5 Requirements for Being Used by God

5 Requirements for Being Used by God

By 

Clay Pots

If you’re a Pastor or church leader of any kind, you most likely found yourself in that place because you want God to use you. And chances are, you want God’s help releasing and freeing other people to be used by God as well for both ministry and mission.

The question is, what kind of person must I be to be used greatly by God? 2 Chronicles 16:9 says,“The eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them.”
If you want God to use you greatly, here are five things you need to do to make yourself usable by Him.

1. Keep your life clean.

The first step to being used by God is always personal cleansing. Without exception, when you find someone whom God is using in a great way, they’ve dealt with the personal sin in their lives before God.

It’s not about your past or your status in the world your your talent. God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But He will not use a dirty vessel. 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you’ll be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” (NLT)

2. Keep your eyes open.

One of the most misunderstood words in leadership circles is the word vision. We think of vision as prediction, but none of us can know the future the way God does. Vision is seeing God at work in your present situation and moving with Him. It’s about getting in on what God is doing in the world and being a part of it where He has placed you.

If you make up your own vision, you’re already off course. The psalmist said, “Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence.” (Psalm 105:4 MSG)

3. Keep your heart grateful.

God uses grateful people. Further, gratefulness is one of the keys to longevity in ministry. Doctors refer to gratitude as the healthiest of all emotions because of its physical benefits. If you don’t stay grateful, you’ll become cynical.

Paul said, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11 NIV) We need to constantly remind ourselves what a privilege it is to serve Jesus. Never get over the things that God does in, through, and around us entirely because of His grace.

4. Keep your purpose firm.

Remember the basics. You were planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for service, and made for a mission! These aren’t just good points for teaching others or for leading a church. These are the purposes for which God made you!

One of the verses that has kept me going through all the years of my ministry is Acts 13:36, “David served God’s purpose in his own generation.” That’s my desire! And that’s my desire for you.

5. Keep your mind on Jesus.

Meditate on this verse, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” (Hebrews 12:2 MSG)

God’s purpose for your life is far greater than your problems. Don’t give up when it gets tough. Go to Jesus. Keep your mind on Him!

_______________________

Source: http://pastors.com/be-used/

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The 10 People You DON’T Want on Your Staff

The 10 People You DON’T Want on Your Staff (and What You Can Do With Them)

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I work with church leadership teams literally every day of my life. It is absolutely one of the most joyous things I have the privilege of doing. When you get a group of passionate Christ-followers unified around a compelling mission and vision who also possess the desire, gifts, talents, abilities and resources to move it forward, few things are as exhilarating.

As thrilling as this type of leadership culture is, the opposite is equally as frustrating. When leadership teams needlessly stall the advancement of mission and vision over C-issues, it becomes truly maddening.

Yes, maddening. My heart breaks for pastors in these types of churches because they simply have no chance.

John Maxwell was right when he taught that a leader’s success is determined by those closest to them.

The following is a list of 10 People You Do Not Want on Your Church Leadership Team. Pastors, these individuals will ensure you and your church have little chance of success.

1. The ’80s Man.

This person continually celebrates the achievements of the past (sometimes long, long ago) and views those methods as the only ways to advance mission and vision.

The ’80s Man has not had a new thought since the ’80s. Rick Warren says, “You have to learn to honor the past without perpetuating the past. We all are products of our past but not prisoners of it.”

2. The Devil’s Advocate.

First, the devil does not need any help.

Second, I do not want to be in a room with people who tell me why something will not work. I want to surround myself with people who bring solutions and help make things work.

3. The Cannibal.

This is the person who feels it is their job to keep everyone else accountable. They simply eat people alive. They do not foster accountability. They foster cannability.

4. The “No” One.

This is the person who leads with “No” rather than “Yes.” They have to be convinced to agree to even the most minor leadership decisions.

It just becomes exhausting getting them on a train which has already left the station.

5. The Feeler.

The Feeler has no idea why they are against the ministry initiatives. They just are, even though no one else has any concerns.

There is a caveat here—any experienced leader has had times when something doesn’t feel right in their gut. You should trust this feeling. When this happens, humbly say, “I know this doesn’t make sense, but something just doesn’t feel right here. What do you think?”

This approach is healthy. The problem comes when a person says this about each and every issue.

6. The Chauvinist.

This person dismisses the value and perspective women can bring to leadership.

7. The Enemy of the State.

This person is the worst. They are against the pastor.

There is nothing worse than a person who is not for the pastor and does not do everything within their power to help the pastor succeed.

Also, give your pastor a raise!!! How much—MORE!!!

8. The Union Rep.

Rather than acting like a leader, they choose to represent the dissatisfied and disenfranchised of the church. The Union Rep uses phrases like, “A lot of people are telling me,” or, “There are many people in our church who … .” Ignore the Union Rep and their fabricated statistics.

9. The Hunter.

The Hunter likes to put heads on their wall and notches on their belt. This person tells stories of previous leaders they have “held accountable” or put in their place.

Be wary of this person. You are likely next on their list. They will try to convince you they know more than you, are better connected than you and have a deeper understanding of scripture than you.

They are laying a trap. The Hunter is on the prowl for their next trophy kill. Do not let it be you.

10. The Genius.

The Genius knows more about each and every subject than anyone else. The challenge with The Genius is you cannot teach someone something they think they already know.

If you have any of these 10 people on your leadership team, you have several options:

1. Develop them.

Let’s best honest. I have most likely been every one of these 10 people at some point in my leadership, and probably you have as well. We all started somewhere and can still get better as leaders.

Therefore, this is the best option. No one is perfect, and if they are teachable and have the passion to become a better leader, you can develop them.

2. Confront them.

Remind them of what your church in general, and this team in particular, is trying to accomplish. Show them where they can be part of the solution.

3. Wait.

Most teams have a length of service. Hopefully, they will just rotate off soon.

4. Pray for God to remove them.

This is the passive and often healthiest approach.

5. Remove them.

Rather than just praying God removes them, please know sometimes you are the answer to that prayer. This is where courage is needed to have the hard conversation.

Your thoughts? 

______________________________________________________________________

Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.

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Source: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/173233-brian-dodd-10-people-you-dont-want-on-your-staff-and-what-you-can-do-with-them.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clnewsletter&utm_content=CL+Daily+20140312
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Millennials Most Godless and Politically Independent Generation

Millennials Most Godless and Politically Independent Generation

Added by Matthew Stinson on March 8, 2014.
Saved under Matthew StinsonOpinionU.S.
Tags: 
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Millennials – people aged 18-33 – are often described as entitled, coddled, and whiny, most notably by people who are not Millennials. Whether the previous labels are fair or rubbish is up for debate, but a study by the Pew Research Center has added a new list of adjectives for the Millennial generation: godless, politically independent, distrustful, broke, and optimistic.

The survey was conducted Feb. 14-23, 2014, among 1,821 adult Americans, including 617 Millennials and compared to previous studies dating back to 1990. The two other groups compared against Millenials were Gen Xers, aged 34-49, and Baby Boomers, aged 50-67. An important distinction for Millenials is that demographically approximately 43 percent of them are non-white, the highest share of any generation.

Millennials are easily the most godless generation of Americans, with 29 percent saying they are not affiliated with any religion and 11 percent saying they do not believe in any god at all, as compared to Gen Xers who are 6 percent atheist. As faith goes, only 58 percent of Millennials are sure of their beliefs, compared to 69 pecent of Gen Xers.

In addition to being the most godless generation, half of Millennials identify themselves as politically independent. “It’s not that they don’t have strong opinions,” said Paul Taylor, co-author of the report, but rather that they stray from party affiliation. While perhaps not labeling themselves as liberals or Democrats, Millennials tend to vote that way, especially on social issues.

Same-sex marriage continues to be a hot-button issue for Americans, but not so much for Millennials who now support its legalization by a whopping 68 percent. The two biggest factors standing in the way of same-sex marriage becoming legal under federal law in the US are tradition and the Bible. Being young, which Millennials are, makes it easier to detach from tradition, and if Millennials have a tendency not to believe in the Bible, it must follow that they are more accepting of marriage equality.

Millennials are also the most “plugged-in” generation. They are linked to each other through social media and they spend a large portion of their time online exchanging ideas and gathering information as the internet expands everyday. This may explain why they are also the least trusting generation. Gone are the days when celebrities, politicians, and world figures could escape the scrutiny of truth. All humans are flawed in one way or another, and those flaws are now broadcast on the 24-hour news cycle and are constantly going viral online. Books, like people, can also be flawed, which might explain why Millennials just aren’t as into the Bible as older Americans due to readily-available information.

Readily-available information might also explain why Millennials support the legalization of marijuana by 69 percent, as they are unburdened by false claims and retro paranoia. However, their views on gun control and abortion are nearly identical to older generations.

Millennials also are coming into adulthood in one of the worst economies in decades. They are also burdened by incredible student loan debt, as the fight to land and keep a job is a brutal one. Perhaps this is where the “whiny” label comes from. After all, Millennials grew up being told that they could do whatever and be whoever they wanted if they worked hard. For many though, the American dream is becoming harder and harder to capture. A side effect of being broke is that most unmarried Millennials (69 percent) say they would like to get married, but lack the finances to do so.

With all that being said, Millennials remain optimistic about the future, with 49 percent of them saying America’s best days are ahead. For that to be true though, the economy must drastically improve. The Millennial generation being politically independent and not overly bound to specific beliefs in God might go a long way to aid in that endeavor.

Opinion By Matt Stinson

Sources:

Palm Beach Post
Christian Post
Detroit News

Source: http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/millennials-most-godless-and-poltitically-independent-generation/

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Let Us Be Peacemakers

After watching the new movie, “Son Of God” at the evening of the Ash Wednesday, I think more  and more about what Jesus taught us on the Mount (Beatitudes). Jesus commends us to be poor in spirit, thirst for righteousness, merciful, be peacemakers, and joyful as sons of God. Let us remember what Jesus did and wants us to do as His true disciples during the Season of Lent.

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Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– Matthew 5:1-12 ESV

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From the Underside

Office of the General Assembly

NEAL D. PRESA
Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:9–11, NRSV)

Little portions of soil and grass are appearing underneath the glacial thawing of the snow and ice that have covered us in central New Jersey these past three months. The brown dirt is signaling for me the arrival of spring and the advent of the holy season of Lent.

In a few days, we enter the holy season by receiving the cruciform in ashes, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” Those words, the gesture of offering and receiving the sign of the cross on the forehead, and the hushed tones of the gathered assembly lend to the sacred hour we assemble—ushered to remember that we are dust, that God has fashioned us from the earth in our mother’s womb, and we live our days in the presence of our Creator and the Lord Almighty, underneath the shadow of God’s wings. We can sometimes act like we are kings and queens of our respective spheres of influence, lord of our tongues, princes and princesses of our decisions—but there, with the ashes, under the cross, in life and in death we belong to God.

The subsequent seven weeks of the Lenten season has us pondering the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. His was a journey of living in the presence of the heavenly Father, in the midst of his disciples and the people’s anxieties, fears, and hopes; it was a life of joy, trial, travail. It was being with and entering in the messiness of life, and the beauty that goes with it.

Then we are brought to the final days when the Lord washes the disciples’ feet, with the word and action to go with the moment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” His ministry was lived in the specter of the cross that loomed ahead. There, on Calvary’s cross, the weight of humanity’s sin becomes His burden, becomes our joy. The Lord Jesus’s body is pierced. He breathes His last. He is placed in the underside, in the belly of the earth. In utter darkness. In the underside of death.

But, death could not hold Him. The power of God raises Jesus Christ from the dead. Death will not have dominion over Him. Sin, evil, death, Satan—they don’t have the last word. In and with Christ, we die. In and with Christ, we rise to newness of life.

In the freedom of the Lord’s resurrection power and life, we dare to speak a word to the world, we dare to live in such a way that tells all persons, all powers, all principalities that seek to thwart, stifle, diminish, demean, or set aside the power of God in Christ—Death, be gone!

Then, when our days here are expired, and we return to the dust from whence we came, are buried in or scattered into the underside once more, our baptisms having been complete, we will be ushered into the unending and unceasing glory of God’s presence. There, in God, we will abide, in the underside of God’s embrace.

Lord, lead us, your disciples, in this Lenten journey.

Source: http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/3/3/underside/

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What is the 10/40 Window?

What is the 10/40 Window?

by Bryan Lee     Brian Zunigha

If the command given by Jesus is to make disciples of all nations (or ethnic groups), then common sense would tell us our job is to find those nations (ethnic groups) that have not been discipled (taught to be followers of Christ). People desiring to fulfill the Great Commission need to know where these “unreached” groups of people are, so that our efforts in completing the task will not just be busy but productive.

The vast majority of these unreached people live in an area of the world nicknamed the “10/40 window.” The 10/40 window is simply a term used to describe a region of the world within 10 and 40 degrees latitude from Western Africa to Eastern Asia. If you were to draw it on a map, the top would go from Portugal through Japan and the bottom would go from Guinea through the bottom tip of India all the way to the Philippines. This is an important region to think about as a World Christian because most of the people who have not had an opportunity to hear the gospel live here. The 31 least reached countries in the world are in this “window.”

The people who are lost in the 10/40 Window are not “more lost” than your neighbor or family member who does not know Christ. But, they are “unreached” in the sense that they have not had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. The issue is not their lostness, but their access to the Gospel. People can be unevangelized without being unreached. There are people in the United States that have not heard the gospel, but they could if they wanted to. Most people living in the 10/40 window couldn’t find out about Jesus even if they wanted to! These are unreached people who do not have access to the gospel.

There are over 3.6 billion unreached people in the world today. Of those 3.6 billion people, 88% live in or near the 10/40 window. Only 2.17% of these unreached people live in North and South America combined!

This area of the world is so unreached for several reasons. First, these people do not live in a spiritual vacuum. The world’s major religions began in this part of the world and are firmly entrenched there. In the 10/40 window there are 724 million Muslims, 787 million Hindus, and 240 million Buddhists. Along with that, many of the countries in this region are oppressive to Christianity. Regardless of these facts, Jesus declared that, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” The biggest reason this part of the world is so unreached is because there is a lack of Christians willing to go to these places.

It is estimated that only 4% of foreign missionaries today are working to reach these unreached people. The other 96% are working in unevangelized, but not unreached areas. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia of all the money designated for “missions” in the U.S. only 5.4% is used for foreign missions. Of that 5.4%, only 0.37% is used to take the gospel to unreached people who don’t have access to the gospel. That’s about two cents out of every one-hundred dollars given to missions! The rest goes towards efforts to further evangelize reached people.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance,” and that proves true in our global strategies for advancing God’s kingdom. We must take the time to educate ourselves on what the world looks like and evaluate our efforts in line with God’s command to make disciples of all people groups.

Source: http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stateworld/1040-window

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Critical Moments: 4 Occasions When You Should NOT Respond to a Critic

Critical Moments: 4 Occasions When You Should NOT Respond to a Critic
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If you are a leader, you will be criticized. If you are not being criticized, you are probably not a leader. The issue is not whether or not you will be the subject of criticism; the greater issue is how you should respond.

As a general rule, leaders should respond to criticism. I do my best to do so, or at the very least, ask someone in my organization to respond. Critics, more often than not, deserve a response. They need to hear from the leader who can give them his or her perspective. They need to hear from a leader in the event that the response can be an opportunity for reconciliation.

But there are times when leaders should not respond to critics. These times are rare, and should be the subject of prayer and counsel. Nehemiah is a biblical character that is often used to define principles of leadership. Look at this passage from Nehemiah 6:2-4. See how Nehemiah, in this case, chose not to respond to a persistent critic.

“Sanballet and Geshem sent me a message: ‘Come let’s meet together in the valley.’ But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’ Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.” (HCSB)

Nehemiah offers us both biblical and practical principles about those rare occasions when you shouldn’t respond to critics.

  1. When you have already repeatedly responded. For some critics, a response is not sufficient. They will not stop until they have gotten their way. There comes a point where further communication becomes an exercise in futility. It’s time to move on and do “the great work.”
  2. When the critic intends harm. An occasional critic is not so much interested in communicating his or her issue as causing you harm. Their issue is not actually the issue. They want you hurt in some way. Further communication will only cause problems.
  3. When the critic will not reason. Many critics have very valid points. Whether we agree or disagree, we need to listen to their perspective. Other critics simply want to rant. There is rarely a good outcome when meeting with the very unreasonable and ranting critic.
  4. When the criticism becomes an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack takes place when a person attacks your character. The issue is peripheral, and is only used to assail you personally. There is often no need to deal with the critic because he or she really doesn’t care about the issue.

Criticism is painful for most leaders. It is for me. But most criticisms are good for leaders. We can learn from our critics, and we can grow as leaders. But there are a few times when we simply should not respond. In those cases, any response only exacerbates something that is already bad.

Sometimes we need to be like Nehemiah. Continue our work and ignore the critic.

More from Thom Rainer or visit Thom at www.thomrainer.com

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

Source: http://www.churchleaders.com

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