Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Here is a scary scenario when it comes to prayer....

If the prayer lives of people were modeled after the prayer example of a typical worship service it would be a fairly prayerless existence. Many congregations have lost the art of leading people to the throne of God in a meaningful way. 

Certainly prayer can become a ritual like any other. Yet, how we pray and what we pray for in a worship service should model what we are taught to pray about in Scripture. It is rare for instance that I am in a worship service that has prayers of confession or lifts up the amazing attributes of God or even uses Scripture to guide ones prayer. The exception to this would be high church services where prayer and Scripture are always central to the worship experience. 

While I am not advocating either a high or low church experience it is interesting to me how many evangelicals are gravitating toward a more liturgical style of worship and wonder if it is because of the emphasis on prayer and the Word throughout the service. 

When prayer becomes an afterthought in our services we do a disservice to our people and to the Lord we are worshiping. Not only should prayer be central in our services but what we pray for should model something to those we are leading to the throne. 

As you think about your services I would simply say this: If people modeled their own prayer lives after what they experienced in their church on Sunday would it be rich or poor? For better or worse what we model in worship sends a message to our people. It is something to think about.

Posted from Oakdale, MN

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Watching for redemptive moments

We obviously live in a very broken world and as it tumbles toward even greater post Christian moorings, the brokenness will only become greater. That is why I love the word "redemption" because our Lord loves to redeem hearts, lives, families, circumstances and even whole communities. And we are part of that redemptive process as we look for opportunities to bring the redemptive news of Jesus to hurting people. Only Jesus can take what is broken and sad and bring from it wholeness and joy.

We ought to never underestimate the power of God's love and our part in bringing it to people who need it. A word of encouragement, an act of kindness, a prayer for the needs of others and just the willingness to come alongside others demonstrates the heart of God. We are called to be the words, hands and feet of God and we can leave the results to the Holy Spirit. We are His messengers, He has the power to redeem hearts and circumstances.

Think of the privilege we have to be invited by the God of the universe to join him in His work. Too often we think that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The truth is just the opposite. God wants to use us as His agents to bring truth, love, healing, justice and comfort in a world that lacks all of these. Think about the significance of that. We are His agents in His work to bring His redemption to people who need it through the work of His Spirit. That puts a whole different spin on our lives entirely!

Redemptive moments are those moments where it is obvious that we can bring the love to Jesus to those who need it. When God presents them, don't ignore them. How people respond to our (God's) love is not our business - bring Jesus to them is! It may be food for the hungry or shelter for the homeless, a visit for the sick or encouragement for the broken. Redemptive moments are precious because they give us the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with those who need it. Never let such a moment go to waste. Jesus didn't.

I long for the day when God's people understand the power they have in Jesus to impact the world for Him. The opportunities come, one redemptive moment at a time. Pray for them, watch for them and take advantage of them. Just as Jesus did in the Gospels when he came across needy people.

Posted from State College, PA

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Secretive leaders: Their methodology and psychology

From time to time in working with churches in crisis I run across what I call the "secretive leader syndrome." This is a leader who is reluctant to tell others - often including staff and boards what they are thinking. Or, they let on some of their thinking but not enough for others to fully understand them or their plans.

This creates a great deal of uncertainty on the part of staff who need to mesh their own plans and thinking with that of their leader. For those who work for a secretive leader it is a most frustrating experience. In fact, it usually ends badly for the leader or for their staff because a lack of transparency leads to conflict. If I don't know what is in the mind of my leader I will either have to beg for forgiveness when I get it wrong or lead with caution in case I cross an invisible line I cannot see. It is one of the most discourteous behaviors a supervisor can exhibit.

What is the psychology behind a lack of transparency in a leader's thinking? First, consider that information is power! If I have information others don't have I  have power that they don't have and frankly some leaders want that power. It also allows a leader to share information selectively to those they deem worthy of having it and withholding it from those they don't. If it sounds like a mind game, well, it pretty much is.

Second, if I as the leader have all access to information and others don't I can play people or departments against one another. FDR famously did this in his leadership style and while he achieved great things it was at the expense of the relationships of his senior leaders who were told what he wanted them to know (and different leaders were told different things). Only he had access to all the information and therefore the keys to the kingdom. Others had to figure it out themselves, often at the expense of conflict with others. There is certainly an element of manipulation here.

Third, secrecy allows a leader to keep staff on edge as they present "surprises" in terms of decisions that staff have no context for. Again, this smacks of selfish and problematic behavior. Never would they want their staff to surprise them - ever - but they have no compulsion surprising their staff. They are the leader after all. Which also means that they have different standards for themselves than for others. 

This behavior is unfair, deeply dysfunctional, unempowering and foolish. It usually masks very deep insecurity on the part of the leader. It is a form of control that allows the leader to keep the initiative and ensure that others don't have it. What is amazing to me is that boards allow this kind of behavior to take place. 

There are obviously things a leader does not share for valid reasons but secretive leaders create problems for those around them - whatever their motivation. No healthy leader withholds critical information from their staff and/or board. If they do it eventually comes back to bite them or the organization. 

Posted from State College, PA

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.