Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hurt People can Hurt People

Genesis 31:7, "but he (Laban) has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to hurt me."

Jacob was done wrong in the most amazing way. Worked 7 years for a lady he did not want to marry and then was cheated into working another 7 years for the wife he wanted. Despite this, Jacob carried a godly perspective and did not allow the hurt he experienced to shape him.

We will never escape life without experiencing hurt and pain. Realize that hurt and pain from a sickness or disease is much different than hurt or pain from relationships. I want to talk to you about that for a few minutes.

In life and especially ministry, you will get hurt from and by people. You will also, hopefully unintentionally, hurt others as well. The way we respond and react will utlimately determine how we proceed in our lives.

To be totally honest, I have been taught all the proper techniques of planting and growing churches. The books I have read and mentors I have sat under address all the hot topics and trending movements. I was aware of all the church growth stuff. I was aware of all the newest teaching. However I was not aware and was never taught on a real level how much people can hurt you.

You have two options when you are hurt by someone. The first option is to internalize it and promise yourself this will never happen again. You can live in a false trust of others and react out of that pain the rest of your life. The second option is to process the hurt and pain in a positive manner. The first step is to realize that people are people. Allow yourself to grieve the relationship and the hurt, but ultimately allow God to speak to you, give you perspective and then encourage you.

I have been active in ministry for 10 years now. Only the past two years have I met some of the most faithful and trustworthy people and literally, crazy folks. Yep. Crazy. I have heard, "I got your back man. We are going to do this together." Or my favorite, "I am here to serve you. God has called me here." After these statements, the same folks have cursed me out (and I am still trying to figure out why), left me and never returned a call, attempted to sabotage our ministry when we supported them in difficult times and one dude even gave a check and then stopped payment without telling me (you know that story).

I love our church and this city. God has taught me how to discern who the true leaders are. God has taught me to love those who have done me wrong. God has taught me how to love and most importantly He has taught me how to process pain and hurt from relationships.

Here are the steps to take when a relationship ends painfully:
1) Extend love and grace to that person. People are people. We are fallen and broken.
2) Spread that love and grace to your leadership around you. They may have to know the facts (or they may not), but teach them how to operate in love and grace.
3) Allow yourself time to grieve. It hurts. You will experience shock and awe in some of the stuff that is done to you and your family. Cry. Cry out to God. Have a friend to vent to.
4) Gain God's perspective on the situation. Let Him speak to you about the situation.
5) Finally, do not react in an email, text or even a call. If you feel that you absolutely must talk to that person, do it face to face and get someone to be your filter and see if it is worth it.

Jacob was hurt deeply. He had huge disappointments, but he did not allow that hurt to run his life or dictate his calling. Neither should we. Process the pain positively.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lesson from the Oklahoma City Thunder

I was watching the NBA Western Conference Finals and saw some interesting things happen.

There was the young, inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder and the veteran, Dallas Mavericks playing against each other. One thing that spoke to me was in the final game where OKC had a huge lead and ended up blowing the lead in the 4th quarter. The reason they lost that game and ultimately the series was because they were easily shaken.

They were up by 15 points in the 4th quarter, but when Dallas made a push and things were not going so well, the OKC Thunder reverted to a passive mode of basketball. They stopped attacking. They stopped being aggressive. They started playing not to lose and instead of playing to win.

This is the story of many of us in leadership. If we hit a bad streak and people start acting crazy (pastors, you know what I mean) and things are not going well, we revert to a passive mentality. We lose our edge and aggressiveness. We back down from the vision we have and let our thoughts become dominated with the bad that is happening.

If the OKC Thunder would have realized they had the lead and the upperhand, they probably could have cruised to victory, but instead they moved into a "passive mode."

When you hit the "slump," make sure you re-focus on your vision and calling to the ministry you are at. Make sure you plan some "active" ministry for your ministry and keep moving forward.

Play to win; not to 'not lose.'

Friday, June 10, 2011

Self-Deception: The "Tressel" Rule

I was listening to the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio last week and heard something that really shocked me. (ESPN is the perfect place for God to speak to you.)

Scott Van Pelt was talking about Jim Tressel and his resigning as the head coach of Ohio State. Over the past several years Tressel has helped Ohio State regain national standing and become a dominant powerhouse. The issue is the past year. OSU was slapped with NCAA recruiting violations and will start the 2011 season with key team members suspended. If Tressel remained at OSU, he would have been suspended for a few games as well. Recently he resigned as head coach.

The shocking part was Scott Van Pelt was flabbergasted that Tressel could teach kids Bible verses in the morning and motivate them to do the right thing and then scam them in the evenings. He had a camp and rigged it where only the best athletes could attend when all kids paid to go (a little confusing, but it was a scam). He also knowingly violated NCAA rules in recruiting..... for the second time. 10 years ago he did this at Youngstown State.

This is an important leadership principle. Self-deception is the ability to be so convinced that you cannot be wrong.... that you are actually wrong and convincing yourself you are right. This happens through justification of compromises.

To Scott Van Pelt- How could Tressel do this? Simple. He was self-deceived.

We have to do diagnostic checks as leaders. We have to guard against self-deception. Remember, self-deception is the ability to live a complete lie while you have convinced yourself that it is the truth.

Here are some checks:

1) What compromises have you made against your conscience recently?

-Maybe you are married and have been flirting with a co-worker. Maybe you have been delving into inappropriate stuff on the internet. Whatever the case... ask, "Where am I compromising?"

2) Do you ask for forgiveness or permission?

-Self-deception happens when we make decisions, knowing they are wrong, and never consult the right people. One way to guard against your blind spots is to get advice. This leads us to the next point...

3) Who do you go to in order to find out if you are deceiving yourself?

-Who do you ask the hard questions to? Questions like, "What are my personality defects and character flaws?" or "Will this decision be a mistake?"

Also look at your past. How have you "crashed the ship before?"

Self-deception happens when you can't see ANY wrong in your decisions and cannot think through logical pros and cons of that decision.

This will now be called, "The Tressel Rule."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grace-Filled Leaders

I have been doing a series called, "Cow Tipping." (thanks elevation church).

One message was about the Grace of God. Grace is God's free gift of salvation to us. The only thing we contributed for our salvation was our sin. He freely forgave us. We cannot worked to be saved or work to stay saved. He has fully accepted us in Christ. Once we have surrendered to Christ, God views us "in Christ." We are free. We are beloved. (I know there are many different theological view points. This is not my main focus in this blog.)

Most people can grasp this and say, "I can do that. I can dig that. That's awesome." Here is the twist I want to bring. Grace is not something just between us and God, but it should be between us and others.

Important Scripture:
2nd Peter 3:18, "But grow in the GRACE and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
There may be 1,000 interpretations on how to grow in the grace of God, but I want to share my interpretations for leaders.

Growing in grace is two-fold. The first is understanding God's grace. (read Romans for a full understanding). The second is dispensing that grace to others. This is where I want to focus today.

As leaders, we must be "grace-filled" toward people. People are people. They are going to do stupid stuff. Rather- WE are going to do stupid stuff. We are going to fail. We are going to miss the mark of the standard that others set for us. We are going to disappoint each other.
I see people all the time who have very little grace and kindness toward others who do not do what they think they should do.
If we are going to see the people we lead come to full fruition then we must extend grace to them and show kindness. We must grow in the grace of God.
I can ultimately tell you how much have grown in grace by the way you extend it to others.

Here are a few thoughts on this.

1) "I don't think they should or shouldn't do that or make that decision..." Those statements are grace busters. One question, "Who made you the ultimate standard setter for the universe?" It gets worse if you share your concerns with them and they don't do what you think they should. The question is, "Can you extend grace and truly love them even when they make decisions that you don't agree with?"

2) Do you punish people by with holding love? Donald Miller spoke of this in his book, "Blue Like Jazz." It was a "revelation moment" for me. That is what I would do. If someone did something to me that hurt me or did not follow my prescribed standards for their life, I would withold love. Do you give them the cold shoulder?

3) Do you tell everyone else how they failed and did not follow your advice? Gossipy leaders are awesome. They build their case to everyone around them about how those people did not do what they thought they should do. They trash those people also to make themselves look better. If you point out everyone else's problems, you look like the leadership guru. Learn to protect and cover people.

4) Give grace because you will need it. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7, that the same judgment you give others you will be judged by. Becareful when you cast judgment on others. This is when you make your standard the standard for their lives. We make people live to standards that God does not even make them live to.
You will fail. You will make stupid decisions. You will have a lapse in leadership. You will need others to be graceful to you, so show grace to others. The amount of grace you show others, you will receive.