Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude

Later this Spring I will be publishing my first book entitled “Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude.”Joe BuchananBased on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11), this book offers insight into the relationship between our attitude and character.  Jerry Falwell Jr., the Chancellor and President of Liberty University  says:

“There is no shortage of books in this world based on the general premise that, if we adjust or eliminate our bad attitudes, our quality of life will improve.  In “Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude”, Dr. Buchanan moves beyond feel-good rhetoric to focus instead on the source of a healthy attitude  – in a heart aligned with the desires and teachings of Christ.”

What I propose in the book is that to develop a Christ-like character we must begin by cultivating what I have termed a “gospel-shaped attitude.”  Over the next several weeks I am going to share several excerpts from the book.  Below is a section from the introductory chapter explaining the basic premise of the book.   I hope that you enjoy it and would love to get your comments and thoughts in the comments section.  If you are interested in receiving updates and additional information about the book, please sign up to follow my blog by email.  Just clock on the box to the right labeled – Follow Blog Via Email.

Attitudes, Actions, and Character

” Several years ago, I had the privilege of working with a man a named David, who served as my associate pastor when I was pastoring a church in Richmond, Virginia. David is one of those people who everyone enjoys being around. He’s the kind of person who always has an encouraging and uplifting word to say, and every time I gave him a task to complete, he took it on without grumbling or complaining. It seemed that no matter what the situation was around him, David always had a pleasant attitude. Anyone who worked with or encountered David would agree that it was a joy to be around and serve with him. Do you know that kind of person? If you do, then you already know the importance of having a positive attitude. But my goal in this book is to go a step further, to go beyond merely having a good attitude.

What I want to show you is how to develop an attitude shaped by the gospel, which, when cultivated over time, will result in a Christlike character. What makes my friend David such a blessing to be around is that he exhibits the character of Jesus in so many ways. But he did not develop this kind of character overnight. Developing a Christlike character is the result of consistently allowing the gospel to shape the way you look at the world and conducts your life. In David’s life, years of cultivating a gospel-shaped attitude have resulted in people recognizing the character of Christ in his life. In this book, I want to show you how to develop an attitude shaped by the gospel so that, over time, other people will come to recognize the character of Christ in your life.

Simply put, our character is the sum of our attitudes and actions over time. In algebraic terms we could say, Attitude + Actions + Time = Character. The key to developing a Christlike character, therefore, is to cultivate a gospel-shaped attitude. Attempting to exhibit a Christlike character without first adjusting our attitudes would be like trying climb Mt. Everest without learning to tie ropes, use snow shoes, or climb smaller mountains. Sadly, most of our efforts in discipleship have focused on producing Christlike character without dealing with the more fundamental issue of our attitudes. There are no shortcuts in the process; there are no quick paths that will get us to Christlikeness. Character is the product of displaying the right attitudes and making the right decisions over a period of time. With this in mind, I would like to submit that our formula for developing a Christlike character should look like this:”

 A Gospel-Shaped          + Christ-Honoring          = Christlike
Attitude Actions Character
Cultivated over time Exhibited over time

“Our pathway for developing a gospel-shaped attitude is found in Matthew 5:1–11, or as this passage is more commonly called, the Beatitudes. These eight attitudes form the opening section of Jesus’ most famous sermon: the Sermon on the Mount. In the subsequent chapters, we will break down the individual beatitudes to discover how each of them is grounded in the character of Christ and the gospel, but for now I want to call your attention to the way in which these attitudes, when cultivated over time, will lead us to a Christlike character.”

From “Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude: Understanding and Living the Beatitudes” (Nashville: Crossbooks, 2013) Copyright 2013 Joseph Buchanan

Dealing with Critics in Your Ministry

Joe Buchanan

Every Pastor who has ever lived has had to deal with criticism at one point or another in their ministry.  If you have been in the ministry for any length of time at all, I am certain that you’ve gotten a taste of the painful experience of being criticized for something you did.  After nearly twenty years of experience in the ministry, I have come to the conclusion that criticism is a normal part of the ministry and can actually help us to grow if we will learn to deal with our critics in a positive and redemptive way.  Let me share with you a few of the critics that we all have and how to deal with them:

1.) The Unfair Critic

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...

There are some critics that simply are unfair and mean. I have placed this group of critics first because they seem to be the ones that we get fixated and obsessed with.  They are out to destroy you by any means necessary. Every faithful Pastor will have to deal with this kind of critic at come point in their  ministry.  The unfair critic has been placed in the church by Satan to discourage, intimidate, and destroy Pastors if they can.  As Pastors we should never be surprised when these kinds of critics show up in the church.  Often they will even been within leadership positions within the church and you will be forced to deal with them.  These kind of critics will try to occupy an inordinate amount of your time and will constantly try to distract you from the most important aspects of your ministry.  In my ministry, I have found that if I give these kinds of critics too much space or attention in my life I will start majoring on minor issues and not staying focused on what is most important.  When dealing with these kinds of critics is best to just let their words roll off your back. Don’t take their criticism personally and always respond with love and compassion.

2.) The Selfish Critic

This is the person who throws a temper tantrum because they did not get their way or do not feel they are being recognized.  He or she doesn’t like the way you preached Sunday morning, or that you did no visit them when they had their in-grown toe nail removed, or the music was too loud.  So they start going around behind your back and criticizing you. What they ultimately want is for you to give them what they want and to custom the ministry after their own personal preferences. It is common in a church to have a half-dozen or more of these kinds of critics all with a different agenda trying to vie for your attention.

3.) The Injured Critic

Some critics arise simply because they have been hurt and are lashing out in frustration.  Often the Pastor becomes the target of these attacks and doesn’t even know why.  What I have observed is that often we miss ministry opportunities to help hurting people because we cannot see past their initial criticism.  When I was Pastoring in West Virginia there was a man who started criticizing me very heavily and I labeled him as being an unfair critic— actually I would have said he was an “instrument of the devil.”  I hate to admit it but I demonized him and simply refused to reach out to him.  It was not until after he died that I discovered that he actually was struggling with a great deal of pain and discouragement in his life.  As it turned out, he didn’t hate me nor was he sent by the devil to discourage me, he was simply a hurting person who lashed out in a desperate plea for help.  Don’t be too quick to label your critics as being unfair or selfish.  They may simply be injured and need your help.

4.) The Helpful Critic

The last type of critic that I will mention is the “helpful critic.”  We forget as Pastors sometimes that we are not infallible. We sometimes make mistakes and have blinders on that keep us from seeing reality.  Therefore we need people in our lives who will be honest with us and tell us where we are messing up.  In other words, we need helpful critics who will give us an honest evaluation of our lives and ministries.  These men and women can help us to grow in our spiritual lives and ministry but sadly we often shut them out because we are too quick to label every critic as being unfair or selfish.  Here is the bottom line, you can always learn from your critics and if you shut them off too quickly you will get stunted in your growth.  Don’t obsess over them, but don’t ignore them either. Below are some helpful articles that I have found dealing with this issue:

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