Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Solving Problems not Symptoms

By Dwayne Deskins
Reaching People for Jesus: Building teams, building community, building His church! It’s what we do; it’s what we said YES to when we heard His voice calling! Do you remember when it became clear in you? When you stepped over the line, made the decision “I’ll preach the gospel for you Jesus.”? Then we began serving, ministering, leading...

One of the lessons I learned early on was that I needed to love people and that people fail. I also learned that building a loving, nurturing, trusting environment was what produced amazing disciples!

Booker T. Washington said, “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.”

Trust. It’s so absolutely essential to a healthy culture.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, lists Mistrust as the first dysfunction. Mistrust causes a team to fight within, to one-eye each other and not see or believe the best in the other person.

Jesus saw the best, spoke to the best in people, and yet knew people could, and would, fail. Yet He trusted.

If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves solving symptoms and not problems. We can work and work trying to resolve relationship issues when the real issues are deeper and keep surfacing.

I have found that if I don’t get the root of a dandelion, it will come back every time. It’s not what I see in my yard that is the problem—it’s what’s lurking beneath the ground. Get the root, get the problem.

At one of our sessions in Dallas at our General Headquarters last month, I mentioned that one of the root problems in the PCG is MISTRUST. I felt like I was stepping out on a limb, unsure of how people would feel or respond. What amazed me was that my statement was met with a unanimous agreement. We have a culture that does not promote, nurture, nor affirm the best in people. We have an issue of mistrust.

How did it get into our culture? Was there a cause, an event, or...?

Several possible reasons come to mind:
  1. It’s the culture of “normal” that we grew up in and, therefore, by default, are living in. If we don’t change, we will hand it off to the next generation.

  2. We trusted people early on in ministry but then we were burned by one or two or maybe even three, and we have allowed it to taint our heart-view of all future relationships.

  3. We ourselves have lived in such a way as to not deserve trust. Maybe we weren’t forthright in some dealings with people, or maybe we garnered support for a position or a job in a way that dishonored others, and now we are transposing our own issues onto others in a way that hinders the goal we have in mind for Jesus.
Whatever the reason, we have a cultural issue of “not trusting” that we must deal with so that we can finish well. We must first recognize it, then really want to change it, or all will remain as it was before.

Where do you think you are in trusting others 1-10 (10 being “I trust people automatically until they give me a reason not to trust them”)?

How do we make such a change individually if, in fact, we really want to?

How do we shape a different culture for the next generation?

Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Leadership Discussion(s)

By Dwayne Deskins
Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be starting a series of discussions on different aspects of leadership. We’ll be looking at what some of today’s great leaders have to say and then discussing how it applies to our lives.

Perry Noble – Ten Signs You Are Near A Burnout/Meltdown – September 14, 2011
My counselor shared a statistic with me two years ago that floored me: 90% of the people entering ministry DO NOT RETIRE from ministry, they either quit or have some sort of moral/ethical failure that disqualifies them.

I’m not a rocket scientist…but I honestly do not believe that is what Jesus called us to OR what He wants for our lives.

AND yet so many of us (church leaders) struggle/wrestle with this (usually inwardly because if we said out loud that we are dying inside we fear that people may perceive us as weak!)
Take a look at the rest of the article here and come back and let us know your thoughts…

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes It's Heavy But It's Worth It!

The load that many people carry in ministry can be very heavy. Ministry is tough on every level...period! I spoke with a pastor not long ago who was ready to quit. He was tired, weary and aggravated with the way things were going in his church.

Friends, the pain and burden that a pastor has to deal with is unlike any area I've ever experienced. I worked in the banking industry for eight years and was in their management training program...that pales in comparison to the burden, stress load and weight of serving as a pastor today.

I'm not complaining. I asked to be here. I enlisted. I signed up. I prayed this through. However, learning how to navigate through the rigors of personalities, problems, politics, people etc. can sometimes leave you asking, "Did I sign up for this?" (SMILE)

In any given week I may deal with: marriages on the verge of divorce; people who are struggling financially and are at their wits end; parents who are dealing with rebellious kids; infidelity; sickness; death; terminal diagnosis; suicide tendencies; addiction to prescription pills, alcohol; drugs; runaway children; home foreclosures; hunger/no food; homelessness; depression; etc.

I served on staff as a youth pastor for many years as well as a district youth director before becoming a senior pastor...and there isn't a class in the universe that can prepare you for what is coming your way...both good and bad.

It's sometimes difficult to get pastors to open up about their pain or struggle. Some refuse to for fear of being viewed as weak or unstable. The very thought of telling their congregation "this job is tough" is petrifying!

I've come to this understanding with myself. I don't care what other people think about me being transparent and open about my struggles, feelings or pain. Of course, I don't get up in the pulpit every week and tell all my business...but I do find people of good reputation, of whom I respect highly, to share my burdens with. I'm OK with being REAL.

Being real comes with a price tag. You will be complimented and criticized for your willingness to be vulnerable and honest especially amongst your peers. By the way, BFWC, this isn't necessarily a blog just for you...but it's for all those servants of Christ out there who may be hurting.

There are several areas we could easily address....

1. Loneliness - If you're a staff member at a church...I can identify with you. I have served other leaders for many years. If you're not careful, you'll find yourself thinking, "I do just as much as they do, and I don't think they deal with any more junk than I have to deal with." Friend...that is a WRONG ASSUMPTION based on arrogance. Trust me when I say that only a pastor can understand the pain of another pastor. (SPOUSES INCLUDED!)

Believe me - your family won't understand the weight of your calling either...especially those who've never been raised in a pastor's preacher's home. They may have an inkling of the burden you carry but they'll never understand the load, demand, weight or the burden you carry. You really can't expect them to. But whatever you do...DO NOT unload on them! They are not equipped to carry your calling...if so, they'd be carrying it to. If you make the mistake of unloading on them, you'll be planting a seed in their heart that can easily manifest as disgruntledness for the church, the pastor you serve or others in the ministry.

Ministry has been described as lonely. need another pastor to talk to, to vent with, to pour out your heart to...they can understand you better than anyone else...because they too, have experienced loneliness at your level.

2. Criticism - this just comes with the territory. Sometimes it's justified and other times it's not...but the thing most people don't realize is that IT ALWAYS HURTS. Especially when someone begins by saying, "Now don't take this personally, but..."

People will criticize you for the silliest things...the car you drive, the house you live in, the shoes you wear, how much you sweat, how you preach, your waist name it. You seem to receive criticism better from the people who know and love you better than the people who feel called to the ministry of interference. Wounds from a friend can be trusted...but...

Why is it that people who don't even know you think they have some God called ministry to attack you via Facebook, anonymous emails, etc.? They haven't even had a conversation with you. By the way...I've said this before and I'll say it again...I HAVE ZERO RESPECT FOR SOMEONE WHO LEAVES A CHURCH VIA EMAIL. I don't even waste my time responding such immaturity. If you don't have the decency to look your pastor in the eye...the same pastor who has prayed and fasted for you, spent time shepherding you, counseling you, loving you...etc. - then that speaks volumes about where you are in your faith. JESUS teaches us better than that.

I've even had people take a portion of my sermon and twist it completely out of context and then have the nerve to misquote me all over town. LOL Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Pastors, you will be misquoted and misrepresented by those who lack the courage to take the time to get to know you...or MAYBEeven hit their knees for you if they are so convinced that you are wrong.

Friends, someone who continually attacks you and /or your ministry just isn't normal. Who has time to go around trying to tear other people down? Not me! I refuse to waste my time on them. There are too many people that need me to stay focused on the vision. Those are the people I'm going to give my time to.

3. Unrealistic Expectations - No matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to get everything right. You'll forget people's names; forget they were in the hospital; you'll preach too deep for some and too shallow for others; you'll miss their calls taking other people's calls; your every move will be scrutinized. Honestly, some people will place expectations on you that they would never be willing to live up to themselves.

This can be the reason that many pastors families fall apart - they cave to the expectations placed on them by selfish, self-seeking church members who expect them to do everything - but never lift a finger to help...and forgetting something that most people never actually stop think about - pastors are human beings with real feelings and a real heart.

Truth is truth...and it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks. PERIOD. Church member, staff member, volunteer, etc...PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR! Believe me, he/she goes through it.

Let me be VERY CLEAR - I am blessed to serve at BFWC! God has called me here and He has called me to pastor. But I'd say what has probably shaped Beverly and I the most is PAIN. Pain is not avoidable as a pastor - it's real. Anytime I fall into thinking that my life should somehow be easy all I have to do is read 2 Corinthians 11:22-29.

I love what I do! I love what God has called me to do! There is nothing I'd rather be doing! BUT...with the calling comes a cross to carry. BUT IT IS WORTH IT!

  • It is worth it to be faithful.
  • It is worth it when we see people come to Christ.
  • It is worth it when we see marriages restored.
  • It is worth it when we see the excluded included.
  • It is worth it when we see people receive hope!
  • It is worth it when we see addicts set free!
  • It is SO WORTH IT!
Jesus didn't quit and neither should we! He has given us this assignment! Pain may be part of the process but it can shape us to be more effective for His glory!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Discuss: Teens Drop Out of Church; Santorum Blames Higher Education

It's no secret that teens seems to leave the church in droves—a google search for “teens leaving church” turns up over 28 million results—and it seems that everyone has their own opinion about why.

Last week, Rick Santorum, in an interview with Glenn Beck, blamed higher education:
You know the statistic that at least I was familiar with from a few years ago—I don't know if it still holds true but I suspect it may even be worse—that 62% of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.

Web articles published recently (here, here, and here) indicate that Santorum may have missed it on the statistic, but the fact remains: teens are leaving.

Tim Kring, writing for CNN’s religion blog, offered his take on the real reason young people leave Christianity.

Please take a minute to read Kring’s article, and then come back here to discuss:
  • Why do you think teens are leaving?
  • Why do some teens remain faithful?
  • What is our responsibility as pastors in the matter?
  • What is our responsibility as PCG/NPN leaders?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jack Hayford Quotables from the NPN Conference

Jack Hayford provided the NPN with some quotable thoughts.
Here are a few of them.

Dwayne Deskins tweeted:
God is not interested in you and me becoming a success — He's interested in us HELPING PEOPLE!

The need for self affirmation corrodes and erodes the soul.
Jon Jennings tweeted:
The church has not been called to wave a standard of justice in front of the world. We've been called to live one.

Comparison and competition are the greatest opponents of real success in our lives. They will turn us into critics or mimics.

The glory doesn't reside in our systems or structures, but in our simplicity of dependence on God.
Bishop Scott tweeted:
You were created from a distinct idea in the mind of God for a distinct purpose.

The standard should be that we are so open to the Holy Spirit, God never has to intrude.

The Greatest 2 Days of My Pastoral Life

Gwen and I with Pastor Jack and Anna Hayford
Listening to @generalbishop impart to our #NPN
Pastor Jack and Anna Hayford imparting to our #NPN Network. Amazing couple.
Dinner at Pastor Jack Hayford's house. #barbecue #tritip #yum
At the School of Pastoral Nurture with Pastor Jack Hayford. Awesome Apostle of the Faith
I had an amazing privilege this week. The Pastor’s Network I am part of worked out an arrangement where a small group of 15 Pastors were able to spend 2 days of intimate time with Jack Hayford. I’ve been to numerous conferences over the years that have had thousands in attendance with all of the bells and whistles one can imagine, but I can honestly say that these past 2 days practically one on one with Pastor Hayford were the greatest 2 days of my Pastoral life.

If you are not familiar with Jack Hayford’s ministry, a short history lesson is in order. Jack and his wife Anna came to Van Nuys, CA in 1969 to assume the Pastorate of a small 25 member church. Over the next 31 years of his leadership, The Church on the Way grew to a constituency of over 10,000 and Pastor Jack’s influence on the Pentecostal/Charismatic community reached epic proportions. Jack has published 53 books and written over 600 songs in the span of his ministry, but by far his best known song is “Majesty” published in 1981. CCLI recently listed “Majesty” as #7 on the all time list of worship songs used by churches in the entire world. That’s quite a statement when one realizes that “Amazing Grace,” “Shout to the Lord” and “How Great is Our God” are also in the top 10.

Beyond that, Jack was a key leader in the Promise Keepers march on Washington in 1994 which saw 1.4 million Christian men converge on our Nation’s Capitol. He also spearheaded what became known as “The Memphis Miracle” when racial reconciliation among key century-old Pentecostal denominations came to fruition. For the last 14 years, Jack has focused almost exclusively on pouring his life into small groups of Pastors and leaders in settings like I was part of this week. I literally felt as though I was sitting at the feet of a true modern day Apostle of the faith.

In many ways, the last 2 days was confirmation of the direction God has been leading me to shepherd our congregation at Fountain of Life yet I was also able to see adjustments I need to make in my life and leadership. It will take me weeks to distill everything that was imparted, but I can’t say enough about the awesomeness of the experience.

The highlight of the experience came last night as our group gathered at Pastor Jack’s home for dinner. The dinner was amazing, but after dinner we all gathered in the living room and listened for an hour and a half as Pastor Jack and Anna just talked about their marriage, family life and shared stories of how God had blessed them during the course of their ministry. At the very end, we asked if we could do something. Pastor Jack said yes, and we broke out in unison singing “Majesty”. I watched Pastor Jack raise his hands in worship with us and lift his voice to the King, still recognizing the awe and wonder of the one we serve with a song God gave him to touch the nations. Time stood still for those 3 minutes as I realized that I had just been part of perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.

I would trade all of my other conferences – Catalyst, Willow Creek and the host of others for two more great days like this. Unspeakable impartation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Represent Someone

By Russell Hylton
John the Baptist was considered the "forerunner" of Jesus. He led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River, challenged sinful rulers, called for repentance and promised God's justice.

John pointed to the "Messiah" who was greater than himself. In essence, he represented Jesus and became a modern day "Public Relations" ambassador.

A true PR person will take on the DNA of the one they represent. Their words and actions will reveal their heart. They will embrace the vision of their leader and cast the vision to others. They will see their leader's mission as their own and will make it the center of their efforts.

When you are called to represent someone else (believe me...we are called to represent Christ, but to also represent a leader(s), group, organization, team, etc. during our lifetime) you must avoid speaking negatively. Negativity will never produce positive results.

Even if you experience the negative, you will only communicate the positive.
  • Think back to Samson when he passed through the vineyards of Timnath and defeated a lion with his hands. He didn't tell his father and mother about what he had done. After a time, he returned through the same vineyard and found the carcase of the lion and in it was a swarm of bees and honey. Samson ate of it and received enlightenment and then shared the honey with his parents. But notice, he only shared the "honey" not the "lion."

As we represent our leaders, we must do so with positive communication. Even if you don't understand your leader's decisions or actions at the time, you must represent your leader with truth and loyalty.

Each of us will be faced with this test. Whether or not you pass this test will depend entirely upon your ability to remain a pure representation of your leader even in the face of negative circumstances.

I've saved myself from many embarrassing moments and painful failures by simply thinking about a person in whom I greatly admire and saying..."would ___________ do this or say this?" Doing this has kept my feet from wrath and my actions loyal.

The blessing is found in "loyalty" and "right" representation.

Five Rules for Representation
  1. Representatives must always represent the truth. - Ephesians 4:15
  2. Representatives must always speak words that edify. (Build up) - 1 Corinthians 14:26
  3. Representatives must never let their actions betray their words. - Matthew 7:3-5
  4. Representatives must know what to say, how much to say, and when to say it. - 1 Corinthians 3:2
  5. Representatives do not rehearse the failures of the past. They restate the goals of the future. - Philippians 3:13-14