Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Coach Believes the Best in You

Marvin Sapp released a great song "The Best In Me" a few years ago.  The lyrics are simple but the message is strong...

He saw the best in me
When everyone else around
Could only see the worst in me

A COACH believes the best in you...a critic always assumes the worst.  Friend, why would you ever listen to a person that believes the worst about you?
There are four types of leaders we need in our lives...

  1. Rock Leaders
  2. Gravel Leaders
  3. Sand Leaders
  4. Water Leaders
Each of these leaders have a distinct voice at distinct seasons in our life...
  1. Rock Leaders can be abrasive in their communication with you and how they deal with a situation in your life or character. 
  2. Gravel Leaders can rub you the wrong way in what they say but they also have walked where you are walking and can identify with where you're at.
  3. Sand Leaders will filter you with their compassion, listening skills and understanding.
  4. Water Leaders will refresh you when you're dry and thirsty.
Whenever I've been corrected or instructed by a COACH, I know they aren't approaching me  in cruelty but in courtesy.  They VIEW me through the lens of "God's Got a Great PLAN for You!"

However, a critic can almost be compared to a vulture...circling overhead just waiting on you to fail.  Sometimes, in the ministry, a vulture can swoop in looking for a piece of a sermon or a blog that they can rip out of context.  A critic doesn't care anything about the person they are criticizing...they just want to rip you apart with assumptions.

A COACH knows what you're capable of and will push you to a STANDARD even when it's uncomfortable. What profit is it to us if we are allowed to UNDER PERFORM?  A COACH will help us address the areas that we need to improve in but they will do it in such a way that we still feel loved afterward.

Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him.  

COACH LANDRY sent in every play.  He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!).  

Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a "genius mind" when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.  Roger later said, "I faced up to the issue of obedience.  Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment and victory."

God says, "I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).  He's made each of us as His "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which god prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).  He will "equip you with everything good for doing His will" (Hebrews 13:21).

God has had His eye on you since before there was a world.  He put you here to make a difference only you can make - because He never made another one like you.  but so many people miss what they were born to be because they want to stay where it's safe.  And yet, Jesus is there, calling you to aim higher than what you've been settling for.  He wants you to go for the GOLD, not to settle for what's easy but empty.

More and more, my COACHES have stirred me to move out of where it was comfortable to follow HIM in a risky obedience.  Actually, there's no such thing as a risky obedience, only a risky disobedience.  When I've responded and gone with Him where I've never gone before, He has never left me out to dry!

COACH JESUS is calling you to do something big for Him!  He has put COACHES in your life who BELIEVE the BEST in you!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Coach Will Walk With You

We all need someone speaking into our lives...but we can't be obsessed with everybody who has something to say about our lives.
Teddy Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.  Whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause.  Who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement, and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

Anyone who leads will have their share of critics.  Criticism isn't all bad.  In fact, God can use your critic to catapult you.

Not everyone will agree with you.  That's OK.  Even your friends will probably disagree with you from time to time.  Again, that' OK.  "The wounds from a
FRIEND can be trusted..." (Proverbs 27:6)

Jesus never allowed His critics to direct the course of His ministry.  Jesus surrounded Himself with a great team.  His example tells us that doing ministry
ALONE is not only foolish...it's arrogant.  God has placed people in our lives for the purpose of ENCOURAGING and CORRECTING us.

Who should we listen to?  Honestly, there's hardly ever a time when you should listen to a critic...but we should
ALWAYS listen to a coach.

Critics hardly KNOW you...but a coach has WALKED with you.

When we allow the voices of those who barely know us to influence us...then we are headed down the path of distraction.

This past year, as I watched our
UPWARD Football games, I was particularly impressed by the coaching style of Payton Williams.  He took time to teach his players how to play the game better.  He spoke with them on a level they could understand.  His care for their welfare built a TRUST in their reception to his voice.

Leader...as you lead...remember that anyone who walks out in front will get kicked in the hind-end! 

Whatever you do...
DO NOT give your valuable time and energy to the person in the stands who is chowing down on cotton candy and a frozen coke and does nothing but yell their opinion the entire time.  Give your time to a TRUSTED COACH who sees you as a human being and is interested in your success.

Paul said,
"Although you have 10,000 instructors YET you have not many fathers." (1 Corinthians 4:15)  There are a lot of people speaking...some criticism, some celebration...but I'd say the thing that a COACH has that a CRITIC does not is my RESPECT.
It's a process...
  1. Explaining - When we first came to BFWC I felt that I had to explain what God had called me to do and the purpose behind each decision we were making.  I hoped that I could get people to understand the WHY and the WAY.  However, I soon learned that most critics don't want an explanation...they want an argument.  They want the chance to shame you, to speak down to you, to tell you how right they are...and how much you stink.  I learned the hard way that trying to explain everything to everybody is fruitless and pointless.

    Don't waste your time trying to explain yourself to anyone who doesn't have the courtesy or the courage to look you in the eye and conduct themselves Biblically.
  2. Bickering - Avoid arguing.  If you spend all your energy trying to put out the fires of negativity against your church, your ministry, your integrity, etc., all you'll end up with a "he said, she said" situation.  Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:23 to not have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments.  Move on.
  3. Irritating - Allowing the Holy Spirit to develop Galatians 5:22-23 in your life is a process.  Without the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT in us, we'd end up doing some stupid things out of anger.  When you let anger get the best of you...it will control you.  You'll spend all your time trying to answer your critics rather than really listening to the Lord...which can end up causing you emotional and spiritual damage.

    Remember when Paul told the church in Ephesus to NOT let the devil get a foothold? (Ephesians 4:27)  He was trying to help us steer clear from these offenses.

    Friend, don't allow the enemy to control you through your critics.  You are called to be on the OFFENSE in the Kingdom of God...NOT the DEFENSE!
  4. Ignoring - Rid yourself from junk. Delete, remove, ignore and cut it out of your life.  Some people actually think that Facebook and Twiiter are the REAL WORLD and a REAL FAMILY.  They spend their lives distracted in the over indulgence of cyberspace.  When you're working for God, you don't have time to read negativity let alone post it.  Ask yourself this..."would Billy Graham do that?"  If not, then neither should we.

    The best way to put out the fires of hatefulness is to pour water...NOT gasoline.  I love what Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 6:1-4 when his critics tried to get him to take his eyes off of the work, "I am doing a great work...and I cannot come down."  Friend...STAY ON THE WALL...there are so many people that need you to stay focused!
  5. Loving - Jesus wept over Jerusalem...but He also turned over the tables in the temple.  There is a time to respond in boldness but there is also a time to respond with love and compassion.  I prefer the latter.

    Remember when the prodigal son came home and the older brother didn't come in the house to meet him?  The father goes outside and pleads with the older brother to come in.  It seems that the older brother (the critic) was just as lost as the younger one.

    Loving people with compassion doesn't mean you have to explain everything to them...or even exchange words with them...but simply praying for them and asking God to allow them to come into the house and celebrate what God is doing - even if they don't understand the process.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Generational Leadership (Part 2)

When you look through the lens of Father/Son ministry you see a wide angled view of Kingdom order.  

Understanding this Biblical pattern provides revelation for anyone seeking
IDENTITY, INHERITANCE and COMPLETION of God's purpose for their life.

There are some things only a father can give to a son.
 When we follow the order of Father/Son we prepare ourselves to receive the fullness of a fatherly blessing.
Five things a Son 
will need from a Father

#1 D.N.A.

  • Knowing who your father is defines your own identity. Our identity is more than our talents, giftings and associations.  Our DNA is revealed when we have an understanding of the things that God has placed IN us that make us unique through the relational order of fatherhood and sonship.
  • When we are validated and affirmed by a father we won't feel it necessary to prove who we are through our works. 
#2 Design
  • God designed each of us for a purpose.  We need a father to help point us towards our purpose.  Over the years, I've heard people say that their purpose is SOULS.  And that sounds very honorable.  However, SOULS isn't so much our purpose as it is the direct result of a proper order.  Without a father in ministry we will never complete our full purpose.
#3 Direction
  • Fathers provide direction with the ability of connecting the dots.  When God births a vision or a dream in your spirit, that vision allows you to see future ministry that lies ahead.  Seeing it also provides definition and understanding to what you're supposed to do.  A father will recognize the components of your vision - short term & long term - and point you in the right direction.
#4 Double Portion
  • In ministry there is an inheritance that can only come through father/son relationship.  Part of this inheritance involves a double portion that comes as a result of this relationship.
  • Sons stand on the shoulders of their fathers. 
#5 Declaration
  • A blessing is the act of declaring God's favor or excellence upon others.  As a Christian, we are richly blessed!  The blessing from fathers to sons is a blessing in ministry.  A blessing is not just spoken words for divine approval but the power of those words to bring it to pass.
  • A blessing is like an inheritance and is, in many ways, even more important.  Inheritance is the bestowing of that which is prepared and comes down to the son from the past preparation of the father.  Blessing is that which speaks to our FUTURE.
  • The Bible tells us that the head of each family, prior to their death, would often make a blessing upon the next generation. 
Without being sons in right order we will walk in ministry never being empowered by our father's blessing.  

In Apostle Paul's day, 2000 years ago, the Corinthian church was out of order.  They were seeking their identity from their favorite gifts and ministries.  The answer THEN and NOW is  for the church to come into father/son order.  Without it, the church will have disorder and a lack of identity.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keep Your Windows Clean

No matter how much good there is, we can always find something bad if we look for it.  We either look at life from a positive perspective or from a negative perspective.  We can find fault, weakness and things we don't understand or like...it's our human nature.

Our eyes have to be developed to see good.  On the other hand, we can develop a critical eye and always see the bad.

Perhaps this is why so many marriages and relationships are in trouble today.  If you and your spouse are in the habit of being negative towards one another...then you'll only see the negative in each other.

Training ourselves to see the good takes work.  When we do...we end up seeing our spouse's strengths instead of their weaknesses.  We can easily focus on what we like about our spouse and magnify their good qualities rather than focus on the things that annoy us.

DECIDE today to start APPRECIATING your spouse's STRENGTHS!

A critical spirit will birth a critical mind.  When that happens, no matter what your spouse, friends or family do...it's not going to be right.  A critical mind will force you to forget all the reasons you fell in love with your spouse in the first place.

Sure, we all have faults and do things that get on one another's nerves.  But the issue is...what are you magnifying?  Are you choosing to magnify that annoyance or are you choosing to see the good and focusing only on the good?

A negative spirit toward your spouse will poison your outlook.  It will affect your communication, time together and every area of your relationship.

Think about it...when we're critical, we begin to nag and exaggerate about things that are really no big deal at all...

  • "You squeeze the toothpaste from the middle instead of the bottom..."
  • "You never take the trash out..."
  • "You never spend time with me..."
  • "You're always making me late..."
  • "You didn't iron my shirt right..."
  • etc...

If we could turn that critical spirit over and start responding with PRAISE instead...imagine what would happen...
  • "Honey, when you mow the yard, you look so handsome and attractive..."
  • "Sweetheart, when you pump my gas, it makes my heart do flip flops..."

If you praise your husband like that, he'll want to mow the yard every day and keep your car filled  with so much gasoline that he'll max out his Speedway Rewards Points!

People respond to PRAISE
more than

When we're constantly critical, we have to realize the problem is not with our spouse.  It's not even with our circumstances.  The problem is with us.

There's an old saying, "How dirty our neighbor's laundry is depends greatly on how clean our own window is."

The Bible tells us that "To the pure all things are pure."  If you can't ever see anything right as you drive down the freeway, but only see the traffic and construction and potholes and never see the beauty, or you only see the scratch in the floor and never the amazing house; if you never see what your spouse does right and only what they do wrong, then my encouragement to you is to CLEAN YOUR WINDOW.  The problem is not with your spouse.  It's an INTERNAL ISSUE.

I believe all of us struggle in this area to some degree.  Perhaps today we should make a list of all the qualities that we like about our spouse.  Write down the things that they do right.  He may not be a communicator, but he's a hard worker.  Put that on your list.  She may have some weaknesses, but she's a great mother.  She's smart.  She's intelligent.  Write that down.  Look at that list in the morning before you go off to work.  Start focusing on each other's STRENGTHS.

Ultimately, it's up to us.  We have to decide to start appreciating our spouse's strengths and learn to downplay their weaknesses.  If we do...we'll find greater fulfillment in our marriage (and relationships in general) and we will be filled with more PEACE, UNITY, and LOVE and we'll see the blessing of God in greater ways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

At All Costs...Stay Connected

Every relationship we have is precious and a treasure from God.  The way we handle those relationships is a reflection of our heart.  I believe we should look for ways to build bridges into one another's life.  

Honestly, we can all do better than what we're doing right now in moving our relationships higher to the next level in our love for one another.

LOVE - what a word.  Love has to be learned and learned again.  There is no end to love.  The thing about love is that it should be growing.

Relationships evolve over time, people change over time, and our love should strengthen and grow over time too.

Paul said that our love should grow and abound in knowledge and depth. (Philippians 1:9)  With that being said, we cannot afford to let love run on AUTO PILOT.  Our family and friends won't just assume we love them if we don't tell them and express that love in tangible ways.

It's so important to make every effort to keep strong connections in our relationships.  As a result of my upbringing...I find myself saying "I LOVE YOU" to just about everyone I have a conversation with.  There's hardly a phone call I have that I don't end the conversation saying "I LOVE YOU."  Although they may seem to be just words...I mean them every time I say them.

When Beverly and I began serving at BFWC our lives became fuller and more complicated.  Sometimes, our schedules have us moving like ships in the night.  It has taken effort to stay connected...and we still don't get it 100% like we desire.  Taking work home is easy to do...so you have to make a choice not to come home with your mind preoccupied  with all the tasks at hand.

It's not important how we connect, but it is important that we do connect.  One of my favorite times with my family is when we all convene at a restaurant together.  We may all come from different locations, having full schedules,  but getting together keeps our connection strong and helps keep our hearts moving in the same direction.

There are times when I travel that Beverly will put a card or a love note in my suitcase.  It takes time and effort for her to do this...but it sure does make my day and it reminds me that I'm loved and valuable to her.

Sometimes when someone hurts or offends us, we can be tempted to disconnect.  But one of the most common mistakes people make in relationships is to give the other person the silent treatment in an effort to pull back.


If you haven't yet...you will be tempted to disconnect with someone.  Beverly and I have been married for twenty-one years and if there's one thing we've learned it's to NOT disconnect even when we disagree.

The Scriptures teach us "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath."  It's not good to go to bed angry with one another.  If you do, you'll wake up angry and frustrated.

Learning to agree to disagree will help you rest in your relationship even when you don't have a resolution to the disagreement by the time you go to bed.

We are all different from one another.  Recognizing that we're all different frees us to experience agape love with each other and REMAIN CONNECTED.  Just because you have a disagreement with your friends or family members does not mean there are not plenty of other areas on which you see eye to eye.  it just means you have a difference of opinion.

When we carry the same heart and the same goal we will remain connected.  In your marriage, home and even relationships you will have disagreements...but we should always BELIEVE in one another, SUPPORT one another and MOVE FORWARD through life together...CONNECTED.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Generational Leadership (Part 1)

A face-to-face meeting with God trumps any other meeting you'll ever have.  I wonder what Moses was thinking as he was hearing God speak?  

God was giving Moses specific instructions on how to lead His people through a difficult time.  

  • Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.  And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Distinct hearing is required in Difficult times.

If Moses had listened to the negative voices of the people they would have drowned out the positive voice of God.

  • People will always have an opinion.  
  • Opinions, ideas, strategies, etc; can be good but when God speaks in your ear...you'll know it...above the voices of others.
Expect Confirmation.

When God speaks to you, He will surround you with CONFIRMATION.  He will place fathers and elders in your life who will confirm what God has already spoken to you.
  • After confirmation, you'll enter into PREPARATION.  
  • Just because you've heard a "word from the Lord" today doesn't mean you run out and do it tomorrow.
  • The TIMING of God and the DIRECTION of God have to come together to form the INTERSECTION of OPPORTUNITY.  This can take months and years.
  • Rest assured, in the middle of your preparation there will also come a season of SANCTIFICATION and ISOLATION.

In my own life I've discovered that when I've been to the mountain and heard from the Lord, I won't be intimidated by what those in the valley are saying or better yet...mumbling under their breath.
  • However, I must leave my heart open with a TEACHABLE SPIRIT for my fathers to confirm, correct and coincide a unified direction for my life.
  • Paul tells us that although we've had 10,000 instructors...YET...we have not many fathers. (1 Corinthians 4:15)
  • In essence, the fathers that God has given you are there for a purpose.  
  • If you bypass them, you directly bypass delegated authority over your life.  On this side of the cross, God has instituted the blueprint of delegated authority as a pattern to follow.
  • Again, Paul writes about this in Hebrews 13:7 as he deals with the submissive heart every leader and leader in training must continually possess.
Avoid getting ahead of God.
  • God has given you what it takes to accomplish what He sent you to do.
  • Moses PRACTICED his ministry on the backside of the dessert.
  • Sometimes God puts you in a small setting so you can practice your gift.
  • A place to practice in ISOLATION before He exposes you to the whole world.
  • Moses had to have his desert experience...it was there he was practicing.

The Change Begins In Me.
  • Change takes time.  However, change can come faster when we allow God to SHIFT our INSIDES.
  • When God begins to change us on the inside, we will visibly see an outward manifestation of growth as well.  It will even show up in our temperament and the choices we make.
  • As our leadership grows, positive change will occur in multiple dimensions of our life.

When our
CHARACTER catches up
to our
CALLING...then we can expect greater CLARIFICATION
 for the next step.

  • However, if our character doesn't change or grow...then it doesn't matter how many prophesies are spoken over us, how many prayer lines we've stood in, how many moves we make, new environments we create or how many dreams we may have...we will delay the process.
  • God is more concerned about our character than He is our position, title or placement.
  • He knows what we can handle.
  • He knows the timing of our ministry.
  • He has charted our course and is fully aware of the bends in the road ahead of us.

Fruitfulness is an outflow of faithfulness.  
  • However, you can be faithful to something without bearing any fruit.  Jesus addressed this in the parables.
  • This can happen when we're distracted from our purpose.  
  • Remember...everything you're doing right now is preparing you for your destiny.  The good news is that your destiny is not some far off place...you're already walking in it.  Realizing this will help you focus on the HERE and NOW...not the THERE and LATER.
  • Another way to view your present assignment is...IF I CAN'T DO IT HERE...HOW DO I EXPECT TO DO IT THERE?

Promotion isn't based on fruitless entitlement
...it's based on fruitful endurance.

  • The key to fulfilling GENERATIONAL LEADERSHIP is allowing God to have the reigns of your life...NOW.

Leaders don't whimper, cry, play the victim or place blame....leaders make internal changes so that external growth can be measured...with the hope of making a GENERATIONAL IMPACT in this lifetime.

Monday, July 16, 2012

If We Are Stewards...How Should We "Stew?"

How do you lead a church?  How do you handle the responsibility?  

The reality is that leading a church is no different than leading a business, a community, a non-profit or even a family.  All of these require a leader and all leadership comes with PRESSURE and RESPONSIBILITY.

Who's calling the shots?  Well, at the end of the day, the leader has to be the one to put his/her neck on the line.  At the end of the day, the leader is responsible.  

However, the way I see leadership responsibility is that I'm merely a steward...not an owner. God owns the church.  It belongs to Him.  I'm merely a steward...someone who is watching over something for someone else.  That someone just happens to be Jesus. 

I'm called to take care of what belongs to Him.  When I began to understand that the church belonged to Him and I was merely a steward...it changed the way I saw my role.

Stewardship is a powerful Kingdom concept!  Just think about it...God entrusts us with His church!  He trusts us to lead it as He would.  He believes in us enough to give us this opportunity.  WOW...God is amazing.

When you think about the term STEWARDSHIP...it covers a broad scope.  We may be given leadership oversight in various areas, including time management, educational development, leading a team, managing money, and more.

If we are stewards...how should we "stew?"

1. Don't hold on too tight.  If we have too firm of a hold on what He's entrusted us with, we'll forget who actually owns it.

2. Remember your place.  God owns the church and it's people.  Remembering that not only frees you...it's also very important.

3. Give credit where credit is due.  At the end of the day, God gets the glory...not you.

4. Focus on other people.  Look for ways to help other people succeed in their dreams.

5. Lead wherever, whenever and however.  It's not my job to build a "movement" it's my job to lead one if God sees fit.

6. Have a right appraisal.  I'm not the reason for the mission and the vision of the church or for any group I'm leading.  The people I serve are.

7. Realize that you're replaceable.  I'm not the first and I definitely won't be the last.  Someone was doing this before I arrived and someone will be doing it after me.  I have to have a good understanding of my role in the generational impact chain.

8. Be an includer, not an excluder.  Just think of the fun it is for the entire team to win...versus just one person winning.  A steward realizes that there must be partnership and collaboration in order to achieve success.  One way to see if your church is speaking an "inclusive" language is to gauge it by what I call "The Family Language."  Everyone at our church should be saying "OUR" not "YOUR."  The word "WE" has to replace the word "I."

Stewards are entrusted with great responsibility.  Imagine carrying an egg in your hand all week.  Knowing how fragile the egg is, you would use great caution in how you carried it.  The same goes with ministry.  We must exercise extreme caution in how we carry it...to avoid cracks and fractures.

Jesus has entrusted us with the ministry and has seen fit to place us in it.  As you serve in your perspective area...remember who actually owns the position you serve in.  Respect it.  Treat it with honor and remember it's a great privilege to serve in any position in the Kingdom.

More to say on this...

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Blessing of Brokenness (Part 3)

A servant leader practices hospitality.  Hospitality makes room and creates space for the people whom we lead.

Hospitality is a core attitude toward those whom we are leading.  We must learn to relate to others as if we were relating to Christ Himself.

Henri J. M. Nouwen said, "When we see the other person and discover in that person gentleness, kindness, and other beautiful gifts which he or she is not able to see, then our compassionate heart is revealed."

When we serve others...we are serving Christ.  

The gift of spiritual hospitality is learning how to serve others even when you're broken.  To me, it's a LOVE GIFT to Jesus.  Sometimes we find ourselves complaining about the interruptions we encounter when in fact the interruptions may be the opportunity God is giving us to develop spiritual hospitality.

When we open ourselves to being used of God even in our brokenness then God is using our hospitality as a gift from Him to others.

Our brokenness, sufferings, and wounds can serve as a blessing to us if:

  1. We embrace brokenness.
  2. We practice hospitality.

Another aspect of a servant leader is gratitude.  

Gratitude is grounded in a focus on God's mercy and grace - not on people and problems.

Remember the song...

"Give thanks with a grateful heart; Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, "I am strong,"
Let the poor say, "I am rich,"
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks."

There are three imperatives of Gratitude from 1 Thessalonians 5;18
  1. Attentive - "give thanks"
  2. Inclusive - "In all circumstances"
  3. God-Centered - "for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"
JOY and BLESSING comes to a "wounded leader" who:
  1. Embraces brokenness
  2. Practices hospitality
  3. Express gratitude
The blessing of brokenness comes when we learn the VALUE of the joy and the pain of leadership.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Blessing of Brokenness (Part 2)

When you can look at your own wounds but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others...then you know God is using your brokenness for better use.

Every leader will experience JOY and PAIN.  It's inevitable.  We would much rather have the joy...but honestly, it's the lessons learned from the pain that actually propel us into our future.

Reality of the Moment > PAIN < Vision of the Future

Remember when Apostle Paul was sailing to Rome and his ship was being tossed by the storm called "Euroclydon?"  He tells all 276 members of the crew...
  • Acts 27:25 "So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me."
God had given Paul a VISION of the good that would come out of the bad.

When God gives us a vision for the future...
  1. Delays may occur.
  2. Suffering and hardships may result.
  3. Doubts may arise and tempt us.
  4. Results may differ from what we expected.
#1 A Servant Leader is a leader that embraces BROKENNESS.

Contributors to a broken spirit...
  1. Circumstances overwhelm us.
  2. Suffering overtakes us.
  3. Words and deeds that harm us.
  4. Friends use and abuse us.
  5. Family members misunderstand us.
God doesn't reject a broken spirit...

Psalms 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

  • Brokenness purifies our ambitions.
  • Brokenness allows us to see our own blind spots.
  • The breaking process produces a leader that can be trusted.
  • I've yet to see a leader God has used tremendously who has not been broken.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

In 1988 Steven Curtis Chapman released the song "His Strength Is Perfect" on the album "Real Life Conversations."  The chorus simply says...
  • "His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.  He'll carry us when we can't carry on.  Raised in His power, the weak become strong.  His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect."

2 Questions we must ask...
  1. Is my brokenness GROWTH PRODUCING?
  2. Is my brokenness GROWTH INHIBITING?

The Fruits of Brokenness are...
  1. Humility
  2. Authenticity
  3. Integrity
  4. Sensitivity

Paul said in Ephesians 4:1-2 "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Seven ways to spot a Humble Spirit
  1. Humility does not demand its own way.
  2. Humility does not seek attention or credit.
  3. Humility forgives when offended, but is hard to offend.
  4. Humility does not criticize others.
  5. Humility produces a teachable spirit.
  6. Humility exudes an attitude of service (service is doing mundane things that help others)
  7. Humility produces a gracious spirit.
How do we RESPOND to PAINFUL CONFLICT situations?
  1. By FOCUSING on our relations with Christ.
  2. By YIELDING responsibility of the "led."
  3. By LEADING pastorally out of the pain and brokenness.
  4. By EXPECTING trials, temptations, verbal abuse, and, at times, rejection.
  5. By RELATING to those in the body of Christ as brothers and sisters in Christ. (even though evidence may not support their testimony.)
We lead as "WOUNDED LEADERS" with a broken heart by EMBRACING BROKENNESS.
  1. God uses brokenness to draw us closer to Himself.
  2. Our brokenness can develop Christ-like character qualities in us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Blessing of Brokenness (Part 1)

If your heart is broken, know that God can use the broken pieces to feed a multitude.

Remember the little boy that brought his lunch and gave it to Jesus? (John 6:1-15)  What if he had kept his bread for himself?  He would have filled his belly and been satisfied.  Instead, he gave it to Jesus to do with it what He pleased.

He allowed Jesus to use his offering, in spite of how he felt, to minister to others.  In essence,  even at his young age, this young man was thinking of the BIG PICTURE.

In the same way, God can use our lives.  He will take what we give Him, even our sadness, our heartache, and our fears and losses, and transform them to help many.  How He does it, I will never know, but I have seen it, and I believe it's true.

Sometimes in our trials we are able to tell of God's love and faithfulness in ways and with a depth that we would not otherwise have.  We can be the HANDS and FEET and WORDS that are a testimony of His power and His grace.

I know that in my own life, I have needed to see God lived out in the lives of others to help me with my hurt, and the testimony of one who has walked through suffering and trusted God is a powerful one, indeed.

These are the people who can speak to our hearts because they have been there and have a testimony to share afterward.  They are authentic and open.  They have allowed God to use their brokenness to provide healing to others.

God is sovereign.  You may be looking at the rubble of your own brokenness today and wondering "what can be salvaged from this?" Remember Who is in control.

  • Psalms 147:2-5 says "The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.  he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit."

Perhaps God is asking you to present your brokenness to Him today.  What is broken in your life that He will use to feed the multitude?  You just never know.  Trust Him to work His miraculous power in your life, just as He did with what the little lad was willing to place in His hands.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Forerunner Generation (Part 4)

Spiritual fathers have a burden to IMPART before they DEPART.  The relationship between a father and son goes beyond just submitting to counsel and correction or simply receiving encouragement and strength from a father.  Sons honor their father.  But honor goes beyond gifts or even submission to include a MEASURE OF DEPENDENCE.

Fathers have an urgency to make a deposit
in their sons' lives so they win the battle.

Just as we honor God by asking him to help us with every day challenges, spiritual sons honor their spiritual fathers by asking them for insight. We see this played out in 2 Kings 6 when the sons of the prophets came to Elisha looking for his blessing to go build their own place, but they wanted their spiritual father to go with them in case they needed him.  Indeed, when the young prophets lost their axe head in the river they turned to Elisha for some insight.  Elisha was able to help the young prophets retrieve what was lost.

In the development of the father/son relationship, a father will encourage a son to find their passion, creativity, and their sense of destiny and purpose.  A father will offer wisdom and encouragement to keep them moving forward because they are full of vision and anointing.  Father's simply provide a COMPASS.

Simply put...fathers lay FOUNDATIONS.  Fathers don't lord a title or office over their son, they GET UNDER them to push them to a higher dimension.  How do you ultimately honor your father?  You honor them by being a success!  Your success is their honor!  The greatest thing a son can do is to take what has been imparted to them and use it to EXPAND the KINGDOM.

The father/son model is an apostolic multi-generational movement.  In order for this Kingdom model to work, spiritual fathers must be willing to PROPEL their spiritual sons to greater heights!

One of two things will happen...

  1. We will either be like Elizabeth rejoicing over the birthing of a forerunner generation or...
  2. We will be like Rachael weeping over the loss of a whole generation.
If we're going to reach a FATHERLESS GENERATION, the church must carry a RELATIONAL CHRIST and represent the Father!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Forerunner Generation (Part 3)

We can talk about spiritual fathers forever but unless there are willing spiritual sons there cannot be a RECIPROCATION.  In my last blog "The Forerunner Generation (Part 2)" I spoke of the characteristics and duties of a Spiritual Father.  

Now lets focus a little bit on spiritual sons.  Spiritual sons should respect and honor their spiritual fathers by serving the father's vision and taking his advice concerning them.

The term spiritual father shouldn't be used or taken lightly.  If we claim someone as a spiritual father then we are attentive to their needs.  For example, how can I claim someone as a spiritual father but I'm too busy to pick them up at the airport?  In essence, the relationship of father and son carries a with it the function of serving or receiving the spiritual insight and authority the father has to offer.

Today we live in an a culture of independence rather than interdependence.  An independent spirit often causes would-be sons to resist sonship, most notably the correction that comes with the relationship.  However, fathers who refuse to correct their sons will lose their sons as Eli lost his (1 Samuel 2:34; 4:11).  And the Bible clearly states that those who will not receive correction will become bastards. (Hebrews 12:8).

Sonship isn't visible by how someone receives encouragement;
it's visible by how a son receives

A true son doesn't make his father adjust the way he leads; a true son adjusts the way he follows.  While ultimate accountability is surely before the Lord, spiritual sonship goes beyond accountability to a willingness to submit yourself to a father who can speak to the blind spots in your life so you can grow.

Perhaps another reason some resist spiritual fathers is because they don't want to have to get permission from anybody to do what they want to do.  It's not about permission-giving.  It's about maturity.  It's about wisdom.  You can enforce compliance, but submission can never be forced.  Submission is an attitude of the heart.  There are a lot of people out there who are keeping the rules but who are not submitting.  They may call you a father until there is something they don't agree with.

Perhaps another reason some resist a father / son relationship is because they have seen too many "rent-a-fathers."  We see this a lot on TV... "Send me your tithes and I will be your father."  That tactic is not RELATIONAL and does not fit God's pattern for fathers - spiritual or natural.  When a child is born, the father doesn't tell him, "pay me and I'll take care of you."  There is nothing wrong with honoring spiritual fathers with gifts, but HONOR is far more than sending a check.

A true father will CUT AWAY THE FLESH - and that's exactly what circumcision is!  When a father takes his knife to shape the character of a son, it's not to harm him.  It's to RELEASE a greater flow of life.  That's the reason we must tell our sons and daughters "If your spiritual father doesn't have a knife, go and buy them one!"  A father will carry a knife and will deal with the areas of their sons life that are cutting off their productivity.

Discipline isn't something you do to your children, it's something you do for them.

More to come...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Forerunner Generation (Part 2)

Spiritual fatherhood is nothing new to those familiar with the apostolic.  Although the concept may be unfamiliar to some in the body of Christ, fathers have been raising up sons for quite some time.

Dr. Lester Sumrall raised up strong spiritual sons.  Although he passed away in 1996, his ministry lives on, in part, through what he imparted to men like Rod Parsley and Billy Joe Daugherty (now deceased).  Dr. Sumrall, known as a "pastor of pastors" was a spiritual son to Evangelist Howard Carter and received a blessing from Smith Wigglesworth.  In the spirit of Elijah (Malachi 4:5), Dr. Sumrall shared his mantle with the Elisha's in his life.  

When a spiritual father passes on his mantle to his sons they can expect to be...

  • Protected
  • Guided
  • Instructed
  • Corrected
  • Exhorted
  • Encouraged
  • Inspired
  • Increased

The relational dynamic that takes place is very similar to the Elijah / Elisha relationship.  Perhaps if Elisha could describe the relationship today, he might say that Elijah was not only his spiritual mentor and pastor, but also he was his best friend.

Again, the characteristics of a spiritual father include: protection, guidance, instruction, correction, exhortation, encouragement and inspiration. 

  • A spiritual father is always willing to give his life for his sons.  
  • A spiritual father will always anchor his sons to his character and purpose.
  • A spiritual father will always see gifts in his son that other people don't see - and inspire him to put those gifts to work.
In these last days, I believe we're moving into a season where the emphasis of the Kingdom is not in DOING but in BEING.  Sons aren't looking for fathers who are "over the top charismatic" with "bigger than life personalities" - sons simply need fathers who are CONSISTENT in CHARACTER in every day life.  

We will never cease to need fathers in our lives.  I'm reminded of the story of the prodigal son.  He demanded his inheritance and left home to begin his adventure.  Did the father cease to be a father just because the son left home?  No.  The father remained a father.  He never ceased to function in his role.

Regardless of how many accomplishments a son has he will always need a father.  None of us cease to need a father in our lives.  
  • Fathers were there when we had nothing.
  • Fathers understand the assignment on our life.
  • Fathers help forge Godly character in our life.
  • Fathers use their influence to promote us.
  • Fathers keep us grounded to purpose.
  • Fathers check our relationship for rightness.
  • Fathers cover our mistakes and protect us even from ourselves.
I believe that's the heart of a true father.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Forerunner Generation (Part 1)

When you read the last chapter of Malachi it contains a mandate to restore the heart of the fathers to the sons and the sons to the fathers. (Malachi 4:6) 

In essence, God would send the spirit of Elijah 400 years later in the person of John the Baptist to lay the ground work for a Father/Son Model.  (Also known as double portion anointing and/or apostolic reformation.)  John the Baptist is referred to as a "FORERUNNER."

When we talk about the spirit of Elijah, the mouthpiece of the Old Testament, we get a reminder of his accurate prophetic words and his miraculous moments.  But I would say that his spiritual fatherhood is perhaps the most needed in the Body of Christ today.

What we see happening, as we're truly awakening to a KINGDOM MINDSET in the church, is a rising up of prophetic believers who are passionate for truth and who desire more than institutional orphanage amidst a house full of capable fathers.

Sons must have fathers who have an unwavering voice of truth in the face of opposition, yet with a wisdom and grace that guides even the most misguided.  Sadly, we've been inundated with the voices of super spiritual fruits, emotional flakes and hypocritical nuts.  (Granola Group)

I'm persuaded that there will be no manifestation of sons until there's a meaningful impartation from fathers.  Spiritual fathers who will invest time and energy into their spiritual children.

Elijah had a responsibility to not only invest in Elisha through the miraculous but to also shape his son's life and ministry for a double portion impartation.

Where are the Spiritual Fathers?

We mourn the death of spiritual fathers today.  Who is picking up their mantle?  Are we suffering from a parental drought which in turn is hindering the purposes of God in this apostolic revolution?

Without a father, who has a heart to train and disciple the gifting's of their sons, emerging apostles will not be trained and released like they should.

Allow me to speculate.  Perhaps the reason we have a slow growth in the developing of fathers is because our forefathers had no fathering model to relate to.  With the scarcity of a model to go by, subsequently knowing how to father others is a step into the unknown...and as we've become accustomed...what we don't understand...we avoid.

That is why we MUST have spiritual fathers and mothers and spiritual sons and daughters who are willing to learn and grow into their respective roles together for the sake of future generations.

In my own spiritual house and in many places where I travel, I encounter young men and women who have a deep craving for spiritual fathers.

Even if we don't know how to be fathers ourselves, the emerging generation doesn't expect fathers to be "all knowing."  They just want fathers who are willing to TRY and who will identify with them and offer a sense of connectedness. 

More to come...