In Psalm 127:4 we read: Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. When we are bringing up our children we are to be preparing them like arrows to be sent out into life. And as we send them out we want them to make an impact for the Lord. One of the ways we ensure that their effectiveness is maximised is by making sure they grow up with good friends who will be helpful for them in their development and as they move into adult life. With good godly people around them help is given so that those arrows are kept pointing in the right direction. Friends who have been brought up with the same values and the same doctrinal teaching as our children will bolster them in their development. If this does not happen those arrows are likely to be seized by the enemy and pointed back at the church.
Paul indicates what the impact of bad company is when he says to the Corinthians: Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame (1 Cor. 15:33-34). Bad company will weaken our children and mitigate against their effectiveness for the Lord.
We need then, to take action. We need to get our children mixing with good company. Very likely this will mean self-sacrifice. It will mean making sure that they are at church and that they attend the groups for youngsters at church. It will mean getting them to mix with other families by inviting those families to our homes. We also need to be sending them to camps and appropriate holiday conferences. Through all this they will be building good relationships which can be vital in making sure that they go in the right direction and, in the Lord’s mercies, that they would come to know the Lord and be built up in Him and for Him.
Here is a book by Matthew Syed. I have not read the book, but understand that his key premise is that we should be learning from our mistakes. It is based on how in the aviation industry the black box recorders are examined after flight disaster in order to learn lessons so that aviation safety can be improved.The fundamental premise is that when you have a failure, you have to examine why that failure happened and implement strategies so that those failures do not happen again.
It is all about learning from your mistakes. So do I learn from any mistakes? Another way of expressing the phenomenon is to observe that life is not about living a failure free life; it is, rather, about learning from the failures that do happen. So easily though we do not have this mind-set. Rather, when we do have failures we just get over them, carry on with life and forget what happened. In such a case we have failed to benefit from the failure.
So am I a black-box thinker? I suggest that should be the general tenor of my life if I am to develop and get stronger. So easily though we sweep things under the carpet. Businesses, churches, marriages are left impoverished because lessons have not been learned from mishaps and mistakes.
Another danger is that when failure does happen there can a tendency to give up. So in marriages when the couple have a row, and are struggling to work things out, there can be the tendency to give up on it all. Or in business if a product is being developed, then it can be ditched at the first sign of difficulty. And in churches, if an evangelistic strategy did not work out, there can be a tendency to just say we will give up on all this reaching out to people. This will not do we must go beyond our mistakes whilst learning from them.
Winston Churchill said that “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” To make the best of failure you have to go beyond it. The Bible says in Proverbs 24:16 For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. Let us be continually learning, looking ahead and moving forward. After all if there was no black-box thinking then flights would either stop totally or be continually crashing, neither of which are good recipes for success when transposed into life in general.
……at sea because people assumed things. It was assumed the boat would go in a certain direction and therefore it would avoid the rocks nearby. It was assumed that the ship would be strong enough to withstand the storm ahead. Such assumptions and many more can lead to all kinds of disastrous consequences if they prove to be false. Jack Phillips, the wireless operator on the Titanic famously assumed that a message from another ship in the area that there were icebergs around was unimportant. He found the message bothersome because he was dealing with other messages.
Furthermore on a lesser scale relationships can be damaged through assumptions being made. A married couple might make assumptions about how each is spending their money. If this results in an overspend or a resentment of how the money has been spent, the marriage can be harmed. And when this is taken into relationships in an organisation then all kinds of difficulties can arise. That organisation is then left functioning in a sub-optimal way because assumptions were made which led to fractured relationships. So in a church people assume others will do a certain activity without checking. As a result the whole undertaking can be messed up and fall-outs result.
In all this two things are vital:
Examination: Try and avoid making assumptions. Make sure that you examine the whole situation and determine what is the appropriate action to take. Don’t just assume things. There are times when assumptions have to be made, but the implications of those assumptions need to be considered. Assumptions can be particularly dangerous when you assume a certain course of action will lead to a certain outcome without giving full consideration to whether that is reasonable or not. In case of any doubt then be careful to check whether you have assumed correctly or not. Unnecessary assumptions are sometimes made through laziness.. This is unacceptable; do the necessary work so as to limit assumptions.
Communication: Fully communicate what assumptions you are making so that all involved know what you are assuming in a situation. It is good to be overly cautious as well. You may assume that someone will act in a certain way, but it is always best to check your assumption. Failure to do this may be disastrous if the person sees another course as appropriate. And continually be checking if your assumptions are correct so that matters can move forward in a harmonious fashion and there are no misunderstandings
In all this it is better to be safe than sorry. And it is better to over-communicate than under-communicate.
It is interesting to observe how the Conservative party during this election campaign has brought forth policies which were an essential a part of the manifesto of the Labour party at the 2015 election. I heard this policy on worker’s rights, for example, being referred to as an Ed Milliband policy. This also applies to the cap on energy bills which Mrs May announced.
So what is going on here? The Labour party has, no doubt, moved to the left in terms of ideology and policy. The Conservatives are therefore seeking to fill the vacuum. This is an observation on where the parties are at.
This manoeuvring of the Conservative party is symptomatic of how political parties operate on the basis of expediency now. The historic predisposition to adopt policies that were based on principle has been substantially diminished. A prevailing ideology in a political party is not totally lost, but it holds less sway than it used to. Pragmatism now predominates.
A slightly different slant on this issue is that populism now trumps over principle. In the recent local election on May 4th it was interesting to hear those who had been victorious declaring how “they had listened to the people”. It is, of course, good to listen to people and understand where they are at. But I just got the sense that populism prevailed over any thought of acting upon principle.
All this leads me on to a niggling worry that it is no longer what is right and wrong which drives how we act as Christians individually and in church. So easily it can be what makes us popular which determines the course of action we take. This type of thinking can insidiously seep into the church from the world around. Truly, it is vital that we talk to people and seek to understand where they are but it must be principle always which drives us.
This is a great post from Tim Challies. It makes us think about our commitment to church.
We at Feltham require vows to be taken upon becoming a member of the church. This is done to seek to give some gravity to the taking on of membership. Tim Challies in this post shows how we need to fulfill our commitment to each other in membership.
When you are called to be an elder you are called to a certain church to exercise that responsibility. An “elder” who is not an elder of a church is not an elder. I make this assertion because eldership only functions in the context of an individual church. But when an elder is considered as an elder in a church how much of that church are they responsible for? Part of Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians elders was for them to Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Acts 20:28a). They were all overseers to all the flock.
This reminds me of the importance of realising that when I was recognised as an elder of Feltham Evangelical Church I took on overseership of all the flock. I have a responsibility for all the flock. By implication it means as well that, under God I have responsibility for all of the church. When I become an elder of a church I cannot say that I only have responsibility for this part or that part. I have to answer to God for the whole church.
There are two important caveats here:-
- For practical management of a church situation it is reasonable to allocate responsibility of shepherding different ones among the leaders. Different elders have responsibility to particularly shepherd certain sheep. However, this does not take away from the ultimate responsibility of all the elders all the sheep. Day to day engagement is with one or some of the elders. Overall responsibility is with all of the elders.
- In a similar way responsibility for the activities and ministries in the church may be delegated to different elders of the church. But overall there is collective engagement with every ministry.
This all means that we stand together as elders. Ultimately nothing is carried individually by one of the elders; all is shared and carried by everyone.
I am thinking here of the raising up of those to bring God’s Word among God’s people. There are two models I have personally experienced.
The Brethren Model: People are raised up in the local church and trained and equipped. But then the main place for the function of their gift is in other assemblies; NOT in the local church.
The Independent Church Model: Those who are seen as having a suitable preaching gifting are given some opportunity in the church. However, their training is done elsewhere at a seminary or Bible college. They then go to exercise ministry in a church which is not their home church. In such a model the “pastor” of the church occupies his position until, he decides to leave, retires or dies. Up until such a time he does at least 75% of the preaching in the church.
Both models appear to me to have limitations according to the Bible model. It seems to me that gift should be raised up in a local church with the view that it is primarily used in that church. And training and equipping is focussed in the church.
It was interesting thereby to listen to this interview with Terry Virgo. One striking aspect of this interview was him speaking about his relentless determination to see suitably gifted men raised up, mentored, trained and released into the local church. In his ministry it seemed he almost was setting himself towards becoming redundant. This would happen through other preachers being raised up in the local church who would be preaching in that church.
Inherent in this approach is the expectation of planting churches from such a church. This could happen through the superfluity of the gift in that church flowing over to being used in another new church.
There seems to be much to recommend this.
N.B. The interview is well worth listening to for much wisdom on church life.