Monthly Archives: May 2011

Some Things Leaders Do

In an ongoing effort to understand and get a picture of what a genuine leader looks like we will use the acronym LEADER to examine some of the things leaders do.

 

Listen

People are more inclined to follow those who hear them and their ideas and opinions. Increased undermining in organizations and families takes place where this is lacking. Wise leaders realize they do not have to agree with everything they hear, but if they don’t take the time to genuinely listen others are not likely to agree with anything they want to do. Good leaders work on developing their listening skills.

 

Envision

New ideas, dreams and hopes for progress and advancement are very important in any organization. Developing and sharing their vision with others is a must if the vision is to be accepted and acted upon. Leaders provide the vision and they get others on board to help map out the way to see the vision become a reality.

 

Ask

Keeping an idea or thought to yourself that requires others’ assistance is a sure way to keep it from happening! Asking others to help or join you is a hallmark of leadership. Good leaders are not “loners.” Real leaders have a manner of asking for advice and asking for help that is hard to turn down, because those who are being asked receive a sense of importance.

 

Delegate

Wise leaders know when and how to delegate. Frustration may often arise when a person is given responsibility but little or no authority. Wise leaders delegate and empower people with responsibility and authority for the task(s). Good leaders are secure enough to overcome the “I can do it better” syndrome and wisely delegate in a way that encourage and develops others.

 

Empower

Leaders help other people to be successful. They are not held back by jealousy or thoughts of who is getting the credit. The leader’s focus is on seeing the vision happen and setting the tempo by their example.

 

Respect

Often times we will see leaders who appear to be gruff, domineering, and short-tempered with people. Yet they are still able to get results. Why? Because they care for and respect people. It is like a football coach who is demanding and somewhat dictatorial in his coaching style and the players and team will battle for him all the way.

(Adapted from seminar materials by William Vermeulen)

 

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The Perfect Pastor? The introduction to the book

          Twenty-nine-year-old Paul served as a youth director before taking on his first pastorate.  He, his wife and three little children entered the small town church with high hopes and abundant enthusiasm.  The little church was started by a conservative group who had broken away from a mainline denomination.  Initially, they maintained their denominational name, style of worship and form of government.  Paul, at his core a Baptist, agreed to take the call since many of the members were comfortable with his theology.

However, only a few months into his ministry he encountered the first real challenge.  During a regular board meeting, Paul was informed that he was not fulfilling his duties.  Without a formal or written job description, the board, nevertheless, had particular expectations of Paul as the sole pastor.  Paul, too, had expectations largely informed by the pastor of the church in which he grew up whom he considered his mentor.  With his seminary training still fresh on his mind, he was operating on the assumption that what he had been taught was indeed the right and biblical way to minister.  He was also enough of an idealist to think that the congregation and the board would follow his lead because he believed he was operating on biblical principles.

The board was composed of business and retired military men and women.  Some were charter members.  A few of them had purchased the acreage and built the facility with their own generous funds.  They liked their old Southern denominational roots and church traditions.

In the minds of these board members, the pastor was an employee of the board, a submissive servant hired to do their bidding.  Any job description would be determined by them and adjusted as they saw fit.  This young man’s recoiling at their demands  surprised and angered them.

Paul was baffled and became frustrated with the board.  How could they insist that he was failing to measure up? After all, they had failed to communicate their expectations, and he was working very hard as the new pastor. It was an even greater challenge for him because previous pastors willingly submitted to the board.  A precedent had been set and the board liked what they had before. Now he was kicking himself because he did not ask more probing questions during the interview process.  How could they ask him to do all that a pastor is to do and also serve as the youth minister, church custodian and groundskeeper?

After wrestling through these issues, Paul and the board were able to come to a workable solution.  A man was hired part-time to clean the church and different people signed up to take care of the lawn.  The rest of the facility maintenance would take place during workdays.  But the initial conflict was not without a cost.  Paul’s refusal to keep house and mow lawns led most of the board members to believe that he lacked humility and was lazy.  Sadly, the tension between the two parties lasted the entire three years Paul served in the church.

Paul was the first pastor with whom I developed a friendship.  My wife and I entered the church a couple of weeks after he and his family started at the church.  Though I was still in the military, Paul came to treat me as his very part-time, unofficial and unpaid assistant.  I was more of a confidant, gopher and yes man than anything else.  The role was easy because we shared a heart and service for the Lord, biblical convictions, youthful idealism, and  a philosophy of ministry.  Paul provided me with many opportunities to gaze into the world of pastoral ministry.  Upon sharing his first ministerial challenge, I was likewise angered.  The trouble was, neither of us comprehended the heart of the matter.  It was not so much about who was in control, though there was some of that to be sure.  Rather, both parties were operating on different presuppositions and paradigms.  Both sides defined and described ministry differently.  What’s more, each board member had in mind his or her own personal perspective as to what a pastor is and does, which at times in conflict with the other members.  The board seemingly lacked an objective or absolute standard upon which to define and describe the person and role of a pastor.

Over the years, in many different churches, I have observed and experienced this dynamic again and again.  Conflict between members in the congregation and the pastor or between the governing body of the church and the pastor has often times resulted from divergent expectations.  People place expectations on the pastor and the pastor places expectations on the people.  Most often these expectations are unspoken or at least poorly communicated.

Most church members have good intentions toward their pastor.  However, their often unrealistic understanding of what a pastor is supposed to be and do is based on an ignorance of the Bible’s teaching.  Thus, I resolved to research the Scriptures’ teaching on the relationship and role between a pastor and his people.

The purpose of this book is not merely to address conflict between people and pastors, per se.  Other books and resources are available to help resolve conflict between pastors and church people.  The purpose is not even merely to define and describe the qualifications and work of a pastor.  There are many good books which speak to that subject too.  My purpose is to provide a tool to improve relationships between church members and their pastors, and bring them into greater proximity to God’s purposes.

Such a tool is not only useful, but necessary.  This conclusion is borne out of thirty-six years as an active member in various churches (independent, Baptist, and now conservative Presbyterian).  This includes two years as a church board member, one year as youth director, four years as an elder, and ten years as a pastor.  In other words, God has blessed me with many years on both sides of the proverbial fence.

Before becoming a pastor, I had a strong admiration for a few pastors, was ambivalent about a few, and also had little trust or respect for a few.  The latter were those with whom I had some conflict.  Hindsight has taught me that the conflict was often  because they disappointed my expectations.  Admittedly, most of those expectations were at best, personal, or at worst, unbiblical.

After I became a pastor, I encountered people who were disappointed or angry with me.  Why?  Some of the time I missed the biblical mark as a pastor, but most of the time I had disappointed their expectations.  For them, I failed or violated their personal preferences.  Time has taught me that a significant portion of the interpersonal problems and conflicts between a member of the church and me as pastor, centered upon misguided or even sinful expectations we had of each other.

There is much written about pastors, particularly their role and duties toward God’s people.  Yet, nearly all of it is addressed to ministerial students or pastors.  On the other hand, virtually nothing is written about the member’s role and duties toward the pastor.

The Bible is the God-given authority for all matters pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 3:1-11).  Since this is true, the Bible is the standard against which to evaluate a pastor’s call, character and competency.  It is also the authority on a congregant’s service to his pastor and other church members.

So, this book is designed to be a tool.  Church members will be better equipped to choose a pastor, to relate to him and to support him.  Pastors, likewise, will find ways to relate to the varieties of people in their church.

This book is also a story.  It’s about a fictional pastor named Dan, and his family.  It tells the realistic, practical, humorous, exasperating real-life experiences of a pastor.  Dan attempts to apply the Bible’s requirements, roles and responsibilities of every pastor to his own strengths and shortcomings and to a diverse, and sometimes difficult, body of believers.

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What Does a Wise Leader Look Like?

God’s Word puts a premium on wisdom; therefore, so should we.  God not only expects his people to seek wisdom, but also to be wise. What’s more, he wants his leaders to also be wise in every way (Deuteronomy 17; Psalm 1; Proverbs).

However, just what is wisdom?  That’s what this Bible study is about.  Check out the attached lesson.

A Wise Leader

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A Matter of Pride (A Study from the Bible)

“…pride, most likely the chief of sins. Some even think that pride is the root of other sins. It well may be; as it leads to so many other particular offenses. Older commentators (Chaucer, p. 554, Canterbury Tales, London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1958) spoke of pride as a “chief sin”, in that other twigs grew from its fertile and fatal root. From pride, grow the branches of disobedience, vaunting, hypocrisy, defiance, Arrogance, Impudence, insolence, impatience, strife, presumption, irreverence, and others. Chaucer even divides pride into external and internal categories, and refers to it as the sin of “superfluity”, an over-abounding, so as to bring fame to a person.

Satan’s first sin was characterized by and manifested itself in pride – perhaps the greatest sin. It always violates the first commandment – to have other gods before our Creator. Pride puts self before God. It seeks elevation above divinity.

Pride is willful arrogance, arrogating to yourself what is really God’s. It is essentially a lust for power … and it is far more prevalent than in rulers alone. Pride besets the commonest of people. It is no respecter of persons or position. In a power-centric society, pride is at the top of the list of sins.

Today, many of us are routinely tempted with pride. Much of our very environment seduces us with pride. It is a sin of which we should constantly be aware, and seek to restrain. If a person tells me they have no pride, then I know I’m dealing with a person who does not know himself very well, or else a person who is in dangerous denial.

Today, let’s look at its biblical diagnosis, and seek a cure. We need a pride-ectomy, or at the very least, an antidote for it.

– Rev. Douglas Hall

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One of the prevailing challenges a leader has, even leaders within the local church, is that of pride. Enclosed is a study on what the Bible says about pride.  It is not comprehensive, but it is a start.  Work through the study, if you dare.

A Matter of Pride stdt

A Matter of Pride tchr

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Aspiring to be a Real Man (A Study)

Aspiring to be a Real Man PDF

The PDF file attached to this blog is one of the lessons I put together for a men’s discipleship group called Band of Brothers. The purpose of this group was to provide dynamic training for intentional living as a man or as men in Christ.

The material may be used, copied and circulated without limit provided proper acknowledgment is given to the source.

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Characteristics of a Cult

Someone recently objected to the statement that Harold Camping is a cult leader.  Yet, when he and his teachings are compared to the standard definition(s) of a cult, he fits the bill.  What are some of those main characteristics?  See the short list below.  I am indebted to Mr. Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry for outlining the basic traits of a modern cult.

1. Unorthodox, esoteric, with a devotion to a person, object, or set of new ideas.

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2. Often isolationist.

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3. Many cults have non-verifiable belief systems. In other words, they tend to have special beliefs no one else can know or verify, or special revelation no one else outside of the cult’s inner circle has.

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4. The leader, who is often charismatic,  is supposedly very special because he or she:

a. Has received special revelation from God, or special knowledge about God and God’s will that no one else has.
b. Claims to be appointed by God for a mission.
c. Claims to have special abilities (wisdom, power, talent, gifts, insight, etc.) no one else has.
c. Is considered above reproach and is not to be denied, contradicted or rebuked.
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5. The ethics of a cult:

a.  They typically seek to do good works.
b.  Usually moral and possess a good standard of morality.
c. The Bible is often used or additional  “scriptures” are penned. When the Bible  is used, it is distorted with the leader’s private  interpretations.
d. Many cults recruit Jesus as one of their own and redefine him accordingly.

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Rebuking Harold Camping

Because of the erroneous, unbiblical teachings Harold Camping continued to invent which caused many to leave their churches in order to follow cult leader Camping, the Northern California Presbytery of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church drafted and sent a no-nonsense, straightforward rebuke to Camping.

Camping, an engineer and contractor, who had built several church buildings, including the one for the congregation in which I served while in the San Jose/San Francisco area, was a friend to many Reformed churches.  For many years he broadcast sermons and radio devotionals by local pastors and big-named radio Bible preachers. However, something happened, and he became more and more convinced that he alone was privy to true interpretations of the Bible.

As a consequence, many of the regional pastors began to confront him. Solid seminary professors, pastors of large churches, friends, relatives were among the throng who called him, wrote to him or spoke with him directly to address his aberrant teachings.  Rather than listening to any, he either ignored them or rejected them out of hand. None of his responses were logical, let alone biblical.  Nevertheless, he did find a way to counter the waves of admonishment:  he declared that God made clear through the Bible that all churches were apostate and evil, and all pastors demonic.

It was then that avid followers of Camping, chose to follow a self-taught, over-confident man than to believe their own schooled pastors and learned elders. I recall talking to one of our members who declared that Harold Camping, the man of God, knew what he was talking about, while I, his pastor who had trained in exegesis and the original languages, did not know anything.  The week after he made that angry declaration, he left the church; as did a number of other families.

Camping’s followers caused many churches to split or to lose many former members. Like Camping himself, these families were solid in their belief that Camping was absolute right and everyone else in the world was wrong.  Further, like Camping, they also said the only ministry that was truly preaching the gospel message was Camping and his Family Radio.  The sad thing has been, there was and is no gospel (which means “good news”) message. It has been a message of judgment and fear with absolutely no hope other than to believe that there will be judgment, and a rapture for the select few (the number is now 200 million) who apparently listen to Camping.

It was at this point that the Northern California presbytery (pastors and elders of the regional Orthodox Presbyterian Church) issued a public call for Camping to repent and to return to the essentials of the historic, Biblical, Christian faith.  From what I recall, he received the notice, but rejected it as nonsense.   Here is a copy of the call for Harold Camping to repent:

RESOLUTION AGAINST MR. HAROLD CAMPING’S

UNSCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

Whereas, we, Presbyters of the Church of Jesus Christ – ministers and ruling elders of the Presbytery of Northern California of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church – are to protect and guard that which has been committed to our charge;

Whereas, we, ministers of the Word, are duty bound to warn the uninstructed and erring not to receive or to teach that which is unscriptural especially in regard to the biblical existence of Christ’s holy Bride, the Church, and ought to give authoritative direction to those members tempted to follow such erroneous teaching;

Whereas, we, ministers of the Word, are commanded to propagate the truth of the doctrine of the Church;

Whereas, Mr. Harold Camping proclaims publicly on Family Radio stations (a worldwide Christian radio network) his doctrine of the denial of the God-ordained institution of the church visible;

Whereas, Mr. Camping arbitrarily decides which scriptural texts refer to the so-called eternal church and which refer to the so-called temporally “cursed” local church;

Whereas, Mr. Camping argues that the Spirit of God has abandoned the local church and is no longer working in it at all;

Whereas, Mr. Camping argues against the continued validity of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, even exhorting members of the Church to cease from partaking of the sacraments and new converts from experiencing the sign and seal of the covenant;

Whereas, Mr. Camping denies the legitimate authority of the ordained offices of the church: pastor (teaching elder), ruling elder, and deacon;

Whereas, Mr. Camping’s doctrine has never been submitted to any ecclesiastical authority for review and correction, in effect, denying all ecclesiastical authority; thus making himself the sole defining authority and communicator of this so-called new insight;

Whereas, Mr. Camping teaches that those members who continue in the church visible are disobeying God’s Word and thus sinning by remaining faithful to the local church;

Whereas, Mr. Camping counsels that even if one’s own particular church is teaching the “true gospel”, short of this particular doctrine, he still must forsake even this assembly of saints;

Whereas, some of our churches have lost members because they have received and believed such false doctrine, repudiating their vows of membership;

Whereas, Mr. Camping cuts himself off from the visible and local church of Jesus Christ, thus committing a form of excommunication;

Therefore we, the Presbytery of Northern California of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, do condemn this teaching against the church and exhort the members of the church visible to refuse to heed his teaching to forsake the visible church;

And we, the Presbytery of Northern California, call Mr. Harold Camping to repent of this heresy and turn back to the Church of Jesus Christ visible, and to stop teaching such on the public airwaves and in his published literature (1 Tim. 1:3-7);

And that this Resolution be circulated to the Presbyteries of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and to the 71st General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and to anyone else we believe ought to know of our church’s stand on this issue and need to be encouraged and reassured of the true doctrine of the Church visible and invisible.

May God have mercy,

The Presbytery of Northern California of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

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