……………………..frustration. I want to address this matter specifically in the context of church leadership. However, the principles also play-out in other realms of life whether that be business, family or community.
For any group of people to function well there has to be good communication. Particular responsibility for providing this communication, and exemplifying it, is with the leadership. When communication is bad by a church leadership then the church starts to malfunction; bad communication leads to frustration. When people are not been told what is going on then they start to get frustrated. Some of the evidences that the communication is bad are:
- People having to approach the elders to find out about what is going on regarding a specific situation. Now there will be times when such an inquiry is just busy-bodying. Also there will be times when information is confidential and cannot be shared. Generally though, elders should be regularly be keeping all the people who need to know about a matter informed.
- People say “nobody told me”. This is when certain church members believe that they are not a party to information that others have been given.
- People start murmuring among themselves about what is going on in a situation.
When these things starts to occur you end up with a frustrated church and the consequences will be:
- People are deflated. They don’t know what is going on. They feel things are not being dealt with.
- People are distracted. The duty of church leaders is to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:12). Rather than people being released to works of service, they are being distracted by having to spend energy figuring out what is going on with other stuff in the Church. And this is all because they have not been communicated with.
So church leaders need to:
- Always veer towards over-communication rather than under-communication.
- Be sending out information at the same time to those who need to know. A bit here and there to different people can cause upset.
- Make sure all communications are sufficient so all know enough. Long-winded documents put people off.
- Communicate with warmth and encouragement. Being too business-like and curt can offend some people.
Given the nature of my position I am in, from time to time, I am asked to be a referee for someone. Here are some thoughts on this:
- If you are putting someone down as a referee ask their permission first.
- As someone who writes references, I find the fact that the practice nowadays that jobs are offered ”subject to references” very unsatisfactory. As far as I am aware historic practice was that references were considered before making any offer. But now not so. So if someone has the job offer withdrawn they know that it was the references that precipitated this and that could well have been your reference. This puts much pressure on writing the references. Previously everything would be considered, including the reference, before the applicant was communicated with regarding their success or failure with their application. I suppose one way round this is to say to a person who you feel you will give a negative reference to that they should go to someone else. But this raises its own issues.
- Overall I so very often find doing a reference to be a great heartache. I am bound to be truthful, my conscience before God binds me to that. However, I want to help the person to further their career and get the the job. My practice, as a rule, is to get them dome asap. Having them hanging around can lead to all kind of mental anguish. In all this I so very often wrestle with whether I have sacrificed the truth in order to be seen to generously write favourably about the person.
- Everybody has plusses and minusses in their charachter and abilities; you want in writing a reference to accurately reflect these whilst helping them progress in their lives.
What motivates you in Christian ministry? Is that I might:
- be complimented on my service?
- Manipulate people to do what I want?
- Gain power over people?
- Win an argument?
- Flog myself so others might admire my exertion?
Paul had one overwhelming motive driving his service and that was love. He says to the Corinthians Christ’s love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14). The Corinthian Christians were being affected by the spurious super-apostles who were urging them to be suspicious of Paul. They wanted to represent Paul as someone who just wanted to bring pain to the Corinthians. Paul says though : For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you (2 Cor 2:4).
It is passionate love for the Corinthians that motivated Paul to want to distress them over their failure to deal with sin. Love motivated Paul to get agitated and uncomfortable with the Corinthians. We so often cop out and do not want to get involved with the difficulties of potentially upsetting people. Paul, loved people too much to cop out in such a way
Do I love people enough to risk upsetting them? Love that makes everyone think well of me is not really love at all.
This all applies so very much into parenting as well. If we just want to avoid upsetting our children then we are most likely spoiling them and not loving them.
This post from last week leads me to think about how leaders should demonstrate their leadership in repentance. This is essentially counter-intuitive because the thinking of the world is that you have to prove yourself to be strong and in control if you are a leader. However the godly leader is not of that ilk.
The model of our leadership is a Saviour who was humble and lowly of heart. Now our Saviour never had to repent of any sin. However for us who are weak in our beings and prone to wander from the ways of God there should be the readiness to repent.
This so important because it is how we display the gospel into our family and into our church. Parents and church leaders who are not repenters set a bad example to those under their care. The gospel we affirm, after all, is a message which has its fulcrum in repentance. Gospel grace swings into our lives when there is repentance. Forgiveness is experienced when there is repentance.
So parents and church leaders make sure that you are a leader in repentance. Children and church members who see their leaders ever proving their strength and refusing to face up to their sins are hindered from seeing the gospel clearly displayed before them.
Churches need to have the faithful bringing of the Word as part of their dna. Whether it be through preaching times, bible studies, one-to-one-studies or whatever, the Word needs to be relentlessly brought into the church.
I fear though that no matter how faithfully and powerfully the Word is brought, much of the benefit is being dissipated by what people are watching, listening to and reading outside of church. The problem has always been there, but it has been exacerbated by the internet. There is now such easy access to everything and anything that people easily fall into the trap of feeding their souls on what is junk at best and poison at worse. The likes of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are so pervasive online that the undiscerning so easily fall under their sway.
So what needs to be done?:
- There is the challenge of teaching about discernment.
- We have to be more open about who the false teachers are out there.
- We need to confront false teaching.
- We need to encourage the people to come and ask the shepherds what they should be listening to and watching.
- We need to confiscate everyone’s phones and computers until they have learnt that to make sure they will only listen to healthy teaching. Well perhaps that’s going to far, but I feel like doing it sometimes.
- I need to keep loving the sheep. I despair at times, but I need to keep leading them into green pastures.
(Originally published in Venabling on 25th September 2017)
The ark has arrived in Jerusalem and David has been celebrating and praising the Lord for this tangible evidence that God has come among His people. After his celebratory praise we read Then all the people left, each for their own home, and David returned home to bless his family (1 Chron. 16:43). I want to focus on David here and learn:
- Church and home are not enemies in the service of God. David had enjoyed His time in the Lord;s place with the Lord’s people, but now it was time to return home. So we learn that there is a time for each.
- Moreover, we learn that the time celebrating with the Lord’s people was actually beneficial for his home life. He would now go home and be a blessing. The spiritual energy developed “in church” would be expended for God among his family. Church and family can and should go together. this means that that the family do not begrudge Dad being in church, but rather love it because they know that blessings are bestowed to them as a result.
- He actually went home. He was not a stay-away husband and dad. He was there among his family. It is a disastrous development for our society that Dad’s are absent from families. Dear brother in Christ you need to have time in your family.
- He goes home to bless. There seems to be a purpose here. He actually goes into the home with a goal of blessing. This means interaction with your wife and children. It means that you purpose to do good.
- He wants to serve. Many husbands and fathers treat home as a hotel where they get board and lodging and a bit of pampering. But no! It should not be. Home is to be a place where I engage and bring blessing.