Leadership

The Jeremiah Institute desires to be on the cutting edge of providing vital and timely material on leadership. This section will contain cutting edge articles, research and encouragement to keep the fires of your leadership burning brightly. Make this a regular stop of your refueling agenda.

 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE VISIONARIES GONE?

king solomonThousands of years ago the wise man Solomon spoke an eternal principle: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). While Solomon had in mind words from God to His spokesman known as prophets, it calls our attention to the broader subject of vision for God’s work in the church. Vision among church leaders. In their book, Death of the Church, Mike Regele and Mark Schultz wrote these sobering words: “The most important problem in the church today is a fundamental lack of clear, heart-grabbing vision. The church in America has no vision. It has programs and institutions and property and ministers and politically correct hymnals, but no vision” (p. 229, Zondervan, 1995). While these authors may be painting with broad denominational brush strokes, they are touching on a point that the twenty-first century Restoration Movement cannot ignore.

Vision has become a hype word in the last twenty or so years. Corporate American has spent thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars honing out vision statements. Other institutions such as sports teams, clubs and even churches have gotten on the bandwagon. Many of these vision statements hang in prominent places to be read by employees and customers, but little or nothing is accomplished by them. They are just words; another fad sold in the marketplace of success principles.

Jesus was no doubt thinking about vision when he uttered these words about the Pharisees: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). These leaders couldn’t see the real mission of the Law; they failed to see the plight of humanity; they were blind to their own corruption; they were leading people away from God instead of to Him (cf. Matthew 23:1-12).

Webster defines vision as: “The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be…a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation of something in the future.” There was a time when most church leaders were describes by these words. They looked out on the harvest fields of lost humanity and sent froth missionaries (John 4:34-38). They responded to the cry of the orphans and widows (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10). There was a time when leaders were serious about training leaders and teachers (Ephesians 4;11-16; 2 Timothy 2:1-3). In the last few years, however, these visionary leaders have dropped drastically in numbers. Peter may well have described them in these words: “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).

As today’s leaders clean their spiritual lens for God’s work and launch new efforts to empower the church with a vision, they must recast it in harmony with God’s eternal vision for the church. A vision that was cast before the foundation of the world (cf. Ephesians 1:3-7). It is a vision articulated by Isaiah in these words: And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1,2).

We understand this vision was launched in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and blazed a path into all the world (Colossians 1:23), just as Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). What did those first century visionary leaders have that leaders don’t seem to have today in the twenty-first century? It wasn’t money. We have more than they had. It wasn’t education. We have better education than they had (Acts 4:12,13). It wasn’t church buildings and programs. They had none. It wasn’t better transportation. We can circle the globe in a matter of hours. It wasn’t printed materials or media. They had none. It wasn’t approval by the government. They were persecuted for their faith. They didn’t propagate a politically correct religion. They preached there was only one way (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:11-13).

They weren’t interested in Christianity for what they could financially get out of it; they gave up what they had to help others (cf. Acts 4:31-37). It was “more blessed to give than to receive” (cf. Acts 20:35). First century visionary leaders were sold on being bold. Note these verses in the Book of Acts: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…that with all boldness they may speak thy word…they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:13, 29, 31). The common thread of boldness runs throughout the book of Acts and concludes with this statement about the apostle Paul: “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, not man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31). The righteous are bold as lions (cf. Proverbs 28:1). Jesus set the example of boldness (cf. John 7:26). It takes bold leaders to proclaim and support a bold vision for God’s work. The boldness of visionary leaders is driven by faith. They know that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (cf. Hebrews 11:16). Visionary leaders “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). They believe with Christ’s blessings and strength they can “do all things” (Philippians 4:13). The faith of visionary leaders is larger than the balance on their checkbooks; it is more powerful than their own feeble efforts; it trusts in God and His power regardless of circumstances (cf. Ephesians 3:20).

In a day of declining church growth, post modernism, divisions of ever shade, a loss of interest in leadership, and much more; it is time for God’s leadership team to make His vision our vision. It is time to revision what the church in the first century saw and carried out as their mission. We don’t need a “new vision”, we just need to recommit ourselves to the one prepared by God before the foundation of the world. It will be alright to add our personal dreams and ways of carrying out this vision. God expects us to use commonsense and methods in harmony with Scriptural principles. The three-fold mission of the church is to (1) edify, (2) equip, and (3) evangelize. This is the job of leadership (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore, since we have our vision statement and mission objectives given by God, it behooves us to be about our Father’s business. We will not have missionaries until we have visionaries.


Dr Turner’s leadership books may be purchased through the Dr. J.J. Turner Publications link at the top of this page.

In his bestselling book The Outliers (2008), Malcolm Gladwell continually refers to the “10,000 Hour Rule”, which he claims from his research proves that world-class performers in sports, entertainment, etc. is the key to their success and level of expert performance. He questions the myth of “natural talent” and “born with abilities.” Success is long, hard work!

     As with any new data or research in any field, many of Gladwell’s conclusions have been doubted and even challenged. However, some of his research is documented and proves in those specific examples that it takes 10,000 hours of DELIBERATE practice to become above average in skills and expertise.

     What does this have to do with leadership? You might be thinking. In a word, PLENTY. From my personal experiences as a leader, a teacher of leadership, and an observer of leaders, I have concluded that numerous leaders, even in the church, preachers too, are riding on the road labeled “Just Get by.”

     Every station of leadership has a level of acceptance granted to each leader. As long as you stay in that zone and don’t rock the boat you’ll be able to hold the title and position. Schools and books are designed to create clones for potential leaders to model. Schools are cookie cutters with “one design” which is sufficient for every context and occasion. I have noted through the years that you can listen to a preacher and tell where he went to school.

     Whether it is provable or not, some scholars have estimated that Jesus spent 10,000 plus hours training the 12 Apostles, and then sent the Holy Spirit to continue their training. This seems reasonable when you consider that Jesus spent hours, days, weeks, months and years with them. There are 27,208 hours in three years. We call this OJT: “On the job training.”

     In my opinion, a major challenge facing most church leaders today is the failure to see, believe, or acknowledge that they aren’t yet the best leader that are capable of becoming. Because of the “just-get-by” syndrome, there is a reluctance or belief that there isn’t a need for continual growth and expertise as a leader.

     The comfort zone is crowded with leaders who resist escaping and being challenged to learn and develop new expertise. One preacher replied when encourages to enroll in a master degree program, “Why should I? The brethren are satisfied with my performance.” The word “satisfied” is the glue that holds leaders, and Christians, in the comfort zone. The rocking chair of leadership will keep you busy but it won’t take you anywhere.

     Lou Holtz, coach of champion football teams, both at the college and professional level and sports commentator, said, “In this world, you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” Max DePree wisely said, “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” The apostle Paul wrote, “I have not yet obtained but I press on to the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ.” “A dream,” wrote Dr. Denis Waitley, “is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”

     I have seen many potential preachers, teachers, and leaders at all levels in the church, start programs of learning and skills improvement only to drop out after a few hours or attempts to succeed. They never realize or have it brought to their attention, that when they are only a few sessions or hours into trying to do or learning something, and get discouraged and quit, that it takes TIME (remember the 10,000 Hour Rule). Stop expecting to be good or perfect after a few hours or efforts. Pay the price of persistent and deliberate practice.

     Remember, regardless of who you are or the position you occupy, you are not yet the best you can be. Have the attitude of John Paul Jones. When his ship was badly damaged and the British commander inquired if he was ready to surrender, he answered, “I have not yet begun to fight.” He and his crew captured the British ship. His own ship later sank.” May you reply to possibilities of mediocre and comfort zone leadership status with, “I have not yet begun to lead.”

     It is so easy to be swept into the instant, I need and want it now, faster is a better approach to our 21st-century lifestyles. We have time, and take time, to indulge in numerous hours of social media, etc. but very little time in “Growing into the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ” (cf. Ephesians 4:11-17).

     Instead of pushing the boundaries of the comfort zone so we can expand and grow, we are, as a society, drawing them tighter and closer to ourselves. We enjoy the comfort that the familiar and routine bring into our daily lives. There is a tendency when something new, exciting, and with glitter is introduced, it is exciting and we jump on the bandwagon. Once the rush has subsided we move on to the next high, etc.

     The comfort zone is where your attitudinal, belief and behavior activities feel safe, stress-free, and unquestioned. The benefits are mental security, a pseudo sense of happiness, and less anxiety. It’s okay to be part of the “just-get-by” crowd.

     Jesus called us to escape from our comfort zones and live thereafter outside of them. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). It is risky to step outside your comfort zone as a Christian leader, daring to be and do what God has called you to do and be.

     Dare to expand your comfort zone. Remember, “inch by inch anything is a cinch but yard by yard it’s too hard.” Every day do something different; add a new routine, read a new book, etc. Accept with excitement the small changes that will come, and in time accumulate into a new and better equipped you.

     No, you’re not yet the best leader you can be but you are well on your way. The key is to START. START now, not tomorrow or next week.

     Write your intentional plan for being a better leader. DO IT NOW!

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Check out my many books on leadership at my amazon book store.

 

 

READ ANY GREAT BOOKS LATELY? [  ] Yes [  ] No

 

Years ago if I had written this article I would have titled it Christians Are Reader. My experiences now with some Christian, which include leaders and preachers, reveal a lack of reading. Talking to bookstore managers confirm that men aren’t buying books like they once did, and the books they are buying now are “fluff and puff”—shallow content. The good news is that women are buying more books, thus the rapid increase in the publishing of books designed for ladies.

     Men aren’t reading because they don’t have time, as some claim. They have time but they spend it on computer websites, IPad, cell phones, social media, video games, watching TV, etc. Homes which once had bookcases filled with books that were read, now are filled with pictures, plaques with sayings, and a few unread classics; even Bibles.

     I confess that I am writing this article with a bias. I am a readaholic! When I am asked, which I often am, what’s the greatest thing you learned during all your education? I answer quickly, “The greatest thing I learned in school was in the first and second grades. I learned how to read.” Reading opened up the whole world to me, from A to Z. It created an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I average reading a couple of books each week on a variety of subjects, obviously, the Bible is always first on my daily reading list.

     Some books, such as novels, I read simply for pleasure, others I read take me into academics subjects. Some cause me to examine my politics and cultural involvement. Some create a spirit of debate as I doubt and challenge content. I mark in books and take notes. I use quotes and illustrations from books I read. Books of humor help me to loosen up with laughter. Books on Bible subjects challenge my exegetical skills as I search to see if “those things are true.”

     A lack of desire to read as well as a lack of reading skills is showing up more and more in Bible classes and public assemblies. Some children have a reluctance to attend Bible classes because of a fear of being asked to read. Men decline to read Scriptures because of poor reading skills. Many ties those who read in public mispronounce simple words, mumble, read too rapidly, etc.

     The literacy level continues to drop in our country and is evidenced in congregations. In a post by Reading By Phonics.com, under the title Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Can’t Read: The Not-So-Shocking Reading and Literacy Statistics, the following results were given:

Did you know that 67 % of all grade 4 students in

The US cannot read at a proficient level? According

To the National Assessment of Educational Progress

(NAEP), 34 % cannot achieve the lowest basic level

Of reading skills. Unfortunately, it’s not just the

Americans that have reading problems—this is really

A global issue, at least in all major English speaking countries:

*43% of Canadians are considered semi-illiterate

*42% of students in the UK leave school without

achieving a basic level of functional English

                 *33% of year 5 students in Australia do not meet the

                   benchmark literacy skills

     Since the Bible is a document to be read, it is obvious that a person must know how to read in order to know, learn and practice what God has commanded. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Want to hear something that is surprising? It is amazing how many Christians, even leaders and preachers, who have not read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.

     The Bible emphasizes the reading of Scripture:

1.      1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine.”

2.      John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they  which testify of Me.”

3.      Acts 8:30, So Philip ran to him, and heard him READING the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are READING?”

4.      2 Timothy 4:13, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the BOOKS, especially the parchment.”

5.      Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who READS and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep those things which are WRITTEN in it; for the time is at hand.”

6.      Ephesians 3:3, 4, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which when you READ, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).”

7.      1 Peter 1:10, 11, “of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ Who was in them…”.

8.      Acts 13:15, “And after the reading of the Law and Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’”.

9.      1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be READ to all the holy brethren.”

10.  Matthew 19:4, And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not READ that He who made them at the beginning, ”made them male and female”’”?

     There is no question nor doubt that the Bible ought to be the number one priority on our reading list. In the early years of our nation, when school was conducted in church buildings, the Bible was the major textbook for learning to read and write. In time the function was turned over to the government, which now makes it criminal to read or pray in public schools.

     We need to start a revival of reading in the church. It needs to start with the leaders. Since the Bible places an emphasis on reading, why can’t we teach our youth, and older members, how to read? The sequence is simple: First, we learn to read and second we read to learn.

     What we are reading shows up in our lives. Emerson wrote, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Jim Rohn was right when he said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” And Margaret Fuller was on target when she said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” “It is what you read when you don’t have to,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

     Think about these words of Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books, one of them is not reading them.”

 

I encourage you to take a few minutes and browse in my book stores listed on this site. You will find numerous subjects that will edify, educate, and contribute to your growth in Christ.

 

    

CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE READERS

J.J. Turner, Ph.D.

 

READ ANY GREAT BOOKS LATELY? [ ] Yes [ ] No

 

Years ago if I had written this article I would have titled it Christians Are Reader. My experiences now with some Christian, which include leaders and preachers, reveal a lack of reading. Talking to bookstore managers confirm that men aren’t buying books like they once did, and the books they are buying now are “fluff and puff”—shallow content. The good news is that women are buying more books, thus the rapid increase in the publishing of books designed for ladies.

     Men aren’t reading because they don’t have time, as some claim. They have time but they spend it on computer websites, IPad, cell phones, social media, video games, watching TV, etc. Homes which once had bookcases filled with books that were read, now are filled with pictures, plaques with sayings, and a few unread classics; even Bibles.

     I confess that I am writing this article with a bias. I am a readaholic! When I am asked, which I often am, what’s the greatest thing you learned during all your education? I answer quickly, “The greatest thing I learned in school was in the first and second grades. I learned how to read.” Reading opened up the whole world to me, from A to Z. It created an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I average reading a couple of books each week on a variety of subjects, obviously, the Bible is always first on my daily reading list.

     Some books, such as novels, I read simply for pleasure, others I read take me into academics subjects. Some cause me to examine my politics and cultural involvement. Some create a spirit of debate as I doubt and challenge content. I mark in books and take notes. I use quotes and illustrations from books I read. Books of humor help me to loosen up with laughter. Books on Bible subjects challenge my exegetical skills as I search to see if “those things are true.”

     A lack of desire to read as well as a lack of reading skills is showing up more and more in Bible classes and public assemblies. Some children have a reluctance to attend Bible classes because of a fear of being asked to read. Men decline to read Scriptures because of poor reading skills. Many ties those who read in public mispronounce simple words, mumble, read too rapidly, etc.

     The literacy level continues to drop in our country and is evidenced in congregations. In a post by Reading By Phonics.com, under the title Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Can’t Read: The Not-So-Shocking Reading and Literacy Statistics, the following results were given:

Did you know that 67 % of all grade 4 students in

The US cannot read at a proficient level? According

To the National Assessment of Educational Progress

(NAEP), 34 % cannot achieve the lowest basic level

Of reading skills. Unfortunately, it’s not just the

Americans that have reading problems—this is really

A global issue, at least in all major English speaking countries:

*43% of Canadians are considered semi-illiterate

*42% of students in the UK leave school without

achieving a basic level of functional English

                 *33% of year 5 students in Australia do not meet the

                   benchmark literacy skills

     Since the Bible is a document to be read, it is obvious that a person must know how to read in order to know, learn and practice what God has commanded. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Want to hear something that is surprising? It is amazing how many Christians, even leaders and preachers, who have not read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.

     The Bible emphasizes the reading of Scripture:

1.      1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine.”

2.      John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they  which testify of Me.”

3.      Acts 8:30, So Philip ran to him, and heard him READING the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are READING?”

4.      2 Timothy 4:13, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the BOOKS, especially the parchment.”

5.      Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who READS and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep those things which are WRITTEN in it; for the time is at hand.”

6.      Ephesians 3:3, 4, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which when you READ, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).”

7.      1 Peter 1:10, 11, “of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ Who was in them…”.

8.      Acts 13:15, “And after the reading of the Law and Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’”.

9.      1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be READ to all the holy brethren.”

10.  Matthew 19:4, And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not READ that He who made them at the beginning, ”made them male and female”’”?

     There is no question nor doubt that the Bible ought to be the number one priority on our reading list. In the early years of our nation, when school was conducted in church buildings, the Bible was the major textbook for learning to read and write. In time the function was turned over to the government, which now makes it criminal to read or pray in public schools.

     We need to start a revival of reading in the church. It needs to start with the leaders. Since the Bible places an emphasis on reading, why can’t we teach our youth, and older members, how to read? The sequence is simple: First, we learn to read and second we read to learn.

     What we are reading shows up in our lives. Emerson wrote, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Jim Rohn was right when he said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” And Margaret Fuller was on target when she said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” “It is what you read when you don’t have to,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

     Think about these words of Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books, one of them is not reading them.”

 

I encourage you to take a few minutes and browse in my book stores listed on this site. You will find numerous subjects that will edify, educate, and contribute to your growth in Christ.

 

    

Everybody is involved in change. If you don’t believe it take a few minutes and look into the mirror. Compare photos of today with 5, 10 and 15 years ago. You see the evidence. Change is occurring in your physical being. Change is the one constant we have to deal with in every category of life; internal as well as external. Spiritual too.

     Benjamin Franklin may not have been a psychologist by profession, but this statement by him is true: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

     Look around you and notice all the changes that you are involved in related to communication. Notice the transportation changes. Evidence of change is everywhere; some changes are positive and some changes are negative. Both are constantly occurring.

     Change, spiritually speaking, is essential to salvation. Jesus said, “repent or perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5) The Greek word translated repent means to “have another mind; to change over.” Thus, out of the changed mind comes the changed life. Behavior is tied to our thoughts (cf. Proverbs 23:7; Mark 7:21-25; Acts 26:10, 11).

     Few challenges confront leaders more persistently than change. Yet, how ironic that many church leaders change very little in their personal habits and practices during their lifetime; and especially in leadership practices.

     While it is true that a leader can’t change or control the world around him, he can change himself and choose new patterns of behaviors as well as attitudes.

     The business leader, Peter Drucker said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” We’ve all heard and used this definition on insanity: “The sign of insanity is doing the same old things over and over and expecting different results each time.”  The tendency of church leaders is to say, “We have always done it this way.”

     A major danger of refusing to change is the things we hold on to control us. In 50-plus years of full-time ministry, I have noted numerous signs in the lives of preachers, elders, deacons, and teachers that they have not changed in areas where expediency guides instead of a “thus says the Lord.” Here is a quick bullet list of some of these areas leaders refuse to let go:

  1. Traditions which guide how things are done, both in structure, time, evaluating, and measures of success (cf. mark 7:7, 9).
  2. Habits in approach to teaching, preaching, behavior, and how they deal with any issue that arises.
  3. Sadly, some leaders live behind a wall of fear, worrying about what others will think or what if we fail attitudes.
  4. Stuck in the same old routines which are expressed in prayers, speech patterns, response to questions, etc.
  5. As closed mindset relative to any new observations about a Scripture or new insight related to a context. An unwillingness to restudy any subject.
  6. A tendency to maintain personal relationships with a group or click in the congregation while neglecting others.
  7. A failure to improve educational level. Rarely reads any new books; ignorant of the latest challenge in society; blind to impact on the congregation.
  8. Sadly, some leaders are lazy. They have excuses for not doing their job. They have found the level of “get-by-ism” and find shelter in it. The brethren tend to accept status quo.
  9. There is a tendency of some leaders to let stubbornness keep them from asking for help or admitting they don’t know how to do a certain task. Pride is an enemy of change.
  10. It is amazing how resentment and jealousy hold some leaders back from changing. They will not admit that someone has influenced them or changed their mind. This is another expression of pride.

     I must be quick to admit that a reluctance and resistant to change is not the exclusive territory of leaders. It is also part of the mindset of most members. Just let leadership suggest a change in a long-held practice and you’ll see conflict arise to an amazing level; even to the splitting of the church.

     The leaders of today must admit that the church is facing challenges and problems she has never faced before, at least not on this magnitude. Congregations are declining in number, programs are being cut, and some congregations are a closing song away from closing the doors forever. It is time for leaders to wake up and make the changes in methodologies, not Scriptures, that will glorify God and expand the borders of the Kingdom (cf. Ephesians 3:21).

     Remember: TRUTH HAS NOTHING TO FEAR!

  1. THOU SHALL remember that everything belongs to God (Psa. 24:1, 2).
  2. THOU SHALL remember that God demands faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2).
  3. THOU SHALL lay-up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21).
  4. THOU SHALL be content with what you have (Heb. 13:5).
  5. THOU SHALL spend less than you earn.
  6. THOU SHALL give cheerfully to the Lord’s work (2 Cor. 9:7).
  7. THOU SHALL give to help the needy (Matt. 25:35-46; Rom. 12:13).
  8. THOU SHALL not let money control your behavior, etc. (1 Tim. 6:10).
  9. THOU SHALL give to support the Gospel (Phil. 4:13-18).
  10. THOU SHALL pay your bills, taxes, etc. on time (Rom. 13:5-8).

 

MY FINANCIAL HEART

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7).

HOW YOUR FINANCIAL HEART WAS DIVIDED LAST MONTH

Write the amount of your income you spent in each category:

1._____$ Church, preaching Gospel, missions

2._____$ Mortgage/rent/ utilities, repairs, yard

3._____$ Bills/Credit cards

4._____$ Recreation/ vacation, hobbies, etc.

5._____$ Savings/ investments

6._____$ Personal grooming/clothing, hair, nails, etc.

7._____$ Eating Out/ Take out

8._____$ Taxes/ fees

9._____$ Automobile expenses, job expenses, travel, etc.

10._____$ Entertainment, cable, movies, sports, etc.

11._____$ Other:______________________________________

 

 

Little Charlie was given a tape measure by his grandfather. He abandoned all his toys to give his attention to the tape measure. He was so obsessed with the new toy that he went around measuring everything in sight. He constantly asked his grandfather questions about items he’d measured: “Grandpa, do you know long your truck is?”

     Have you ever noticed how much time, energy, and money is spent on measuring things? Every institution has some procedure for measuring how they are doing. One way is the bottom line on their financial sheet, etc. Most companies are concerned with growth and stability of their products. Success or failure depend on assessments.

     Church leaders also measure congregational growth. Have you ever considered the benchmarks most leaders use to measure congregation growth and stability? It usually consists of measuring:

1.      The number in attendance in worship services and Bible classes each week.

2.      The amount of the weekly contribution—meeting budget.

3.      The participation in various programs.

4.      The agreement with doctrinal positions by members.

5.      The finishing of services within the allotted time.

6.      The status of physical facilities—new buildings, decorations.

7.      The choosing of the “right preacher” to draw people.

There is nothing wrong with monitoring these factors, but I wonder if we’re not measuring the wrong indicators relative to the real spiritual growth of a congregation. Have you ever noticed that the New Testament doesn’t place an emphasis or exemplify the above seven measurements for judging the spiritual growth on a congregation?

     Under the New Covenant, we find the emphasis is on spiritual behavior, not on external measuring rods such as the above seven. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul exposed numerous qualities of their behavior with their attributes, not their lack of attendance or giving, but to their carnal state: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

     A reading of Revelation chapters one through three doesn’t reveal Jesus’ concern with the seven benchmarks mentioned above. He zeroes in on their spiritual behavior and attitudes. After acknowledging the overt works of the church in Ephesus, Jesus says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent…” (Revelation 2:4, 5).

     In his brief epistle, which has been called “the gospel of common sense”, James focuses, not on the seven benchmarks, but on spiritual behavior: “Where do wars and fights come from AMONG YOU? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and have not…” (James 4:1, 2).

     Jesus made it very clear that what people would notice relative to the success of His followers, wasn’t the seven measuring rods, but one thing: LOVE: “By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

     While we discuss them, talk about them, and rarely confront them, such qualities, as anger, gossip, unkindness, unforgiveness, truthfulness, prejudice, etc. aren’t used as measurements of a congregation’s spiritual status.

     In exposing the 18 sinful behaviors in the church at Corinth, Paul makes it clear that the solution to correcting the carnal and sinful behaviors was LOVE. In chapter thirteen he gives the attitudinal and behavior qualities of love.

     In writing to the church in Galatia, which was abandoning the Gospel and reattaching themselves to Law keeping, Paul didn’t admonish them to attend more and give more, he encouraged them to allow the “fruit of the Spirit” to guide their lives (Galatians 5:16-26).

     To the brethren in Philippi, the apostle Paul encouraged them, not to have a carnal mindset relative to what constitutes spiritual growth, but to “Have the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:4-12). And in chapter four, verses eight through nine, he gives them the thinking agenda that will help them have the attitude of Christ.

     The church is the spiritual body of Christ on earth. It is composed of every kind of members from A to Z, from every nation under heaven. No two of us are alike but we all have the same spiritual goal and that is to become like Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:11-17). To be transformed into His image (cf. Colossians 3:1, 2).

     We must remember that God’s way of assessing the spiritual growth of a congregation isn’t limited to the seven measurements we noted in the beginning of this article. God judges the heart (cf. Mark 7:19-23). He judges our attitude and behavior toward one another, as well as toward our enemies. There are more than fifty “one another” Scriptures in the New Testament that provide the framework for assessing the spiritual status of a Christian as well as that of a congregation.

     I encourage you to look up those one another Scriptures and intentionally use them as an assessment tool for measuring your own spiritual health, as well as encouraging each member to do the same. The above seven may be a starting place but not the ending place. God’s way is the right way!

 

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