Selasa, 11 Juli 2017

How to Win the War on Worry

How to Win the War on Worry

How to Win the War on Worry
“What if we don’t hit our numbers?”
“Supposing the new program launch isn’t successful?”
“What will happen if we can’t fill that staff position in time?”
These worries, and countless others like them, can dominate the thinking of leaders. But leaders must maintain the discipline to avoid needless worry is because of the mental energy it can cost you.
Few resources are more important to the vitality of a leader than mental energy. The ability to solve problems, build teams, cast vision and plan strategy all require significant portions of mental energy, and throughout your day you are either filling or draining your mental energy tank.
But the ability to overcome this challenge can be achieved if you know these four ways to win the war on worry…

Understand the difference between worry and concern

Concern is action-oriented. In fact, concern is one of the fuels that drives effective leadership. It flows from a deep sense of dissatisfaction over a situation, and drives the leader toward problem-solving.
Worry, on the other hand, is merely hand-wringing negativism.

Recognize the futility of worry

Studies have shown that 85 percent of what we worry about never comes to pass. For leaders the math just doesn’t justify expending mental energy on outcomes that are unlikely to ever happen.

Arrest “worst-case scenario” thinking

Much of worry flows out of assuming the very worst outcome of any situation.
For example, when results are below plan at a particular juncture, “worry” assumes that the trend will continue, that the plan will fail, that this will cost you your job, that you will therefore be unable to provide for your family, and on and on and on…
The mental discipline to recognize this thinking pattern, to arrest it mid-thought, and to refuse to entertain such scenarios is a tremendous energy saver.

Expect the best, prepare for the worst

This axiom may be slightly simplistic, but there is some truth to be found here.
Effective leaders don’t supplant worry with naiveté. And they certainly don’t adopt Alfred E. Neuman’s policy of “What, me worry?”
Instead they right-size the possibility of a negative outcome, and they put the necessary response plans in place.
There is no quick-fix, but if you embrace these strategies you can see dramatic improvements in your mental energy tank.
And over time you really can win the war on worry.
This article originally appeared here.

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Finding Your New Normal

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Finding Your New Normal

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys To Finding Your New Normal
I had never been through anything quite as deep, or frankly, personally frightening, as my burnout in 2006.
Burnout moves fatigue and the darkness from a place where it was in your control to a place where you can simply no longer control either.
I regularly hear from leaders who have let me know that they’re in the midst of burnout right now.
It’s like burnout, fatigue and overwhelm have become epidemics in life and leadership.
If you’re struggling with it, all I can say is I understand, and I’m pulling for you and praying for you.
I told part of my story in this post along with sharing 11 signs you might be burning out.
To diagnose burnout is one thing. But how do you recover from it?
Let me share my journey. While everyone’s recovery will be different, there were 12 keys that, in retrospect, were essential to my recovery.

Not an Instant Cure

And as far as time goes, for me there was no instant cure. It took about:
Six months for me to move from ‘crisis’ (20 percent of normal) to operational (maybe 60 percent).
Another year to get from 60 percent to 80 percent of ‘normal’.
Another three or four years to finally feel 100 percent again—like myself. Even a new self.
In the process, I completely restructured my patterns and rhythms so I could develop a new normal. Why? Because to recover from burnout and overwhelm, you need better patterns, not just a better attitude.
I’ve been asked so many times what those patterns are, I share them in an online course I offer called The High Impact Leader. I’ll tell you more about that at the end of this post.

12 Keys to Getting Back From Burnout

Along the way, these 12 things helped me immensely. And while your story might be different, I offer them in the hope they might help you even in some small way:

1. Tell Someone

This was hard. I think it is for most leaders, especially guys.
My guess is you will resist because of pride. But pride is probably what made you burn out. Don’t miss this: Humility will get you out of what pride got you into. 
Swallow your pride and tell someone safe that you have a problem. It’s tough, but it’s the first step toward wellness. When you admit it to others, you also finally end up admitting it to yourself.

2. Get Help

You can’t do this alone. Really, you can’t. I went to a trained counselor and had a circle of friends who walked the walk with me.
You need to talk to your doctor and to a trained Christian counselor. And you need others. I had people pray over me.
My wife, Toni, was an incredible and exceptional rock.
I’m not sure I would have made it without them. I’m a guy, and I prefer to work through my own problems.
This one was so much bigger than me. But not bigger than God or the community of love and support he provides. So get help.
Solitude is a gift from God, but isolation is a tool of the enemy. Don’t stay isolated.

3. Lean Into Your Friends

Yes, this could have been included in Point 2 but the guys would have missed it. Friends. You need them.
Guys—word here. We tend not to have a lot of friends and we tend not to open up. Mistake. Lean into your friendships.
Friends came to my house and prayed for me. They called me.
One day a friend called and simply said, “I know you can’t feel it today, but the sun will rise again. It will.” I can’t tell you how much those words meant to me that day. Your friends care about you. Lean into them.

4. Keep Leaning Into God

Just because he seems silent doesn’t mean he’s absent. I did not feel God for months. Not when I prayed or read the Bible or worshipped.
But I didn’t give myself permission to quit. In these pivotal moments you will either lean away from God or into him. Lean in, hard. Even if you feel nothing.
I did, and eventually the feelings of intimacy return. Just because you can’t feel God’s love doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Your emotions will eventually catch up to your obedience.

5. Rest

I was so physically and emotionally tired when I burned out. I slept for about 10 hours a day for a month straight, adding naps to my daily diet on top of that.
Sleep is like money; deficits become debt. And debt needs to be paid off.
I paid off my sleep debt that month and I always try now to make sure I am not running a deficit.
If I do for a week or two, I pay it off with more sleep. You were designed to rest, and to rest in God. While I personally didn’t take a sabbatical or medical leave (our board offered me one), some may need to. I was too scared I’d never come back. So I took three weeks vacation and came back slowly.

6. Find Something Else to Take Your Attention Away From Your Pain

The problem with pain (or at least my pain) is when you do nothing you only have your pain to focus on.
Pain is selfish. It will demand all of your attention, unless you decide not to give it.
Distraction is a powerful tool to get your mind thinking about other things. Watch a movie. Go out for dinner. Go for a hike. Head out to a party. Take in a concert. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
At my worst, I would go to social settings and not want to talk to anyone, sometimes even ‘hiding’ from people behind my wife who is a foot shorter than me and 100 lbs lighter. But at least I went.
One night we hosted a dinner party and I left the table early and ended up crying in my bedroom for the rest of the night. But at least we threw the party. It got my mind off the constant cycle of depression.

7. Do What You Can

Again, you may need a long sabbatical. But I took three weeks off and went back to work. On my first week back in the office, it took me longer to write a three line email than it took me to write this entire blog post, but I focused on doing what I could.
The first weekend I preached, those who knew the shape I was in all told me, “We would have had no idea you were feeling so bad. You were amazing.” I knew how I felt inside, but it was good to know I could still be helpful to others in some way.
I think for me it was important to discover what I could still do.
When you’re burning out, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

8. Don’t Do Anything Drastic or Stupid

Underline this. Because my illness involved my mind, I was tempted to do all kinds of things that could have ruined my life.
I felt like abandoning my calling, running away from everyone I knew and everything I knew, even my wife and kids.
In my worst moments, thoughts of ending it all crossed my mind. I am so thankful I didn’t succumb to any of those impulses.
Some days I just said to myself “don’t do anything stupid today.” And if I didn’t, that was progress. I’m so thankful I didn’t do anything rash or irresponsible.
When you’re not at your best, avoiding stupid is a win.

9. Trust Again

One of the contributing factors to my crash was a few relationships (not my family) in which trust was broken. As hurt as I felt and as cynical as I was at points, I made a conscious decision to trust again.
And the wonderful thing is: So many people are trustworthy. And God always is. Trusting again after your trust has been breached keeps your heart fresh and alive and—ultimately—hopeful again.

10. Closely Monitor Balance

I used to pride myself in being able to go at whatever I was doing longer and harder than anyone else. Pride’s not a good thing.
I now closely monitor how I’m feeling, my rest and my balance between time with people and time alone. I’m hyper focused on it. Because I can’t afford not to be.
I build margin into my schedule because without it, the edge of the next cliff is right around the corner.
Margin is a leader’s best friend. The more you have, the more you thrive.

11. Watch for the Warning Signs

I watch these 11 signs of burnout diligently. From time to time, I’ll see a few of the warning signs creep back in. I tell the people around me immediately when I sense I might be heading for the cliff. And I pray about it and take a corrective course of action.
Sometimes you get false alarms. One time, I was two days into what I thought was a ‘mini burnout,’ but I sounded the alarm bells. In the end, it turned out to be my frustration over a leadership issue that was producing the symptoms. As soon as I cracked the leadership issue, the symptoms disappeared almost overnight.
But that kind of monitoring is for me central to staying healthy.

12. Take Full Responsibility for the Health of Your Soul

Nobody else is responsible for your health. You are. Pray, read your Bible, seek life-giving friendships, replenish your energy, eat right, work out, love deeply.
These things nourish your soul. If you don’t do them, nobody will.

Finding Your New Normal (and My Accidental Discovery)

It took me almost five years to get back to normal…but I realized early on that normal wasn’t going to do it this time. This time, I needed a new normal.
Here’s why: Getting back to normal will get you into the same burnout it took you into in the first place. 
For years now, I’ve worked hard to establish new rhythms and patterns that could sustain my life.
In the process, I accidentally discovered something.
These new habits, rhythms and patterns didn’t just keep me out of burnout, they made me far more productive and effective.
I had spent my 30s wanting to write a book. Since coming back from burnout, I’ve written three and am working on a fourth.
I also started speaking to leaders, writing this blog and hosting a weekly leadership podcast, all the while holding down a full-time job AND having more family and recreation time.
The #1 question I get asked post-burnout is “How do you get everything done?”
I finally decided to summarize the principles and strategies in an online course called The High Impact Leader.
Whether you’ve burned out or not, far too many leaders struggle with overwhelm: never getting things done when they’re supposed to be done.
Constant interruptions and distractions keep many leaders from getting their most important priorities accomplished. In addition, work keeps bleeding into family time.
You don’t have to live like that anymore.
The 10-session High Impact Leader online course will show you highly practical, proven strategies on how to finally get time, energy and priorities working in your favor. Just to be clear, it won’t help you recover from burnout but it will help you find highly effective time, energy and priority management strategies once you do recover to help you stay recovered.
Each session includes a video training and workbook that will help you personalize a plan to help you get productive and accomplish the very things you know are most important, but rarely have the time for.
The course is open now for a very limited time. You can learn more or take the course here.

What About You?

It was a long road back for me personally, and I had to keep believing that God wasn’t done with me. Eleven years later I’m so thankful. Our church has never been healthier or more effective.
I am enjoying what I’m doing more than ever. And the opportunities before me have never been greater.
How much of that could I see or imagine 11 years ago? Exactly 0 percent. But I had to not give up despite that. In those moments and days where I still don’t feel good, I cling to the hope that the sun will rise again. And it does.
So that’s my story.
I’m praying for you today and I hope that in some small way this helps those of you who are defeated, discouraged or believe it’s over.
It’s not. Our God still lives. And He loves you.
What’s your story? What’s helped you or people you love?
This article originally appeared here.

What if God DOES Give You Success?

What if God DOES Give You Success?

What If God DOES Give You Success?
Be careful what you ask for.
We all know the punch line, right? “Because you might get it.”
But what if that’s not the real punch line?
What if the real answer is, “Because you might not know what you are asking for?”
We know God wants success for us. The tension resides in the fact that we don’t always define success the same way God does.
We might think success is a big church in the burbs. God might think success is a small church in the country. Or what if God doesn’t connect success to numbers at all? What if God’s definition is more about character, trust, obedience, loving people, lifting His name and teaching the gospel?
God did promise new territory to Joshua. (Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.) That does sound like “numbers.”
But God also focused on the relationship Joshua had with Him.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:7-8
How you define success matters.
Do you have a definition?
Does your definition of success remain consistent, or does it change according to your circumstances?
What does your heart long for?
Let’s be honest, anyone who leads wants success. I’ll bet you’ve never awakened in the morning to a thought like: “I sure hope I fail today.”
And probably similar to me, you’ve experienced both the successes and failures that life has a way of delivering.
The following are a few things I’ve learned over the years about success. I hope they are helpful to you.

1) Allow success to be something God gives you, not something you take.

You can’t force success no matter how hard you try. You can work hard, and that makes a big difference, (God wants you to do your part), but God’s timing doesn’t always match our desires. However, His timing is right.
It’s not uncommon for leaders to try to “take” success from God. Meaning, it’s something we expect, or feel entitled to, in our way, in our timing. Of course, that never works well.
You may be in charge, but you are not in control.
When you take success into your own hands, it’s incredibly heavy, often short-lived and usually exhausting.
When God gives success, you still work hard and get tired, but the fruit tastes so sweet. The load is lighter, and there is more than enough joy and meaning to replenish your weariness and refresh your soul.

2) If you are blessed with success, never forget where it came from.

One of my mistakes as a leader is when I pray less in a season of success. I continue to learn that it’s during times of success that I need to pray most.
It’s easy to subtly slide from the truth that ultimately God makes it all happen, to “I made it happen.” I really don’t ever believe that, but I can begin to live and behave as if I think that way. That’s a subtle and dangerous difference.
God is gracious and kind to provide His favor.
Whatever small or large success I may be blessed with, I acknowledge and thank God for it daily.

3) Don’t sell your soul for continued success.

Success to the soul is like sugar to the palate; you just want more.
When I have a chocolate chip cookie, my first thought is never, “Well I’m good now.” I think, “Just one more,” and that thought never ends. There’s nothing wrong with a chocolate chip cookie, but I can sell out my health if I keep eating them.
Most leaders are highly driven and dedicated to the mission. And when you get a “taste” of success, you may be tempted to pay any price for continued success.
Where do you draw the line? Do you protect and put your family first? How about your physical health? And your spiritual life, ironically, can be at high risk even when your time is dedicated to God’s work. How would you describe your prayer life—is it all that you want it to be? These are good questions for a personal check up.

4) Failure is a springboard to future success.

Some leaders are more successful than others, but no one experiences continued success throughout their life.
Failure is inevitable, but it’s not final.
Failure can knock you down, and sometimes it can feel like it knocked you out. But you can get back up.
What you and I learn from our failures makes us better leaders. How we apply what we learn makes all the difference.
Sometimes we need a more experienced and wiser friend to help us navigate the difficult seasons. Sometimes we need a fresh start. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a good night’s sleep and start again in the morning.
Whatever the case might be for you as a leader, embrace failures as part of life, learn all you can and keep pressing on.
This article originally appeared here.

Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos
There is no doubt that we have all experienced the chaos of herding preschoolers during small group time (although it really can feel like herding cats). Stop throwing! Let’s sit down for rug time! Spit out that play-dough!
As small group leaders, in the midst of the chaos that can ensue, it’s our job to maintain some order so that we can create a safe place where ALL of our kids can learn and love Jesus! Having some techniques in your tool belt for managing that tension can be helpful during your time with your few.
Watch your levels.
If we let our emotions get out of control, we can be sure our preschoolers will do the same. Kids tend to match their level of loud with your level of loud. Meeting them in their hysteria will only result in more hysteria. When you feel the levels rising in your room, try to remember to speak in a calm voice. You would be amazed at what a whisper can do in a room! Your preschoolers will be straining their tiny ears to hear you.
Find your helpers.
So many times, I have found there are always a few in my group that have a consistently hard time following directions, which adds to the chaos. Those few can become your best helpers! You can have them hand out supplies, help clean the room or assist in leading your group to the large group area. If their hands and feet are busy, you may find they redirect all that energy into something positive.
Divide and conquer.
If you find your preschoolers ganging up to start a riot in your room, this might be a good time to divide and conquer with your co-leader. A great technique to lessen the chaos of your room is to split the activities between yourself and your co-leader and to separate the kids into teams. You get bonus points for being strategic in dividing the children who tend to feed off of each other! When the kids finish their activities, switch teams with your co-leader. I’ve found that organizing your time with your few in this way can help you to have a better connection with fewer kid at a time. Many times, our overactive kids are really just wanting some attention.
Even in the midst of chaos, God still wants to speak to your few, and He wants to use you to do it! The most important work that you do isn’t keeping the peace and maintaining order, although it can sometimes feel that way. You’re working toward creating a space safe enough and conducive enough for your few to experience God’s love. And that is very important work.
What are some techniques you use in calming the chaos in your small group?
This article originally appeared here.

How to Go about Life Decisions when the Husband Is the Head of Your Home

Matt and Lauren Chandler: How to Go about Life Decisions when the Husband Is the Head of Your Home

How Should Husbands and Wives Agree on Life Decisions
Marriage has a deeper meaning than two people taking up space in a home, sharing responsibilities, and physically connecting with each other. In fact, it is marriage between a husband and his wife that God uses to provide a picture of His relationship with His church. As true as that may be, it’s also true that every marriage is made up of two sinners, who are prone to weakness, selfish desires, and fleshly thinking. So how can a husband and wife partner together in order to make life decisions?  Matt Chandler, who is pastor of the Village Church, and his wife, Lauren, provide insight through this video about that very thing.
The Lord, according to Lauren, has created the husband to fulfill the role of servant leader within marriage just as Christ loves, leads, and serves the His church. Wives, just like the church, should flourish under the leadership of her husband. Husbands can provide this type of servant leadership by listening to how their wives view and feel about upcoming decisions. Ultimately, the decision lies with the husband either by deferring or by his direct decision. This means that the ramifications of the decision will lay with him and not his wife.
Godly husbands, says Matt, have no natural desire to say “no” to their wives but try to lay down any “yes” before their wives. But there are times when deferring would be unwise and could put the family in harm’s way. Male headship is not about flexing his authority but about protection of the marriage and family as well as values that honor Christ. Husbands can communicate this leadership by saying, “the answer is ‘yes’ now ask the question”. This gives wives unfettered communicative freedom with their husbands and encourages good dialogue about significant life decisions.

Women Use Porn Too

Women Use Porn Too

Women Use Porn Too
There’s no more frightening place to sit than alone in the shadows with your sin. The permeating decay of sin’s destruction is the stuff of true nightmares.
But what if pastors and friends from church were inadvertently helping you stay in the shadows? We can easily chat about total depravity, but the moment a pastor addresses only men on a Sunday morning to confront “their” porn problem, he’s unintentionally left women in the dark…with their sin.
I’ve counseled women with varying degrees of damage from sexual sin—from those willingly involved in BDSM all the way to sex-trafficking victims. No matter how much I see it, I never grow unphased by the shrewd precision with which sexual sin wounds women. And now, thanks to the cultural normalization of pornography and the availability of WiFi and smart phones, statistics of porn users have not only soared—they’ve left no age group, demographic or gender unharmed.
That said, we must stop assuming pornography is a men’s problem, because it’s not. It’s a human problem.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to mankind. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
In context, Paul is addressing two specific temptations: sexual immorality (1 Cor. 10:8) and grumbling (1 Cor. 10:10). Paul calls these sins “common” because they are regular temptations everyone faces. To assume sexual sin is only a male problem is to deny the help God promises to send all Christians.

Slaying Taboos

We’re often uncomfortable talking about female use of pornography. It’s a delicate topic for pastors to address with women because sexuality, by nature, is intimate. Since confessing sexual sin to a male pastor or elder is difficult, many may be less aware of the problem.
Yet when we treat porn as a men’s issue, we withhold grace and help from women in their time of need (Heb. 4:16). Our great high priest doesn’t sympathize with just some of our weaknesses, but with all of them. And because of the Spirit’s power at work in us, we can boldly confront any kind of sin.
But when we make a particular sin taboo—from the pulpit or anywhere else in the church—it creates pockets of darkness where sin can fester and flourish. Sheltered by silence and fed by shame, the unaddressed sin has unrestricted reign to destroy lives.

Humility Unchains

On the other hand, no Christian regardless of gender can remain both silent about sin and free from shame. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
The more we conceal our sin, the harder our hearts become. And sin always harms, even when it seems private—this includes masturbation and pornography; this includes sexting; this includes lustful thoughts. As explicit as it is to write those words, we must be clear that true freedom and holy restoration are available to women who struggle in these ways.
Believers silent about their sin waste away in grief (Ps. 32:3). When we isolate ourselves, we prize the pride our shame protects over the holiness our humility allows (Prov. 18:1).
But God “opposes the proud” and “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Sisters, humble yourselves and don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1). Confess. Repent. Your Father is faithful and just to forgive your sins and purify your heart (1 John 1:9).
Jesus answers your cry of loneliness with his perfect comfort.
Jesus answers your feeling of shame with his perfect record.
Jesus answers your desire for companionship with his perfect communion.
Jesus answers your desire for ultimate pleasure with his perfect promises.
Sister, confess your sin and embrace Christ instead.

Team Effort

People don’t change because of the power of statistics or hearing about the devastating effects of porn. People change through the transforming power of the gospel. People change by submitting to the truth of God’s Word rather than the ravenous appetite of the flesh.
And people change with help from one another (1 Thess. 5:14).
Pornography is a spiritual problem rooted in the deceitfulness of idolatry—and like all idolatry, we need one another in the fight. A Christian struggling with porn needs other believers to help her slay sin by the power of God’s Word (Eph. 5:18–21; Col. 3:16).
Following the text on temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:12–13, Paul writes: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” We all need help. None of us is above the temptation pornography provides.
Pastors, pornography is a human problem.
Women who struggle, come out of the shadows to Jesus.
Church, rise up and help your sisters.
This article originally appeared here.

Can a Christian Drink Alcohol

Can a Christian Drink Alcohol

Can A Christian Drink Alcohol
On Monday night, news broke that Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White had been charged with vandalism and public intoxication. On my Facebook wall, I posted the following comment: “This just in…and the gold medal for character enhancement, once again, goes to alcohol.”
For years, well-meaning, sincere Christians have debated the subject of drinking. Let me be clear by saying there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian cannot have a drink; although the Bible clearly warns about the destructive and addictive nature of alcohol (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18) and is very clear that drunkenness is always wrong (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3; Habakkuk 2:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11).
The Bible is also clear that mature Christians should avoid causing others to stumble by drinking (Romans 14:21), and that leaders ought to avoid drinking alcohol (Proverbs 31:4-7) and cannot be given to drunkenness (1 Timothy 3:3, 8Titus 1:7.)
I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone. Max Lucado said, “One thing for sure, I have never heard anyone say, ‘A beer makes me feel more Christlike… Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.”1 I’ve yet to see how it improves someone’s testimony or makes anyone a more effective witness for Christ. Quite the contrary, like Shaun White mentioned above, or Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts’ son, who was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, driving under the influence, the result doesn’t enhance your testimony. Rather, it takes away from what testimony you had.
Recently, a friend of mine, former megachurch Pastor John Caldwell, wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here’s the link to his article. John’s article explained why he has personally abstained from drinking alcohol and dealt with the bigger issue of the contemporary church becoming more and more like the world.
Not surprisingly, a number of people responded to John’s article and some called him to task for taking such a strong stand against drinking. In response to the responses, my good friend Ken Idleman, former President of Ozark Christian College and now Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, Ind., wrote these words, which are among the very best I’ve ever read on this issue. I asked Ken for his permission to share them here.
“OK, I am conscience bound to weigh in on this one… For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, ‘I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!’ no one says, ‘It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.’ Yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life… It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds it way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.
I had two uncles whose lives were wrecked by alcohol. The exception you say? Hardly. It is not what they wanted when they dreamed of their futures when they were in their 20s. Praise God, they were wonderfully delivered in their 60s when the grace of God became real to them. And can you imagine it?… They got their lives back by becoming total abstainers by the power of the Holy Spirit!
One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo., was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year-old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, ‘I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.’
Listen, some of those who are defensive in response to Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful and courageous article will want to revise their text if, in a few years, they discover that they were able to handle their drinking just fine, but their son or daughter could not. Answer honestly. Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin? Or, if your loved one is killed some day in a head on collision by a driver under the influence who crossed the center line, will you still be defensive of drinking?
A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that…tragically…he tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.
Hey, thanks for indulging my rant. Like my friend John Caldwell, I confess to setting the bar high for Christian leadership [especially] when it comes to aesthetic holiness. Call me a ‘right-wing fundamentalist.’ Call me a ‘throw back to the days of the tent evangelists.’ Call me a ‘simpleton.’ Call me a ‘minimalist.’ But, if you do, go ahead and also call me a ‘watchman on the wall’ where the welfare of my family [children, in-laws, grandchildren] and my church family is concerned.”2
Personally, I’ve yet to have my first beer and have no desire to start now or to drink alcohol of any kind. At the same time, I don’t judge those who believe they have freedom in Christ to drink. But when asked, I always tell people I don’t believe it’s the best choice.
The bottom line is this: The question really isn’t CAN A CHRISTIAN DRINK? Rather, it is: SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK?
© 2012. Barry L. Cameron
1 David Faust, Voices From The Hill, (Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary, 2003) 252.
2 John Caldwell, “To Drink or Not to Drink,” Christian Standard 11 August 2012, 18 September 2012.

When a Pastor’s Kid Doubts Her Faith

When a Pastor’s Kid Doubts Her Faith

When a Pastor's Kid Doubts Her Faith
My dad tells this story from when I was five years old. He was teaching me and my two sisters about the Garden of Eden. In the middle of the story, I interrupted, “Wait, if God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree, why’d he put it in the garden?” And thus my impulsively inquisitive nature reared its head.
Such questions and concerns have never quite left me. I’ve always felt the need to ask why? until I get a sufficient answer. I consider this a gift now. Curiosity and questioning are what have led me to deeper truths about God and about myself and others. But when you grow up as a pastor’s daughter, there are expectations.
My father, Max, has been the pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio for almost 30 years—my entire life. I do not know life apart from church and apart from being a visible member of the church. For the most part, this has been a wonderful and enriching place for me and my growth as a believer in Jesus. But somewhere along the way, while being raised in front of the congregation’s eye, I began to carry the weight of expectations. I needed to act a certain way. I need to look a certain way. And, I needed to believe a certain way. My faith needed to be strong like my mother’s and father’s. It needed to match my poised exterior.
So I kept my doubts to myself. I talked to my parents about them, but few others. I grew inward in my faith. I kept it private for fear of others knowing that I asked questions like that one when I was five years old.
In the church of my childhood, and still today, there is a prayer time at the end of the service. Several members of the congregation called “prayer partners” line the front of the auditorium, and the rest of the church body is invited to come forward for prayer. No one told me I shouldn’t go forward for prayer during that time, but because I had internalized those faith expectations, I didn’t think I was allowed to. I never even considered it. Not once.
What would people think if I, Andrea Lucado, went forward for prayer? They would think my prayer life was not strong enough on its own. They would think something was wrong with me or my family. I saved the prayer partners for those who were brave enough to be prayed over in public.
I wonder if this happens to other pastors’ kids. If somehow in the midst of all of the church people we know, we end up living private spiritual lives. I had quiet times. I read and studied and prayed, but I did so alone.
I lived my private spiritual life for as long as I could, until it didn’t work anymore. Until the doubts grew overwhelming.
I moved to Oxford the fall after I graduated college. I went there for a master’s program in English literature at a school called Oxford-Brookes. During the year I was there, the questions that had been rumbling beneath the surface came out in full bloom. The world of Oxford academia will do that to you. Being plucked out of the Bible Belt and dropped into post-Christian Europe will do that to you. Being the only Christian in your class for the first time in your life will do that to you.
Why do I believe what I believe?
Would I still be a Christian if I had not been raised in a Christian home?
Why do the atheists and agnostics I know seem more peaceful and loving than many of the Christians I know?
These questions swirled round and round in my head. My nights turned restless with them. And my quiet times, the ones I had been faithfully keeping since high school? They turned, well, quiet. So quiet that they only echoed my own voice back to me. “Anyone out there? Anyone out there? Anyone?”
What I wanted instead, what I needed, wasn’t God, but someone, a physical real-person someone, to show me the way. I wanted to talk to someone who I knew was talking to God, even if I couldn’t or just didn’t want to.
I found that in a friend in Oxford. He was kind. He was fun. And his faith was not in turmoil as mine was. He had a steadiness to him that I craved. We didn’t talk much about my own faith. We went on walks and ate out at restaurants and drank tea on my couch to keep our hands warm in the winter months. It seemed that being near him was exactly what I needed that year. I needed to simply talk to someone who was talking to God.
The people who talk to God, as I learned, can do a lot for you and for your faith if you let them. I once heard author and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber speak. During the question and answer session at the end, a guy stood up and said, “I had faith and it was strong, but now I’m doubting. I feel weak in my faith. What should I do?”
Bolz-Weber’s suggestion? “You can take a break now. Let someone else on the pew be strong for you.”
I like this idea of giving each other permission to take a break from trying and let the others on the pew be strong for us for a little while. This is not something I gave myself permission to do growing up as a pastor’s daughter, but it is something I am a strong advocate for now.
I left Oxford with a deeper faith than I had when I arrived. The restless nights eventually led to a knowing and a peace, largely due to that friend and a few others on the pew I let be strong for me for a while.
I still find it difficult to go forward in church for prayer. I default to keeping up appearances and appearing strong and fine, but I’m getting there. God has been gentle and patient with me and I hope that one day, when the pastor calls for the time of prayer, I’ll be the first running down the aisle.
This article originally appeared here.

The Moment LeBron James Became The Unquestioned Leader Of The Cleveland Cavaliers

Since the definition of leadership is “influence”, LeBron James was leading the Cleveland Cavaliers when he was just a sophomore or junior basketball player at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in Akron (OH).  This is because the Cavaliers were already involved in player movement and salary cap manipulation which would position them to ultimately select the local prodigy with the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
When James arrived as a rookie he was already a national celebrity.  He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior and several of the team’s games during his senior season were telecast on ESPN.  James had signed over $100 million in endorsement contracts with Nike and trading card companies before even being drafted.  Season ticket sales increased from 2,000 in the 2001-2002 season to 10,000 before James played his first professional game.  Reported attendance figures rose from 11,497 to 18,288 per game during his rookie season.  LeBron James was clearly the face of the franchise and everything would be built around him.
But there is a MAJOR difference between position and influence.  James had the position.  But he needed to earn the respect of the team’s veterans.
In Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst’s great book The Franchise: LeBron James and the Remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers, they track the rise of James from growing up in a single-mother home to his first trip to the NBA Finals in 2007.  They made an interesting observation about James’s ascension to his role as team leader.
The team’s head coach at the time Paul Silas was quoted as saying, “He went from a (19-year-old) rookie who had to show everyone that he was a player…Well, he showed them (see video above).  He put up numbers.  And he started to take on leadership.”  What we learn from Silas’s quote is young leaders begin earning influence by producing results.  But more is required.
General Manager Jim Paxson said, “The only thing I thought LeBron needed to do after his rookie year was learn how the best player on the team must compete and lead every day in practice.  LeBron played hard.  But he wouldn’t always stay after practice for extra work.  He’d do his thing with the media and go home.  Other players saw that.  When your best player works extra, then the others tend to follow.
Paxson gave that feedback to James who made the immediate changes.  The rest is history.
LeBron James was the face of the franchise the moment he was drafted.  But he became the unquestioned team leader when he began leading in the areas of sacrifice, hard work, and showing his commitment to the success of others with his time and effort.
For leaders to reach their maximum level of influence, your position is not enough.  Even your production is not enough.  Motivational speeches are not enough.  For a leader to reach their maximum level of influence you must also be willing to lead in the area of sacrificing for the success of others.
What is one thing you can learn from LeBron’s rookie year which will make you a better leader?
Click HERE or on the image to the left and as a free gift for subscribing to this site, you can receive my new Ebook 1269 Leadership Quotes: Timeless Truths From 2016’s Top Christian Leadership Conferences.  Featured are the Johnny Hunt Mens Conference, ReThink Leadership, Orange and Leadercast Conferences among others.  If applied, these insights will make you an exponentially better leader.  Enjoy!!!

Daddy-Daughter Dates: 5 Things You Need to Know

Sunday was a great reminder of just how super-blessed I am as a father. But I realized that a big part of why I enjoy such rich relationships with my grown children today is the intentional things we did parenting our kids when they were young.
In this episode of the Lifeschool Podcast I will share why Daddies should be regularly dating their daughters. I’ll give you some of my proven steps and activities to take to ensure your dates with your daughter are amazing too. (This works with mothers and sons too!)
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
  • When the right age to start dating your daughter is
  • How these dates can be a picture of what God is truly like and how He sees and values your daughter
  • How the way you treat your daughter on these dates sets her expectations for relationships with men in her life.
  • How Caesar’s proven Daddy-daughter Date Checklist will help you have amazing times together you will cherish. We’ll tell you how to get your free copy today.
There is no better way to unlock your daughters’ hearts, and pour into them a sense of beauty and value, than these cherished one-on-one times together. Memories are built, friendships strengthened and you’ll build a bond of trust that will last a lifetime.
ALSO check out... And as long as I am extending Father’s day and speaking to the brothers, you should also check out this post and video on having awesome date nights with your wife too!
P.S. If you have any questions or thoughts, please hit Reply...I love hearing from you.

15 Habits Of The NFL’s Most Successful Players

On Monday evening, June 26th the NFL Network announced the league’s Top 10 players as voted on by the players.  If you are a leader, this is an important list because it shows what talented people admire about their contemporaries.
The following 15 Habits Of The NFL’s Most Successful Players:
  1. The Most Successful People Are Resilient.  They Bounce Back From Adversity. – Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was rated the 10th best player in the NFL by his peers.  Interestingly, he was not rated in the Top 100 in 2016.  Teammate Vic Beasley said, “I’m proud of the way Matt bounced back.  People doubted…To see him keep the confidence and stay positive, that’s what I admire about him.”
  2. The Most Successful People Are Versatile.  They Are Good At A Lot Of Things. – The Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was voted the 9th best player in the NFL.  Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said, “You usually have versatile players who are kind ‘of good at a lot of different things.  He’s the best at everything.  He’s the best running back in this league.”
  3. The Most Successful People Continually Improve. – New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was rated the league’s 32nd best player after his rookie year in 2015.  The following year he improved to #10.  This year he climbed even higher to the #8 spot.
  4. The Most Successful People Have A Great Team Around Them – Dallas Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott running back was rated the 7th best player and the league’s best running back by his peers.  It helps that he runs behind the NFL’s best offensive line.
  5. The Most Successful People Give Their Teammates Great Confidence. – Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was voted the game’s 6th best player.  First let me say – Are you kidding me?  I had him rated as the game’s 2nd best player.  In any event, after losing four consecutive games in 2016, Rodgers boldly predicted, “I feel like we can run the table.  I really do.”  He also led the league last year with 40 touchdown passes.  The team won its next eight games and made it all the way to the NFC Championship game.  For more on Rodgers, read 12 Leadership Quotes And Lessons From Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
  6. The Most Successful People Lead By Example And Work Hard – Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack was rated the 5th best player in pro football. Teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey said, “Khalil Mack.  Leader.  He changed our franchise…Two guys (Mack and quarterback Derek Carr) that was going to change the culture; who was going to go out there and show that hard work was why we were going to win.”
  7. The Most Successful People Produce Superior Results – Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown came in at #4.  Since 2013, Brown’s 481 catches are the most by any player in NFL history over a four-year period.
  8. The Most Successful People Often Do Not Receive Enough Credit – The Seattle Seahawks incredible cornerback Richard Sherman said of the #3 player, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, “I have a ton of respect for him.  And even the people who give him credit aren’t giving him enough credit.”
  9. The Most Successful People Start Fast – The Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller came in at the #2 spot.  Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said, “I’ve kind of watched a bunch of film on him to really try to see how he does what he does.  His first step is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
  10. The Most Successful People Have Great Intelligence – The 2017 #1 player in the NFL is the New England Patriots incomparable quarterback Tom Brady.  Where do we begin.  JJ Watt said, “He is so knowledgeable of the game.  He knows every situation that he is in.”  But there is more to come on Brady as you will see below.
  11. The Most Successful People Have Great Passion – Jameis Winston said, “He (Brady) is very passionate about the game.  He is always engaged in the game and he is always engaged with his teammates.”
  12. The Most Successful People Have Great Focus – Teammate James White said, “He (Brady) has the ability to keep us motivated whether we’re up 40 or down 40.  Laser focus.  Laser focus.”
  13. The Most Successful People Do Not Quit – Beasley said, “He (Brady) has the ability to not give up.  He is a champion because of it.”
  14. The Most Successful People Still Have Something To Prove – Buffalo Bill guard Richie Incognito said, “When he came back off the (four game) suspension he had something to prove.  And we knew it was going to be rough.”
  15. The Most Successful People Make Their Teammates Successful – Beasley observed, “He (Brady) got (wide receiver Christ) Hogan looking like he’s the offensive player of the year.  Nobody even knew who Hogan was.  That just shows you the type of player he is that he makes his teammates great.”
What is one thing you learned from the NFL’s best players which can make you a better leader?
Click HERE or on the image to the left and as a free gift for subscribing to this site, you can receive my new Ebook 1269 Leadership Quotes: Timeless Truths From 2016’s Top Christian Leadership Conferences.  Featured are the Johnny Hunt Mens Conference, ReThink Leadership, Orange and Leadercast Conferences among others.  If applied, these insights will make you an exponentially better leader.  Enjoy!!!

Never Blame God

View article Never Blame God

Never Blame God

By David Mathis on May 31, 2017
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You are not the first Christian to have felt angry at God, and you will not be the last.

 You are not the first Christian to have felt angry at God. And you will not be the last to feel the urge to blame him.
We Christians can be prone, in our pain, to point a finger and raise a fist at heaven. If we believe in God at all, we should believe he is bigger and stronger than we can even fathom. Our Bibles are filled with what we might call “big God” verses. We’re told God does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6), nothing happens outside his control (Lamentations 3:37–38; Job 2:10; Proverbs 16:33; Matthew 10:29), he will accomplish all his plans (Job 42:2; Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35), and not even a rebellious human will can thwart him (Proverbs 21:1; Revelation 17:17). Even when others mean evil against us, God means it for good (Genesis 50:20). He is stronger than any threat against his children, and whatever he lovingly allows into our lives, he does so for our full and final good, even as it is indeed painful, not pleasant (Hebrews 12:11).
We talk about God bringing trials into our lives, and God testing us, and we should. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3). And yet we need to be careful, as our vision of his sovereignty expands, that we not attribute something to him in a way the Scriptures do not. James himself, sensing a possible misunderstanding of his powerful rally to count our trials as joy, wants to make sure we know God is not the dispenser of evil in the same way he is the giver of good. He stands sovereignly over both good and evil, but he stands directly behind good, and indirectly, as it were, over evil.

God Himself Tempts No One

In the same opening section of his letter, and just eight sentences after his now famous charge to “count it all joy,” James makes his strong and pointed clarification. God is indeed sovereign over all our trials, and uses them for our good, such that we can count them (even as we don’t naturally feel them) as “all joy.” However, he says,
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:13–14)
In Greek, the noun trials in verse 2 and the verb tempt in verses 13–14 have the same root and make the connection clearer to the original readers, even as these words take on distinct meanings in their contexts (and so we translate them differently in English). Verse 2 emphasizes external testing, while verses 13–14 focus on internal temptation.
What James hopes to maintain for us in both our external trials and the resulting internal temptations is that God is never the one to blame. God is indeed sovereign over evil, but in such a way that he is never the author of evil. He is never the one to blame for our pain, but rather the sovereign one to whom we turn for help. That’s where James 1:5 comes in: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God is the generous giver of wisdom for navigating our trials, not the one to blame for them, even as he reigns over them. James 1:16–17 has this very clarification in view:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
God is indeed fully and utterly in control of his world, from the biggest details to the very smallest. He does bring suffering and pain into our lives — but never in such a way that he is the one to blame for our pain. He is the one who gives generously when we ask. He is the one to whom we reach out for help. He’s the giver of every good and perfect gift to whom we look for relief, not the one to whom we point our finger in our pain.

Suffering Tests Our Love for This World

As much as James may have the reputation today as a “wisdom teacher” who pens disconnected sayings in succession, a coherent train of thought that works together as a whole emerges here in his opening chapter. James 1:6–8, then, becomes clearer in light of his coming charge not to blame God in pain, but come to him for help.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Doubt here (as is often misunderstood) is not a humble crisis of faith, but arrogant anger at God. It’s not about doubting his existence as much as doubting his goodness in suffering. The basic sin James calls attention to in his letter is this double-mindedness (James 1:8; 4:8), which is a kind of halfhearted compromise with the world. It is “friendship with the world” and “enmity with God” (James 4:4). This is what suffering does: it tests our love for this world. Are we double-minded, trying to put our trust in both God and his world, or is he our greatest treasure?
The heart of such double-mindedness is blaming God for our pain while, at the same time, asking for his help and relief. But as James 1:17 clarifies, he is “the Father of Lights,” not the one responsible for the darkness.

God’s Asymmetrical Ways

The ways of God are not illogical, but they often defy the powers of logic — that is, they don’t strictly follow from human premises to human conclusions. The truth that God is sovereign over all things (Romans 11:36) does not mean that he is sovereign over good and evil in the same way. He stands directly behind every good gift (James 1:17) but not directly behind evil (James 1:13). He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, but never the author of evil.
One passage in the Bible where such asymmetry in God is captured so beautifully and powerfully, as a shining light in the midst of very great darkness, is Lamentations 3:32–33. In the bleakest days of the long, convoluted history of God’s people, when a foreign army has decimated the holy city, the prophet does not blame God for the devastation he has brought on Jerusalem. Rather, he remembers these glorious asymmetries that hold out hope for God’s help.
Though he cause grief, he will have compassion
   according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
   or grieve the children of men.

Though God does cause grief, he does not grieve from the heart. Though he does afflict, he does not do so from the heart. Is this just doublespeak? Or does it point powerfully to something deep in the heart of God that can help us know we can trust him, come what may?

His Mercy Is More

A similar sighting of such asymmetry comes in Romans 9:22–23. As the apostle Paul makes as plain in this chapter, God is sovereign over all things, including the eternal destiny of morally accountable humans — and yet that does not mean that God wills good and evil to equal ends.
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?
The point of the rhetorical question is plain: God’s display of wrath and demonstration of his power are penultimate actions. They always serve a greater purpose — in the universe and in his own heart: to make known the riches of his glory to those on whom he has mercy. As John Piper comments on these verses,
Though God does accomplish all things by the counsel of his will, he does not bring about all things in the same way. In the accomplishment of some things he employs intermediary agents perhaps. Or to put it another way, his heart is engaged differently in different acts, loving some deeds in themselves and inclining to others only as they are preferable in relation to greater ends (cf. Lamentations 3:33). If this is the case, Paul would be implying that not wrath but mercy is the greater, overarching goal for which God does all things. (Justification of God, 213–214)

Anger at God Is Always Sin

Once we’ve learned and embraced this pervasive biblical truth that God is sovereign over all things, Satan may take a new tactic in his assaults on our faith. The world, the flesh, and the devil may conspire in our suffering to tempt us to be angry at God for bringing or permitting pain and loss into our lives. Such anger at God is always sin in us in some form or fashion. It is never right to be angry with God. We never have just cause for blaming him. He is always in the right. In him is light, and no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
Anger at sin is good (Mark 3:5), but anger at goodness is sin. That is why it is never right to be angry with God. He is always and only good, no matter how strange and painful his ways with us. Anger toward God signifies that he is bad or weak or cruel or foolish. None of those is true, and all of them dishonor him. Therefore, it is never right to be angry at God. When Jonah and Job were angry with God, Jonah received God’s rebuke (Jonah 4:9), and Job repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:6).
. . . [A]s painful as his providence can be, we should trust that he is good, not get angry with him. That would be like getting angry at the surgeon who cuts us. It might be right if the surgeon slips and makes a mistake. But God never slips. (Piper, It Is Never Right to Be Angry with God)
But if we do find, as many Christians have, that we have anger in our hearts toward God, let it be said loud and clear that we should not add the sin of hypocrisy to the sin of being angry at God. Let’s be honest about our sin, confess it as such, and not rally others to celebrate it. We should ever cultivate or seek to stir up anger with God in ourselves or in anyone else. Anger can be righteous, but anger with God is never righteous. Our anger with God always betrays some fault in us, never in him.

Let’s Help Each Other

Such simple and complex truths play out week in and week out in our local churches and Christian communities. Let’s call each other to be the kind of people who both model and encourage right thinking and right feeling about God in our suffering. It is always sin to be angry with him, and he is never to blame in our pain. He “cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” Let’s never encourage people to be angry with God.
And let’s also seek to be people who extend ample grace to those who are in the throes of suffering. Christians do get angry with God. Often we will hear words for the wind (Job 6:26), as people who are hurting say things in their pain they don’t really mean deep down and won’t really hold to long term.
When people are angry with God, those of us who love the “big God” verses and know the nuances of his word should be the safest place to come and be honest.
 David Mathis is Executive Editor of

Remember This When You’re Tired of People

Remember This When You’re Tired of People

Couple talkingby John McGee
Have you ever been tired of people? Have you ever looked down on your Caller ID and let out a soft groan when you saw who it was? You know you’re supposed to be kind, compassionate, and helpful, but sometimes, instead of seeing people as a blessing to engage with, you see them as a hassle to avoid. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard.
I’ve never met a pastor that hasn’t had these thoughts at some point – including myself. Recently when I’ve had moments when I didn’t want to engage as I should, I’ve tried to remember something that made a huge difference.
What is this powerful reminder? It’s this – every person I come in contact with is someone’s son or daughter. I know how much I love my kids, how much I hope and pray the best for them, and how much I deeply desire that those who come in contact with them will love them as they deserve. It’s been really helpful to imagine that these people have parents who feel the same way about their kids.
I know that if one of your children attended our church you would hope that I wouldn’t view them as a hassle or a number, or engage with them on a mere surface level so that I could check off the pastoral duties. You would hope that I would value them as you do. Candidly, you would be frustrated if you found out I treated them any differently.
When I remember I could be dealing with one of your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews it gives me the extra motivation to:
Love them unconditionally. Your kids deserve to be loved regardless of who they are or what they do. They deserve to be loved without any agenda. Perhaps they will contribute, give, and lead at my church – but even if they don’t they deserve to be shown the same relentless love that God shows us.
Point them to truth. I might be tempted to just give your kids my personal opinion. However the best way to love them would be to point them to God’s Word, and then take time to help them develop a love for it.
Be patient. Your kids are not projects to be wrapped up quickly. There will be some seasons that they won’t obey as much as they could or grow as fast as they should. I might be tempted to get frustrated with them and want them to do more and change faster. However, when I remember that these people are your children that you would literally give your life for, it helps me remember how valuable they are and keeps me from being impatient.
Honestly there are times when the email comes in or the phone rings that I don’t feel like loving the person on the other side as I should. But I’ve found that if I remember they are someone’s son or daughter, it motivates me to love, point them to truth, and be patient. I would hate to meet you someday and have to make up excuses about why I was too tired or busy to love your kids.
If you still aren’t moved or aren’t sure this will help you, there is obviously a deeper truth here. Everyone, yes even that person that keeps calling or emailing, was created by God. He not only created them, but He is crazy about them; so much so that He actually died for them. He has done everything He can to show the world how valuable every person is, and every person deserves to be loved, pointed to truth, and shown patience and grace.
The next time your tank seems to be on empty and you’re tempted to not engage with someone, just remember there are parents somewhere that are crazy about them and that you might meet someday. If you still aren’t motivated by the thought of meeting their earthly parents, remember you’ll meet the One Who created and died for them someday.