Leadership Under Stress: The Jesus Model

Are you feeling the stress of leadership?

Are you in the midst of chaotic times?

Are there more times of crisis right now than times of celebration?

Are you facing decisions which appear bigger than you today?

Are you wondering how you should respond?

Perhaps we can gain some insight from the life Jesus.

Imagine the setting. In the midst of one of the busiest periods in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus received word that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin…the one who had been preparing the way for Jesus’ arrival into public ministry…the one who baptized Jesus…had been executed at the hand of Herod the ruler. This had the potential to derail Jesus’ ministry. How would His disciples respond? Would they run in fear? Would the momentum shift?

Observe how Jesus, feeling the weight of leadership responsibilities and certainly dealing with personal grief, immediately responded to this tragic scenario.

When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. Matthew 14:13

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we consistently read of Him slipping away from the crowds…often by Himself…sometimes with a few close disciples…to be alone…to pray. Those times were apparently critical to His ongoing strength and success in the journey.

Now look back to the questions I posed to you at the beginning of this post…

Do you need to slip away? Do you need to get alone? Do you need to pray?

I’ve personally found the more stressful my circumstances the more time I need alone with God.

Whether you are a pastor, a ministry leader, or a stressed-out parent, I realize it seems everyone is looking to you for answers today. Your greatest response could be to slip away from the crowds. You’ll return better able to handle the demands placed upon you.

Have you often found strength in slipping away from the troubles before you respond?

(BTW, this post is not to be confused with the principles of THIS POST. Don’t use this as an excuse to run. Use it as a tool to prepare.)

Money is NOT the root of all evil…

“Money is the root of all evil”

Have you ever heard that phrase?

I hear it often. The problem is that it’s not in the Bible. It’s from a commonly misquoted verse from the Bible.

The actual verse says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (emphasis mine)

And, you’d have to admit that verse is true. You’ve seen people fall in love with their money and it causes all kinds of grief.

But, money isn’t bad in itself. I happen to like money. It provides for the necessities of life and some of life’s pleasures. It pays the church bills too. We can use our money to bless others.

God uses our system of commerce (money) to further His Kingdom. Sure, He could do without our money…He could do anything He wants with no money at all…but God does choose to use money. You’ve most likely seen Him do so.

Where we get in trouble isn’t with money. It’s with the love of money. Jesus said we can’t love both God and money. He was referring to that sold out, fully committed, do whatever it takes to get kind of love. That love isn’t to be towards our money, but towards our Savior.

Be honest, which do you love more: Your money or Your Jesus?

The best way to tell is to have to give one of them up for the other. Hope you never have to choose that way, but it would at least determine the truth of your heart.

How can you tell when someone is loving their money in an unhealthy way?

Notes: Catalyst Atlanta… #Cat11 – Judah Smith

Ben Reed is a note-taking genius. He’s also one a great small groups pastor, leader and friend. He writes a great blog too! Check it out HERE.

I had some pastoral work to catch up on tonight, so Ben was gracious to guest post for me for the last session at Catalyst today:

Here is a guest post from Ben Reed:

Judah Smith, presented the closing session for Thursday night at Catalyst 2011.

Jesus is the Glory of God

If that statement is true, that Jesus is the glory of God, then you will leave with a surplus, an overwhelming feeling that you have everything you need for leading, living, pastoring, and loving people.

Thursday nights are date nights for Judah. But he wishes someone would’ve told him that women have rules. And that they don’t have to share their rules…men are just supposed to know them. If you really love women, you will know and abide by their rules. This is the love language of women. And women are under no obligation to let you know when they change the rules.

When Judah’s wife recently changed the rules and asked Judah some questions, what she was saying was, “I don’t just want to do stuff with you…I want to know you. I want to know your inner reality.” Marriage isn’t just about being in each other’s presence…it’s about really knowing one another.

And Moses is thinking along the same lines when he asks of God, in Exodus 33:12-23, “Show me your glory, Lord.”

Moses musters a little courage, and asks for something he’s never seen before. He asks for something more. “I don’t just want your presence or your power. I want your glory.”

This was a risky and dangerous request.

But God must have been pleased with his child, who was, in essence, asking to know God.

The Bible says that God is radiant in glory and beauty and righteousness, and all of that emanated from Him in that moment…so much so that Moses’ face glowed for days after he caught a glimpse of the back side of God.

The request from Moses, though, wasn’t fully answered by God. In fact, throughout the ages, Moses’ request stood unanswered. Because Moses only got a glimpse. And it was only in Jesus that God would fully answer that request of Moses.

We get to see something better than Moses was shown!

Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

Jesus is the greatest sermon ever preached.

Moses asks to see beyond the curtain, to see what it is that makes God God. When Jesus comes, we get to see who God really is.

We have everything that we’ll ever need in Jesus.

At the age of 30, Judah was asked to take over leadership of his church in Seattle (The City Church: http://www.thecity.org). And he was incredibly overwhelmed. He didn’t feel like he was ready for it. He began looking for the secret to dispensing great sermons.

And after searching but not finding that secret, he asked himself:

Do I realize what I have in Jesus?

In John 4:26, Jesus responds to the woman at the well with this, as she questions speaks about the coming Messiah: “I am he.” In other words, you don’t have to wait any longer or look any further. And this should be applied to every youth leader, every mom, dad, aunt and uncle, every business person and pastor. You don’t have to look any further. There is no secret potion. Jesus is the answer. He is your counselor, your pastor, your friend.

He is everything you ever need in this life! You’ve got Jesus!

Pastoring your church isn’t about you. In fact, God loves your city more than you do.

If you offer your life to Jesus, He’ll do something in you that you can’t even do in yourself.

Since when was Jesus not enough?

Since when do we have to supplement the Savior? When did we start to have to add to his divine sufficiency?

To pastors: you lack nothing. God has granted you all spiritual blessings in Jesus. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden. I will give you rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

Do you need to ask for forgiveness for looking past Jesus?

Grace Community Church Core Values

The mission of Grace Community Church is short.

GCC exists to encourage growing followers of Jesus Christ.

We believe it’s easy to understand, but it’s obviously somewhat subjective. Our staff has been working over the last few months to add some clarity to what we mean by “growing followers of Jesus Christ”. In an all day staff retreat recently, we decided on ten attributes of a growing follower of Jesus.

We call them our core values and we will be sharing them with our church in the coming weeks. These will become principles to guide how we encourage discipleship at every level of ministry.

Our core values:

A growing follower of Jesus values…

GATHERING: consistently gathering with the Church to celebrate Jesus and encounter Biblical teaching. (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:25)

COMMUNITY: building authentic relationships of encouragement and accountability with other followers of Jesus. (Acts 2:44, 1 Corinthians 12:12)

SERVING: developing a servant’s heart that looks to always meet the needs of others. (Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 4:10)

PRAYER: maintaining a continuous conversation with God. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:16)

GOD’S WORD: spending consistent time reading the Bible and applying its Truth. (Acts 2:42, 2 Timothy 3:16)

SHARING THEIR STORY: creating conversations about what God has done and is doing in his/her life. (Acts 1:8, 1 Peter 3:15)

WISDOM: seeking God’s will in all decisions. (Proverbs 8:11, James 1:5)

GENEROSITY: developing a growing generosity with resources and finances. (Proverbs 3:9, 2 Corinthians 9:7)

INTEGRITY: striving to develop a reputation that honors God. (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 4:1-3)

INFLUENCE: maximizing influence to point others to Jesus. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 1 Peter 3:16)

Does your church have something such as this to help shape programs, ministry and teaching?

The Believer’s Response to Grief

Today was a special day of remembrance. You may want to read THIS POST and watch the 5 minute video associated with before viewing this message.

In our series called FREE we talked about living the freedom Christ intends for us to have, in spite of the death, pain, failure, loss and disappointments that come our way…mostly beyond our control. How as a believer are we to grieve? If you’re struggling with a significant loss, I hope this message gives you comfort:

Breaking free from the pain of death or loss from Gcomchurch Sermons on Vimeo.

If you choose to listen to this message, you may do so HERE:

They Went Home…

Then the disciples went back to their homes. John 20:10

The disciples had gone to the empty tomb. They saw where the body of Jesus had been laid. He was not there. He had risen, yet the Scripture said at this point they still did not understand what had happened. (vs. 9) They left the greatest miracle of eternity…returned to their homes…but didn’t yet understand.

The disciples didn’t get it…even though they had walked with Jesus several years and this was carried out just as Jesus had prepared them…they couldn’t grasp the complete story.

It made me wonder…

Should we be surprised when people come to our church…we share the simple Gospel….yet they leave still failing to understand?

What do you think?

Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

Suicide sucks!

I realize this is a heavy issue for this blog, but seriously…I have had to sit with people several times after a loved one committed suicide. A clouded or confused mind may see suicide as the only way out, although it is never the right option, but it is never easy reconcile for the people left behind. I believe one of my dearest pastor friends died of a broken heart after his son committed suicide. Sadly, suicide appears to be on the rise. Our local paper reported this week (see article HERE) that our state has been awarded $1.4 million to aid in suicide prevention.

Suicide sucks!

This post is not aimed for those who have ever considered suicide…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

This post is for those who are victims of knowing someone who has taken his or her life…

One of the things I hear after a suicide breaks my heart. Families are often left wondering what happened to their loved one. Well-meaning people often repeat something they’ve heard before…that friends and family members who commit suicide are destined to be separated from Jesus the rest of their lives. They assume that suicide is the unforgivable sin. I’ve encountered people who struggle for years with the thoughts that their loved one died apart from Jesus. The only problem with that assumption is that I can’t prove it in the Bible.

Yes, suicide is a sin.

Murder is a sin…taking a life is a sin…suicide is a sin…

Please don’t resort to that…There is always a better way…

If you are at all thinking of taking your life…STOP and call for help NOW!!!

But, suicide is NOT the unforgivable sin.

The grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient even for this sin…

I’m fully convinced there will be brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Heaven, who were experiencing terrible trials…who felt trapped or helpless…who made a bad decision…who took their life…but fully believed that Jesus was the only answer for salvation.

Jesus describes the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:22-32. It says nothing about suicide.

I know this is a delicate issue. You might read THIS POST or THIS POST I found which addresses this issue in better detail.

I’m praying for those struggling with this issue as I post this…

Scripture Memorization, Week 33 (And a video)

This week, I want to encourage you to do something special with the memory verse. Write it on an index card or something similar. Place it where you will see it every morning…perhaps like a mirror where you get ready. Read it a few times everyday. Then pray it as a prayer.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:5

See how it shapes your attitude each day this week.

As an added bonus, watch this video and sing it in the form of a song:

My Top 5 Corporate Worship Experiences

This is a hard post to write, because I typically don’t do “favorites”, but I’ve thought a lot recently about worship. That always floods my mind with memories of corporate worship highlights in my life…or favorite worship moments. I have had many. To me, worship is when God fills me with Himself. It’s when God has all of me and all I want is all of Him. That doesn’t have to happen in a church service…and often doesn’t for me…which is why I titled this “top 5 corporate worship moments“. I do believe, however, that there is something special about worshiping with other like-minded believers. (In fact, I would contend we are commanded to do so regularly.)

Of course, any time of worship is an incredible time. The fact that a holy God would choose to allow me into His presence should bring me to my knees constantly in worship. Honestly, however, there are times I’m just going through the motions of “worship”.

Here are my top 5 corporate worship experiences:

Los Angeles – It had been a long week at a business conference, and truthfully a very non-spiritual week. I was so busy that all week I read one chapter…Psalm 150. As is our custom, we went looking for a church on Sunday morning. I thought I had found a California mega-church online, but, after getting lost several times and nearly missing the service, we arrived to find out it was a very small church. There were less than 100 people and we were very obvious visitors. We decided to visit in spite of my introversion and on the marquis, permanently inscribed was a single verse: Let everything that have breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6. It turned out to be one of the most meaningful times of worship in my life.

Brooklyn Tabernacle Church – Cheryl and I were there for a Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir experience. I had heard people talk about this, and usually if I’m anticipating something it isn’t as likely to happen for me, but it did. I felt God’s presence like never before. I can still capture the memories of that moment today.

Brazil – I was about to speak via a translator for the very first time. Prior to stepping on stage, we were led in almost an hour-long time of worship, although it seemed like only a few minutes. Hearing Portuguese and English together proclaiming the goodness of the same God humbled me to tears.

Promise Keepers – I went to many Promise Keepers events, and they were all good, but on this particular occasion my boys went with me. They were probably both pre-teens at the time and at this conference, not only did I worship, but I got to witness, for the first time, my two boys worship. It was indescribable!

Passion Conference – I had gone with our college team, but for this session I slipped away by myself. I was alone in a crowded room…if you’ve ever been there. I knew no one around me and for 30 minutes, I gave God everything in my heart. I’ll never forget the jubilation. (I don’t get to use that word very much…but it seems appropriate here!)

Some may wonder, why didn’t you name your own church? Well, that’s a great question. I’m a very strategic-minded person, so on Sundays, to be candid, it’s more work that it is worship. Still, I’ve had some amazing times of worship at our church…especially backstage, which is why it didn’t make the list here.

I’d love to hear from you.

Tell me one (or 5) of your top worship moments.