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THE VALUE OF MENTORING

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     One of my life values (it is actually #5 of 7) is: Mentoring and pouring into catalytic leaders on a consistent and intentional schedule. The quote that best fits this value for me, is from NFL quarterback Josh McCown, “That’s the most fulfillment that you find in life, whether it’s football or anything else, imparting the knowledge to somebody else to make their journey better. That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” That says it all and is a great challenge!

     The reality is that you must protect any value to ensure that you practice and live it out daily. Holy Spirit directed boundaries are necessary to protect you from other important ministry opportunities that could potentially place limitations on the fulfillment of your life values. For this to become a part of the regular rhythm of your life’s practice you must find margin so you can regularly schedule mentoring groups with planters, pastors, catalytic leaders, church staff, family members, etc; to pour into them!

     Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) values mentoring also and has one of the best definitions of mentoring: The Barnabas Principle: “Every church planter (everyone) needs a mentor. A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and willing to help you get there!” It literally means to pour courage into someone! Do you have a process to identify and invest into others around you? Are you pouring into their lives so that they can accomplish far more than you have and reach their full potential?

     In baseball’s farm system potential big league ball players are given the opportunity to practice their skills over and over again. Every day players are fielding thousands of ground balls and catching fly balls, stepping into the batting cage for hundreds of pitches, and daily being coached on how to become a better baseball player. The scouts saw their potential and now they are receiving the instruction and the experience needed to reach their full potential and be as successful as possible.

Here is what you need to do in order to find those you need to mentor:

  • IDENTIFY potential leaders. Leaders in the church must always be “scouting” for potential leaders and know what they are looking for. We seem to be looking regularly outside our churches for leaders but we need to refocus on those God gives us out of our harvest. We should always be looking for young Timothys that God brings our way to mentor.
  • INVEST in potential leaders. There must be a process in place where they can receive what they need to properly equip them for leadership. They must be trained in the message (how to handle the gospel and to have a strong theological foundation), the mission (applying the gospel to their context), and the ministry (putting into practice what they have learned).
  • INITIATE potential leaders. There must be entry level places of service and ministry and God has given us the perfect track for coaching them in the skills needed for leadership; “Go and make disciples!” They need to be taught to make disciples and should not be given leadership responsibilities unless they are making disciples. There must be “on the job” training opportunities where interns and apprentices can be putting into practice the skills they will use whether beginning small groups, missional communities, or planting churches.

     We must intentionally plan and devotedly implement a process to multiply disciples, multiply leaders, and to multiply churches. This process will enable us to produce more qualified leaders. There will always be leaders at every level as they develop the character (spiritual walk), competency (Biblical understanding), and the confidence (skills) to serve. You can always recruit but we also need to be raising up leaders from within by mentoring them! Who needs you to pour into them today?

     As Josh said, “That’s the key to life in general: What can you do for somebody else?” Pro 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

VALUES → PRACTICES → RESULTS

VALUES

Have you ever written down your values, the principles that determine how you will live your life and into what you will invest your time and energy?  Values determine practices and your practices determine your results which are the goals you are working toward.  Your values shape and mold your priorities.  When they are clearly written down they serve as a filter to help you determine into what you will and will not devote your efforts.  Another way of viewing values is to see them as the “rules of the road” for you on your journey.

In The Multiplication Workshop Dave Devries says, “Values reflect a person’s unique beliefs, core convictions, and guiding principles.  These values will guide ongoing attitudes and behaviors.  Often times, values are unwritten assumptions that guide actions. In any situation…Values are confirmed by actions, not just by words.  Values are more about deeds than words.  Core values should be able to be expressed in terms of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”

In The Leadership Challenge James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner say this, “Values help us determine what to do and what not to do. They’re deep-seated, pervasive standards that influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day.”

Values help you make day-to-day decisions.  Remember, your values are not what you say they are but what you are actually doing.  That is what you really value!  You will need to set aside a time to have a prayer retreat in order to be directed by His Word and the Holy Spirit.  Recently, I went through this process to determine the values that would drive and direct the rest of my life.  My prayer is that this simple course of action will be a blessing to you:

  • Write down 5-7 (no more than 10) non-negotiable values!
  • Write out 2-3 descriptions of each value that determine your behavior.
  • Find a quote that explains and supports each value.
  • Ask God to direct to you to the passage in His Word that is the foundational truth for that value.
  • Write out a principle (original or not) that clearly restates your value.

Here is what it looked like for me as God has taught me the value of prayer and my desire to make sure that my values determine my practices.  Prayer is my value to regularly listen to you, Lord.  I will pursue you in prayer through Praise, Repent, Ask, and Yield. 

  • Description #1: I am committed to “persisting” in prayer knowing that you hear and answer me!
  • Description #2: I absolutely refuse to give up on talking to you and listening to you knowing that the “urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
  • Quote: “Prayer is not preparation for the battlefield, it is the battlefield!” –E. M. Bounds
  • Verse: John 14:12-14, “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
  • THE POWER PRINCIPLE from Dynamic Church Planting International: Prayer is the indispensable source of God’s power and wisdom in each phase of church planting.  (And in every are of our life.)

As a filter, values enable you to build divinely determined boundaries.  Here is what Henry Cloud says about developing boundaries in our lives, “When we create boundaries, we aren’t saying to the world, “I can’t help you.”  Instead, we’re saying, “I must focus intentionally on the specific things God has placed right now in my direct influence.”  By saying no to people and to things that are not contained within God’s distinct vision for our lives, we’re actually saying “yes” to His sovereignty.  He knows the best way for His will to be accomplished. For us to assume we can handle more is rebellious and counterproductive!”

We cannot just talk about biblical values, we must live them out daily!

LOOKING FOR LEADERS

Looking

     There was a song a few years ago that said; “Looking for love in all the wrong places!”  The reality is that we are often looking for leaders in all the wrong places or at least in the wrong ways.  Quite often I am asked what characteristics should we look for when seeking new leaders?  One important thing to remember is to take it slow in the beginning.  Never elevate to a position without first observing how they handle small projects.  Begin with entry level responsibilities and see how they handle them.  A necessary core value in leadership development must be, no one leads who does not first serve!

     Carey Nieuwhof recently wrote a blog on “5 Signs You Are an Insecure Leader.”  The first sign he gave is that you are constantly comparing yourself to others. The second is when your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results.  Thirdly, you can’t celebrate someone else’s success.  The fourth sign of an insecure leader is that you need to be the final word on everything.  Lastly, an insecure leader is unwilling to make room for people who are more gifted or competent than them.  We must refuse to hold on to everything for the sake of control and safety.

     Carey says this about number five, “This is where your personal traits inflicts direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).  The sign of a great leader is not that they are the most gifted or competent person in the organization.  The sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.  The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.”

     This is why discovering and developing the right leaders is so important.  We all need others to help and assist in the work of ministry.  The challenge of II Tim 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” is not only biblical but also effective.  Here are a few other things to look for as you select individuals to invest your time in to develop as leaders.

     When looking for leaders, Look for Self-Starters!  Watch for those who are already doing it and not just talking about it.  You would rather have someone you have to say “whoa” to then someone you always have to motivate to do something.  They are reading their bible, studying, trying to share their faith, and actively pursuing God.  They are making “rookie” mistakes but someone who never makes a mistake usually is not trying very hard.  They do not need a title or a position because they already have a mind and heart to work!

     When looking for leaders, Look for those who have a teachable spirit.  Carey says this in his blog, “insecure people end up being controlling people.  You don’t need experts because you want to be the expert.  Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.”  Look for those who desire the advice and counsel of others.  Before elevating someone into a leadership role you need to ask these questions; “Do they value the counsel and input of others?  Are they open to constructive criticism?”

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who is passionately pursuing God!  They are abiding and walking in Christ daily.  They are not perfect but their hunger and thirst for “righteousness sake” is apparent.  They daily spend time with the Lord, they are the spiritual leader in their home, and they have a desire to help others live Godly lives.  Because Jesus is lord of their life they do not have a problem with submitting to those God has placed in their life to oversee them.  You can see the zeal in their walk and whenever you are around them they want to talk about what Christ is doing in their life. 

     When looking for leaders, Look for someone who loves to worship at your church.  They have a burden to see the Lord’s name lifted up and praised in a worthy manner.  They are not observers of worship but they actively participate.  James MacDonald in Vertical Church puts it this way, “Our main job is to usher in the almighty – God forgive us when we settle for less.”  This potential leader may not see it as his “job” but he desires God’s presence in every service.  They are not “hung-up” on certain styles or methods but desperately want to praise Jesus!

     Healthy churches are looking for leaders to develop in all the right places and in all the right ways!

GENEROUS CHURCH

Generous

    Our goal is to have healthy churches!  There are many descriptions, concepts, books, and trainings talking about what a healthy church looks like.  There is “Simple,” “Purpose-Driven,” “Sticky,” Vertical,” “Emotionally Healthy,” and many more.  All of these have great content and biblical directives but here is something else we need to ask ourselves, “Are we a generous church?”  Isa. 9:6 says, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Eternal Father,  Prince of Peace.” Christmas is about giving!

     What would happen if your church was known to be a giving church?  What would it look like if you were known first and foremost for your generosity?  If you really want to know the heart of a church take a look at how they spend their money.  This is not about what individuals give to the church, but rather, what does a church do with what they have been given.  Quite often most of the funds given to a church are spent on church members.  When times are tough, and the budget becomes tight, the last expenditures to normally be reduced are those that keep the members the most comfortable.  At the same time, all too often, the first ministries to be cut are those that are outwardly focused.

     How much of what God has entrusted to your church is being spent to fund the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?  In Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer offers twelve prayer commitments for churches to make who want to be alive and thriving.  Prayer commitment #5 says, “Lord, help me to grasp that all the money I think I have is really Yours.  Help me to grasp that all the money our church has is not the church’s, but Yours.  Give us healthy giving hearts to use these funds according to your purposes.”  What percentage of your church budget is being used to bless and reach your local community for Christ?

     Rainer goes on with prayer commitment #6, “Lord remind me that I am to be a Great Commission Christian in a Great Commission Church.  Remind me that, in your strength, I am to do whatever it takes to reach out into my community with the transforming power of the gospel.”  Some churches are focused on how much is being saved and accumulated instead of asking how they can make a difference for the kingdom with the resources God has provided!  We should rejoice when we are able to spend our resources for something beyond ourselves while expecting nothing in return.  What does a generous church give?

     First, they give the gift of love!  This kind of church looks for the lost, the last, and the least!  They take Matt. 5:43-45 literally, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be  sons of your Father in heaven.”  A generous church is looking and seeking out those who desperately need to be shown the love of God in practical ways!  They are always asking; Who can we help? Who can we feed?  Who can we love?  A generous church realizes that some will question who they love and how they love but their goal is to love everyone and realize that some, even in church, will not like that!

     Second, they give the gift of friendship!  A generous church moves beyond their comfortable circles of fellowship and reaches out to those who desperately need a friend.  They are not looking for who can be their friend but to whom they can become a friend!  They long to be like Jesus who was openly accused of being a friend to sinners!  Grace Hills church in NW Arkansas says it this way in their core values; “We are crazy about broken people. We hunger to see people healthy and growing and we’ll get our hands messy to make it happen.”  A generous church is always asking; Who needs a friend?  Who can I be friendly to that no one else even notices?  How do I beriend those that are ignored?

     Third, they give the gift of forgiveness!  A generous church wants to associate with the marginal, the poor, the destitute, the forgotten, the broken, and those overlooked by society. They have been forgiven, they practice forgiveness toward others, and they  desire for everyone to experience God’s forgiveness.  Luke 5:31-32 says, “Jesus replied to them, ‘The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”  James MacDonald in Vertical Church says it this way, “The core of humanity’s sin problem is not a horizontal behavior to be corrected but a vertical relationship to be restored.”  A generous church is living on mission to deliver the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all.  That message is a message of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restored relationships!

     A healthy church is a generous church!

PRESENCE > PERFORMANCE

God's Presence

 

 

    My good friend, Rob Hager, planted Jacob’s Well in Plano, IL several years ago based on a core value, “because there is a better way.” Their vision statement found on their website, welcometothewell.com states: “To constantly learn of, live out and lead others to God’s ‘better way’ as we live together in biblical community of His truth, with His love and through His grace for His glory.”  In 2015 may all of us pursue a “better way.”

     Rob goes on to explain their vision statement: “God’s ‘better way’ is a life lived on His truth, with His love through His grace for His glory in a biblical community.  We are convinced that absolute truth exists and it is God and His reality as revealed in His inspired Word.  Only as we truly know and embrace His truth in each area of our lives can we be set free to live the best possible life.  We believe this truth must be presented to others as we ‘show and tell’ them in the context of love.”

     “Without love, our presentation of His truth is nothing more than disturbing noise that distracts or repels them from His good news.  We believe the pursuit of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is, like salvation itself, impossible apart from the empowerment of His grace through His Spirit.  Likewise, we believe that truth, even in love, without an element of grace is incomplete.”

     “God did not just declare the truth of the world’s evil, and in spite of that, choose to love the world, He did something to redeem it.  And so we believe that as we submit, surrender and sync our lives…deny ourselves, abide in Him, walk in Him, crucify ourselves He will empower us to follow Him, bear much fruit in Him and Jesus Himself will in a sense live through us.”  Jacob’s Well was founded, organized, and exists today because God does have a “better way.”

     The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of a “better way” and Hebrews speaks of a “better covenant.”  This better covenant is made possible because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As we read Hebrews 8-9 we see it compares the old covenant with the new.  You could sum up the old covenant in three words and they would be, “you do it.”  The new covenant can also be summed up in three words, “Jesus did it.”  His “better way” has made the old covenant obsolete. 

     The believers were not convinced that the new covenant was better/superior so the writer of Hebrews was assuring them not to feel bad about losing the practices and rituals of the old covenant but to realize that Jesus is better.  We are told that He is better than the angels, Moses, the temple, inferior animal sacrifices, and the priestly order.  The old covenant focused on a building while the new covenant focuses on the heart.  It is a better covenant because now every follower can have a close personal relationship with the Lord.  Presence is greater than performance!

     One of my goals for 2015 is to focus on His presence in my life more than on my performance.  This new covenant is about an intimate relationship with Christ where we walk with Him, abide with Him, and fellowship with Him.  The Holy Spirit now works inside of every believer.  Psalms 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.”

     Because the new covenant is a better way, our challenge is to focus more on His presence in our lives than on planning or performing.  The question then must be asked:  How do we do that?

·        Have a daily quiet time with the Lord.

·        Remember, it is about relationship NOT just checking off your daily Bible reading.

·        Be persistent in your prayer life, knowing that God does hear and answer us.

·        Realize every day will be a challenge to think God’s way (Romans 12:2).

·        Ask God to change you!!!

·        Live by faith because it’s not by trying harder but by trusting Him.

·        The only faith that appropriates is the faith that causes you to ask God for what you need.

     We must make sure that we pursue His presence in our lives, in our families, and in our churches.  His presence is manifested through our invitation for Him to be in control of our lives. My prayer in 2015 is that we will stop trying harder and start trusting Him more.  Planning is good, programs can meet needs, and working hard is admirable but unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain.

     Healthy churches and maturing Christians realize that presence is greater than performance!

7 THINGS THE LORD HAS TAUGHT ME

2014-2015

In my quiet time with the Lord I love using the S.O.A.P. journaling discipleship engine.  It is a simple, easily reproducible, method where you write down the Scripture God directs you to in your reading, you then write down your Observations about the text, then you write out your Application which is what you plan to do about it, and lastly you write down your Prayer asking God to help you.  Having a S.O.A.P. journal has helped me to approach everyday asking two questions: 1. What is God saying to me? 2. What does He want me to do about it? 

As I went through 2014 God constantly reminded me that my quiet time with Him is more about being in His presence then being able to check my Bible reading off of my to do list!  In My Utmost For His Highest Oswald Chambers says, “The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.  Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God.”  Throughout last year God stamped some truths upon my heart that will guide me and give me a solid foundation throughout 2015.

Here are 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that by the end of the year I would write all seven of them every day at the bottom of my prayer journal.  Here are a few verses to go with these truths a few thoughts He gave me on each one.

  1. Blessed Be the Name of the lord
  • PSA 113:2-3, “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” ESV
  • “Don’t allow what has been done to you, to become bigger than what God has done for you!!!” –Tony Evans
  • Job 1:21, “And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ESV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I look outward in fear or will I look upward in faith?
  1. Always Rejoice (I Thess 5:16)
  • Neh 8:10, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.” HCSB
  • You have to learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously!
  • Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” KJV
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on God’s blessings or pout about what is not going well?
  1. Be Persistent in Prayer
  • Rom 12:12, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” HCSB
  • COL 4:2-3, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison.” HCSB
  • “The only faith that appropriates is faith that causes you to ask God for what you need!” -Jim Cymbala
  • I have a choice to make: Will I live by faith or will I live by sight?
  1. Control Your Thoughts
  • II Cor 10:4-5′ “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” HCSB
  • Pro 23:7,”As a man thinketh in His heart, so is he.” KJV
  • Every day is a mind battle and every day is a challenge to try to think God’s way!!! (Rom 12:2)
  • I have a choice to make: Will I adopt the world’s thinking or will I strive to have the mind of Christ?
  1. Abide in Christ
  • John 15:5, “The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,” HCSB
  • PSA 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.” HCSB
  • My prayer for 2015 is to stop trying harder and start trusting Him more!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I slow down and wait on the Lord or will I press on in my weak anemic human efforts?
  1. Show and Express Honor
  • Rom 12:9-10, “Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.  Outdo one another in showing honor.”  HCSB
  • First and foremost, be honorable in all things!
  • Who is it that I should and need to show honor towards today?
  • I have a choice to make: Will I focus on myself or will I focus on honoring others?
  1. Prayer Does Make a Difference
  • Jam 5:16, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect!” HCSB
  • Yes, prayer is mentioned twice and needs to be!
  • Make no mistake about it – Your prayers can make a difference!!!
  • I have a choice to make: Will I ask Him or not?   Remember, we have not because we ask not!

There you have it 7 Things the Lord has Taught Me in 2014 that will help me follow him in 2015.  I look forward to the lessons He will teach me in 2015!