Pt 2 of My Preview of “Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude.”

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Below is the second part of my preview of the first chapter of my new book “Cultivating a Gospel Shaped Attitude.”  If you did not read Part 1, please click here first, so that you can read my first post in this series.  Then I would ask you to do three things to help me spread the news about my book.

Click here to read Part 1 of this series

 

1 .) Purchase a copy for yourself– if you live in near Metropolis, IL just stop by First Baptist Church this Sunday and buy a copy.  If you live outside of my local area you can order the book by clicking here or through Amazon.com.  Please remember that during the month of May all the profits from the sale of the book are going to be donated to the Haiti Missions Fund at First Baptist Church to help feed orphans.  

 

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY

 

2.) Spread the word– share the links to this blog on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This is the single best way to help me get the word out about the book.  So please take a moment to share it right now.

 

3.) Pray for the release of the book– that may might sound strange but I earnestly believe that the ideas for this book was given to me by God and that the Spiritual truth that you will find in it can be life changing.  Pray for God to use this book in countless numbers of lives.

 

BELOW IS THE SECOND PORTION OF CHAPTER 1.  BE SURE TO COME BACK TOMORROW FOR THE SECOND INSTALLMENT:

 

Attitude Shapes Character

 

Our attitude refers to the way we evaluate other people, our circumstances, and ourselves. More fundamentally, our attitudes determine how we make decisions; therefore, they exhibit a strong effect upon our behavior. We’ve all seen children, for instance, who exhibit a bad attitude when told not to do something and then react by making a bad decision. When I was about nine years old, my younger brother, Ron, received a pool table as a birthday present. One night while playing pool, I developed a bad attitude because Ron had beaten me three or four games in a row. At the time, I was convinced he must have been cheating—perhaps by telepathically altering the course of the balls as they crossed the table—and the next thing I knew, my anger erupted and I broke one of his pool cues over my knee. My bad attitude led to a bad decision, which resulted in even a worse consequence when my dad came rushing into the room. Do you see how my attitude affected my decision-making? My decision in this situation was directly related to the way I viewed my brother and the circumstances of the game.

While this story represents one single episode in the course of my life, it raises an important question. What would have happened had I continued to cultivate this attitude? How would people describe my character if, over the course of time, I continued to exhibit this same attitude and repeatedly made these kinds of rash decisions? Eventually, I would have developed a reputation for being a hothead, and people would start to think of me as being ill tempered. My actions, which were driven by my attitude, would eventually come to define my character. This is why I argue that in Matthew 5:1–11, Jesus is talking about our attitudes rather than our character. Attitudes are more fundamental than character. Any change in our character must begin with a change in our attitudes. This is why I say that a gospel-shaped attitude leads to Christ-honoring actions that when exhibited over time will result in a Christlike character. The end result is a life conformed to the character of Christ, but it all starts with our attitude.

The apostle Paul summarized this pattern of spiritual formation in Philippians 2:5–8 when he said, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”[1] The word mind in this passage could also be translated as “attitude.” In essence, Paul uses the word mind to describe how Jesus viewed Himself and other people: He saw Himself as a servant and other people as being in great spiritual need. Jesus’ attitude resulted in definitive actions; He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” In other words, Jesus’ attitude resulted in specific actions, which in turn came to define His character. This is the basic formula for all spiritual growth and maturity.

But let me be clear, Jesus is not talking about some kind of flaky positive thinking or health-and-wealth philosophy. He is not suggesting that we refuse to accept reality by viewing life through rose-colored glasses. Instead, Jesus is urging us to view life through the lens of the gospel. Simply put, the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross. He was buried and rose triumphantly from the grave, so that anyone who will repent of his or her sin and believe in Him will receive the forgiveness of sin and be reconciled to God. The more deeply we reflect on the glory and majesty of the gospel message, the more we recognize how it permeates every area of our life and ministry. As we work our way through the Beatitudes, we will discover how each of these attitudes is deeply grounded in the gospel and how together they provide a comprehensive picture of knowing Jesus and developing a Christlike character.

 


[1] All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

 

 

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Pastors Need to Learn How to Accomplish More By Doing Less

Jesus teaching, All Saints, Landbeach
Jesus teaching, All Saints, Landbeach (Photo credit: TheRevSteve)

Learn to Accomplish More by Doing Less

 

If you’re like me you probably are finding yourself increasingly overwhelmed and bombarded by technology.  Technology is a wonderful thing but it has taken the ability to multi-task to almost unbelievable levels.  While technology has opened incredible doors and opportunities, it has also eroded our ability to focus. What has ended up happening is that in some cases technology is causing us to do more but accomplish less.  Over the past few years, I have witnessed something similar happening to many Pastors.

 

One of the primary issues that I see facing most Pastors is that they are simply trying to accomplish too much.  Rather than focusing on doing a few things very well, they settle for having a lot of activity with very little quality. The simple truth, however, us that we need to learn how to accomplish more by doing less.

 

At the beginning of the week I shared a post entitled “Attention Pastors: Working Harder Isn’t Always the Answer.”  In that post, I shared the story of John, who is a hard-working and dedicated Pastor who is literally wearing himself out and ruining his family because he is working so hard in the ministry.  John is very frustrated by the fact that he is working 60-65 hours a week in the ministry even to the point of neglecting his family but still the church remains plateaued.  The issue that John is facing is that even though he is working hard, his efforts aren’t producing any results.  What John needs to do is to learn the key of accomplishing more by doing less.

 

John doesn’t realize it but he has taken his church as far as he alone is able to take it.  In other words, he has reached the limit of his own ability to keep up with the congregation. He has spent twelve years as the Pastor of New Antioch Baptist Church, but has given very little effort in training and equipping his lay leadership.  Even when the church went out and hired an Associate Pastor to help him, John refused to give over any of his responsibilities.  John is working as hard as he can but no matter what he does, he can only do the work of one man.  What he needs to do is to stop working harder and start working smarter.  Simply put, John needs to learn the art of accomplishing more by doing less.

 

If John is going to move the church off this plateau he must reconsider what his primary tasks are as a minister.  In Ephesians 4:12, the Apostle Paul says that the role of the Pastor is to, “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  This means that as Pastors, our primary goal is not to do the work of the ministry on behalf of the church, but rather to equip the saints so that they can carry out the work of the ministry.  John has been so busy doing the work that he has given little attention to the work of equipping the saints.  If he wants the church to move off this plateau and to once again start growing he will need to invest heavily in equipping others to take over the ministry.  That means that he will have to stop doing some of the busy work that is keeping him from accomplishing his primary task and focus on equipping others to do the ministry.

 

Jesus teaching in the temple
Jesus teaching in the temple (Photo credit: freestone)

Invest More Time in Equipping Others to Do the Ministry

 

No matter what area of the ministry we serve in — whether it be as Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, Minister of Music, Minister of Youth etc.— our primary task is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  The word translated as equip means to makes someone completely adequate or capable for carrying out a task.  There are many ways that we can carry out this task.  For instance, we can do at least part of this task through the teaching and pulpit ministry.  But effective Pastors know that more ministry skills are caught and not taught.  In other words, while we certainly need to give ample time to teaching about the ministry from the pulpit we also need to spend time personally mentoring and training church members for the work of ministry.

 

Bruce is a good example of how effective this approach to ministry can be.  Bruce has a simple but powerful philosophy that guides his ministry— never do anything in the ministry alone.  He lives out this simple philosophy by inviting church members to take part in the ministry with him through the week.  Bruce began this simple process many years ago, by simply inviting one of his deacons named Sam to have lunch with him once a week and go make a few hospital visits together.  It wasn’t long before Bruce realized that Sam was starting to take the lead on hospital visits and was mentoring one of the other Pastors.  “The whole thing started by accident,” says Bruce, “I was just looking for someone to go visiting with but it ended up being so effective that I just started doing it all the time.”  After about six months of mentoring Sam, Bruce decided to start meeting with another one of his deacons named Ted.  Once again, within about six months Ted started taking over and mentoring another deacon.

 

“It took about two years,” says Bruce, “but we eventually had all the deacons involved in actively meeting with another deacon and making hospital visits. So we began to focus on taking this ministry beyond the deacon board.”  Bruce set a goal of developing an active mentorship program through the deacons, in which, he equipped them to mentor and disciple other men in the church.  The effects were startling, soon the women in the church were looking for a similar program and the deacons wives began a similar mentorship program.  Today, nearly 70% of the church is involved in the mentorship ministry. The effects on the ministry have been startling.

 

Rather than spending all of his time doing the work of the ministry, Bruce started to focus on equipping others for the work of the ministry.  It did not take long for this to expand far beyond what Bruce could have accomplished alone.  It did not take long before Bruce started to notice organic ministries begin to grow up within the church.  One group started to minister to the homeless, another to unwed mothers.  Soon there was a group of men visiting prisoners in the jail and women who were volunteering to cook meals for the homeless.  Sunday School teachers began to adopt the equipping model of ministry by training new teachers who served as assistants and started new groups.

 

The most important difference between Bruce and John becomes clear when you ask them about whether they enjoy the ministry.  For John the ministry has become a burden.  It is wearing him out, ruining his family, and sucking the joy right out of his soul.  But for Bruce, the ministry has never been more enjoyable.  The difference is not in their locations, the personality of their churches, and certainly not in the God they serve.  The difference is in their approach.  John has decided to approach the ministry thinking that he must do all the work.  Bruce, on the other hand, has decided to approach the ministry with a Biblical mindset of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.  John is trying to do ministry by giving it more gas, whereas, Bruce has decided to give the church some traction upon which it can move forward.

Which path are you going down?

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