Some of the women especially reading this today, may have heard of a reality show called ‘The Real Housewives of….’. For the uninitiated, it’s a reality TV show that follows the lives of small groups of successful women as they ‘do life’ together.
It’s all about friendship and relationships. Whilst not the kind of show I normally watch, I’ve gleaned it’s not just the good times that the show focuses on, but the all the ups and downs of friendships the world over.
It is literally astounding to see how quickly the beauty of sisterhood can quickly disintegrate into ‘frenemies’. The ‘ups’ are all cosy huddles, kindness, laughter, loving support etc. The ‘downs’ are gossip, arguments, judgements, offense, and betrayal. Nothing new under the sun then.
As pastors wives or women in leadership roles, (as well as the male equivalent!) we can all attest to how difficult it can be at times to be around certain groups or individuals. In all fairness, people may say they find it hard to be around us too! I know many readers have been hurt and burnt by the words of others, and it’s so devastating when this happens. The point of this piece today is to stir up a passion again that we as godly women/godly men choose to be totally biblical in our love and acceptance of others in our lives - friends, acquaintances, and other pastors/pastors wives.
It’s time to raise up a fresh standard, a standard for purity and holiness from those of us who are part of the church of Christ.
God takes our speech very seriously.
‘And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.( James 3:6-8 ESV)
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus says ‘From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’. Perhaps the first step we need to take is to do some checking in with ourselves for any wounds, hurts, jealousies, unforgiveness, etc. After all, our tongues will only speak what they have access too.
Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” How tragic that we can bring death to others so glibly if we aren’t careful. Death to someone’s character, reputation, role, and even friendships. A great quote is “If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all”. Choose to speak only good things.
Don’t be someone who listens to gossip either, it’s nasty and hurtful and never wholly truth. People will only bring you gossip - if you are someone who tolerates it, or even enjoys it. ‘The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts’.( Proverbs 26:22)
Chances are most of us have battled with various insecurities over the years, and that is probably the same for the very individuals we may be quick to judge. Remember that there is another side to everyone, and none of us really know what goes on in another person’s world, heart, or mind. That’s God’s place, not ours. It’s so unpalatable and indeed totally unbiblical when we know better, but still chose to trash others with our words.
Imaine now if you will, a televised show from your own world ‘The Real Pastors Wives of …OR ‘The Real Pastors/ Real Pastors Spouse of…. ’
If you were followed by cameras and every word and action recorded, would we be known for being integrous, loving, gracious, non-judgemental and pure? Or would our flaws be magnified in our speech and behaviour as we were exposed for being more of a frenemy than a true friend. Let’s choose God’s way today, the high calling of life and love, purity and holiness, and instead of imagining film crews and TV appearances, we remember that we live under His constant gaze and listening ear.
Here are some helpful words from The Word to inspire us today.
“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4 )
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1v19-27)
I can’t fully put into words the beauty and mystery of what I felt the Lord saying to those of you who may begin yet another day with raging anxiety dominating your heart and even your home at this moment, but here goes:
God may presence Himself with you today, draw near to you, like an unfamiliar bird to a garden, blown off its usual expected flight patterns. He may appear vulnerable rather than impressive, weak rather than powerful, storm battered rather than radiantly feathered.
He may come to you as the unexpected Messiah with an unexpected rescue: to be with you in your weakness, to be the storm tossed presence in your storms. For you, he will not be found amidst the noisy chatter and competitive, confident, territory declaring squawking of other garden visitors. He stands aside from that, quietly.
Look out a side window and there He is. Gentle and lowly. Bring him in without fear to your disordered heart and home. This is the mystery. As you receive the storm tossed bedraggled Saviour, as you give to him the attention and love he awakens in your heart, He will develop in you eagle’s wings.
Rev Kenny Borthwick
I saw a video of a glass walk-way built around the side of a mountain. The glass was constructed in such a way that when a person put their weight on it, it made the sound of breaking glass. Not only that but, when the person looked down, the glass appeared to be breaking also. People were screaming and crawling to get back to the start. These are real people facing real fears, and this walk-way was constructed to take advantage of those fears. I would have been one of them! This is just not right!
The truth is that all of us have fears of some kind at one time or another in our lives. Most pass by as we get older, some stay with us, but there are others which have to be overcome if they get in the way of our functioning.
For the past 10 plus weeks we have been served a steady diet of “fear.” After this trial is over how are we going to get back to some sort of functioning with all that we have been told to do and not do as to “not spread the virus?” or “stay safe!”
For us as Christians, any fear that gets in our way of serving and obeying God is not given by God. 2 Timothy 2:7 tells us that fear is a spirit that is not given from God because He gives us power, love and self-control. It takes courage to face our fears but God gives all we need to do it.
Times of trial are often fearful but they also increase our faith and help us grow (mature) in our faith. To mature we have to overcome, and for Christians overcoming our fear is rooted in trusting God, believing God loves us, and that God will not harm us. How do we get to this point? By believing God’s Word. God’s Word helps us cast out our fears. Strong faith helps us overcome our fears.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 119:10-16, 105 - God’s Word lights my path and guides me.
Romans 8:31-39 - Paul declares that nothing will get between him and God.
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
As we are returning to some sort of normalcy, take courage and go forth in faith, knowing God is holding our hand, walking with us. Calm my fears, Father, as I face the unknown and the unexpected. Increase my faith so I can face my fears and grow in my relationship with You in Jesus name. Amen.
Dr. Allen Tyndall – Lead Director, PastorCare Network, Inc.
This article originally appeared here:
What began as a major disruption has become a way of life. Not permanently, but for an open-ended and unknown duration of time.
COVID-19 has changed our world.
Remember when shaking someone’s hand was normal? Remember when sitting in a packed movie theatre or crowded concert was a fun night out? Remember when masks were only worn by bank robbers and superheroes?
Hey, that was only five months ago!
There’s a lot of talk about the “new normal,” and yet few can define it or describe it because it keeps changing faster than we can adapt.
I don’t believe leaders fear change. However, when change can’t be led, we can experience a destabilizing effect. When we’re not leading change, because it is leading us, we naturally desire to get back out in front and lead again. That doesn’t mean we “can’t” lead; it means that leadership as we have known it has been challenged. What was predictable is no longer predictable. It does mean that we can and should always start our leadership at a foundational level based on hope, encouragement, faith, and simply taking the next step.
I’m in conversations with church leaders that worked hard to open their doors and now have closed them again. What do they do now?
They lead by taking the next step.
As leaders, we don’t have to have all the answers; we just need to know the next step and have the courage to take it. This is not the time to give up, your congregation needs you more than ever, but as a leader, you do get to be human.
Let’s talk about that:
5 Ways to Help You Lead When Nothing Is Normal:
1) Desiring “normal” is human, expecting it will get you in trouble.
What is normal? We typically consider normal as a relatively set pattern of living that, for the most part, we enjoy. It’s not without its ups and downs and problems to solve, but there’s enough predictability that life feels stable.
To desire that is normal. To expect that is not going to help you or those you lead. Expecting normal right now is like seeing a tidal wave coming at you and thinking you’ll go surfing.
That may be a bit over-dramatic, but it’s a good picture.
You get to pray for the life you desire, but you must lead through the life you have. I pray every day that God will shut down the coronavirus and heal the sick. But I must lead in the reality of the virus.
The big idea is that your leadership will help you create that better reality for those you lead and for you too.
2) Don’t merely surrender to a new normal; help create it.
Let’s take this idea of desiring normal, even a new normal, a little further.
It’s important, to be honest about what you want, but you must get real about what you can have. You can have almost anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. That’s instructive in how we lead, pray, and live our lives. That requires insight and discernment to know how to make the right decisions. There is no value in surrendering to circumstances; if you do, you abandon hope.
Here’s a better direction. See your vision for a better life within the reality we live in, then do your best to shape a new reality. You can’t do it all, but you can make a difference.
Here’s how I think it works.
If enough Christian leaders consistently make biblical decisions that honour God and are in the best interest of others, eventually, that wins.
Every leader counts.
Think of it this way; what we are doing is normal. We are leading change, solving problems, and helping people. That’s what leaders have always done.We are just doing it in arguably the most complex times we’ve known in the last fifty to seventy-five years or more.
We should not surrender to a new normal; instead, we get to help shape it.
3) Get focused and fierce about what you can do.
There is much you can’t change, so focus on what you can change.
You can’t surf a tidal wave, but you can get in the water and make some waves that bring momentum.
Here are three practical ways to help you and your team do what you can do.
- A) Concentrate on mission-centred small wins.
Again, start your leadership thinking and conversation with what you can do. Make a shortlist.
Among those options, what is God blessing? What’s working? What could you do to push it across the goal line with a concentrated leadership effort? Do that! And make sure you tell your congregation! Thank God publicly and celebrate the win.
Don’t worry if it’s a small win; celebrate it!
- B) Practice option thinking.
I’m still fond of a leadership expression that says, “No plan B.” I like the spirit of that idea, but I don’t like its lack of reality.
Options thinking, sometimes called contingency thinking, is not the same as selling out. It’s not “hedging your bet.” It’s smart leadership.
Options thinking is like playing chess instead of checkers. It’s about thinking ahead.
- C) Focus on the next step.
When leading in times of disruption, making detailed plans that span a couple of years or so is a waste of time.
Your vision should span three to five years or longer, but in this season, your plan is best implemented by knowing a few possible smart next moves, (like chess), and pick the next best step you can make.
Then quickly evaluate the results, make any needed adjustments, and make your next best move. (Take the next step.)
4) Paddle harder.
When you’re on vacation and out on a calm lake in a canoe, you can paddle casually. When the water gets rough, you paddle harder to gain forward motion.
There is nothing casual about leading right now. Some leaders feel paralyzed because they think there is nothing they can do, so they lead casual or passively. That not only won’t realize any progress, but that approach actually loses ground.
Similar to when you’re on the lake, and the water gets really rough, it won’t help if you panic. Desperate leaders often make poor decisions.
Paddling harder is still about thinking strategically, not paddling frantically.
5) Remember what you believe.
When you experience stress, pressure, and challenges greater than you know what to do with, remember what you believe. That will help you get through any difficult season.
Here’s what I mean; in fact, this is what I practice.
When things are really tough, I take extra time to reflect on and gain strength from:
- A) My belief in my calling.
There are some seasons in leadership when everything seems uphill.
In those times, I remember that God called me to do what I’m doing, and He specifically placed me where I’m serving.
That gives me tremendous confidence.
- B) My belief in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Knowing that God is with me, not just loves me, and I’m going to heaven, but He is actually with me in this, reminds me that His power is available.
Intellectually, you know God’s presence and power is within you, but it doesn’t always feel that way, right?
Or you maybe sense God is with you, but the results seem meagre.
I read scripture, pray, and soak on the truth of the Holy Spirit’s power. Then lead knowing that power is available and activated by my faith.
- C) My belief that I’m not alone.
Even with my calling and God’s power, I’m human. And I’m relationally oriented. (Most of us are.) The thought of doing this alone is, well, not fathomable.
How about you? You may be in a small church or a large church, and you can still feel alone. The good news is that you only need one person to lock eyes with you and say, “I’m in this with you; let’s do this.”
If you have 3, 5, 17, or 40 leaders with you, you are blessed! Thank God for those leaders.
If you truly feel alone in your leadership, there are two things you can do.
Ask God to guide you to one leader.
Ask for their help.
I’m confident one leader will rise up to help you, and never underestimate the impact of one more leader.
This article originally appeared here.
Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.
Did you know that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers? Nick Kardaras, author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids—and How to Break the Trance, pointed out in a recent article that “Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.”
What do they know that we don’t?
It’s that iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug.
Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels—the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic—as much as sex. This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.”
Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the U.S. Navy—who has been researching video game addiction—calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).Hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression and can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality.
According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10-year-olds spend eight hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens.
One in three kids are using tablets or smartphones before they can talk.
The handbook of “Internet Addiction” by Dr. Kimberly Young states that 18 percent of college-age Internet users in the U.S. suffer from tech addiction. The immersive and addictive world of screens dampens and stunts key developmental processes.
An ounce of prevention
Kardaras has worked with over 1,000 teens in the past 15 years, and has concluded that the old axiom of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to tech addiction. He says:
‘Once a kid has crossed the line into true tech addiction, treatment can be very difficult. Indeed, I have found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than lost-in-the-matrix video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts.’
He noted that “once a person crosses over the line into full-blown addiction—drug, digital or otherwise—they need to detox before any other kind of therapy can have any chance of being effective.”
With tech, that means a full digital detox—no computers, no smartphones, no tablets. The extreme digital detox even eliminates television. The prescribed amount of time is four to six weeks; that’s the amount of time that is usually required for a hyper-aroused nervous system to reset itself. But that’s no easy task in our current tech-filled society where screens are ubiquitous. A person can live without drugs or alcohol; with tech addiction, digital temptations are everywhere.
That’s why the key is prevention, pre-emptive action to stop our kids getting hooked on screens when they are young.
That means Lego instead of Minecraft; books instead of iPads; nature and sports instead of TV. If you have to, demand that your child’s school not give them a tablet or Chromebook until they are at least 10 years old (others recommend 12).
Kardaras challenges parents to have honest discussions with their children about why they are limiting their screen access, and also to “eat dinner with your children without any electronic devices at the table—just as Steve Jobs used to have tech-free dinners with his kids.” Don’t fall victim to “Distracted Parent Syndrome”—as we know from Social Learning Theory, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
And just in case you think it’s impossible to rescue your digital junkie, Kardaras concludes with:
We also know that kids are more prone to addictive escape if they feel alone, alienated, purposeless and bored. Thus the solution is often to help kids to connect to meaningful real-life experiences and flesh-and-blood relationships. The engaged child tethered to creative activities and connected to his or her family is less likely to escape into the digital fantasy world.
(This article originally appeared here – https://churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/299374-protecting-kids-digital-heroin-david-murray.html)
Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray.