Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who Placed You Here?

It is the Lord who places us in His body as He sees fit. Our place in His body is for the purpose of edification and glorification. (Building up the body and honoring God)

The call of God to a specific ministry or assignment isn’t something that people can call you to. God has to do the calling and we must do the answering to that calling. Your parents can’t call you – or you’d be “daddy called” or “mommy called” rather than “GOD CALLED!”

If God calls you, then He’ll qualify you over the course of time. You’ll begin your calling serving under someone else’s ministry and tutelage. You’ll serve in the ministry of helps before He matures you to your ministry office. The early Deacons, Stephen and Phillip, are examples of this. They began serving in their assigned roles as Deacons and continued to walk into the role of an Evangelist.

Stephen and Phillip plus five other deacons were faithful to serve where they were assigned first. As we serve in the Ministry of Helps we must do so with diligence as the fruit of the Spirit is developed in our gifts and callings.

  • Faith – determine to exercise your measure of faith each day.
  • Virtue – do everything with excellence.
  • Knowledge – the more you know Him…the more wisdom you’ll receive from Him.
  • Self-control – in a world where self-control is lacking learn to put aside your own wants.
  • Patience – learning to face life’s situations is something you’ll have to deal with inevitably.
  • Godliness – remain holy for He is holy.
  • Brotherly affection – give honor and prefer one another in love.
  • Love – true love will cause your words and actions to be gracious and kind.

As we add and develop these qualities in our life we become more useful to the Lord in the place He planted us to grow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Mentor

What is a mentor? Perhaps we could say a mentor is someone who will let you ask them questions, listen to your ideas and point you in the right direction.

A mentor is one of the most influential relationships you can have outside of your marriage and family. They have the ability to shape you into the person you desire to be. Honestly, if you're going to get where you're going, you'll need the following:

  1. Vision (a dream)
  2. Followers (people who believe in your dream)
  3. Tenacity (a determination to to see the dream fulfilled)

Having the right mentor in ministry is absolutely crucial. When you begin your quest to find a mentor there are a couple of things to consider:

  1. Can you trust this person?
    If you tell them something in confidence, will it remain confidential? Or will they tell it to their comrades at the next luncheon? You can watch their life and listen to their conversations to determine whether or not you can open up to them in time. If you discover that they're telling you other people's business, then you probably don't want to share your business with them.

  2. What are your expectations?
    Be careful not to "over expect" something from a mentor. However, you should be able to expect the following: honesty, kindness and limitations.

Accommodating the Call of God

What were you doing when the call of God came to you? Were you flipping burgers at Burger King? Were you checking out customers at the Super Market? Were you cashing checks at the bank? Were you cutting hair in the salon? Were you waiting on patients in the hospital? Were you driving a cab?

Elisha, a farmer, was working in his families’ business. He was doing his job, getting ready for vacation, about to call it a day…when his life got turned upside down by a mantle and a zealous minister.

1 Kings 19:19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Elisha knew in his heart that a decision had to be made. Either he will continue to farm with his oxen and plowshare or he will answer the call of God and change everything familiar with his life thus far. This decision would require him to accommodate the call of God by changing his schedule and plans.

Elisha stepped out into the unknown. He burnt up his plowshare and killed the oxen. Everyone partook at this big BBQ Bash! He then says his farewells and off he goes to serve the man of God, Elijah, for the next ten years.

Known as the water boy, Elisha builds a reputation of faithful service. God prepares him for the office of a prophet and then promotes him. We can learn five specific things about Elisha’s willingness to accommodate the call of God.

  1. Instantaneous – Elisha doesn’t put forth a fleece and pray for 40 days to see if this mantle/ministry call is really of God. He decides THEN and THERE to accept the call.

  2. Orderliness – Elisha gets his affairs in order; first with God, family, work, ministry and so forth.

  3. Awareness - Elisha did more than feel a mantle upon his shoulders, he also heard from God himself. There was a knowing in his spirit that compelled him to respond to this call.

  4. Readiness – He jumped in immediately doing the first thing that needed done. Serving his leader became his heartfelt passion.

  5. Submissiveness – There was no task beneath him. He willingly submitted to another person’s authority and found freedom in service.

Are you willing to accommodate your life for the call of God? Who will be the next Elisha to answer the call of service, unconcerned about position or promotion?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Represent Someone

John the Baptist was considered the "forerunner" of Jesus. He led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River, challenged sinful rulers, called for repentance and promised God's justice.

John pointed to the "Messiah" who was greater than himself. In essence, he represented Jesus and became a modern day "Public Relations" ambassador.

A true PR person will take on the DNA of the one they represent. Their words and actions will reveal their heart. They will embrace the vision of their leader and cast the vision to others. They will see their leader's mission as their own and will make it the center of their efforts.

When you are called to represent someone else (believe me...we are called to represent Christ, but to also represent a leader(s), group, organization, team, etc. during our lifetime) you must avoid speaking negatively. Negativity will never produce positive results.

Even if you experience the negative, you will only communicate the positive.
  • Think back to Samson when he passed through the vineyards of Timnath and defeated a lion with his hands. He didn't tell his father and mother about what he had done. After a time, he returned through the same vineyard and found the carcase of the lion and in it was a swarm of bees and honey. Samson ate of it and received enlightenment and then shared the honey with his parents. But notice, he only shared the "honey" not the "lion."

As we represent our leaders, we must do so with positive communication. Even if you don't understand your leader's decisions or actions at the time, you must represent your leader with truth and loyalty.

Each of us will be faced with this test. Whether or not you pass this test will depend entirely upon your ability to remain a pure representation of your leader even in the face of negative circumstances.

I've saved myself from many embarrassing moments and painful failures by simply thinking about a person in whom I greatly admire and saying..."would ___________ do this or say this?" Doing this has kept my feet from wrath and my actions loyal.

The blessing is found in "loyalty" and "right" representation.

Five Rules for Representation
  1. Representatives must always represent the truth. - Ephesians 4:15
  2. Representatives must always speak words that edify. (Build up) - 1 Corinthians 14:26
  3. Representatives must never let their actions betray their words. - Matthew 7:3-5
  4. Representatives must know what to say, how much to say, and when to say it. - 1 Corinthians 3:2
  5. Representatives do not rehearse the failures of the past. They restate the goals of the future. - Philippians 3:13-14

Friday, July 16, 2010

The High Call of Helpfulness

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Often we refer to the five-fold grace gifts of Ephesians 4:11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” and reflect on the various “offices” set in the body of Christ. These ministry gifts are vital to the church and more importantly, the spirit of these gifts should be active in every local church body.

In addition to these, there is also a great need for the Ministry of Helps. This ministry has a unique approach to the ministry of “service.” We could call this ministry…HANDS ON…ministry. “Hands on” ministry is the practical side of the work of God. It’s the obvious areas of need in the body of Christ that are spirit discerned by people who are anointed to meet that need.

You could also view this ministry as a “behind the scenes” work. You know…the kind of ministry that doesn’t always make the papers or receive recognition. And yet, these ministries, and those who perform them, provide the most beneficial service to our practical needs.

Think about it…who takes care of the church? (I.e., mowing the yard, cleaning the church, maintenance, electrical, automotive, secretarial, plumbing, greeting, watching babies, sound and video, food preparation, ushering, washing dishes, taking out the trash, etc.)

None of it could be done without the good people who recognize their “High Calling” to practical ministry. I commend each and every person who views their God given assignment of service as priority #1!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Standing in the Shadows

God sets you in the Kingdom where He sees fit. It is then our responsibility to develop the gifts He has given us in our particular area of service. As we develop, we not only add quality service to the Kingdom of God but we enhance our unique style.

Honing this gift takes time. Consider the following:

Consider serving in a way you haven’t considered before. You can probably enhance what you’re already doing just by approaching it another way. Take another look at how you approach serving your leader. If your heart changes so will your actions.

Be content with serving. Serving in and of itself is a esteemed calling from the Lord. When God calls you to serve a leader, He’ll also give you a specific anointing that will be tailored to that particular leader.

Take the high road. The high road is found in the lowly place of humility. If you consider serving a menial, immature stage, then you’re totally missing God’s value system. God places a tremendous emphasis on those who choose to serve rather than be served. In fact, He refers to them as “the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 18:4)

Submit to authority. If you struggle with submitting to your leader, you’re actually struggling with God’s authority. All authority comes from God. On this side of Heaven, He chooses to use delegated authority to fulfill His Kingdom purpose. Choosing to submit is choosing to understand the flow of authority.

The time that David spent obeying his father while tending sheep in the less desirable place was actually time spent investing in his future Kingship. Are you being faithful with what you’ve been given? In what ways are you faithful in your position of service?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Right Fit

Knowing where to serve and how to serve is vital if you’re going to be a personal assistant (armorbearer) to your leader. Remember, the spirit of an armorbearer yields the following performance to your leader: attend to, minister to, care for, help, be of use, assist, benefit, promote, support, make easy for, nourish and encourage. All of these are tied to the word “serve” in our dictionary.

Let’s break these down:

Attend to – this is done by supporting your leaders both in spirit and body. For example, if I’m aware that my leader will be ministering somewhere, I will attend so that my physical presence will provide positive support. Have you ever heard someone say, “I couldn’t be there in body…but my spirit was there.” Friend, the days of excuses are over! If you’re going to “attend” then you must do so in the flesh.

Minister to – when you serve your leaders by supporting them you are coming into a greater understanding of what ministry actually is. Place great value upon supporting your leaders and you’ll find that you are actually operating in an established ministry in and of itself.

Care for – the leaders you’re serving are real people with real feelings too. When you are moved with compassion to minister to them you are moved with the same compassion God has for His children. Everyone needs cared for…including your leaders.

Help, be of use and assist – you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to serve in a practical way. Helping your leader doesn’t mean you have to turn every conversation into a prophetic utterance or a metaphoric spiritual quiz. Don’t be over the top “spiritual” when you serve. Simply do the practical things with excellence, considering what things would bring you comfort. It could be a favorite soft drink, snack or simply starting their car in the winter.

Benefit – are you serving to benefit your leader or yourself? In a day of self-centeredness we must be careful not to allow that type of thinking to prevail in Kingdom service. As you perform ministry, seek to do things that will benefit your leader…not you or your wallet, appetite or position.

Promotion – as an armorbearer, you become your leaders #1 fan! Your encouragement, at the right moment, will help your leader forge ahead, regardless of the challenge. Don’t be a “Debbie Downer” when you’re with your leader. They shouldn’t have to cheer you up…you should be cheering them up with your upbeat smile and positive “let’s make this day count” attitude.

Support – you’re biggest advantage and greatest asset will be your ability to “link” up with your leader’s leadership. Be a strong link in the chain…not a weak one. Your leader has to know that they can count on you through the good times and the bad times. If your lack of support leaves a question mark in the mind of your leader, you’ll not last too long in that honorable place.

Nourish and Encourage – nourishment will build strength and refreshment to your body. The same can be said relationally when we choose to refresh our leaders by enhancing their strength through practical and intentional encouragement. Make it your goal to say something positive each day about your leaders leadership.

Starting Somewhere

Do you remember your first job? Mine was at Dairy Queen in the 10th Grade. I made a whopping $2.50 an hour! Yeah…I was really rolling in the dough back in the day. My boss’ name was Diane. She was the owner’s daughter and she ran a tight ship in that “hot eats, cool treats” establishment. If Diane gave you an order (and I don’t mean double cheeseburger, hold the pickle) she meant NOW!

I remember walking into work for the first time. I came straight from school and had just enough time to change into my uniform, which consisted of, brown polyester bell bottom slacks, dress shirt, red smock and a pointed paper hat. (Go ahead and smile) I was ready to jump in feet first. Well, my boss didn’t put me behind the cash register, or on the grill or even in the frozen custard section making masterful banana splits. She put me on clean up detail. That meant, I had to walk around the dining room cleaning tables, chairs, trays, trash cans, floors, restrooms, etc. Lots of fun…huh?

Well, I determined to make the best of my first day and I made that dining room sparkle with cleanliness!

We all have to start somewhere. The same can be said when we serve in the ministry. Unless you’re willing to serve people, wait tables and do the behind the scenes duties – you’ll never reach your full potential in the Kingdom. We are taught in Scripture to become “servants” before we can become “chiefs.”

The greatest joy you’ll have in ministry, besides leading someone to Christ, will be to serve your leader. It’s the “serving” quality you possess today that will qualify you to lead someone else tomorrow. What qualities do you possess?

1 Samuel 16:21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.

We can look at David as he served King Saul to find the example we’re looking for.

  1. Commitment - David served God first then others. He obediently served his father Jesse by tending his flock. He was faithful at his post and was doing what he was supposed to be doing when the prophet Samuel showed up to the house. Are you committed today? Are you walking in obedience to your assignment in the Lord? Are you committed to walk in obedience to the leader God has placed over you?
  2. Attitude – David had a winning attitude which enabled him to conquer life’s challenges. He defeated the bear and the lion before he ever faced Goliath. If we keep the right attitude as we serve, our past victories will motivate us to conquer the next challenge as well.
  3. Respectful – David honored protocol and gave place to the positional authority he served under. No doubt, he disliked the way King Saul was treating him at times yet, he remained reverent and respectful to the ordained office of his leadership. A great lesson is to be learned here: if you sow respect, you will reap respect. If you so rebellion, you will reap rebellion.
  4. Bravery – David didn’t bat an eye when it came time to defeat the giant, Goliath. He took his rightful place in leadership and had already counted the cost!

As we serve in ministry, our qualities will be tested to see if they qualify for honorable service. Regardless of who we serve – personality is not the issue – we must allow the principles of God’s Word to prevail in our heart so that our service will render something good for God’s Kingdom.

Personal Assistant

1 Samuel 16:21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.

As you study Old Testament history, it’s interesting to note that a leader (or a King) didn’t carry their own armor. Their armor was carried by an armorbearer, who we might consider today to be a “personal assistant.” In the 21st century, we don’t wear physical armor. However, we do wear spiritual armor. (Ephesians 6)

When it comes to the ministry of helps, which all of us will operate in regardless of our status in the Kingdom of God, we must “suit up” daily when it comes to how we serve our leaders and assist them as they war a warfare in the Kingdom of God. Our role is to assist them in their quest and strengthen their ability to lead.

The term “armorbearer” isn’t new. It originates from the Hebrew word, nasa, meaning to figuratively or literally lift up, support or simply help.

The 21st Century armorbearer is called to come along side their assigned leader in life, ministry and especially in their fight of faith. The idea is that the armorbearer is called to attend to, minister to, care for, help, be of use, assist, benefit, promote, support, make easy for, nourish, and encourage their leader.

Even if you don’t feel you have been assigned a particular leader to do this with, you still carry the call of armorbearing. That means you possess the mindset and attitude of an armorbearer. That attitude is always servanthood. As an armorbearer, you will seek to do whatever it takes to serve and support your leadership.

What does it take to do this? Well, the qualities at the top of the list are servanthood, commitment, attentiveness, support, help, loyalty and faithfulness. Armorbearing in the attitude of service is not just the performing of humble tasks, but is an effort to serve Christ in the Kingdom of God.

There are many examples to look to for this. In the Old Testament, David stands out. His mighty men; Elisha and Joshua. These men exemplified the armorbearing spirit with excellence. In the New Testament, Barnabas can be considered as well as Stephen and Phillip who were among the seven appointed to wait tables for the early church. Their willingness to serve allowed the Apostles to give a greater focus to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Nothing has changed. We still need armorbearers today to lift the arms of our Church leadership. Again, we are called to the “ministry of helps” as we serve in the Kingdom of God. When we decide, with a watchful eye, to serve our leaders, we bring a fresh wind to the ministry which refreshes those we’re called to serve.