The Heart of Leadership

Perhaps no Biblical leader faced the questioning of his leadership like Moses.
The Book of Numbers shares that every time Moses turned around, someone was murmuring, grumbling, and questioning his direction and judgement.  It is not easy to lead any group of people, and the family of faith is no different.

Leadership is crucial for a pastor or spiritual leader within the church.  A charismatic Refugee DR Team - Ugandapersonality, natural gifts, and a seminary education are certainly important, but they are not the key to leadership.  In challenging moments, the ability to lead hinges on trust.  Very few will follow someone that they do not trust.

As I talk to church leaders today, I am amazed at their vision, passion, and knowledge.  Most are far more gifted than me, and I am excited about the future of the church.  Yet there is one area that concerns me as I talk with the next generation of leaders.  I am concerned that many do not seem to understand the importance of developing trust as they work with people.  It is my experience, that you cannot lead and influence people for the long haul without trust.  I fear that this is one of the reasons that results in so many short pastorates and church conflicts.

Here are crucial insights that I have learned about developing trust that will strengthen your ability to lead effectively:

  1. Trust must be earned.  Trust cannot be demanded or assumed.  In fact, if you have to demand spiritual authority, then you probably have no authority or influence.
  2. Trust takes time.  A congregation may love you and have even chose you to lead them, but it takes time for them to trust you.  I have found that the ability to lead effectively develops with time and often begins to mature after 4-5 years.  It was after 10 years that I saw my ability to lead move to new heights as I served as pastor in South Central Kentucky.  Longevity increases trust.  Hanging in there with people increases their trust in you.
  3. Trust comes with consistency.  People are always watching us as leaders. If they see consistency in our message, approach, ethics, and our dealings with people, then it will develop trust.
  4. Trust will rise from integrity.  Do you follow through with commitments?  Do you honor your word?  Do you keep promises?  Broken commitments destroy trust.
  5. Trust will grow when we are willing to be transparent.  Trust grows when we let folks see who we are, and admit our shortcomings and mistakes.  People are more likely to follow a sincere leader than a phony pretender.
  6. Trust is more likely, if folks see that we lean on Jesus.  Congregations do not need us to be the savior.  They need pastors who will lead them to know and walk with our Savior Jesus Christ.   People gain confidence in us when they see  that we walk with the Lord, and are seeking His direction.

Without trust, it is difficult to lead.  Trust matters.

” Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
(1 Corinthians 4:1-2)

 

 

 

A Deadly Temptation

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor’ (Proverbs 29:23).

Pride is a frequent topic within the Scriptures, and Proverbs 29:23 reminds us that pride will eventually lead one to fall.  Repeatedly, God warns us of the dangers of pride.  Pride breeds arrogance and self-glorification, and  blinds us to our shortcomings and sin.

Pride is deadly to spiritual leadership.  It is deadly because it deludes us into seeking after ourWest Liberty - 4 own kingdoms rather than seeking to build God’s Kingdom.  Our own little kingdoms built on charisma and our natural gifts will not last.  The Bible reminds us that God opposes the proud, but will give His grace to the humble.

As Spiritual leaders, may we learn from God’s wisdom by seeking to lead with humility as servant leaders.

Servant leaders are:

  1. Humble in Attitude..  Keep Christ first in all things.  A humble leader does not think of
    himself as lower than a worm’s belly, he just always recognizes that only Christ deserves the throne of people’s lives.  Keep the focus on Christ, not ourselves.  Seek after Christ’s way, not our own way.
  2. Humble in Actions.  We are called to serve.  Develop the Godly habit of serving others.  The best way to maintain a humble spirit is by putting others before yourself.  Be an example of Christlike service to others..
  3. Humble in Speech.  Seek to glorify God and not yourself when giving testimony.  Shift the focus to God and others when sharing.  Learn to listen to others.  Focus n praying for others rather than your own self interests.
  4. Humble in Vision.  Keeping our focus on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of Christ keeps our focus on His Kingdom, rather than building our own little sand castles.  Our calling is to make His Name known among all the nations.  It will not matter if they remember our name, but it will matter if He knows our name as one of His faithful servants.

As C S Lewis once shared, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

 

 

 

Conflict Settlement

Teenagers hands playing tug-of-war with used ropeReligion has always been a touchy subject.  Discussions about God, faith, and the church can spark lively and refreshing dialogue; it can also unleash anger and bitter disputes.  As long as there is more than one human present in a place, conflict is possible and likely.

The early church was no exception.  In Acts 15, a dispute arose from among the body of faith, on whether or not circumcision was necessary for salvation.  This was a heated dispute with a great deal of passion and debate.

But, it is worth noting that it never got ugly.  We do not read about folks spreading gossip and slander in the community.  No one questioned anyone’s motives.  They did not attack each other personally.  Instead, they chose to honor one another, listen respectfully, engage with dignity, and maintain fellowship.  They demonstrated a Christ-like spirit, as they resolved the issue and settled the conflict within their family of faith.  Above all, they fervently sought the will of God, in this matter.

Yet, they did not seek to appease everyone.  They did not take a majority vote.  It appears that everyone was given a voice, but the most mature among them made the final decision.  They put God’s desire before their own desires and traditions.  In the end, the church stayed together and continued to grow,

As the family of faith, we can learn a great deal about handling conflict from this passage.  Believers met.  They talked.  They listened to one another.  They shared their respective positions.  They deferred to the most wise and mature believers.  They allowed their leaders to lead.  They realized that God’s work was far more important than any of their personal wants.  They made a decision that would enable them to be about the mission that they had received from their Lord.  They stuck together and moved forward.  That is what family does.

Conflicts will arise, but they should never define us.  Christ, Scripture, the Great Commission, and the Great Commandment should always be the hinges upon which the unity of our family of faith rests.

Reaching the Nations

Iraq-9It was estimated that last year over 50 million people were displaced from their homes, with around 19.5 million forced to live as refugees.  These people have been driven from their homes by war, violence, persecution, and disasters.

No longer safe to live in the place that they have called home, refugees are often forced to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs.  They have lost their culture, friends, security, sense of community, and often their dignity.

The flight usually brings more trauma.  Many do not survive the journey.  If they survive, they often are not welcomed in the place where they seek refuge.  Life in a refugee camp can be difficult, unstable, and a daily battle to survive.  The vulnerability of depending on total strangers for basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter can be humiliating and defeating.

These are people with names, dreams, and hopes.  These are people just like you and me.  These are people loved by God.  The Bible commands us to treat strangers and sojourners that come our way with love and grace:

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing.  You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ for the displaced?

One significant way is to partner with Refuge Louisville in life-changing ministry.  Refuge works alongside area churches to encourage and equip them to engage the refugees and immigrants in our communities.  They offer avenues through which the church can meet the various needs of our international population as they offer the help, healing, and hope of Christ.

Refuge continues to seek churches, small groups, Sunday school classes, and volunteers, who would serve on welcome teams.  These teams would commit to creating a positive welcoming space for the displaced families upon arrival, and they would be a helpful resource and loving influence for the first three months.  This allows Christians to be the first contacts for a refugee family as they come to America.  This is significant in helping a stranger to experience the real touch of God’s grace and saving Gospel message.

Team Expectations are as follows:

  1. Six to ten adults on a welcome team.
  2. Before arrival, set up the apartment for the incoming family using supporting agency donations.  Usually, this will not include transporting furniture to the apartment.
  3. Before arrival, purchase groceries and a welcome basket for the family.
  4. Before arrival, place a photo of the team in the apartment, so the family will know these are people who have committed to help them.
  5. Welcome the family at the airport and assist them with transportation to their new home.
  6. Provide as much transportation as possible the first few weeks.
  7. Share time with the family at least once a week for the first three months.
  8. At the end of three months, throw a milestone party to celebrate reaching this point.
  9. Teams are encouraged to stay connected with families, after the three months, as friends and continued support.

If your church is interested in making a difference in the life of a refugee family, contact Refuge Louisville to find out more information, to schedule them to share at your church, or to become part of God’s hands in reaching the nations.

Refuge Louisville, Inc
5007 Southside Drive
Louisville, KY 40214

(502) 785-9577

Kentucky Baptists have a missions heritage that has demonstrated itself in going to the airport to travel to distant lands for the sake of the Gospel.  The question facing us today as Kentucky Baptists is:  Will we journey to the airport in obedience to the Great Commission to welcome the nations to our homeland?

You may also contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office at www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (866) 489-3527 for information.

What Stirs Your Heart?

I have an inflammation of the heart.  I have discovered that my condition can be contagious. It all started 32 years ago, when I led a team to central Mexico, as a young youth minister.  Don’t worry, my heart condition is not fatal.  My heart was set aflame in Mexico for “Missions”, and my life has never been quite the same.

Young girl from South Sudan who came to Christ through a disaster relief response, IMB partners, and medical missions.

Young girl from South Sudan who came to Christ through a disaster relief response, IMB partners, and medical missions.

Jesus instructed every one of His followers to, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).  As followers of Jesus Christ, this is our Great Commission.  This, above all else, should burn in our hearts.

Today, my heart is inflamed by these facts:

  1. There are approximately 7.4 billion people in our world.
  2. About 54% of the world lives in urban areas.  By the year 2050, this may increase to 66%.
  3. The 5 largest cities in the world are Tokyo, New York City, Sao Paulo, Seoul, and Mexico City.
  4. Around 60% of the world lives in Asia.
  5. More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty.  These people live on less than a $1.25 per day.
  6. Every 20 seconds a child dies from issues related to unclean water.
  7. There are approximately 210 million orphans across the globe.  Of the 17 million children, who have lost one or both of their parents to HIV-AIDS, 90% live in Sub-Sahara Africa.
  8. There are 795 million people chronically malnourished around the world.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 4 people go to bed hungry every night.
  9. Close to 3 billion people are unreached in our world with no or very little access to the Gospel.
  10. Over 5 Billion people live today without a relationship to Jesus Christ and with no hope for eternity.
  11. The average Southern Baptist gives less than $10 to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions.  Many churches give far less than a tithe to the Cooperative Program, which is still the lifeblood of our mission program.

What stirs your heart today?

May our hearts be set aflame by God to:

Go on Mission for Christ.

Give generously to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions.

Pray that every person be given the opportunity to hear the Good News of a Savior.

“But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Living Prepared: Disaster Relief Ministry

0919121217bSouthern Baptists have a long history of demonstrating compassion to those affected by crisis and loss.  In 1984, God moved the hearts of Kentucky Baptists to organize a state disaster relief ministry.  From that humble beginning, God has raised up 46 mobile disaster relief units, and trained thousands of volunteers to respond.

Disasters are nothing new.  Noah teaches us in Genesis 6 the importance of being prepared.  We should also let this lesson remind us of the urgency to share the Good News of God’s salvation with this generation.

Today, disasters happen every day across our globe, and Kentucky is not immune.  Kentucky averages a flood event every six days, and witnesses, on average, twenty-five tornado sightings per year.

I praise God for the trained volunteers who have answered the call of God to minister to the least of these, when tragedies strike.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were there after 9-11 in New York and following Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.  They have ministered to war torn refugees in Iraq and earthquake survivors in Haiti.  This past year, they served flood victims in South Carolina, tornado victims in western Kentucky, and victims of famine in Lesotho.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has answered the call to go wherever needed and to do whatever it takes for Christ’s sake.

One of the best ways to be used by God is to be trained, so that you can respond correctly and effectively.  Here are the upcoming opportunities to get connected to the ministry of Disaster Relief:

2017 Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Trainings:

January 14, 2017 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown (Central KY)

February 4, 2017 at Big Creek Baptist Church in Hazard (Eastern KY)

March 4, 2017 at Zion’s Cause Baptist Church in Benton (Western KY)

April 8, 2017 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Independence (Northern KY)

September 16, 2017 at First Baptist Church of Richmond (Central KY)

Find out more about this Kingdom ministry and register for trainings at www.kybaptist.org/dr.

The Bucket Project

Kentucky Baptist churches will help open many doors for the gospel by packing buckets with hospice supplies and delivering them to the convention’s annual meeting in November.

Kentucky Baptists are again participating with Baptist Global Response to provide hospice care buckets to help families care for those with HIV/AIDS.  Buckets will be collected at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Nov. 15, 2016, at Florence Baptist Church.

Our goal is to collect 2000 buckets at the annual meeting.

Here is  a recent testimony of a bucket’s impact in the African mountains of Lesotho:

lesotho-new-believerPartnership at work: International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Churches in the US, Reclaimed Ministry.

A child, soon to be an orphan, experiencing compassionate love from a Reclaimed worker.  An International Mission Board nurse caring for a sick and dying mother.  A hospice bucket packed by a Southern Baptist Church in the US and delivered by Baptist Global Response.  A Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer responding on a famine relief team with a willing spirit to go to a dying home…the result?

A good and great God brought it all together and now a dying momma belongs to Him!  

Priceless!

One kit costs between $80 to $100, plus shipping costs.  A detailed shopping list is provided and has been revised from prior years.  All kits must include all of the requested items.  Some items listed are available in bulk or are only available in quantities larger than needed.  For example, if after competing five kits, you have 10 extra packs of straws, include all extras in a separate box marked “EXTRAS.”

For uniformity in packing and shipping, as well as customs approval in recipient countries, please only provide completed kits that match the detailed list.  Varying kits and materials may delay shipments and, in some cases, may mean that the kits will not be accepted into a country.  Please refrain from adding notes, cards, letters, or tracts as this can also cause customs issues.

Click here for the shopping list

Click here for instructions for packing buckets. Please use this method when packing your buckets

“Urgency should always accompany the gospel message, and nowhere is that more evident than among the millions of people infected with HIV,” said KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. “By providing hospice buckets to be distributed by our missionaries, Kentucky Baptists have the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those who are suffering and share with them the hope of the gospel.”

Have you packed your bucket?

Sharing with my International Neighbor

We live in a world on the move.  Our cities and communities are becoming more culturally diverse.  In Louisville, for example, there are now over one hundred languages represented in the metro school system.  Thousands of students are coming from abroad to study at our American universities.  The international community is evident in many of our small towns with the presence of ethnic restaurants and local shops.  The world is coming to us.

Iraq Team

How, in this changing world, can I be part of Christ’s Great Commission?  

How can I plant seeds for the Gospel with those from other lands that God is bringing to my community?  

  • Smile.  Grace and kindness work in any culture.
  • Open your eyes to those that God has brought to your community.  Take time to see the server at the restaurant, the cashier at the convenience store, the nurse at the hospital, the new person in your office, or the neighbor across the street who may look, dress, and speak a little different from you.
  • Start a conversation.  It can be as simple as asking someone their name and where they are from.  Ask them about their family or homeland.  Inquire about religious beliefs in their country.
  • Be a good listener.  Seek to be a learner.  People tend to listen to others who really listen to them.
  • Pursue genuine friendship.  Many internationals would love a real friend in a new land.  You are called to share with folks in a relationship, not sell the Gospel.
  • Be an ambassador for Christ.  Let them see Christ in you.  A good ambassador knows when to talk and when to listen.
  • Practice hospitality.  Share your phone number if they need a friend’s help or guidance. Invite them over for tea or coffee.  Drive them to the doctor or help them at a grocery store.  Have them over for a meal at your home.
  • Pray for them.
  • Share your faith story.  Tell them what your life was like before Christ, how you came to Christ, and what Jesus means to your life now.  Try to work on being able to share this in two to four minutes.  Avoid church words like lost or saved, as unbelievers often do not understand the internal language of Christians.
  • Remember the goal is not to win debates, but to passionately share your faith.  Stand strong on what you believe in a loving manner.
  • Finally, be ready for the day when your new friend wants to know how they can have a relationship with God through Christ.  Be prepared to share in every day language what sin is, who Jesus is, and what the Gospel is.

“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.
Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).

 

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

West Liberty -7 Louisiana Floods: Worst U. S. Disaster Since Hurricane Sandy

West Virginia Floods Devastate 1200 Homes, Many Lives

EF-3 Tornado Leaves Damage in Mayfield, Kentucky

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods certainly reek havoc on individuals, but house fires, vehicle accidents, and community violence can be equally devastating to families.

Disasters are always about loss.   Calamities can rob people of homes, material possessions, income, personal keepsakes, normalcy, emotional stability, and loved ones.  The loss is real.  It can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually overwhelming.  These catastrophic events often force people to live with intrusion, vulnerability, and a longing for escape.

The trauma of a disaster throws people off balance and always produces significant change.   Survivors often experience shock, numbness, fear, frustration, confusion, guilt, grief, and anger.  They are often left to depend on strangers for the basic necessities required to get through another day.

Disaster Relief ministry reminds those affected that we care and even deeper…God cares.

Titus 3:14 urges us, “And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they may not be unfruitful.”

Disasters create doors of opportunity for us, as followers of Christ, to offer compassion to those affected by loss and pain.  The Bible teaches us that this is just the right thing to do when our neighbor is hurting.  Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me…inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25: 35-40).  When we reach with compassion to the vulnerable and displaced, we are honoring Jesus and sharing His love.

Disasters also open tremendous doors for the Gospel.  Survivors gladly welcome those responding to help them.  This creates opportunities to share the hope that is within us.  In crisis events, compassionate acts of service and empathetic listening often open gates to share the Gospel.

Tragically, most churches are unprepared with a strategy to respond effectively to events of crisis within their community.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief seeks to train volunteers and partner with churches to bring help, healing, and hope to those affected in times of disaster.

Is God calling you to get involved and to be more prepared to serve effectively for His sake among the hurting?

To find out more about training opportunities and disaster relief ministry contact us at www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (866) 489-3527,

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things!

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Responds to Flood Ravaged West Virginia

WV Response - 2On June 23, torrential rains struck West Virginia, which caused severe floods that took 23 lives, destroyed or severely damaged over 500 homes, and left over 60,000 without power.  A federal disaster declaration was issued for the counties of Fayette, Clay, Roane, Summers, Monroe, Greenbrier, Kanawha and Nicholas.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were among the first to respond and have been joined by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.  It is likely that other states will soon join this massive relief effort.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are on the ground providing cooked meals, hot showers, laundry assistance, damage assessment, chainsaw work, and flood clean-up.  The Kentucky Baptist feeding team and mobile kitchen has provided over 22,000 meals, to date, in hard hit Greenbriar County, and is still serving at Fairlea Baptist Church in Ronceverte, West Virginia.  Other Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are assessing damage and providing flood clean-up for homes in Kanawha County.  The response is likely to continue for weeks.

West Virginia Disaster Relief Director Danny Rumple shared, “West Virginians are grateful for the support that has been given to them by Kentucky Baptists, and this disaster presents an incredible opportunity for Southern Baptists to be a witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ to the people of West Virginia.”

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is bringing practical help, genuine healing, and the hope of Christ to the weary and hurting across West Virginia.  The presence of these faithful volunteers reminds our neighbors that God cares about them.

To learn more about how to help or to discover how to become a disaster relief volunteer, go to www.kybaptist.org/dr.  You can also donate for disaster response by mailing donations to “Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Drive, Louisville, KY 40223-4160.”  Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

 (1 John 3:18)

Bringing Help, Healing, and Hope

 

WV Response