When I resisted handing the reigns to others, I risked worshipping the ministry rather than the Master.
There is no job security in the Kingdom. Jesus promised we'd have both trouble and blessings. He said that we could ask and receive. He told us not to be fearful or anxious. In fact, Jesus had a great many things to say to his followers—but not once did he guarantee tenure to those who were doing Kingdom work.
If we truly want our efforts to have a spiritual impact, the where, when, and how of that work must be left entirely up to God. Yet all too often, extended service in volunteer leadership can result in spiritual value being derived from works rather than Christ.April 14, 2014
When I kept my mouth shut, the Holy Spirit led my team to a new depth of unity
Christians are not distinguished from others by our faith. Faith can be found throughout a variety of religious sects. Rather, God intended for us to stand out to this struggling world by our love.
The deep and powerful commandment of the Lord to "love one another" has often been interpreted in one of two ways: either it's the "love is patient, love is kind" crowd who believe that we must be soft toward each other regardless of circumstance or the "missions and martyrs" contingent who believe that Jesus' love is best displayed through vaulting into perilous conditions with a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.April 10, 2014
For my group of women leaders, the real challenge was not getting to a place of vulnerability; it was going beyond
Vulnerability. Transparency. Authenticity. Words so trail-blazing a scant decade ago are now on the verge of becoming little more than the latest ingredients in a cookie-cutter formula for producing modern-day Christian leaders.
Why would I make such an audacious claim? Because these terms are so ingrained in the day-to-day language of current church development that we're losing sight of the fact that how these God-honoring truths are applied is far more important than merely applying them.
Getting raw and real isn't a one-size-fits-all leadership track where we encourage everyone to admit they're flawed, pat each other on the back for being honest, and sing contemporary worship songs to drive home the point that we're different from previous generations.April 7, 2014
He renames and remakes sinners—and we can join him
Recently, I was a guest at a beautiful Nashville farm property belonging to a popular Christian recording artist. When the other guests were talking about life on the road as a well-coiffed Southern Gospel musician or a gospel-announcing evangelist or a tattooed Christian rock star, I could only smile and nod, very aware that I was, technically, not counted as one of their own.
At the end of that same week, I was volunteering at a chic local entertainment venue where North Carolina AIDS Awareness was raising money by hosting drag queen bingo. Whether the other guests were talking about the single lesbian bar in Durham, or gay clubs in neighboring Raleigh, or the empowerment that comes from celebrating the feminine through drag, I could only smile and nod, aware that I was, technically, not counted as one of their own.April 3, 2014
I learned I could lead with my strength or be led by the Spirit
It wasn't until I began attending my new church that I realized much of my ministry life has been directed by my own ideas and capabilities and not by total reliance on God. I have always endeavored to "do good" or to "lift a helping hand." While my motivations were inspired by my love for God and people, I often signed up for ministries and assignments based on my desire to help out or because someone asked me. I was a people pleaser, so instead of seeking the will of God for my life, I did what was expected of me. I often allowed my bleeding heart to say yes without counting the cost. What did that lead to? It led to a burned-out lady who was tired, frustrated, undependable, and exhausted.
All of this continued for years until I met Pastor Lyons. At first I was really excited to hear his teaching. I could so resonate with the topics and I was so excited to hear good biblical teaching; that was until the messages started stepping on my toes. We have all had those moments when we've felt that the preacher was just preaching right to us. At my church, the messages feel like I just had surgery; I know I will be better for it in the future, but when I walk out the door I am in pain (and the praise and worship didn't provide enough anesthesia to numb the pain). I feel I have been sliced, diced, and exposed at the same time. One night after Bible study, I walked out feeling overwhelmed. I said to the pastor and to myself, "I quit...it's too much...I can't do this."March 31, 2014
When your faith feels weak ... keep the faith anyway.
I recently heard a sermon about a man who possessed incredible faith: Jairus. And his daughter was about to die.
Just as one would expect from a sermon, Jairus sought out Jesus, found him, secured a few one-on-one moments with him, and asked him for help.
Jesus said yes, followed Jairus home, said a few choice words, and ta-da! Daughter was healed. ACTUALLY daughter was brought back to LIFE.
Just like that.
Some. Faith.March 27, 2014
An interview with Sue Edwards, associate professor of educational ministries and leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary
Tell us about your role at Dallas Theological Seminary.
I've been there full time about 10 years now. That's been a wild and crazy journey, something I never, ever expected. When I got my doctorate, I didn't ever think I would do this.
I teach, but I am a practitioner. I teach how-to courses: how to create ministries that are transformational, how to teach the Bible in Sunday school context, how to use resources that are not just lecture, that engage particularly younger audiences with a variety of methods. I teach "Women Teaching Women," which is a preaching course for women. In other words, how you prepare to teach the Scriptures. Pull truth out of Scripture and connect that with what women need to hear for the word to really transform them. And then I teach courses in adult ministry. It's a variety but all pretty practical.March 24, 2014
Recognize how impatience hurts your leadership
We are an impatient culture. Our hyper-fast technology has wired us to expect everything instantly—even transformation. While it's understandable to demand hyper-speed from our electronic devices, it's utterly unreasonable—and ungracious—when we have those expectations of ourselves or of the people we lead.
Though we all wish that it wasn't the case, profound and lasting change happens slowly. This complicates leadership. In order to lead well consistently, we need to be mature in our faith, "needing nothing" (James 1:4). We need to love well and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. However, all of us—as in all of us—are lacking and need to change. Regardless of how smart we are or how much motivation we have to grow, this change takes exponentially more time than any of us would like to admit.March 20, 2014
Is it really God you’re following?
Walking beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called to four fishermen, "Follow me." Simon and Andrew "left their nets at once and followed him." James and John "followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind." All four responded to Jesus immediately (Matthew 4:18-22).
As they physically walked behind Jesus from place to place, they found that following him means so much more. For example, if their feet followed, but their hearts did not, God didn't count it as "following."
Still the first disciples had a visible, tangible starting place for learning to follow Jesus. Because our Lord doesn't walk the earth today, we may talk about following Jesus without knowing at all how it looks. We may think we're following him when, in fact, we've been fooled by counterfeits.March 17, 2014
Does camaraderie with a male colleague have to be a landmine?
I have great sympathy for the new hires at our church. Our building is a maze of classrooms and closets, navigating IT takes a decade, and recalling names of all our staff is a bit numbing. It’s a big, bustling place, a jovial family complete with fierce loyalty, inside jokes, and an expected dose of dysfunction.
One of our recent hires, new to our city, looked particularly bewildered as he walked in after his new commute. In a moment of sympathy and eagerness to get to know him, I asked him to lunch. We both stared at one another for a second. Both wondering if silently if our scooting out to lunch together was okay.
I’m the token female pastor on staff and he’s the new dude. When I said, “Hey, do you want to grab some lunch and get to know one another a bit?” I was awash in unexpected paranoia. Was I too forward? Can the girl pastor take the new guy to lunch and it not appear scandalous? Was I over-thinking this? My friends who work in corporate settings do lunch with guys all the time. What was my big fuss?