Archive - Guest Blogger RSS Feed

By Any Other Name

GUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest post comes from @sonnylemmons who blogs over at Looking Through The Windshield (LookThrough.net.)

By Any Other Name

If you were to ask any number of church leaders who they considered to be a great leader in the Bible, there are certain names that would come up time and again: Moses; Joshua; Peter; Paul; and – of course – Jesus. But for me, there’s one name that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all the rest.

Abihud.

…what? What do you mean “Who?” You know: Abihud. He’s right there. Matthew 1:13. Go on. Check it out for yourself.

What’s In A Name?

If you look closely at the genealogy of Jesus, note that it includes a great many names that tend to roll off the tongues of Biblical scholars: David. Solomon. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. A deeper investigation will show that a number of the progenitors of the line of Joseph, Mary’s husband, were kings. Royalty. Prophets. Priests. All great leaders in their own right.

And then, we have the Abihuds. The ones whose names do not seemingly carry the same weight of importance. Admittedly, the “Big Names” outnumber the “Small Names,” but they’re there nonetheless, contributing to a bloodline that culminated in the birth of the earthly father to our Messiah.

Leaves of Grass

For all we know, Abihud may have been the first-century equivalent of a desk worker who thinks that no one is noticing them…but God did. He may not have been the “go-to” guy in the Temple when they were looking for a lay leader to step up, but Abihud may have been as obedient in his life as Abraham was. God saw within him something that was built for glory, something that showed he would honor the path and journey his life was to take him on.

God saw something in him that mattered, and God took care of his legacy.

God honored and used him in a mighty way, simply because he lived the life he was supposed to live, doing what he was called to do. What he may have been called to do was to simply be the best husband, the best father, the best Abihud he could be, and he was.

We tend to look up to the “Big Names,” the ones with the three-book deals, the podcasts, the DVD series, and we want to try and use them as the template for what makes great leadership. We want to emulate the ones whose names we think will matter. We forget that God uses the Big and the Small, but more importantly, we forget that God can and does use the unique “us” of who we are.

And that Abihud was as good as leader as David, who was as good a leader as you are, can be, and will be.

“That you are here – that life exists, and identity;

“That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.” – Walt Whitman

The Principle of Who What

GUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest post comes from Help Staff Me and Vanderbloemen Search Group who united in January 2011, in an effort to serve the church with all their staffing needs.

The Principle of Who What

I love dreaming, and I love being around dreamers. It’s electric to be in a room with someone who is challenged and charged by a vision far bigger than he can accomplish on his own. I’m energized by these people and their dreams, and I love the challenge of figuring out how to make them happen.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters.” I believe this is true, but I think it should be taken a step further. It’s not what you know, or who you know, but it is knowing who knows what.

When I hear a dream, I don’t think, “What should happen next?” I’ve learned to ask, “Who knows what it takes to make this happen?” With this perspective about the way dreams are fulfilled, I’ve made it a habit to build a strong database of leaders, vendors, friends, and colleagues who can make dreams happen.

How do you apply the Who-What Principle? It’s simple: Start keeping track of everyone you meet. To be a true dreamreleaser, you’ll need to stop just relying on your memory to keep track of people. Here are the 4 questions to identify people who can make dreams come true:

1. What industry are they in? (Such as marketing, leadership consulting, construction, missions, curriculum development, media, team building, etc.)

2. What niche or expertise do they have in that industry? (For instance, one person may be experienced and gifted in marketing a sermon series, but another can help you craft and market a book.)

3. Who referred this person to you? (How well does the referral source know this person? Is there a long and successful working relationship? Are there any red or yellow flags?)

4. What success have they had? (How has the person helped others fulfill dreams similar to yours?)

We often say that ministry is all about relationships. That’s also true when we construct a team to fulfill the dreams God has given us. The who is every bit as important as the what.

Art and Soul

GUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest post comes from @JoyBowen.  Joy helps churches have a greater impact on the next generation as an Orange Specialist (www.WhatisOrange.org).  She gives away her art on www.ImpulsiveJoy.com. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

Art was my least favorite subject in school.  To this day, I can still only draw a stick figure at best.  Since I have no natural giftedness, I have never attempted to get better at it.

Although I can barely color within the lines, it may surprise you to know that I now consider myself an artist.  I think we all are actually.

Seth Godin has been challenging me to see art in a whole new light.  I now believe that art has very little to do with anything I ever did in art class growing up and everything to do with the passion God gave me for ministry.

“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo.  And an artist takes it personally.”  (Linchpin, p. 83)

If you have been leading in ministry for any amount of time, chances are you are coming up against the status quo of what has always been.  But the church needs artists, like you and me, who will continue to push at what is cultural so that we never lose sight of what is core.

And your art should bring you joy.

It should bring you so much joy that you can’t help but share it with others.  Your ministry – your artwork – is not meant to adorn the walls of your church.  Art is a gift.

“You cannot create a piece of art merely for money.  Doing it as part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art.  There’s always a gift intent on the part of the artist.” (Linchpin, p. 85)

Our challenge in ministry is to look beyond ourselves to see how we can live a life of generosity without reciprocity.   If your art brings you joy, share it with anyone who will pause to take it in and be transformed by the experience.

Because the reality is, there are many leaders in ministry today who need artists.  So if you are passionate about what you do, give it away so it can change someone else.  I promise you, your gift will actually come back to you….in the joy you receive when you have impact on those who receive your labor of love.

So, do you consider yourself an artist?

Are You A Doubting Thomas?

Marcco Belluci

GUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest post is from Jen Johns (@goingbyfaith) who writes and edits GoingByFaith.com. If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.comclick here.

Are You a Doubting Thomas?

Most of us know the story of Thomas the Apostle and how he refused to believe the resurrection story without personal evidence. We can shake our heads or raise our eyebrows at his lack of faith, but how many of us turn skeptic when it comes to putting our complete and total trust in God on a daily basis?

Sure we believe, but sometimes that belief is restricted to certain areas of our life – areas we think God is more likely to work. Church is in; career is out. Family life is in; social life is out. We go on and on with these lists in our mind. But we mature in faith when we let God into the areas we resist most … or where we doubt his existence at all.

Confronting Doubt

Which areas of your personal life are you still keeping in the dark? And … why? If you doubt that God can work in those areas – they’re too worldly, out of control, shameful, etc. – then it’s time to confront those thoughts in His presence. It’s time to admit there is doubt and stay open to how He can work it out or turn it around. We know that what is sometimes meant for evil, God can use for good.

Pray for wisdom and openness in the hardest areas. Pray that He will help you live more by faith and less by limitation. Pray that He gets in your face, that He shows Himself, and helps you to see that it’s not by the work of man but through His grace that anything good gets accomplished. It may sound like a small prayer, but the results could change your life in big ways.

Confirming Faith

We don’t know where the road will lead, but God does. Having faith that He’s in charge, and that He knows what’s best for us even when we can’t see it, is the first step to facing our doubts. It also confirms our faith and supports our spiritual growth.

Once Thomas saw the wounds, he professed his faith. In John 20:29, we’re told that Jesus said to him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”  We can all change doubt to belief, but it doesn’t always come by our own works. Sometimes we need to cultivate a deeper faith by asking for God’s help to diminish doubt, trusting completely that He will deliver. We do the best work of our lives when we grow in faith, and like Thomas, who was later called “Thomas the Believer,” realize that there is something much greater happening than can be seen.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts!

Why” Questions with “Who” Answers

WhatGUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest blogpost comes from @wolmike.  Check out his website here.  If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

Why” Questions with “Who” Answers

God often answers our “Why” questions with “Who” answers. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? The millennial generation is asking this and other difficult questions – and expecting answers.

Tragedy and crisis are not foreign concepts to this generation. From disappointment to terrorism, they are confronted with the “new norm” in the world in which they live. They are genuinely concerned about the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. They care about third-world countries whose people are starving. This global sensitivity has left many of them with empty answers or complicated questions.

They are not content to leave their questions about life, death, pain, and injustice unanswered. When Millennials are not taught how faith intersects with real life they often abandon faith in search of satisfactory answers.

This generation wants more than clique Christianity.  The need is clear for a more comprehensive, no-expense answers to difficult complexities of life.  Boldness is required to answer the “Why” questions in the same way God does in scripture — by turning attention to the character and nature of Himself.

After being a believer for many years, I came to a startling realization: I knew very little about the nature of God. This led me to a study of God’s attributes and an aggressive search through the scriptures and other classics like The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer and The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan.

I determined to record my observations and thoughts on the Attributes of God for six months – which led to another six months which led to… Well after twenty years, I still begin my mornings meditating on one of His attributes and feel I continue to occupy a seat in the remedial class.

I am not an authority on this topic but I can tell you that it gives stability in crisis. My moment of truth came after my twenty-four year old daughter was killed in a tragic car accident. As I walked in utter desperation, crying out to God, I came to embrace a pivotal concept for my life, “My world had fallen apart but everything I knew about God was still true.”

Why do we fear answering the “Why” questions with “Who?” Perhaps it is because we are uncomfortable with the answer ourselves. Our finite minds find it hard to comprehend a God who is Sovereign when we hear about the realities of earthquakes, tsunami’s or a life cut short by a drunk driver. God does not fit neatly into our cliché Christianity or utopian worldview.

It is natural to struggle with answering questions about tragedy and God. We must unapologetically offer authentic Biblical answers gleaned from the anvil of our own lives. Millennials can handle and will embrace authentic truth.

What Do You Think?

Martin Luther, Facebook & The Muslim World

martin lutherGUEST BLOGGER: Today’s guest blogpost comes from @BrianJRussell.  Check out his blog here:  BrianRussell.me. If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

Martin Luther, Facebook & The Muslim World

A friend of mine recently told me he sensed God ask him, “Are you willing to no longer be a missionary, if it means being a more effective cross-cultural minister for Me?”  In other words, are you willing to give up status, title, and position if it means actually having more impact for Christ?  Over the past few years I’ve met an increasing number of ‘professional ministers’ experiencing similar challenges of heart and paradigm.  Living and working in some of the least Christian nations of the world, I have seen this vision and challenge often birthed initially out of necessity.  In most of the Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu areas of the world, if you want to minister, you can’t do so as a ‘missionary’.  I used to see this as an unfortunate obstacle.  Yet, lately I’ve begun to understand and appreciate the benefits of this reality.

What can be good about countries refusing missionary and minister visas?  It is forcing many of those on the front lines of outreach to tear down the walls that still exist between clergy and laity (that applause you hear is Martin Luther cheering from the grave).  More and more, the most effective ministers in these parts of the world are not ‘missionaries’, but rather engineers, doctors, teachers and business people.  What’s more, national leaders of these emerging church groups are pleading for assistance in becoming successful in the marketplace, enabling them to be relevant forces of positive change in their communities.  Already some recruiters of cross-cultural workers are looking more for MBA’s than M.Div’s.  And many of those former ‘missionaries’ circumstantially forced into a ‘secular’ occupation abroad can now never imagine trying to reach a nation any other way.

We in the Church in the West have much to observe and learn from this move of God’s Spirit in the Middle East and Asia.  Certainly there is a place for paid church staff members who can devote their full energy, time, and efforts to helping teach and equip other believers.  Yet, may we continue to fight against remaining dualistic tendencies which separate the sacred and secular, placing higher value on people and positions on the ecclesiastical payroll.

Do we fully value the callings our policemen, retailers, physicians and mortgage brokers have and encourage them to maximize their potential for Kingdom impact  Tragically, it often seems more like we as Church leaders pull the cream of the flock out of the world so they can be trained on how to be effective/relevant ministers to those who are in the world.  I think the irony and futility of such a perspective is obvious.

Here enters the beauty and power of social media for Jesus’ disciples today.  Twitter, Facebook, and blogging also attack that tendency to draw a distinction between our holy and unholy worlds.  Fortunately there is not yet a filter on status updates which allows us to decide which ones are seen by our Christian followers and which ones go to our unchurched friends.  There is something wonderful about the authenticity and single mindedness this is producing in much of the Church today.  The reach of this second reformation will surely only extend as Generation Y, and those following in their wake, become more vocal and mature in leadership.

What Do You Think?

Learning To Say "No"

noGUEST BLOGGER: @johncatkinson is The Director of Multi-Site Ministries at Bay Area Fellowship Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.  You can checkout his blog PastorJohnAtkinson.com.   If you would like to submit a Guest Blog Post for BigIsTheNewSmall.com, click here.

Learning To Say “No”

If you’re in Church leadership you have a tough job, and every day is about learning something new. Over the years I have learned many lessons, most the hard way because I’m just not that smart, but I don’t think any lesson was harder than learning to say no.

Let’s be honest, no matter how many times you do it, saying no is tough, but not learning to say no when no is the right answer, will ultimately be even tougher.

Why is it so hard to say no?

  1. Because it often means saying no to good people you love and respect.
  2. Because sometimes it means saying no to good ideas.
  3. Because the people you say no to will either criticize you, be angry at you, or accuse you!
  4. Because no one wants people mad at them, criticizing them, or accusing them.
  5. The most important reason leaders never learn to say no is, saying yes is easier!

Here’s a tough question to ask yourself, if the right answer is no, do any of the above actually change it to a yes? I believe one of the laws of the lid in leadership is the inability to say no because of the fear of the relational mess it might cause. But just because an idea is good, and was brought to you by good people, doesn’t mean you should automatically say yes to it. The vision of your church is delivered to you by God, and it is unique to your church, and if you’re clear on what that vision is, then anything, good or bad, that takes you away from that vision, is not something you should say yes to.

After years of having to clean up self induced messes caused by my inability to say no, I think I’ve finally learned this:

I have never once regretted saying no when the right answer was no, but I have ALWAYS regretted saying yes when I knew no was the right answer!

Get Out of THEIR Box

orangebox

Guest Blogger: Jason Curlee

You know that box…that six-sided structure…that structure that you and I might have been put in along the way. Well, it’s time to get out of it.

NO!!!!! It’s time to BUST OUT OF IT. It is time that you and I throw down the gloves and throw off the chains that have been kept us from going to the next level. It is time to “Bust Out Of The Box” that has kept us from being all that God has called us to be.

I remember the time I applied for a youth pastor position at the age of 33. What I was told was that I was too “old”. At that moment I let “their” box close on me.

Another time I let an organization almost kill the dream in me so that I could fit into what they wanted out of me for “their” ministry. I let their box close on me. And I almost closed the lid.

I once had the dream of planting a church ripped from me by a person who I thought was a friend…who couldn’t lead with someone else and then tried to put me in the box “he” thought I should be in.

What or who is it that has closed the box around you?

Is it your family telling you that you need to get a job other than ministry? Is it your boss telling you, you’ll always be at the bottom? Maybe it’s someone telling you, “you can’t lead”. Maybe it’s someone not believing in you. There are so many situations that could have put you in the box.

Here is how you can get out of “their” box:

1) Change the reality within the box – By that I mean change the mind-set that has put you there. Often times the box was started by others and you began to believe it. Begin to etch out a new mind-set filled with the possibilities that are out there. Truth is…there is truly nothing out there you can’t do if you put your mind to it.

2) Bust out of the box – Chart yourself a new destination…one that is alignment with the future God wants for your life.

3) Create a new box – This is the box you define. One that is not filled with the limits of others or your organization. You can be more than others see in you. You can do more than is possible. Push back the boundaries and believe in yourself…God believes in you.

Today, you have “PERMISSION” to get out of the box. Go ahead break those walls that have been constraining you and chart a new vision.

What are you going to do to get out of their box?

@JasonCurlee blogs at JasonCurlee.com and is all about influencing and developing others to make a difference in their world. He is currently a Campus Pastor for Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi, Texas.
His blogs are about creating content that ministry leaders can find practical and inspirational as well as sharing the ministry principles and experiences accumulated since 1995. It’s about being innovative, unique, and creating content that can help you make a difference.

I'm the Leader, That Means I Win!

bullyingGuest Blogger: Charlie Loften

“If I want to go the beach on vacation and my family wants to go to the
mountains, how do we decide? Who wins? I am the leader–that means I
win. I get to decide.”

I wish that I could say that such a perspective on leadership is rare,
but it is not. Way too many people approach leadership in their homes,
jobs and elsewhere with an attitude of perks, privileges and winning.

If you are asking the question about who wins, then you have not only
misunderstood what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5 about families, but
everything that Jesus and the entire Bible have to say about leadership.
What Paul says is that being a head is a comparison to Christ being the
head of the church. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for
her.” Ephesians 5:35 (NIV). How did he do that? He sacrificed his will
and his desires in order that he might give life to his Church. The
question of what Jesus wanted was not a consideration in his decision to
empty himself and die for us. If the question had been posed to Jesus,
“What do you want?” after giving a puzzled look I imagine his response
would be, “I want what is best for my church.”

What about us? How often does “What do I want?” come up in our
decision-making and leadership? How often do we try to pass off what we
want as the best decision? “I know it looks like I’m getting what I
want, but really this is best for all of us.” If we are to be the
leaders that God is calling us to be, we need to look to Jesus’ example.
This is the example of a man who washed the dirty feet of his disciples
when no one else would, the man who told us that the first would be last
and the last first, the man who said that even though you call me Lord,
I have come to you as a servant, the man who was tortured and killed in
order to give life to those he loved and led.

Being the leader does mean that you win. You win when you lay down your
desires and life so that those you lead may have life and become the men
and women that God has called them to be. (BTW, you should probably go
to the mountains.)

www.cloften.com
www.twitter.com /cloften

The Upside of the Downside of Leadership

upsidedown
Guest Blogger: Brandon Cox

My seven-year-old daughter has fallen into the habit of declaring what she’s going to do when she’s an adult – things like spend money limitlessly and eat whatever she wants. Why? Because adults get to be in charge and “tell kids what to do.”

We adults know, however, that once you arrive at adulthood there await us all kinds of unforeseen responsibilities, dashing forever our dreams of milkshakes every midnight and video games all day.

This is a parable of leadership. We want it, and then we want more of it. Because when you’re at the top, you get all the glory and you get to tell everybody what to do, right? Again, we are reminded once we get there that leadership comes with responsibility. In fact, leadership is pretty much defined by responsibility.

Irresponsible, immature leaders love the upside of leadership – the fun, the influence, the glory, and the potential raises in pay. But great leaders crave more. Great leaders crave all that leadership has to offer.

The downside of leadership is no fun at all. Let me give you some examples.

Confronting a co-worker about their lack of work ethic.
Fielding the criticism that inevitably comes when you’re in charge.
Making decisions when you never seem to have enough information to go on.
Casting a bold vision when the energy has been sucked out of your sails.

These are the aspects of leadership that are not-so-enjoyable, and there are too many more to list.

Here’s the upside of the downside of leadership though… tackle the tough tasks and you’re an unstoppable leader!

God gives us greater responsibility depending on how well we handle the smaller responsibilities. I don’t know about you but I’m not afraid to say that I want an ever-increasing influence. To think otherwise is to dwell in mediocrity.

So if you want to lead big… get the small things right. If you really want to enjoy the upside of leadership, accept the downside and do it well. Go after all the influence God has to offer you, even when it’s tough.

Brandon Cox is a Pastor, Web Designer, and Blogger who lives in Bentonville, Arkansas with his wife and daughter who are expecting their second child shortly. You can catch him on Twitter @brandonacox.

Page 1 of 212»

Designed by EightDay Studio. Powered by the Standard Theme. Developed by Milk Engine.