How to Align What You Desire with What You Believe

Living things grow. It’s true for every organic life form, but it’s also true of us spiritually. When we are born again in Christ, we are set on a trajectory of spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit is in us in order to empower this transformational process by which God grows us up into the likeness of His Son, and that growth fleshes itself in all different kinds of ways.

It means that we continually grow in the fruit of the Spirit as our character is developed. It means we continually pursue purity and godliness in our lifestyle. It means we share the gospel more and more freely with others. It means our priorities shift from safety and comfort to the priorities of the kingdom of God. It means we hold more and more loosely to the material things of the world as we pursue the imperishable things of heaven.

But here is one other way we grow up in Christ over the course of time. Perhaps this is one way we don’t often think about, and yet one that might in the end bring us tremendous joy:

Growing up in Christ means an ever-increasing alignment between what we desire, and what we know.

Let’s use a simple example to flesh this out – that of reading our Bibles every day.

We know this is a good thing for us. We know that this is the inspired Word of God. We know that if we want to grow spiritually then the best thing in the world for us is to every day crack open God’s Word and prayerfully read it, believe it, and obey it. We know these things. And yet at some point this very week – maybe tomorrow – you won’t feel like opening God’s Word. And neither will I.

We will feel like sleeping. Or we will feel like scrolling through Twitter. Or we will feel like watching TV. We know we should read our Bibles, but we don’t want to. In fact, we might even know it so deeply that we want to want to do it. And that’s the state in which we live much of the time:

We want to want.

And it’s not just about Bible reading. We want to want to pray. We want to want to be holy. We want to want to be generous. We want to want, but there is still this war inside of us by which our flesh battles with the Spirit. We are torn on a daily basis between what we know and what we desire.

But, friend, consider the hope of gospel if you feel this acutely today. Consider the wonderful promise that God, who began His good work in you will indeed carry it onto completion (Phil. 1:6). Consider that it will not always be this way. For there will come a day when we will no longer want to want, and instead, there will be a glorious unity between what we know and what we feel. This is the work the Holy Spirit is doing, slowly, patiently, over the course of time in us – He is bringing unity to our whole selves.

As we embrace His work now, often times through the practice of self-discipline, it is entirely appropriate for us to long for the day when that work will be done. For that will be the day when faith is sight, and at long last we will not only know the truth of the gospel, but we will feel it as well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Stewardship is More Than Finances: A Bigger View

When we think about stewardship, we think primarily about money. That’s a good and right thing, because when we think and talk about money, we are patterning our messages after those of Jesus. When you look back to the recorded teachings of Jesus in Scripture, you find a surprising number of references to the subject of personal finance. That’s not because Jesus wants our money; it’s certainly not because He needs our money. It’s because Jesus is after our hearts, and He knows that the clearest window into what we truly love, desire and pursue is visible through our bank statements.

Think about it – Jesus could have set up anything as the primary competitor to God in our lives. He could have easily said something like, “You cannot serve both God and power,” or “You cannot serve both God and sex,” but instead He chose money: “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).

Money matters, because the heart matters. So it’s good and right for us to think about stewardship in terms of money. At the same time, stewardship is not exclusively about money. Instead, it’s a holistic view of God as the owner, and we as His servants who have been entrusted with all kinds of resources, each of which provides an opportunity for the sake of the kingdom of God. So while we should think deeply about the money God has seen fit to flow into our lives, our view of stewardship cannot stop there. It’s got to be bigger.

In light of that, here are three neglected objects of stewardship for you to think about today:

1. Your home.

Hospitality was one of the hallmarks of the early church. These fledgling believers were marked by generosity not only in their money, but in the opening up of their homes to others, welcoming them in. Paul listed hospitality in his practical exhortations of gospel-rooted living (Rom. 12:9-13) and went on to say that hospitality is one of the characteristics that must be present in church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2). Our homes are a resource, and we should be joyfully generous with them. That can mean things like hosting a small group, but in a broader sense, it means asking the simple question of why God has given you the home you have in the neighborhood you have around the people who live there. If He has done so intentionally, the home is a resource that should be made much of.

Furthermore, when we practice stewardship through hospitality, we mirror the gospel. The word itself, hospitality, comes from a combination of Greek words – the word for “love” and the word for “stranger.” When we invite others in hospitably, we are loving the stranger, which is exactly what God has done for us. When we were enemies and rebels, strangers to the faith, God invited us into His home as His sons and daughters.

2. Your children.

This is difficult. It’s perspective changing to think that you, and I, are stewards of our children. In many ways, it’s easier to think of something like money or a home as resources for these are objects. But our children? This cuts to the core of who we are, and yet in this aspect of life, too, we are stewards. It is our responsibility to build into our children in such a way that they love and are active in God’s kingdom by His grace.

The psalmist gets at this idea in Psalm 127:3-4: Sons are indeed a heritage from theLordchildren, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.They are arrows. The straightness of the arrow is determined by the skill of the warrior.” 

The children in this passage aren’t only pictured as a reward; they are seen by the psalmist as a weapon. As parents, our best opportunity to significantly impact the world might just be through our children. If we can raise them to be kingdom people, people who take great risks for Christ, and love Him more than they love their lives, then the world can be changed. They can change it, and I can change it vicariously through them. This is the great task that God has entrusted to us, the stewards of these children. We as parents have the greatest measure of influence as to how straight they are shot, and how sharp their blades are. We can raise them to understand the great purposes of the universe, and that a life given for those purposes is not one spent in vain.

3. Your pain.

Your story matters. So does mine. The experiences God has brought into our lives, painful though they may be, are an issue of stewardship, and as stewards, we have the choice about what we will do with our pain. Will we be turned inward and bitter because of it, or will it become another means by which God extends the gospel of the kingdom through us?

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, you see the progression of stewardship in our pain: Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

We experience pain. We are comforted uniquely by the God of all compassion and comfort. And then we in turn extend that comfort to others. In other words, we steward our pain through providing comfort to others who are in relatable circumstances. We extend the blessing of God’s comfort to all those who suffer so they, too, might experience the tears of a Savior who suffers alongside His brothers and sisters.

God has entrusted much to us, and our resources go well beyond money. If we want to be faithful, then, we must not only be so financially, but instead come to a holistic view of God’s ownership, and our stewardship, of all things.

> Read more from Michael.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Unsung Traits of a Biblical Leader

A simple online search for “leadership” yields 734 million results including definitions, articles, magazine subscriptions, videos, and books. If you add the word “Christian” to “leadership” you trim the results down significantly, but there’s still almost 12 million. But for this article, I’m less interested in the definition and the process of leadership than I am the connotation that comes with the word.

What do we think of when we think of leadership?

Most of us, I believe, think in terms of charisma and inspiration. That leadership is about moving people to your way of thinking of doing through the sheer force of your personality. That because of your passion, rhetoric, and drive you can move people to follow where you are going. And while there is merit to that line of thinking, it assumes that leadership happens in front of a crowd. But I’m finding more and more that some of the strongest leaders I know aren’t necessarily recognized as such. These are those who don’t have a huge audience and don’t overflow with rhetorical skill, but instead are a constant source of steady strength and resolve behind the scenes.

They don’t lead masses, but they lead their families. They don’t lead the movement but they lead meetings. They don’t lead the online community but they lead their co-workers and their friends, though no one has officially knighted them as the leader. And in these quiet leaders in the home, in the marketplace, and in relationships, there are certain qualities of leadership that often go overlooked. These qualities don’t have the same notoriety as qualities like great speaking ability or persuasive words, but they are nonetheless present in spades in those who do their leading in the most quiet of ways.

Here, then, are 4 often overlooked qualities of a Christian leader:

1. A leader tells the truth.

A true leader doesn’t just tickle the ears of the people who have fallen in line behind them. Instead, they are willing to engage in the unpopular business of truth telling. That doesn’t mean they are abrasive, wielding the truth like a jack hammer. But it does mean they are willing to engage in the difficult conversation that makes both them and the person or people they are talking to uncomfortable. They choose not to placate those around them because they know the truth is important and worth fighting for. They are courageous enough to stand on principle in their home, in their job, and in their relationships even though doing so might be costly.

What does this look like? In the family, it looks like the adult who is more committed to being a father or mother than to being the best friend of their teenager. In the marketplace, it looks like someone who is willing to quietly object for the good of the people they serve even at the risk of the bottom line. Relationally, this quality of leadership is borne out when a person isn’t content to let their friends make bad decisions, but instead engages willingly in honest and difficult conversations, for they know that the best thing any friend can do is help another friend walk with Jesus.

2. A leader is willing to get dirty.

Many times leaders are those who are out front, and part of the danger of being out front is that you don’t know what life is like within the pack. But the Christian leader is not content to spout directives without actually following up and through with the people who are hearing them. Instead, the Christian leader is also the burden bearer, one who not only sets the direction but picks up the rope to help pull the load.

What does this look like? It looks like a leader who actually knows the people he or she is leading, and they know them well. A leader like this isn’t afraid to be interrupted with real life concerns, and they do things like make notes to themselves to check back in regularly not for the purpose of achieving an objective but simply to be informed about what’s happening in others lives. Leaders who are willing to get dirty feel deeply the struggles of those they are leading in their home, church, or workplace. Their hands are dirty with real life stuff and not sanitized with cursory and surface knowledge.

3. A leader is decisive.

Leadership is about making decisions. A thousand times a day. And one of the overlooked qualities of leadership is the ability and willingness to make those decisions – hard decisions – in a timely manner. I know for me, as a leader in different environments, the prospect of making so many decisions on a daily basis often feels like a weight. Sometimes, a crushing weight. But the Christian leader doesn’t run form this responsibility. It’s not that they relish it, either, but that they know they have a job to do. They have a job as a father. As a mother. As a manager. As an elder. And they mean to see that job done.

Leadership looks like a person having it all together and boldly charging into the future, but the true guts of that leadership is, I believe, the courage to make actual real-life decisions in real-time with real people. Day after day.

4. A leader knows when to listen.

When I think of great leaders, I think of the person who has the plan. The one who charts the direction. The one who inspires with the rhetoric. But one of the most overlooked qualities of the Christian leader is knowing when to just shut up. The temptation for the leader is to believe he or she always has to be the one with the great idea. But leadership is at least as much about empowering and listening to others with great ideas as it is about generating them on your own.

The Christian leader knows when to listen to their kids. Their spouse. Their co-workers. Their team. And the true leader knows when someone else has a better idea than they do, or at least has brought some information to the table that should make him or her reconsider the direction they’ve planned.

Sure leaders are out front. And most of the time they’ve got some charisma. But don’t overlook the unsung qualities of true leaders. And don’t sell short those who exhibit these qualities even if they aren’t the best ones to give the speech at the end.

> Read more from Michael.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Communicate Bible Truth with Life Changing Clarity

Christians are communicators. And while some Christians may be more or less gifted at the skill of communication, all Christians are “witnesses.” That is, we are, by the very fact that we have been born again into Christ and therefore witness personally the power of the gospel, to bear witness of what we have seen and heard:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It is inevitable. Jesus did not say “you might be” or “from time to time you could be,” but instead “you will.” We have been issued a divine summons, and our appearance to testify is not optional. So all of us, whether we be plumber or preacher, poet or pastor, are communicators of the gospel. We communicate about God, His Word, and the gospel in our homes, in our jobs, with our friends, and in our churches, so the question of how we communicate should be very important to us.

It hasn’t always been to me. Once upon a time, a lot of years ago, I was pretty impressed with my own rhetorical skill, and I put together a sermon I was super proud of. I started with a lengthy and elaborate illustration using Gilligan’s Island as the premise. I wrote out the sermon which detailed how all of us, from time to time, get stuck on a spiritual island. And we might use all kinds of things to get off that island – we might use our intelligence, our money, our talent, our charm. See what I did there with each of the characters on the TV show?

Yep. I did that. And then, after it was written out, I remember thinking to myself, I should find some Bible verses to stick into this talk.

By God’s grace, I’ve gotten older. And as I continue to get older, there are some things, I think, that are becoming more important to me about communicating God’s Word. Hopefully these will be helpful to you, too:

1. Clarity over cleverness.

It’s so easy to get enamored with our own cleverness. And in so doing, we can come up with all kinds of clever ways to try and explain things in the Bible through use of illustration. But the danger of doing so is that we might end up obscuring what the Bible says with our own cleverness. In the end, as we think through illustrations, it’s a wise thing to ask whether we are trusting, through the use of our clever rhetoric, if we are trusting in our own ability to communicate more than the power of God’s Word.

2. Faithful over funny.

Humor is a powerful thing. I think Jesus used humor from time to time in His own teaching. I mean, it’s funny to think about a person walking around with a plank sticking out of his head all the while he’s looking for splinters in someone else’s. So humor is a gift, and a tool that we can use to help communicate. But we should also be careful here, because we can easily keep a bag of our “go to” stories that we know will solicit a laugh, and then look for a way to bend the true content of the message in order to work them in.

3. Adoration over admiration.

Everyone likes to be liked. I certainly do. But the danger when we communicate and communicate effectively is that people might leave a conversation or a class or a church service with us dazzled at our rhetoric and yet never brought humbly to the God we represent. If that happens, then we have garnered admiration from another, but we haven’t led that other to adoration of Jesus Christ.

Christian, you are a witness. I am too. The call for us in that witness is faithfulness and clarity that points people to Jesus. Let’s make sure together that in our cleverness and humor we aren’t leading others to admire us but miss the Son of God.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about communicating with clarity.


> Read more from Michael.

 

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Ways to Take the Temperature of the Environment You Lead

My family will tell you that I’m a thermostat control freak. I have a day marked on my calendar when I have arbitrarily determined it’s acceptable to flip on the air conditioning or the heater, depending on the season. And even when those systems come on, they’re never set quite how my family would prefer.

They’d sure like the AC to flip on before it gets to be 76 degrees, and they’d probably enjoy the heater coming on before it gets to 65. Thing is, though, I like it just fine. I actually get quite a bit of satisfaction when I’m sweating in our living room, or when I’m bundled up at the kitchen table. It makes me feel tough; it makes me feel frugal (Notice I said frugal. Not cheap. Can I get an amen from the dads out there?)

But even as I write this, I’m realizing that those under my care don’t have the same sensibilities I do. I have created an environment in the home that I like, appreciate, and enjoy, but those within the environment I’ve created might not be having the same reaction. Sure, I can simply dismiss their feelings and keep the thermostat the way I like it, but as a leader in the home I would do well to “take the temperature” of my family to see how they’re responding to the temperature of our home.

It’s a bit of a silly illustration, but the principle is strong I believe. When you find yourself in a leadership role, whether in an organization, a small group, or a home, there is a certain temperature you have created in that environment. As godly leaders, we are not only responsible for setting the temperature; we are responsible for knowing how the temperature we have set is affecting those who have to live inside of it.

When you take the temperature, you are making sure that you have not done something detrimental to the people living in it. You are humbly acknowledging that the culture you have intentionally created is having its desired effect, which is moving people closer and closer to Jesus. And you are also acknowledging that you are not the ultimate authority, and that like any other human, you might have made a mistake and created an environment that is having unintended consequences.

So how can you take the temperature inside of the environment you lead? I would suggest at least three ways:

1. Listen.

Most of the time, people who sit in your environment are talking. Many times it’s the easiest thing in the world to become so convinced that you’re right, your decisions are valid, that you purposely choose not to listen to those who are speaking. But if you really want to know the temperature of the environment you’ve created, you’ve got to make sure your ears are open.

Of course, when you’re listening to others, you must also be listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. That’s because not every voice you hear will be right or even helpful. So through the wisdom that only God will provide, you and I must learn who and what to listen to, and when is the right moment to take heed.

2. Observe.

Let me go back to the illustration of our home. It’s possible that my sweet wife knows by now that I like the thermostat set at a certain temperature. And though she might not like it that way, she has decided in her godly heart to not press the issue; instead, she has decided to wear a scarf and gloves to the dinner table.

Many times observation is an even more helpful method of taking the temperature than listening. That’s because people always communicate even when they’re not speaking. They communicate through their body language, their gestures, and even the indirect questions they ask. Watch; observe; take note; people will tell you what the temperature is even when they don’t tell you what the temperature is.

3. Ask.

Of these three, this is the most obvious, but it’s also the one I think we do the least. We can actually, verbally, ask the question. Why don’t we do this more?

I would posit it’s because we already know what the answer is, and we don’t want to really hear it. That’s because when we do, we have to react to what we suspect but are unwilling to admit to ourselves. This is a humbling thing; it means we may have to adjust the “perfect plan” we had in place, and it means we have to admit that we, too, make mistakes.

But in those moments, we would do well to ask ourselves whether we would rather live with an illusion or pursue a better future? We can actually find someone we trust, someone we know will tell us the truth, and actually ask the question.

If you find yourself in a leadership role, friends, be it of an organization, church, group, or something else, don’t be afraid to take the temperature of the environment you are stewarding. Don’t be so married to your good intentions that you fail to embrace reality.

> Read more from Michael.


Want to know more ideas about how to develop as a leader? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Back to School Lessons for Personal Spiritual Growth

This fall marked the beginning of another school year in the Kelley household. This one’s a bit different than in years past because this year, we’ve got a middle schooler. That means two different school start times, two different drop-offs and pickups, and two different sets of expectations and apprehensions. But despite all those things, we made it through with minimal anxiety and bloodshed. And as I think back across this week, I am filled with admiration for my children.

I admire their attitudes and excitement. I admire their desire and individuality. I admire their ease in making friends and trying new things. And I have admired the way they’ve asked us to pray for them about specific things this week. I’ve seen so many things in them this week that have caused me to give thanks, but have also challenged me. I’m not starting school this year, but in a sense, we are all in the school of discipleship. It’s a progressive school where we are moving further and further toward Christian maturity, learning and changing and repenting and going at it again along the way.

I’ve seen in my children, the way they have begun this year, a few things that ring true about the school of discipleship as well. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from them as applied to my own ongoing spiritual growth:

1. Routine can bring freedom.

We have been pretty set in our morning and afternoon routine these past few years, mainly because it was relatively familiar to us. But with the advent of middle school, we have had to reevaluate how things function in our home. When are lunches made? How is homework done? What time do people get up in the morning? All those things play into establishing a routine. And because this year is different, we had to somewhat turn over what we were formerly doing and start over. But a few days in, and the new routine has been established.

And in that routine has come freedom. Expectations are set, and they are met, and when they are, there is a lesser amount of anxiety and franticness. Routine allows a slower and more intentional pace because you don’t feel like everything has to be done right now. Such is the case with discipleship.

Routine builds our expectations and it allows us to anticipate the right things at the right time. When we, for example, have a routine about the way we read the Bible and pray, then our minds click into gear with the time is right. We don’t feel the pressing tyranny of the urgent because we know that there is a time for everything, and the time now is sit and read. Of course, routines are made to be broken. And in the school day as well as discipleship, it takes wisdom to know when the routine has stopped serving you and when you have started serving it.

2. Together is better.

We have had sweet times together over dinner this past week. Part of that is because of the newness of school – when everything is the most amazing and awesome in the world. I’m sure that will change soon enough. But those times will be sweet in a different way, for those are the times when we have the privilege of not only laughing together, but crying together as a family. The key word here is “together,” and together is better.

Such is the case with discipleship. Together is better here, too. We often think of our spiritual development in isolation, and that’s good and right so far as it goes. But God has been building, for all time, a people for Himself, together worshiping Him for all eternity. When we come together regularly with the people of God, unified by the truth of the gospel, then we are able to laugh, weep, rejoice, and bear each other’s burdens. We are able to encourage and remind each other of the promises of God so that we might press onto another day in faith.

3. Mercies are new every morning.

They are indeed. Thank the Lord. I shouldn’t make it sound like this first week has been perfect; far from it. We’ve had arguments, and discussions that turned into arguments. But at least for the time being, the kids have come downstairs each morning cheerful and ready for a new day. It has been a reminder to me that a good night’s rest is an amazing antiseptic – nothing looks as bad as it does at midnight, and everything looks a little better in the morning.

I don’t think this is just “self-help” rhetoric – I think it is because, for the Christian, we know that God’s mercies are truly new every morning. And that when we wake up, we can be confident that this is the day the Lord has made, and we should be obedient to rejoice and be glad in it. The kids, even though they might not recognize it, are showing me this discipline with the way they are coming downstairs even if the night before has been difficult.

For the disciple, every morning is a new day. And with the new day comes the choice to believe that God is not absent, but instead has filled that day with good works for us to walk in. We can, then, as a matter of discipleship to look on the coming day as an opportunity to embrace His work in and through us.

4. In the midst of complexity, return to the basics.

This year is going to be complex. Jana and I have already discussed how our new middle schooler is within weeks of aging out of our ability to legitimately help him with his math homework. It’s going to be complex, and math is just the beginning of the list of reasons. How will we handle all that complexity in school, relationships, and dynamics? I don’t know specifically, but in general, I think we will go back to the basics again and again. We will have dinner together. We will pray together. We will laugh together. We will be safe together.

This is one of the glories of home – that no matter what else is happening in the world, home is where you come back to and leave all masks and pretense at the door. Home is where you are you, and you are loved. That’s returning to the basics.

The same thing is true in discipleship, for there are certainly complexities in the world for the Christian. There are moral complexities, societal complexities, and relational complexities. There are also theological and doctrinal complexities. What, then, can we do in light of these things? We can return to the basics.

For the disciple, that means coming back to the home of the gospel. It means returning again and again to the simple and unchanging truth that with Jesus, we are eternally safe because He has loved us even unto death.

>Read more from Michael.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Vision Must Be Birthed in the Heart Before It Is Grasped in the Hand

Antione de Saint-Exupery, the French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

So true. This quote reminds us of the importance of vision, that we all need something big and grand birthed in our hearts. In fact, we actually need it more than we need to grasp all the specific processes to get there. It’s true in building ships, and it’s true in discipleship.

Use the Right Tools

But often in our churches as we seek to lead people in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, growing further up and further in, we tend to jump past vision and into process. The exhortations abound, and so do the systems that go along with them. We inundate people with Bible reading plans, Scripture memorization tools, helpful hints to deal with the bad breath and moody attitudes that come with fasting, and nice moleskin journals to record our deep and profound thoughts.

These are all good tools. In fact, they’re more than good; they’re essential (though the moleskin might be debatable.) We need processes whether in building boats or in making disciples. There’s no doubt, in the case of building ships that people do indeed need to collect wood. They need to shape hulls and fashion masts. They need to process the right formulas to know about things like buoyancy and weight limits, wind patterns and ocean currents.

But they also need to breathe the sea air. They need to feel the freedom of the wind in their hair and get a sense of the adventure that lies on the other side of the ocean. That wind and smell is what fuels the processes that must be in place in order to actually get the work done.

Don’t Skip the Vision

In the church, the strategy of discipleship can never trump the vision behind discipleship.

Think about what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12: “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

This is process. It’s work. It’s a continuous, strenuous effort employed one decision at a time by which we work out our salvation. But notice too that Paul didn’t jump there immediately. Instead, he helped the Philippians “breathe the air of the sea” in the first 11 verses:

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:1-11).

Smell that? That’s the salt in the air. That’s the vision for the wide-open sea. That’s the imagination arresting vision before us as disciples of Jesus. We are following this One who is above every other, and as we are, we are being made like Him in our obedience.

This week, don’t be too quick to gather the wood. Maybe it’s time to help them feel the wind.

>> Read more from Michael here.


Do you need help with casting a vision for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Scheduling: An Active Way to Pursue Obedience to Jesus

I have grown to love my personal calendar.

I know different people treat their time in different ways; I’ve found that I thrive most in a structured environment. So I’ve tried in the last few months to take a more proactive role in structuring my time, particularly at work. Rather than simply having a “to do” list of tasks, I have begun to transfer those tasks to blocks of time on my schedule. So I break the day into segments, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, and assign particular tasks for that given period of time.

For some tasks, it means multiple blocks of that time during the week. I might devote an hour on Monday, then another on Tuesday, then 30 more minutes on Friday. And at the end of each day, I evaluate the remaining days in the week and adjust the blocks of time according to what I was able to accomplish during that day… and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that it sounds pretty obsessive. Maybe even a little compulsive to go along with it.

For me, though, this is more than a helpful time management practice; it actually has a spiritual component to it.

From time to time, I feel overwhelmed when faced with a laundry list of things that have to be done. I start to worry about the time it will take to get it all done; I begin to feel anxiety about what’s before me. And when I do that, I have to realize that my worry and anxiety is not only unhealthy; it’s actually disobedient:

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).

So said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He continued to hold up birds and wildflowers as those God provides for, making the point that we, as His children are much more valuable then these things. Then Jesus reminds us that worry and anxiety over the stuff of life is the characteristic of idolaters:

“…the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:32-34).

It’s that last statement that gets me – tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. My problem is that I tend to bring the worries of tomorrow into today. But this is also the point where keeping a schedule can actually be of great aid in our obedience to the command of Jesus to be free of worry.

If we are proactive in time management, scheduling out time can help us leave the worries of tomorrow until tomorrow. So, for example, let’s say you have a massive project you have to get done at work, and you find yourself disobediently worrying about getting it all done. But you very much want to obey what Jesus said. Perhaps a practical step in the right direction would be to break up that project into smaller chunks and then schedule time into the next several weeks to accomplish each one.

You have task 1 to do on Monday. You don’t have to worry about task 2 because you know you’ve already allocated time to get that done on Tuesday. So you move forward, one step at a time, treating the day you have before you as a single day, and you’re able to put down the phone and lay your head on the pillow knowing that tomorrow you can do the exact same thing. The point of the exercise, though, is more than finding a way to get things done; it’s an active way to pursue obedience to Jesus.

And I’m finding more and more that these small, seemingly insignificant choices are the nuts and bolts of what it means to truly follow Him.

> Read more from Michael.


 

Would you like to learn more about scheduling and productivity in your organization? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Bearing the Leadership Burden

Leadership, whether of an organization or of a Bible study or of a family, is a burden. A joyful burden much of the time, but a burden nonetheless. Oswald Sanders said it like this: “The world is run by tired men. Mediocrity is the result of never getting tired. Fatigue is the price of leadership.” In other words, leading is the willingness to pick up the burden. But most of the time, we think of that burden in “strategic” terms.

If you do a cursory search on “leadership” you’ll find all kinds of resources, most of which have numbers associated with them. You can 5 Ways or 7 Methods or 14 Theories. The vast majority of these resources deal in strategy, and they should. That is one burden of leadership; you are responsible for the overall vision and perspective of the people under your care. But it can’t really stop there. As a leader, whether in the home or in the church, we bear the burden for what we are leading, but we also must bear the burdens of whom we are leading.

In pastoral ministry, for example, the burden you bear cannot be exclusively in terms of the vision of the church. The burden must take on a more personal nature. Same thing is true in a family, or even in a small group or Bible study. The burden is not only the crafting of and guarding of a clear vision; the “burden” has faces. Problems. Sicknesses. Pain. The burden-bearing leader is one who is not isolated from those he or she leads, but instead is checked into the real issues the people under their care are walking through.

It’s this kind of burden-bearing Paul described in Galatians 6:1-2:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This passage is about more than stewarding a compelling vision for an organization or a family; it’s about people, and the willingness to come alongside those people in the day-to-day lifting. It seems to me that this is not just a single moment, but instead a lifestyle of investment. To that end, here are three characteristics of the burden-bearing leader:

1. The burden-bearing leader is available.

Time is a commodity like most other things. As a commodity, it is in limited supply. And the greater the leadership responsibility, the greater demand on the time. It’s tempting, then, to want to have a very insulated leadership kind of style – to focus on the big picture and to not come into the details. Unfortunately, it’s those details that are the most representative of people. The burden-bearing leader must, then, be available. This availability is also a responsibility, and it must have limits. But the leader who is available is the one who is going to err on the side of making accommodation to their time or their schedule if they can.

2. The burden-bearing leader is long-suffering.

One of the tendencies we have in leadership is to desire quick fixes to problems. We want to have the meeting, send the email, or have the drop in conversation and resolve the issue quickly and succinctly. And while that might work in some instances, it rarely does when you consider the people involved. Instead, the burden-bearing leader makes the choice to be long-suffering. They are willing to not just a conversation once, but to actually engage in that conversation and to have it again and again. It’s this kind of long-suffering investment that will mark someone who recognizes they are doing more than leading a nameless and faceless entity, but instead stewarding some part of the lives of those whom God has seen fit to put under their care.

3. The burden-bearing leader is listening.

Nothing makes a person feel less like a person than when someone gives only cursory notice to their issue. Conversely, nothing is quite as uplifting as when you know you have the absolute and undivided attention of the person you are speaking to. For a leader, there are lots of voices, and each one needs to be heard. The tendency for us whether in the home, the workplace, or the church is to try and have as many conversations as possible in a span of time. But many times, less is actually more. The burden-bearing leader does the simplest thing that can make the most difference – they actually listen. They look and concentrate. They are fully engaged in the conversation they are having. And in so doing, they are recognizing the creature before them is created in the image of God.

Leadership is a burden. And many times, it’s a heavy one. But as leaders we can cultivate the kind of habits that will not only make us bearers of the burden of what we are leading, but of whom we are leading.

> Read more from Michael.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Doug — 08/12/15 8:27 pm

Michael - thanks for this article. I've read it over and over and it keeps convicting / encouraging me. I'm a get-it-done leader who can very quickly breeze thru conversations to get to root cause and fix problems. I really need to develop my leadership to be more long-suffering and remember those problems have faces.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Small is Good: Communicating the Kingdom of God

The most dominant theme in the teaching of Jesus isn’t about hell, money, or even righteousness. It’s about the kingdom of God. Most other subjects, in fact, are presented in a “kingdom-type” of understanding. Jesus taught broadly about the kingdom of God; most of these specific subjects somehow fit under that umbrella.

The kingdom of God is grand. It’s big. It’s universal. It’s what epic tales of good and evil are all based on. A good and loving king faces a mutiny of His rule led by a devastatingly devious and crafty enemy. The supposedly deposed king has a plan to win back the affection and allegiance of His people. A brave champion is sent to do battle for the sake of, amazingly, the very rebels who spurned the loving authority of the king in the first place. This fight will cost Him His life, but in the end, He will be victorious.

The kingdom of God—that’s what all of history, and the entire universe, is about. In the kingdom of God, Jesus is acknowledged and prized for who He is. He is the King, and He lovingly reigns over everything.

That is a beautiful story full of hope, longing, and heroism. So how does one communicate a story like that?

With visual effects?
3D?
Poetry?
Or a symphony, perhaps?

God’s redemptive story certainly warrants all those things. In truth, we are not just talking about “a” story here; we are talking about “the” story. This is the story that defines ethereal concepts like love, courage, and sacrifice. It’s only because of this story that we even have the vaguest notions of what these words mean. This is the tale that gives every moment of our lives and the lives of everyone who has ever lived meaning and purpose.

Contrary to what we expect, Jesus shockingly describes the kingdom of God—something very, very big and very, very important—in terms of something very, very small and seemingly very, very insignificant:

“How can we illustrate the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground” (Mark 4:30-31).

Jesus says that the kingdom is like … a mustard seed. He literally could not have picked anything smaller for the audience of Palestinians. If Jesus were going to compare the kingdom of God to something, given its great scope and magnificent grandeur, we might expect Him to say, “The kingdom of heaven is like a tidal wave.” Or, “The kingdom of heaven is like an elephant.” You know – something substantial. Something with great mass that literally shakes the ground when it approaches. Something visible for miles and miles and miles.

Not a mustard seed.

And yet in this simple phrase, Jesus affirms every single one of us who have wondered if our small lives of quiet faithfulness actually matter. The answer is a resounding yes.

  • Does it matter that you spend your days trying to raise children who love the Lord and know how to live as salt and light in the world?
  • Does it matter if you go to work in a professional environment everyday in a suit and tie, where you earn money and provide for your family?
  • Does it matter if you faithfully plug away at the same tasks day in and day out, with only the occasional invasion of the extraordinary?

It does. It matters very much. According to Jesus, small things make a huge amount of difference. Small things are very significant when your perspective is right.

Read more from Michael here.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Culture >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

VRcurator — 05/13/13 7:53 am

Thanks for your comment, Rick. Michael is a great writer - I hope you will check out some of his other works on his website, or take a look at his books.

Rick Duncan — 05/13/13 7:50 am

Beautiful. Inspiring. Thanks.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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