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Sinking Ship or Leadership?
By Shannon Parish

The story is the same. A pastor and his wife, filled with visions of promise and impacting the world, set out to change their city by building a church.  With hearts filled with hope, they invest all they have emotionally, physically and mentally into their ministry. 

People come and yes, people go.  They discuss among themselves what the problem might be, that people are not staying as long as they wish they would.  Eventually a few faithful families come along side and the pastor mentally rubs his hands together and says, “Okay – now we’re getting some where.  Let’s build a church!” 

Years pass, programs come and go. People still come and go.  Suddenly, for what seems without cause, an elder begins to question methods.  People get frustrated and strife rumbles through the ranks – setting the congregation on edge. 

Finances dry up as people, shaken by gossip and overturning leadership, withhold their tithes and offerings.  The pastor and his wife brace their hearts and try to calm the rising voices of fear and doubt from the naysayers and “Chicken Littles.”  

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” “This ship is going down!” Voices proclaim as friends and church members exit the building.  Panic and accusations fly and in hopeless desperation the pastor and his wife throw up their hands and cry out to God. “Why us?” “We haven’t done anything to deserve this!” “We can’t do what God has called us to do without so much fighting and bitterness.” 

Other leaders nod and offer their sage advice, “You must be doing something right, or else the enemy wouldn’t be fighting you so hard.” 

So the pastor and his wife hang on longer until financial ruin and public humiliation rip apart their lives. The children suffer and the marriage relationship falls apart.  The church is closed and people nod their heads and say, “See, I told you it was going down.” I guess the enemy won.  Where was God in all of this? 

----- 

BEFORE it gets to far, take a second look at the trial you are going through. We have a choice to become bitter or better.  THIS is spiritual warfare.  The battleground is in your mind and heart.  Its not from flaky people, exhausted and withdrawn spouses.  Its not the demons in power over your city.  Take responsibility for your ministry.  Rather than react – act.  This means making carefully planned, well thought out choices to reclaim what has been lost through inexperience or misunderstandings.  

Trauma, strife, division and gossip in the church is normal behavior from normal human beings; human beings with a plethora of life experiences, belief systems, religious beliefs and woundedness. 

What is it that makes us, as pastors, think that just because we have a vision from God that our ministry experience is going to be a piece of cake?  

Dr. Kirby Clement, Liaison Pastor and Bishop of the Harvester Network, said something that has rung in my ears ever since I heard him speak.  He said that we get very excited and rejoice when new people enter our church, and cry when they leave.  We are thrilled that our numbers are growing and that additional finances will enter the church.  We see new workers and new friends.

When they leave, we grieve and often see betrayal and abandonment.  Exiting members struggle a great deal with what people will say, they make up stories and excuses for their leaving because they feel condemned and feel themselves as though they are betraying their friends.

Even though some of these emotions are normal, (no one likes to see friends move on) Dr. Clement challenged us that perhaps we had the whole thing backwards.

We should weep and cry when they enter our church and rejoice and celebrate when they leave.  Why weep and cry?  Because we do not know what pain they are bringing with them.  We do not know what these people will need and what they have been through.  We can only assume.  When they leave, we should rejoice.  Why?  Because if they were difficult and troublesome – that they aren’t there any more!  And if they grew and healed and were strengthened because of our ministry – rejoice that they are now well enough to be on their way.

Sinking ship?  Maybe not.  Maybe its just a ship that needs to be heard.  A great leader will know his or her followers.  This leader will know not only their name but what their perceptions are and how they communicate.  They will know their weaknesses and their strengths.  Wise leaders do not fear surrounding themselves with people who are more educated or wiser than they.  They look for people that are greater.  Why? Because they do not doubt their call or the position that they are in.  They know their own heart and motives and their mission is not one of competition and self glory, but of ministering the Good News of Jesus Christ.

A leader is not afraid of strong emotions.  He is wise to know that emotions are there for a reason, and its usually because a person is feels that they are not being heard.  He will listen carefully and ask probing questions, making sure to clarify the criticism in order to discern if it is an opinion or a real concern that must be dealt with. 

A wise leader will first do this with his leadership.  He will be open and honest with them, listening, clarifying and seriously considering wise counsel and possible changes.  When people know how much you care, they will care about how much you know.

Set aside building programs, outreach programs and anything else that is getting in the way of communicating properly with the people God has entrusted to your care.  Once people are validated, heard and celebrated, they will pull together in supernatural ways to accomplish what God has put in your heart to achieve.

Scripture verses:

Ps 35:1-28 / Ps 36:1-37:4 / Gal 5:12-6:10 / Matt 5:44-48 / Jer 15:19-21 / 2 Cor 6:1-7:2 / 2 Tim 2:24-3:7 / Phil 2:1-5 / Eph 4:26-32 / Romans 8:31-39 / Duet. 31:6 / Joshua 1:5 / Hebrews 13:6 / Romans 12:17-21

Web sites:

http://injoy.com

INJOY is known worldwide for equipping leaders to succeed through products, publications and programs of the highest caliber. Among the hundreds of resources available are series on leadership, personal development, stewardship and church staffing.

http://klemmer.com

People don't change their behavior because they are told to or because they know it's good for them, or even simply because they want to. The key is for a person to fundamentally change how they think or see things.

Through participation in games and exercises in Personal Mastery, you make discoveries as to how you think, who you think you are, how you think life works and how your thinking affects your feelings and behaviors. Instead of being told how to do things, your maps or paradigms shift because you literally see things differently. It is an inside-out approach instead of the standard outside-in approach, which typically doesn't last.

(Even though this web site is geared for corporations, Brian is a strong Christian who not only preaches, but has these amazing seminars available for churches and Christian organizations complete with scriptural foundations.)

http://completedpeople.com

Utilizing visuals, samples, cartoon illustrations, true stories and examples, the concept of becoming a whole person becomes something that can be easy grasped and acted upon.

Many times, people do not realize what perceptions or preconceptions they may have that are preventing major breakthroughs in their journey to whole health and a fulfilling life.  By addressing areas that range from personality and motivational differences; to blood types and the foods we eat; to crisis and conflict resolution, audiences learn how their relationships, health and personal prosperity can be successfully realized by the choices they make.

 

A Cartoonist, Graphic Facilitator and Creative Life Coach, Shannon Parish devotes her life to encouraging those who are fed up with the 'status-quo' and are determined to discover and pursue their purpose and destiny in life through one-on-one mentoring, facilitated workshops and retreats.

 

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(c) copyright 2010 All world rights reserved, Shannon Parish, Living Stones Center.
For reprint permission, please email me.


 

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Sarah's Tent (Est. 1997)
Living Stones Center
Broomfield, CO  80020-4801

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Copyright 1997-2009 Shannon Parish All rights reserved

 

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