”, “2014 is my year” here are four, downloadable apps that sync across your devices that will resource you in achieving your personal goals.

*Disclaimer* – Self-Control, and discipline are key ingredients in any personal achievement. Your success journey must be planned, which requires a new routine, accountability, and actual application of the use of these helpful apps.

 

YouVersion Bible App

 

 

 

1. Spiritual Goals  – “YouVersion Bible” App

You Version Bible App is FREE! Full of  bible studies, weekly devotionals, and Bible reading plans that will help you go “deeper” as you pursue a wholehearted relationship with your heavenly father. All “reading plans” have a reminder setting, which you can receive via text or email. This app has been helpful to me  in my spiritual growth. I am currently utilizing the app to read through the Bible in one year.

 

Lose it

 

 

2. Physical Goals“Lose It”

“Lose It” helps you to lose weight through tracking calories and what you eat. Before using this app I ate more than what by body needed. Living underneath the deception that I was eating okay… Wrong and 10lbs heavier. Personally, I have never struggles with the motivation to workout. However, my eating habits were horrific, which resulted in no change. Hating the idea of counting calories was not very appealing, but neither was my chubby tummy. Change comes only with the creation of new choices… counting calories. This tool has been so hopeful in setting eating boundaries for my physical body. Knowing my inclination to weakness I needed accountability in this area of my life. Michael Yoder has been a helpful partner as we push each other forward to achieve our health and fitness goals.

 

Evernote App

 

 

 

 

 

3. Financial Goals“Mint”

Mint another free app that helps you achieve your financial fitness goals. Mint is an online budget that syncs across your devices tracking spending patterns, providing unhealthy spending alerts. This app is much more user friendly than a Excel spreadsheet. The Dave Ramsey Show is a must have app where you can listen “on the go” to the stewardship principles of financial expert Dave Ramsey as you seek to achieve “Financial Peace”.

Evernote2 App 

 

 

 4. Organizational Goals“Evernote”

Lastly, this app is helps you manage your “To Do Lists”, Projects, Work Life, Ideas, Photos, Web-clipping etc. In order to make forward progress in your goals you need organization and structure for all aspects of your life. Evernote is my go to app to categorize, organize plans, notes, and ideas. Success does not happen, but is planned.

I hope these you diligently use these apps in for your spiritual, physical, financial, and organizational development.

Question: What apps do you use or recommend?