My Current Convictions Concerning Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

image

My stomach has been in knots the last few months. I’ve been nervous for our nation – a nation I love. I’ve been bombarded with blogs, tweets and the opinions of others about national politics.  The culture of politics – and our nation – these days is so tense, so bitter, so divisive.

Chances are you’ve been nervous too – or certainly you’ve been distracted by the news of the day. Whether you watch the debates, read the blogs, or follow Fox News or CNN, this is certainly a year where everyone seems to be involved, at some level, in the election process.

And, so my life is much like yours. Consumed. Concerned. Captivated. How many times will we hear or say between now and November – “I can’t wait until this election is over”?

The more I studied the process and the candidates the more frustrated I became. Frustrated with their stands on issues which matter to me most. Frustrated with how they respond to one another. Frustrated with what seems to be a climate in our nation more towards bickering and bantering against others than pulling together for the good of a nation.
One of the most frequent questions I receive these days is not about some obscure Biblical passage, but for whom I’m going to vote for president.
And, honestly, I don’t know. Never in my life have I been more confused – and I’ve voted in every election since I was eligible to vote.

It’s been an interesting wrestling match. I know I still need to vote. Frankly, I choose to vote as my right and I’m thankful for it – and for those who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom to do so – and I will vote as responsibly as I know how. But, honestly I’m not sure what even that choice will be at this point. (Russell Moore has an interesting perspective in THIS POST.)

But, it was in the state of confusion the other day – actually during a time of intentional prayer, it occurred to me –

I was spending more time being disappointed in our election choices than I was praying for the kings of our nations.

Wow!

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

It was in this sobering moment I was reminded my role, as a believer, is different than a regular citizen. In addition to my responsibility to vote – I have a higher authority – a higher calling. I’m called, first and foremost, to pray for my earthly authorities – regardless of who is in authority.

And, as I reflected on my thoughts towards the two front runners in the presidential race, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I certainly hadn’t spent much time – okay any time, at this point – praying for them. Neither of them is currently holding an office, but they certainly could be. They surely are leading (and dividing) public opinions.

I’m praying for my son’s future spouse who is not yet married. Shouldn’t I be praying for the future leader of our nation?

I’m called to pray, even when worry seems to be a better option.

And, so I was convicted. I would never lead or teach our church to live this way. Turning to worry more than prayer? Never!

My role, as a follower of Christ, is first and foremost to trust and obey. To pray. Yes, I should use my influence to encourage moral value in our country. But, the reality is this world is not our home. America is not the answer to world peace. Finding a king is not the chief goal of a disciple of Jesus.

And, in further reflection, I found myself asking bigger questions. Questions such as:

  • Do I believe God can still heal our land?
  • Do I believe God can unify people who are so far apart ideologically?
  • Do I believe He can still radically change a heart – even one bent against Him?

This is when I realized I had been wasting some energy. I’d been worrying. I’d been fretting. I’d been spending private time in needless doubt – yet, all the while God was still in control. God is no less upon His throne today than He was yesterday – or will He be tomorrow.

What if I prayed as much – or more – as I worried?

And, I’m a pastor, so I feel obligated to encourage you.

I’m not suggesting you take down your political post or fail to speak out in truth. Yours may be the one voice which gets heard within a crowd of noise. I’m not even suggesting you don’t have your candidate in mind whom you are supporting. I would suggest, however, if you can’t share truth with love – it’s usually best not to share at all.

But, the point of this post is not to silence anyone. I embrace our freedom of speech. It’s not to advocate for or against any candidate. There are plenty of other posts doing that. What I am suggesting – and where I was convicted – is we remember our larger, perhaps more important purpose as followers of Christ. Prayer.

So for now I will pray. I will pray greatly. I will pray daily. And, may prayer never be seen as a lesser or a weaker response.


10 Personal Resolutions Guaranteed to Improve Your Ministry Leadership

Close up of businessman with arms crossed on chest on modern city background

The best leadership, in my opinion, comes out of the resolve a leader has made in his or her heart.

The resolve of a leader is a pre-determined approach to way a leader will lead. These are personal convictions, values, personally held beliefs, which shape decisions a leader makes and the way responds to others.

Your personal resolve – about anything – always determines the way you respond and your actions towards it. (I recently preached on how this principle impacts our spiritual life. You can listen to this message HERE.)

Most often these resolutions are made even prior to being in a leadership position.

The resolve of a leader is powerful. In fact, if  leader wants to improve his or her leadership, he or she must often improve first their personal resolve.

So, do you want to improve your leadership?

Here are 10 personal resolutions guaranteed to improve your ministry leadership:

I resolve to never compromise my character in my search for progress.

I resolve to consistently be walking by faith – willing to risk for the sake of God’s call on my life.

I resolve to pray earnestly before I make major decisions and solicit others to join me in discerning God’s direction for our team and my leadership.

I resolve to extend grace freely, empower others, and realize mistakes made and learned from are a part of healthy discipleship.

I resolve to protect my family time – never compromising it in the name of ministry.

I resolve to make my personal health a priority and discipline myself to stay as healthy as possible.

I resolve to allow trials and turmoil to draw me closer to Christ and shape my character for good.

I resolve to love the seemingly unloveable – even those with whom I do not agree – responding to darkness around me with the love and light of Christ.

I resolve to pray for my enemies, extend grace liberally, offer forgiveness readily and never hold a grudge.

I resolve to surround myself with wise and moral influencers, allowing at least a few people access to know and speak into the deepest and most private parts of my life.

Which of these resolves do you need to make at this point in your ministry leadership?

Be honest.

4 Ways a Team Grows Together 

image

This is a requested guest post from Ministry Library. I don’t do these for profit. I only do then when I believe in the oppportunity.

4 Ways a Team Grows Together 

Some people hate those personality tests but they have made a huge difference for our team. There are tons out there but we require each person on our team to take 2 different personality tests and each one tells us some very unique attributes about that person.

One is the Myers-Briggs. This test gives me an insight into how that person thinks and sees the world around them. I think the best part of this test is the detailed report I get about their workplace habits and how to communicate with that person. If you’re curious, I am an INTJ.

The other test is Strengths Finder 2.0, sometimes called “Leading From Your Strengths.”
This test will reveal your top 5 (out of 34) strengths and how to maximize your talents and build them into strengths. The reason I love this test is that it allows me to create the most healthy environment possible to make each person happy, productive and successful.
My 2 most prominent strengths are Activator and Individualization.

Ask The Tough Questions
Great leaders ask the tough questions! 

Here are 5 questions you need to starting asking your team. 

Who are you developing to take your place? If leadership development isn’t communicated and followed up on, it won’t happen.

What are you doing to grow yourself? By regularly asking this questions you’ll create a culture of learning in your staff. A good followup question is “What resource or support I can give?”

Is there anything I am doing that wastes your time? Yep. that’s a toughy! I usually add ”Please answer honestly or you’re fired!” to lighten the mood.

What is your biggest hassle in your current role? I love this question so much. It will shed some serious light on your systems and organization.

What can we improve on as a team or a church? Breakthroughs happen horizontally. You’ll be surprised by the creativity and problem solving that happens when you let people speak into other areas besides the one they’re in.

When asking these questions, it’s important to ask followup questions to make sure you have a full understanding of their situation.

Require A Coaching Call
All of the world’s best athletes have coaches. Why?

Because a coach can see things the athlete can’t. It’s impossible to coach yourself to the next level. We just don’t know, what we don’t know. As your team and your church grow, there are going to be these “gotcha” moments that you just won’t see coming.

I require my team to have regular coaching calls with people in similar roles at a church that is twice our size.

I do this myself as well. Our church is in the process of launching a campus.So, I cold called 7 other church around the country that I thought would be able to coach me through this process. By talking to people that have “been there, done that,” you’ll learn from their mistakes and completely avoid those “gotcha” moments.

Learn Together
Imagine if you could have some of the best pastors or leaders come in and give you and your staff a personal coaching session.

That would be awesome and way too expensive!

Reading a book is like getting coached by the author.

I think one of the best ways to learn together is to go through a book as a staff. But if you just buy them the book and tell them to read, you’ve failed as a leader.
To get the most out of a book there needs to be a group experience where you can learn outloud and help each other apply what you’ve learned.

I believe in this model of leadership development so much I created a resource for pastors and their teams. Its called MinistryLibrary.com

We help pastors grow and lead healthy teams by creating 10 minute leadership videos and team workshops based on popular ministry and business leadership books. The workshops are where you’ll get the most value. They have take-aways, resources, discussion questions and group activities that will get your team thinking, collaborating and learning together!

Check it out. MinistryLibrary.com

Experiencing New – Living With Intentionality

new intentionality

Our series – simply called NEW – began encouraging you to discover something new. The God who never changes is always doing something new.

This was a New Year challenge – appropriate for all the year. In this message I explain, “Much of what you get out of your year is going to be determined by what you put into it. If you simply go through the motions, don’t expect to receive a lot from it.”

And, “if one of your goals in the New Year is to be a better disciple – the reality is – you’ll have to be intentional. It won’t simply happen.”

Live intentional. I pray this message, and the ones to follow, help you. God bless.

New Intentionality from ron edmondson on Vimeo.

Faith Obeys, Without Knowing How – An Encouragement to Walk By Faith

Pastor

But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say,’I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the LORD said.1 Samuel 16:2-4a

God sent Samuel to annoint David king. He was removing Saul from power. It was a dangerous and scary assignment and it made no sense politically or practically. Speaking against the king could bring death, but not only that, Saul looked like a king. David was an unknown kid.

Samuel was naturally afraid. Wasn’t there some other way? Samuel surely must have thought.

God’s plan was made. He wouldn’t budge because of Samuel’s fear. God never leads by popular opinion, so Samuel obeyed.

That’s what faith does.

When Samuel obeyed God, EVEN THOUGH it didn’t make sense – in his mind – for him to do so, he was exhibiting his faith in God. Faith always moves without seeing or understanding. Faith is always prior to receiving the complete picture or having all the answers. Faith precedes victory.

Every time.

If we want to please God, we have to obey Him at the point it seems to make no sense to do so.

Years ago our family traveled to our nation’s capital on vacation. I have spent considerable time in the city, as a college intern and during my political and business days. It is one of my favorite places to visit. Our boys had never been. I told them this would not be an enjoyable trip – at least not for the first few days. At nine and twelve years of age, and not being musuem people, I knew they would be bored at first and I wanted to prepare them.

I was right.

I told them, however, if they would obey me they would be glad they had been by the time we finished the trip. When we left Washington, DC, both boys were sad to say goodbye to the city. They had fallen in love with it. The twelve year old even said he wanted to attend a college there. (He later changed his mind.)

This is the way it is sometimes in our Christian walk.

Obeying God, following Him, and carrying out His plan, especially when it contradicts our own, is not always the first thing we want to do. It won’t even seem to make sense at times.

It may seem impossible.
It will likely make us afraid.
It stretches us beyond our abilities.
It might be uncomfortable.
It requires more resources than appears available.

But, as we obey God, and He works His will through our obedience, God blesses us in ways we never expected, and we begin to experience what it means “all things work for good for those who love the Lord”. (Romans 8:28)

Samuel didn’t want to go find David, but he obeyed. And, guess what? God knew what He was doing.

Duh!

And, God knows what He is doing in your life too!

You need only to trust and obey!

In what area of your life are you most having to walk by faith these days? 

6 Tips for Happier, Healthier Relationships when the Relationship has been Injured

family prayer

Do you have any injured relationships in your life?

Broken hearts, hurt feelings, or grudges from the past are common among relationships. At some point we all have relationships, which have gone from bad to worst.

In fact, sometimes the people we have to be around, by default – blood relatives, in-laws, or co-workers – are people we wouldn’t choose to be around unless we had to be.

It’s true, isn’t it? And, the truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?

(Raise your hand if that’s your story.)

What should you do? How should you respond to the one who has hurt you the most – or who always seems to say the wrong thing – or who is, honestly, even mean at times? How do you respond to the most difficult relationships in your life?

You can’t control other people’s response – only yours, but how should you act in those injured relationships?

I want to encourage the Biblical approach.

Here are 6 tips for healthier, happier relationships:

Bite your tongue

When you are tempted to snap back – don’t. Sure, it will be difficult, even seemingly unfair at times, but see it as spiritual discipline training. (James 1:26) Memorize and learn to pray Psalm 141:3. (Look it up. It’s the first step towards learning it.)

Extend grace

Forgive. Let go of a grudge. Even though it may not be received well and nothing may change in the relationship, it will change you. (1 Peter 4:10, Colossians 3:13)

Put on another’s shoes

Anyone who hurts you has a story. Usually they were hurt too – by someone. Remember, hurt people hurt people. Think about where the other person is coming from before (or as) you encounter them. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Practice patience

Be honest, some relationships require more patience than you thought you had, don’t they? But, isn’t this what we are called to do as believers? It is a “fruit of the spirit”. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Exercise humility

When we humble ourselves, we may get taken advantage of at times, but God always rewards humility. Who knows? It may be the break through in the relationship. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6)

Pray for them

The last one is sometimes the most difficult, but oh how Biblical! Prayer releases the burden to the burden bearer the One whose yoke is easy the One who paid for your sins. Prayer can even change the dynamics of a relationship. Pray for the awkward, difficult, shattered and broken relationships in your life and the people who caused them. In the most tense moments this holiday season, slip away and pray. (Matthew 5:44)

Apply liberally, as needed.

You’ll have healthier, happier relationships. Trust me.

Do you have a difficult relationship facing you? What tips do you have?