Rejoicing in My New Job!

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I have a new job!  When I saw this diagram recently I saved a PurposeCirclescopy of it because it so neatly summed up the place God has for me at the moment.  I am sitting at the crossroads of my passion (seeing people grow in Christ and their lives transformed), my mission (to equip others for work in the Kingdom of God), my profession (teaching and being the academic resource librarian), and my vocation… as the Adult Discipleship Coordinator for Lynn Haven United Methodist Church.

It’s exciting and, as soon as I surface from sorting out the administrative challenges, I am looking forward to thinking “big thoughts” about what discipleship in the church should look like.  How do we take this mass of comfortable consumers and turn them into self-replicating disciples of Jesus?!  Honestly, that’s a work only Jesus can do, but I am very glad He’s invited me along for the challenge.

I covet your prayers!  And your input!  Love to you all, Mindy

Does Your Church Have A Discipleship Path?

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I need to know, does your church have a “discipleship path”?  Many churches have a class for new people where you learn all about the church, and/or a class for those who want to be baptized.

But what about after that?

If your church has a discipleship plan or path for what comes next, please tell me about it or give me the link to the website!

I have recently been asked to chair a committee responsible for designing the Intentional Faith Development plan (aka discipleship path) for our church and I’m studying other successful models right now.  It’s very interesting!

Thank you!

Recommended Reading – What YOU said!

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Thank you to those of you who have shared the good books you have read recently!  I have been using some of my summer spare timeBadge-of-Awesome (ha ha) to read… maybe I’ll have more spare time when the kids go back to school!  (not that I am counting the days or anything!)  The list follows in alphabetical order:

1,000 Gifts by Ann Voscamp (joy, thankfulness, faith)

A Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung (Surrender/Lordship and why we should hunger for holiness)

A Leader’s Heart by John Maxwell (devotional)

Big God by Britt Merrick  (heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11)

Crazy Love by Francis Chan (overwhelming love of God, call to relationship)

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller (redeeming the workplace)

Faith Enough to Finish by Jill Briscoe (Jeremiah, perseverance)

Gods at War by Kyle Idleman (idols of the heart, false gods)

Jesus Calling: Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young (devotional)

Lord, Heal My Hurts by Kay Arthur (study, enduring hard times)

Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz (pursuing a God-filled life)

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman (becoming a completely committed follower of Christ)

Ruth (Loss, Love and Legacy – Living Room Series) by Kelly Minter

Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (study, joy of personal revival)

Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay (a completely different approach to evangelism)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen (new look at an old parable)

The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson (living a life of conviction, counter-cultural courage)

Think Like Jesus by George Barna (Importance of the Word in shaping worldview)

 

Waiting Quietly

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I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.” – Neh 2:11-12

 I can’t keep a secret.  I’m always talking to everyone about what is on my mind.  I’m just a very transparent character.

Nehemiah had the ability to keep his mouth shut.  I’m impressed by that.  We know he prayed for four months before he went to see the Persian king to ask for permission to rebuild Jerusalem.  He’d taken a lot of time to think, plan, and shape the idea that God had planted in his mind.

Nehemiah had the FAITH to WAIT for God, patiently waiting for His direction.  Warren Wiersbe writes, “True faith in God brings calmmness to the heart that keeps us from rushing about and trying to do in our own strength what only God can do.  We must know not only how to weep and pray but also how to wait and pray.”

Then when he got to Jerusalem he set out to assess the situation, to see what exactly what kind of project this was going to be.  And he went at night, almost tiptoeing around the walls, trying not to be noticed, keeping it all a secret.

He had with him a few men – trusted souls, who could obviously keep their mouths shut too.  Men with whom he had probably shared his vision to rebuild the walls.  Men who were like-minded.  It’s important that Nehemiah was not totally alone, for an assessment build on the eyes of one man is not necessarily accurate.  He needed the wisdom, eyes, and input of other men… to see what he could not see.

I envision Nehemiah and his little team discussing and revising their assessment, making certain it was accurate.  I picture them discussing how the idea of rebuilding the wall should be presented to the residents of Jerusalem… refining their “project launch” and marketing strategy.  I know they were praying about every detail and seeking God’s guidance and His timing for the unveiling of their plan.

How do I know that?  Because when they finally began to speak publically and call local residents to join in the work… everyone did it!  If you’ve ever worked with a  volunteer organization, you know that a mass movement of people that involves hard work is not so simple!  That means that God was behind it all, preparing the hearts of the people so that Nehemiah arrived at exactly the perfect moment and it all came together.

Kelly writes, “Sometimes God drops a dream in our hearts that we must pray over and develop, that we must cultivate by His Word and direction before we share it with others.  Here we get a beautiful example from Nehemiah who nurtured a seed of vision into a fully recognizable bloom, before making it known.”

Has God given you a passion for something?  A vision for how He might use you for the glory of His Kingdom?  Have you been praying about it?  Have you been evaluating the need?

Wait for His direction.  Resist the urge to run ahead of God.  He has a plan.  Listen to Him and He will let you know when the time is right for you to run.  And then you must run, and not delay.

*Nehemiah, a Bible study by Kelly Minter.

What Defines You?

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Today’s guest blog is written by Jimmie Davis, girls’ minister and author.  She’s also one of the most humble women of God you’ll ever meet. http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/girlsministry/

While I was at LifeWay for a conference two years ago, Pam Gibbs handed me the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton, and told me it was a “must read” for anyone in ministry. I read a few chapters and it was extremely convicting, so I politely put it away not to pick it up again until a few months ago. Since that time, the Lord has used this book to remind me that who I am personally is intricately interwoven into my ministry with teenage girls, but my ministry does not define me.

In the book, Ruth uses the life of Moses as a prime example. She points out that growing up Moses didn’t really know if he was an Egyptian or a Hebrew. He didn’t really know who his mama was and certainly was confused at the deep compassion he felt for the injustices shown to the Hebrew people even though he was raised as an Egyptian, the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ built-up anger over his life’s circumstances came out when he saw an Egyptian being cruel to a Hebrew and his rage turned into murder. Moses fled to the desert and had to spend forty years in solitude with God to let the dust settle so he could clearly see and settle his identity crisis. Finally when Moses had spent enough time in silence, God called and he was ready to listen. Moses’ personality, his handicap, his upbringing, his heritage, and his very own story equipped him to go and face Pharaoh, lead the Hebrew children out of bondage, survive in the dessert for forty more years, and fulfill God’s plan for his life.

I’m not saying you have to spend forty years in silence; what person can do that, really? However, I have learned that spending time in solitude before God will allow the dust to settle and you will be able to see who you are and hear God’s call of leadership. In times of solitude, God will remind you that you are not defined by your ministry, but you are defined by His presence in your life. Solitude in the presence of God on your leadership journey will keep you close to Him and that is completely satisfying.

The book also points out that God led Moses to the top of Mount Nebo and showed him the Promised Land. God told him that he could see it, but he would never go there. No argument, no response; Moses was completely satisfied. Barton says, “He no longer needed a role, a task, or responsibility to define him. For him, the presence of God was his promised land.”

This is a painful reality in ministry. We might have a great vision for girls’ ministry and serve long and hard, but for some reason God removes us from our place of service. Like Moses, maybe someone else will come in and take your vision to a new and different level. When the presence of God defines you, there will be no argument, no response; you will be completely at peace with whatever circumstance comes your way. I encourage you to seek Him in solitude today—for that is the place where the peace comes.

The Character of a Leader, Dependence

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How convicted I have been these last two weeks! It’s taken me extra long to read the next section in Dr. Crawford Lorritts’ book Leadership as an Identity because I keep saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s me!” I have been overwhelmed with a sense that God has granted me some extraordinary opportunities in this life, but also that I have completely gotten in the way of His work at other times…

You may recall from my last blog post that Lorritts is writing about the four common character traits of Christian leaders who wield a lasting influence. The first character trait was Brokenness. The second he calls “Uncommon Communion” – a deep, intimate walk with God that goes beyond daily times of prayer and Bible study, a sense of being absorbed by the presence of God – a place where we as leaders are often driven because of the enormity of the task before us and our awareness that we desperately need God’s help. You could call it “Dependence”.

Here’s what Dr. Loritts has to say:

On God’s Resources:

The problem [in this instance] was that he was too aware of his gifts and experience. He assumed those were the key to his success. He thought he had a lot to offer God… If your primary calling card is the belief that your skills, education, and experience make you capable of fulfilling God’s assignments for you, you are in trouble.

In a certain sense you may, in fact, be the best qualified and the best leader. But when the source of your leadership is your personal competency, the contribution you make to the assignment God has given you will – in the long run – be mediocre at best. That is because God gives leaders assignments beyond their ability to accomplish.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

We must be committed to developing the gifts and talents God has given to us. And, of course, competency is a good thing. But there is a problem when we view these things are the reason why God uses us and as the source of our effectiveness and success. Never underestimate the power of self-deception and the pull towards self-reliance. Do not trust yourself, but return to God as your source for everything.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6

On God’s Character-Building Program:

God is using what He has given you to do to not only accomplish his assignments but to make you what He wants you to become. It is important that you do not separate God’s assignments from His character building program. The assignment He has given you is being used to accelerate your sanctification. In leadership you will find suffering, personal struggles that do not go away, failure, and success through hardship. Leadership implies a willingness to take others to a place where none of you has been before. Leadership is the ability to endure. There can be no leadership apart from adversity and hard times. Your credibility to lead is in direct relationship to your ability to endure.

On God’s Direction:

Leadership is fueled by a compelling sense of mission. What inspires us to take action is an irresistible picture of either what should be done or what could be done. We then focus our determination to make it happen. This is true of all leadership.

But there is more. Christian leadership is all about doing what God wants done. There is no leadership apart from a clear assignment from God. One of the most dangerous things for a Christian leader to do is to make assumptions about what God wants done. God wants to tell us what He wants to do. Planning is not wrong, self reliance is wrong.

Do not move if you are not sure God is with you. The only thing worse that waiting on the Lord is wishing that you had! Act when His instructions are clear, and then keep coming to Him when you don’t know what to do next.

Fight to maintain the discipline of coming into God’s presence to discern what He wants you to do and how He wants to do it. There’s too much at stake for us to do otherwise. God’s assignments have eternal implications.

Beware of the “activity addiction” associated with leadership. Be careful that accomplishments do not become the reason why we are doing things. Do not let the action and the activity become the call. Beware of not listening, of not waiting, of making assumptions. Beware of taking on too much. God never meant His assignments to destroy us but rather to call us to Himself.

Once again, it’s all about dependence.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7