Tag Archives: focus

“The Lord Always Before Me”

Tuesday Re-mix:

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

I recently read a blog post by a prominent leader in the evangelical world.  It was a post about “Rules of Thumb” for healthy churches.  The rules were all about the proper acreage for church property, the number of parking spaces per attendance, the maximum occupancy for buildings, maximum debt payment budgeted, and so on.  You get the picture.  It broke my heart.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image15608205I know this leader/blogger to be a godly man and a well-respected leader.  I absolutely do not question that.  To his credit, his own comments to that post state that he regrets using the words “healthy churches” in his title, as if these various metrics have anything to do with church health.  I respect that, and am so glad he made that correction.  I had actually written my own comment to the effect that he should have entitled the post “Ten Things You as a Church Leader Should NOT be Obsessing About”.  I refrained.  Maybe I shouldn’t have refrained.

Two observations here:

1. I believe our pastors and ministers and rectors and priests often do obsess about the wrong things…I believe church leaders today are easily swayed from “setting the Lord always before us”;

2.  I believe that is our own fault for allowing them, even encouraging them, to do that.

Don’t you think “I have set the Lord always before me” is a comment about focus?  I do.  I think it means always, always, always helping us stay focused on the Head of the church (Jesus) and what He desires and what Honors Him and what His kingdom requires.  I think it means, when the rest of the world is focused on …

Focus…Trees: Leadership Focus that Jesus Values

Tuesday Re-mix:

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him,“You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.  Mark 12:32-34

Forest for the treesI believe the church has more than its share of leaders who cannot see the forest for the trees.  They get so distracted by the minutia, the petty, the theological fine points, they lose sight of the main thing.  I suspect you know a leader or two like that.  You may even BE a leader like that…but, if you are, you probably do not know it.  After all, what kind of leader would knowingly be like that?

The Pharisees and other teachers of the law in Jesus’ day were often that way.  They were so distracted by the complexities of their traditions and the fine points of the Mosaic law, they had virtually lost sight of the Spirit behind those laws.  Questions like, “What’s most important?” were particularly troublesome for them.

Jesus, on the other hand, seems to me to be a “big picture” kind of leader…at least in matters of theology.  He always had an eye on the things which matter most, and he had a way of embarrassing the institutional religious thinkers of his day in this regard.  He valued a theology which kept the main thing as the main thing.  I think that is what he saw in this particular teacher of the law in Mark 12.  …

Walking Slowly Through the Crowd

Tuesday Re-mix:

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask,‘Who touched me?’ ” Mark 5:25-31


I have listened to so many John Maxwell talks and have read so many of his books, I do not even remember now where I heard or read some of the best leadership advice I’ve ever heard/read from him: “walk slowly through the crowds”.  It is outstanding leadership counsel because genuine leadership is, after all, entirely dependent upon relationships and people skills.  It is perfect for ME, because I get so narrowly focused sometimes (maybe especially on Sunday mornings) that I can walk right past hundreds of friends without even smiling or acknowledging them!  I am still working on this.  🙂

It is a challenge, isn’t it?  It is especially challenging when we get focused on the task at hand, on the ministry ahead, even on the relationships in front of us…but there are still people all around us who are hoping for our attention as well.  It is a delicate balance between competency for the task at hand and …

Feeding the Dog in One Another

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

dogfightOur Native American brothers have an interesting way of describing our conflicted behaviors.  They talk about each man having within him two dogs fighting: one good and one bad.  They say the dog that wins at the end of the day  is the one you have been feeding.

That old saying draws upon an eternal truth about the human condition.  We all have a quirky tendency to become the person we believe others perceive us to be.  Good or bad, positive or negative, we actually tend to become more and more like we believe others perceive us to be.  If you have reared children, you have seen this firsthand.  If you tell your child he is “stupid” often enough, he begins to believe you and he fulfills that prophecy.  If you tell her she is beautiful inside and out, she begins to believe that and carries herself accordingly.  There is something very powerful about our perception of others’ perceptions of us, particularly if those others are ones whom we respect or whose opinions matter to us.

This is what makes this final word from Paul’s prescription for church conflict such an amazing insight.  After walking us through some practical counsel about dealing with conflict in the church, Paul ends his advice with a final tidbit that can literally transform some of the most difficult parties to a conflict.

Paul says that, in the midst of the conflict, while we are practicing all his other counsel, we must learn to see the …

What Churches Learn from Conflict

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Every church conflict is unique in many ways.  The mix of personalities, the history, and especially the specific facts and circumstances cover a huge range of possibilities.  But they all have some things in common as well.  As I “debrief” a church leadership team after having come through a difficult conflict, I am always intrigued by what they learn as a result of that conflict.  Intrigued, but rarely surprised anymore.  Because, generally speaking, I hear variations on the same lessons over and over again.  “What regrets do you have?” I will ask them.  In the instances where we actually came through with success, I almost always hear the same regrets.

Church Leaders’ 3 Most Common Regrets from their Conflict:

1.  “I wish we had built stronger relationships.”

No surprise here, right?  There is a lot of talk these days about the fact that the church is not a building, it is people.  I agree with that, but I disagree with saying it quite like that.  The church is not just people…it is people living in relationships with each other.  The key is the relationships.  It’s one thing to get a bunch of people attending a weekly “show” on Sunday mornings.  But if they are not in relationships with each other, they are no more a church than the theater full of people all attending the same movie.  What makes it a church is the relationships between the people.  And what destroys the church is when the relationships fall apart.  Relationships, then, are the very “fabric” of the church.

When church leaders look back at a season of severe conflict, they almost always realize that much of the attention, emphasis, energy and …