not in category mode for script check
by Alvin Reid
You know Einstein, the guy gave us the theory of relativity. You may not know about the same time Einstein posited his theory, a French mathematician named Poincare did as well, yet not from the vantage point of physics, but of mathematics.
In his fascinating book Before Happiness, Harvard Professor Shawn Achor discusses the breakthrough discovered by Poincare. The Frenchman did not come to his final conclusions by obsessing over the issues. On the contrary, it was when he walked away from thinking about it that offered him the idea he sought. He writes:
Disgusted with my failure, I went to spend a few days at the seaside, and thought of something else. One morning, walking on the bluff, the idea came to me, with just the same characteristics of brevity, suddenness and immediate certainty.*
Achor goes on to note two other occasions when Poincare solved an otherwise difficult problem by breaking away from thinking about the problem to divert his attention elsewhere.
Sometimes our best thinking comes from concentrated effort on the subject at hand. Sometimes, in particular when we reach an area of unresolved conflict, the best way to think about the issue is simply to stop thinking about it: take a walk in the woods, go sit by a lake, or go for a bike ride. Let your mind rest.
Think about this: most of your "aha!" moments came when you weren't trying to have a profound thought, right?
The very same thing happened to Einstein as well, as Achor notes:
In 1905, after a frustrating conversation with his friend Michele Besso in which he tried to reconcile all the problems he saw with Newtonian physics, he conceded defeat and gave up. While bouncing in a streetcar in Bern, Switzerland, the impoverished and defeated Einstein looked back over his shoulder and saw the Bern clock tower. He casually wondered what would happen if his streetcar suddenly zoomed away from the clock at the speed of light. Perhaps Einstein just wanted to get home faster. Maybe the great Einstein needed to go to the bathroom. But as he would put it, “A storm broke loose in my mind.” This was his unconscious brain offering his conscious brain a novel idea that would soon upend everything we thought we knew about the universe: that time was not the same everywhere in the universe. Einstein was not squiggling incomprehensible mathematical formulations on the board when he made his discovery. He was not in a physics lab. He was just on his way home.**
Two of the greatest minds in the modern era found crucial information related to incredible discoveries about reality when they were not thinking about them.
I'm learning this as well. I'm learning that taking a day once a week to step away in order not to think about my teaching, my writing, or my local church pastoral role actually helps me to think better regarding all these. There are at least a couple of forces at work: 1) my mind needs a break, and taking a day to think about nothing more than fishing or some other trivial matter helps my mind to rest, and 2) I have some of my more original thoughts on those days.
Sabbath rest means worship. But it also means, beyond worship, no agenda. No solving world crises, developing a genius book idea, or even prepping for that next talk. And by refusing to focus on such things, I in fact become a better speaker, writer, and minister.
More importantly, I become a better man.
Dr. Reid is Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two married children: Joshua and his wife Jacqueline, and Hannah and her husband Corey.
Most of this book recommendation list will appeal to any seasoned ministry leader, but I compiled it mostly with pastoral staff in mind. Several LifeWay and seminary friends helped me, and instead of listing their names, they can look forward to a few extra rewards in heaven (or maybe one small one). I hope this reading list helps you lead a healthy life and ministry.
Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem
Bible Doctrine, Wayne Grudem
Christian Beliefs, Wayne Grudem
Knowing God (20th Anniv edition), J.I. Packer
What is the Gospel?, Greg Gilbert
Chosen But Free, Norman Geisler
Who Moved My Pulpit?, Thom Rainer
Spiritual leadership, Oswald Sanders
Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
H3 Leadership, Brad Lomenick
4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney and Sean Covey
Leading Change, John Kotter
Spiritual Leadership, Oswald Sanders
The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker
The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni
Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath
LifeWay Leadership podcast has 32 leadership book recommendations.
Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply, Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im
The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches, Bob Roberts Jr.
How to Multiply Your Church: The Most Effective Way to Grow, Ralph Moore
Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson
Kingdom First: Starting Churches that Shape Movements, Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake
Breakout Churches, Thom Rainer
Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer
Comeback Churches, Ed Stetzer
Reclaiming Glorying, Revitalizing Dying Churches, Mark Clifton
Can These Bones Live?, Bill Henard
Why Revival Tarries, Leonard Ravenhill
Firmly Planted, Robby Gallaty
Transformational Discipleship, Eric Geiger, Philip Nation, Michael Kelley
The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
The 3D Sunday School, David Francis (free on iBooks)
Recapturing the Voice of God, Steven W. Smith
Preach, Dever and Gilbert
Faithful Preaching, Tony Merida
Preaching, Tim Keller
Kindled Fire, Eswine
Speaking God’s Word, Duval and Hayes
The Pastor’s Family, Brian & Cara Croft
Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp
Boundaries for Leaders, Henry Cloud
The Preacher: His Life and Work, J.H. Jowett
Unburdened: The Christian Leader’s Path to Sexual Integrity, Michael Todd Wilson.
Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster
Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro
Search for Significance, Robert McGee
Boundaries, Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scherzo
The Anxiety Cure, Archibald Hart
Last summer, my wife and I moved to the Nashville area and started looking for a church to serve and grow in. It was a somewhat strange experience for a couple who had never been in that position before. Until now, we had only visited new churches where I was a candidate for pastor.
I am writing this post to provide a fresh set of eyes through which you can see a typical visitor’s perspective. I aspire to be a Barnabas to pastors and ministry leaders, so please don’t read into this a critical spirit.
Our search began here, and you can assume the same for many of your first time guests. It was very helpful when the service times and locations were on the front page of the site or just a click away behind a well marked tab.
Most of the churches we visited had adequate and well marked guest parking. Parking options in a couple of churches were less than visitor friendly - mostly because I had no idea where the front door was when I drove onto the property. When a church clearly communicates that they are expecting guests, they are practicing pre-evangelism, as well as communicating their vision to mature believers.
To read the rest of this post, please go here.
David Francis is a good friend and Director of Sunday School at LifeWay. He has consulted with my staff and small group leaders in churches I have served, and I have asked him to provide a guest post for me today.
Katartizō – A one word job description for pastors
The HCSB uses 10 different English words to express the rich meaning of kartizo. The most prominent of its 13 occurrences is in Ephesians 4:11-12, where it describes the equipping role of the pastor-teacher. Taken together, the six meanings below provide a pretty comprehensive view of a pastor’s work.
1. Equip or train.
The best known use of katartizō is in Ephesians 4:11-12.
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ….
The ESV uses to equip. The NASB has equipping. Equip is also employed by the CSB in Hebrews 13:20-21 and fully trained in Luke 6:40.
2. Mend or restore.
Did you know that the word is also used to talk about mending nets and restoring people to health? There is more to katartizō than just teaching and training and equipping to do a task or fill a position. Matthew 4:21 (and similarly in Mark 1:9):
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.
In everyday usage, katartizō was used to describe the resetting of a broken bone. That idea is captured in these verses:
Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won't be tempted also (Galatians 6:1).
Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. (1 Peter 5:10)
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Be restored, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
Some people need to get mended before they can be put to work. That’s part of our role as equippers. Who in your ministry has experienced mending or restoration this year?
Take a look back at how God has prepared you as you consider the way katartizō is used in Hebrews 10:5 and Matthew 21:16.
4. Created or framed.
Katartizō in Hebrews 11:3 relates to the role of leading:
By faith we understand that the universe was created (KJV has framed) by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.
How are you “framing up” the vision God has given you for your church? Do you have a framework for making disciples?
5. Complete and Mature.
These uses describe the goal of disciple making. Isn’t that what really drives us?
…as we pray earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:10)
In fact, we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. We also pray that you become fully mature. (footnote: Or become complete, or be restored ) (2 Corinthians 13:9)
Who in your ministry has matured this year? Rejoice!
A final use in 1 Corinthians 1:10 is so fitting for a church that is on mission.
Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united (KJV has perfectly joined together) with the same understanding and the same conviction.
This is my favorite use of katartizō, and the one that demonstrates that all the other meanings are happening! In my workbook Spiritual Gifts, I describe three characteristics of the gift of leadership: vision, motivation, and harmony. The last is the true differentiator. It is the high water mark of katartizō. God has prepared you to do the work of equipping, mending, and framing to make mature disciples in a context of unity. That’s the job description! How’s it going?
Thousands of David’s little books on launching and leading Bible study groups are in circulation. They can be downloaded free from the iTunes store, with the LifeWay Reader app, or in PDF format at www.lifeway.com/davidfrancis.
Jesus promised His Disciples thrones in which to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and almost immediately they start itching to get in them. In their excitement they mistakenly told their friends and family.
Jesus had just moments earlier predicted his trial, flogging, and crucifixion when the mother of James and John made her ambitious pitch for their promotions. She probably was not there when he predicted his death to the twelve, yet her timing is horrible. As she grapples at Jesus’ feet for the top two thrones for her boys, Jesus’ answer is directed entirely to James and John. The others are fuming, perhaps because the Zebedee boys beat them to the punch. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach these future church leaders about servanthood and humility.
But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them.—Matthew 20:25 HCSB
I see three important leadership lessons here.
1. Deal with Problems as They Arise
This lesson was modeled, not overtly stated when Jesus called them together. Like cancer, conflict can grow and kill, especially when competition is a factor. Early detection is important, and early surgery is imperative (Matt 18:15).
2. Be a Leader, Not a Lord
Kingdom business should not be handled like secular business. Jesus describes us as children not lords; slaves not masters.
To read the rest of this post go here.
Recently I woke up with no energy or optimism. I just wanted to be left alone with my negative thoughts. By the end of that same day, I was in a whole different place.
Everybody has a bad day now and again, and conversely, some days will be better than others. I have found a few things that have helped me to turn a bad day around.
1. I talked to God about it
I typically start my day with a time of private Bible study and prayer. This day I wasn't feeling it - and I told Him so. Of course, I realized that God knows more about the condition of my heart, soul, mind, and body than I do. So who better to help me turn my negative thoughts around and “take captive every thought” (2 Cor. 10:5)?
2. I took a walk with my wife
Janet is like an emotional Exxon station for me. Except for Jesus, nobody restores my soul better than she does. This particular day was a Saturday, but I've found that walks after work outdoors or in a community center are helpful to my overall health. Exercise helps increase energy, lower stress, and fight off that extra waste size.
3. I took a nap
I was physically tired and for a good reason. I had been traveling a lot lately and also training for a half-marathon. God created your body with limits as well as the ability to let you know when it needs more rest. Listen to it. Naps at work are not an option for me, but I have found them possible on airplanes, weekends and before evening events I need to recharge for.
In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food — yes, He gives sleep to the one He loves. Ps. 127:2
4. I ate a bowl of Lucky Charms
They really are “magically delicious.” Sometimes food can be an unhealthy escape, addiction, or idol. Other times, eating something fun is just a good idea.
5. I was intimate with my wife
Rabbis do this as a part of their Sabbath. Who am I to argue? Hollywood gives the impression that only single people are having fun in the bedroom. They are idiots.
Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. Prov. 5:18
6. I ate a good meal
Janet and I are healthy people, so it may surprise you that we eat what most other people eat, only in moderation. Food fads and pop nutrition are driven by businesses that want to sell you something you don't need. Unless a medical professional tells you something is bad for your body (ie: milk, wheat, Lucky Charms), stick with science: www.choosemyplate.org.
I hope these habits are helpful to you. If your bad days never end, talk to your doctor or a licensed counselor/therapist about it, because you really don't have to live that way indefinitely.
Every church has someone who is in charge of the children’s ministry, regardless of where they are on the org chart or payroll. They are not in it for the money or the glory. They obviously love Jesus and our kids - so I’m going to love them back today through this letter, which I hope you will make sure they get.
Dear Children’s Minister,
I love you and so do scores of other pastors, parents, and church members. Here are eight reasons why:
1. You love our kids like they are your own
You don’t just love your job, you also love our children and treat them like they are your own family.
2. You minister mostly behind the scenes
No one really knows how hard your ministry is because you operate almost entirely outside of the limelight. The Wizard of Oz was a poser; you are the real deal.
To read the rest of this post, go here.