Archive for November, 2010

accountable?

30 Nov

the barna group recently reported that, of the many exhortations in the Bible that are not popular in today’s world, the least favorite biblical principle might well be ”obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow.”[1]

for westerners, this is counter-cultural. this jeopardizes our independence. in truth, we are all quick to respond with “you can’t tell me what to do!”

if you serve as a pastor or other spiritual leader in a church or church organization, i am certain you have struggled with this. we even choose to evade the topic because it can cause conflict. no wonder only 15% of evangelicals (7% of protestants) claimed to have any form of church-centered accountability.

however, the underlying theme of the christian life is one of being transformed[2] from a selfish and self-driven individual to one who lives for and surrenders control of one’s life to God.[3] this admonishment includes mutual submission to one another with humility[4] and in the fear of God.[5] as such, the practice of accountability for life choices and behavior is central to the process of spiritual transformation.


[1] Hebrews 13:17 NLT
[2] Romans 12:1-2
[3] James 4:7
[4] 1 Peter 5:5
[5] Ephesians 5:21
 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Strategic Foresight

28 Nov

Since its inception, the Christian church has been a bastion of faith, hope, as well as controversy. It survived immediate intense persecution, survived the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, the Holy Wars, but still experienced great revival and growth. Nevertheless, what about the 21st Century? What future might the Church face in ten years, thirty years, fifty years? Will its current institutions and structures keep up with hyper-change? Will its large congregations dissolve into smaller groups reminiscent of the apostolic age?

From Bible prophecy, we know the end . . . we even know some of the detail leading to the end of the world. But, what about the years preceding that fulfillment? What is the responsibility of the Church to engage the future? For the sake of argument, step away from Bible prophecy. Look at the Church as an organization (which it is) and engage in futures thinking as one who wants it to be viable, sustainable, growing, and effective.  

Dr. James Canton, renowned futurist and author, makes an unsettling statement when listing his ten top threats that could kill America’s future. Number one on his list is “religious fundamentalism that is intolerant and restricts personal freedoms.”[1] Does this “threat” include Christians who disagree with certain lifestyles, the taking of innocent human life, or caution against genetic and biometric engineering that alters the human species? If this moves forward and there is backlash against Christian morals, would the Church be prepared to alter the way it is structured, the way we worship, associate, and evangelize?

I present for your consideration one of many tools your organization can use to prepare itself for the future. This is not an in-depth presentation of futures thinking but a wake-up call to us, the Church of Jesus Christ. Uncertainty is our reality. Preparing for uncertainty is our responsibility.

Scenario planning is a formal disciplined methodology consisting of a four-tiered eighteen-step approach. This is not looking into a crystal ball. This is not coming up with generalized views of feared or desired futures, or predictions. Scenarios are clear descriptions of significant plausible alternative futures. They are specific “decision-focused” views of the future resulting from insightful analysis and predictions. They are “frameworks for structuring leaders’ perceptions about alternative future environments in which decisions might be played out.”[2]

To benefit from this tool, Ralston and Wilson present the following explanation to their definition helpful advice for anyone who wants to prepare the Church for uncertainty:

  • scenarios are frameworks for structuring – in the context of planning, scenarios have a specific purposeful role. They are carefully defined explorations of the future that planning must address and strategy will need to deal with. The structure of the scenarios (stories) must be tight enough to give discipline, coherence, and relevance to the final project yet loose enough to be able to embrace creativity, and at times, unconventional insights.
  • leaders’ perceptions – since scenarios are intended to be used as key frameworks for strategy development, they must reflect the thinking of those who will ultimately be responsible for developing and executing the strategies. As such, the decision makers must understand and accept the reasoning that led to the development and selection of the scenarios; ownership is paramount.
  • about alternative future environments – it is important to establish a set of scenarios, not just one. Since we are dealing with an uncertain future, developing a number of scenarios enables us to develop strategies that could be implemented if any number of different events occurred. Our objective is to determine the possible futures, envision the probable but enhance the prospect of our preferable futures.
  • in which their decisions might be played out – the scenarios are to be used in the strategy-development process, thus need to be decision focused. As such, the plausible stories (scenarios) generated by this exercise need to concentrate on key trends and forces that are needed to address and execute decisions.

 

What if the federal government passed legislation eliminating the tax-free benefit to religious organizations? Would church buildings close because of the tax burden? Would contributions decrease since there is no longer a charitable giving deduction provided? What if youth visually received the internet as a live feed via their corneas?

What would happen to those engaged in the emerging cyperchurch? Would the millions Christian pollster and sociologist George Barna predicted would never travel physically to church but instead roam the Internet in search of meaningful spiritual experiences,[3] suddenly dissolve into cyberspace? Remember, the scenario model’s limitation is hindered only by the imagination, or lack of imagination, following insightful analysis.

The church stands at a critical time in its existence. The world is experiencing incredible, fundamental changes. The future is uncertain and preparing for uncertainties has not been an exercise typically engaged in by the church. We must enhance our ability to observe, record, and analyze the changing patterns of the world around us. We must adapt principles that strive to answer the question “what if.”[4]

Whether we derive these patterns of change through quantitative or qualitative research, we identify these possible outcomes as scenarios, alternative images of the future. Futures studies is a transdisciplinary, systems-science-based approach that involves analyzing patters of change in the past, identifying trends of change in the present, and extrapolating alternative scenarios of possible change in the future in order to help us create the futures we most desire. It does not make predictions. We only know there are not future facts and that tomorrow will be nothing like today. In twenty years, what will your “religious experience” look like?


[1] Canton, James; The Extreme Future. New York; Dutton, 2006, p. 337.
[2] Ralston, Bill and Wilson, Ian; The Scenario Planning Handbook: Developing Strategies in Uncertain Times. Crawfordsville; Thompson, 2006, p. 16.
[3] Careaga, Andrew 1999; Embracing the Cyperchurch. Next-wave.org (http://next-wave.org/Dec99/embracing­_the_cyperchurch.htm) accessed June 6, 2008.
[4] Schultz, Wendy 2002; Futures Studies: An Overview of Basic Concepts. Infinite Futures. Fulbright Lecture, Finland Futures Research Centre (http://www.infinitefutures.com).
 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

primus inter pares

27 Nov

robert greenleaf, in his book servant leadership, presents the latin term primus inter pares – first or senior amongst equals. although we have embraced the concept of servant leadership, the notion of primus inter pares seems to have gone by the wayside. we continue to hold tightly to our traditional hierarchical governance structures.

as we progress further into this rapidly changing century requiring organizational flexibility and the ability to adjust quickly, we may need to take a second look at our polity. for builders and boomers, we have known nothing but the hierarchical structure and have fully embraced this in the church. especially for lead/senior pastors who are entrenched in this model, rethinking ‘how we structure church’ is painful. it threatens our position.

we have attempted to migrate towards a more relevant model by using the term ‘team.’ however, i wonder if this term is just laced over a structure that has not changed? is the ‘team leader’ serving as a team coach, team owner, or team captain? there is a huge difference. and, are team members really ‘equals’ or just hirelings?

 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Opportunity Lost?

26 Nov

Since its inception, the Christian church has been a bastion of faith, hope, as well as controversy. It survived immediate intense persecution, survived the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, the Holy Wars, but still experienced great revival and growth. Nevertheless, what about the 21st Century? What future might the Church face in ten years, thirty years, fifty years? Will its current institutions and structures keep up with hyper-change? Will its large congregations dissolve into smaller groups reminiscent of the apostolic age?

From Bible prophecy, we know the end . . . we even know some of the detail leading to the end of the world. But, what about the years preceding that fulfillment? What is the responsibility of the Church to engage the future? For the sake of argument, step away from Bible prophecy. Look at the Church as an organization (which it is) and engage in futures thinking as one who wants it to be viable, sustainable, growing, and effective.  

Dr. James Canton, renowned futurist and author, makes an unsettling statement when listing his ten top threats that could kill America’s future. Number one on his list is “religious fundamentalism that is intolerant and restricts personal freedoms” (Canton, 2006, p.337). Does this “threat” include Christians who disagree with certain lifestyles, the taking of innocent human life, or caution against genetic and biometric engineering that alters the human species? If this moves forward and there is backlash against Christian morals, would the Church be prepared to alter the way it is structured, the way we worship, associate, and evangelize?

I present for your consideration one of many tools your organization can use to prepare itself for the future. This is not an in-depth presentation of futures thinking but a wake-up call to us, the Church of Jesus Christ. Uncertainty is our reality. Preparing for uncertainty is our responsibility.

Scenario planning is a formal disciplined methodology consisting of a four-tiered eighteen-step approach. This is not looking into a crystal ball. This is not coming up with generalized views of feared or desired futures, or predictions. Scenarios are clear descriptions of significant plausible alternative futures. They are specific “decision-focused” views of the future resulting from insightful analysis and predictions. They are “frameworks for structuring leaders’ perceptions about alternative future environments in which decisions might be played out” (Ralston et. al., 2006, p.16).

To benefit from this tool, Ralston and Wilson (2006) present the following explanation to their definition helpful advice for anyone who wants to prepare the Church for uncertainty:

  • scenarios are frameworks for structuring – in the context of planning, scenarios have a specific purposeful role. They are carefully defined explorations of the future that planning must address and strategy will need to deal with. The structure of the scenarios (stories) must be tight enough to give discipline, coherence, and relevance to the final project yet loose enough to be able to embrace creativity, and at times, unconventional insights.
  • leaders’ perceptions – since scenarios are intended to be used as key frameworks for strategy development, they must reflect the thinking of those who will ultimately be responsible for developing and executing the strategies. As such, the decision makers must understand and accept the reasoning that led to the development and selection of the scenarios; ownership is paramount.
  • about alternative future environments – it is important to establish a set of scenarios, not just one. Since we are dealing with an uncertain future, developing a number of scenarios enables us to develop strategies that could be implemented if any number of different events occurred. Our objective is to determine the possible futures, envision the probable but enhance the prospect of our preferable futures.
  • in which their decisions might be played out – the scenarios are to be used in the strategy-development process, thus need to be decision focused. As such, the plausible stories (scenarios) generated by this exercise need to concentrate on key trends and forces that are needed to address and execute decisions (Ralston et. al., 2006).

 

What if the federal government passed legislation eliminating the tax-free benefit to religious organizations? Would church buildings close because of the tax burden? Would contributions decrease since there is no longer a charitable giving deduction provided? What if youth visually received the internet as a live feed via their corneas?

What would happen to those engaged in the emerging cyperchurch? Would the millions Christian pollster and sociologist George Barna predicted would never travel physically to church but instead roam the Internet in search of meaningful spiritual experiences (Careaga, 1999), suddenly dissolve into cyberspace? Remember, the scenario model’s limitation is hindered only by the imagination, or lack of imagination, following insightful analysis.

The church stands at a critical time in its existence. The world is experiencing incredible, fundamental changes. The future is uncertain and preparing for uncertainties has not been an exercise typically engaged in by the church. We must enhance our ability to observe, record, and analyze the changing patterns of the world around us. We must adapt principles that strive to answer the question “what if” (Schultz, 1996).

Whether we derive these patterns of change through quantitative or qualitative research, we identify these possible outcomes as scenarios, alternative images of the future. Futures studies is a transdisciplinary, systems-science-based approach that involves analyzing patters of change in the past, identifying trends of change in the present, and extrapolating alternative scenarios of possible change in the future in order to help us create the futures we most desire. It does not make predictions. We only know there are not future facts and that tomorrow will be nothing like today (Schultz, 2002). In twenty years, what will your “religious experience” look like?

Resources:
Careaga, Andrew 1999; Embracing the Cyperchurch. Next-wave.org (http://next-wave.org/Dec99/embracing­the_cyperchurch.htm) accessed June 6, 2008.
Canton, James; The Extreme Future. New York; Dutton, 2006.
Goodmanson, D. 2006; Five Trends for the Future of Church Planting. http://www.goodmanson.com/2006-08/26/five-trends-for-the-future-of-church-planting/ accessed June 8, 2008.
Jones, Andrew, 2008; Linking to CyberChurch. RelevantMagazine.com. accessed June 7, 2008.
Prescott, David 2001; The Christian Church: Engaging the Future. The Center for Progressive Christianity web site (http://www.tcpc.org/) accessed June 12, 2008.
McLaren, Brian 2006; Seminary 2050. Christian Century. February, p.22-8.
Neilson, Gary L., Martin, Karla L., and Powers, Elizabeth 2008; The Secrets of Successful Strategy Execution. Harvard Business Review. June, p.61-70.
Ralston, Bill and Wilson, Ian; The Scenario Planning Handbook: Developing Strategies in Uncertain Times. Crawfordsville; Thompson, 2006.
Schultz, Wendy; Thinking, Intuiting, and Imagining the Future. Adapted from chapter five of Futures Fluency: Explorations in Leadership, Vision, and Creativity – Defining Futures Fluency, 1995.
Schultz, Wendy 2002; Futures Studies: An Overview of Basic Concepts. Infinite Futures. Fulbright Lecture, Finland Futures Research Centre (http://www.infinitefutures.com).
Stewart, Thomas A. 2008; Tools for Change. Harvard Business Review. June, p.14.
Uebbing, James J. 2002; Christianity & Crisis. Commonwealth. September, p. 31-4.
 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

Rest: An Essential Component for Leadership Success

26 Nov

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest”1

In his 1976 publication titled A Man Called Intrepid, William Stevenson describes a WW2 event where Adolph Hitler, just before launching an attack against the Soviet Union in 1941, arranged for Stalin to see forged documents that indicated his own officers were conspiring against him. Gripped by paranoia, Stalin executed or imprisoned 35,000 top officers – over half the Russian officer corps. When Germany launched its attack, the Russian army suffered staggering casualties and defeats. Hitler understood that when an army loses its officers (leaders), disaster is just around the corner.2

This story is a poignant illustration of what can happen in any organization when leaders leave. A similar disaster is occurring in the Church today. Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries, provides some startling statistics: 23 percent of all current pastors in the United States have been fired or forced to resign in the past; 34 percent of pastors presently serve congregations that forced their previous pastor to resign; the average pastoral career lasts only fourteen years – less than half of what it was not long ago; 25 percent of the churches in one survey reported conflict in the previous five years that was serious enough to have a lasting impact on congregational life; and, 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the United States because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure.3

These shocking statistics indicate there are thousands of churches weak and vulnerable to spiritual attack because of an absence of leadership.4 Although conflict, burnout, and moral failure are each major topics that need to be addressed, we will concentrate on the topic of rest as a deterrent to burnout. We need to remind ourselves that God instituted rest for our benefit and, subsequently, for the benefit of those we lead. 

Biblical Imperative

We know the standard and may have even preached it; “six days of work followed by one of rest.” This principle is inter-woven deep throughout the fabric of Scripture.5 Beginning with creation,6 during the exodus of Israel through the wilderness,7 and into New Testament times,8 this provision for man has remained constant. This Sabbath command for rest9 is not, as some would want to believe, a suggestion. However, while we wholeheartedly embrace all of God’s directives, we have a tendency to place this one on the ‘back burner’ for the sake of the ministry.

While we are more familiar with the Sabbath day command given in Exodus 20 where the pattern of six work days is followed by a day of rest (as demonstrated by God during creation), Bass (2005) reminds us of the Deuteronomy 5:12-15 account where the command is given to observe the Sabbath. This account correlates to the experience of Israel’s release from Egyptian bondage. This day is offers time for reflection, of remembrance. While in captivity, Israel was a slave to Egyptian rule and could not take a day of rest. Now free, this seventh day provides time to rest and remember the creation and the liberation from slavery. In Jewish tradition, the creation emphasized the holiness of God; the liberation from slavery represents social justice.10

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders continually looked for opportunities to discredit him. On numerous occasions, they challenged Jesus about how he observed the Sabbath law. During an interchange recorded in Mark 2:27, Jesus makes an intriguing retort, “The Sabbath was made for the man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Jesus is clarifying for them that God did not intend the Sabbath to be an imposition upon man; man was not to be restrained by the law and kept from doing that which is good. In fact, in Matthew 12:12, Jesus says, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is designed to be an advantage to man. God has regard for our bodies but much more regard for our souls. Thus, he provides this respite as an opportunity for our bodies to rest/recover from work, for our spirits to be renewed, and for us to celebrate the goodness of God.11

The writer of Hebrews gives emphasis to the importance of rest in chapters three and four. He reminds the readers of Israel’s rebellion and sin against God, how they refused to trust God to bring them into the promise land and help them overcome its inhabitants.12 The author warns that this type of rebellion will prohibit them from entering into God’s rest, rest that includes relief from his (man’s) own work.13 This scripture specifically warns against committing the same sin (not believing in the life-sustaining presence of God) that the Israelites committed in the wilderness which resulted in their failure to enter into God’s rest. However, it also provides enough evidence for us to acknowledge the need for obedience concerning Sabbatical rest.14

 Our Reality

Leadership is stressful and research has shown the impact it has on the human body.15 If the body does not have opportunity to rest and renew itself, the resulting effects can be quite dramatic. Dr. Kenneth Greenspan, director of the Centre of Stress Related Disorders at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, claims that stress contributes to 90% of all diseases; over half of all visits to doctors are stress-related.16

Even with this realization, rest among leaders has become a casualty of achievement. In the quest for excellence, today’s leaders bring together an excessive amount of strategizing techniques, technological skills, and marketing methodologies to ensure their organization’s competitive advantage, yet ignore the need for rest.17 This fact is supported by Thornton (2007). He reports that the average number of daily work hours for Americans has actually increased by 14.5% over the past eight years, from 40.1 hours per workweek to 46 hours. Among American leaders, the increase is more dramatic; an increase of 22%, from 45.9 to 56 hours per week,18 leaving very little time for rest.

For a pastor, particularly those who minister in smaller churches where they may be the only paid clergy, the 24/7/365 expectation of availability is overwhelming. Furthermore, many pastors with smaller congregations often must supplement their income by working outside the church.19 This compounding pressure to provide sufficient pastoral care and financial support for their family can become a major obstacle to rest. Whether deliberate or overlooked, the failure to allow for rest and renewal of the body, mind, and spirit has significant negative consequences for the pastor, his family, and the congregation.

There are a many reasons pastoral ministry is so stressful. They are as unique and numerous as there are pastors. However, in his article titled Stress and Burnout in Ministry, Croucher (nd) lists some researchers agree are major problem areas. They include: the disparity between expectations (idealistic) and reality; lack of clearly defined boundaries – tasks never completed; workaholism – the ‘bed-at-the-church syndrome’; the conflict associated with being a leader and a servant at the same time; intangibility – ‘How do I know I’m accomplishing anything?’; confusion of role identity with self image – pastors derive too much self-esteem from what they do which too often leads to narcissism and ego-centrism; time management problems, including  difficulty managing interruptions; inability to produce ‘win-win’ conflict resolution and preoccupation with ‘playing it safe’ to avoid enraging powerful parishioners; and, loneliness – the pastor is less likely to have a close friend than any other person in the community.20

The revelation of the number of pastors suffering from burnout due to stress, those who have experienced conflict, or those who have succumbed to moral failure is astounding.21 Although we see a direct correlation between stress, rest, and burnout, and although I cannot support the following, is it possible that Church conflict could be better resolved if the pastor received adequate rest and renewal? Could it also be possible that a pastor, who has adequate time for rest and renewal, will have a better chance to resist temptations to engage in immoral activities? 

Our Response

Bass (2005) makes a compelling statement during the close of her article. She writes, “Mastering the practice of Sabbath keeping in this life is not the aim of Christian formation in and for the Sabbath. The aim is to know the grace of God in Christ, through grateful acceptance of a gracious practice that has been borne by a living tradition to a culture that sorely needs it. Yet even in accepting it, contemporary Christians will experience as well the truth of Augustine’s ancient testimony to God: “. . . our hearts are restless until they rest in you.””22 

In view of this, our response must be active, not passive. Numerous articles have been written with compelling titles; Lessons in Leadership: Rest or Fail,23 Rest: A Leadership Imperative,24 Recognizing, Preventing Employee Burnout,25 Beat the Burnout,26 A Sabbath Sensibility: Time Out,27 Reclaimed by Sabbath Rest,28 The Modern Pastor and Burn-Out.29 These are but a few written on the necessity of leadership rest. Although each author provides his/her own observations and recommendations, they are unanimous in their declaration that rest is essential for leadership success.

From a business perspective, rest is counter-culture in this 24/7 global economy. However, it is a fundamental attribute of effective leadership. Although we recognize the need for rest, many of us sabotage our own success when we fail to leverage it into our lifestyles. We succumb to the same demise Israel did when they realized the need for rest but ignored it; we just chose to ride our own contemporary horses. Isaiah 30:15-16 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!”30

Unless rest is a scheduled and maintained discipline, burnout and ultimate failure is inevitable. We, as leaders, must realize that there is a lot at stake when we fail to observe Sabbath rest. In the end, we will personally suffer incredible loss, but so will our families, our churches, and other community partners that we can no longer serve effectively when we burn out. Part of what turns good leaders into great leaders is the self-realization that we are creatures capable of renewal through rest. If we ignore this, every position we occupy and every relationship will suffer. Remember, prevention is always less expensive and less detrimental than treatment and attempts at recovery.31 Lastly, observing Sabbath rest affirms that God remains Lord over all our time.32 

End Notes
1Author unknown, accessed February 2009 at:   http://thinkexist.com/quotation/
sometimes_the
_ most_urgent_thing_you_can_possibly/182947.html.
2Stevenson, William A Man Called Intrepid. Ballantine Books, New York, 1976, p. 36.
3Although provided in Sande’s article, this author accessed each report to verify accuracy –accessed February 2009. Reference Sande, Ken; Strike the Shepherd – Losing Pastors in the Church. http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b= 1084263&content_id=%7B7A3375ED-91B4-4CC9-91D0-228B9375D2C2%7D&notoc=1.
4Sande, Ken; Strike the Shepherd – Losing Pastors in the Church. Accessed February 2009 at:http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b=1084263&content_id=%7B7A3375ED-91B4-4CC9-91D0-228B9375D2C2%7D&notoc=1.
5Bass, Dorothy C. 2005; Christian Formation in and for Sabbath Rest. Interpretation. January, p. 25-37.
6Genesis 2:2
7Exodus 16
8Hebrews 4:9
9Exodus 20:8-11
10Bass, Dorothy C. 2005.
11Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, accessed February 2009 at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Mark.iii.html.
12Numbers 11-14.
13Hebrews 4:10.
14Gleason, Randall C. 2000; The Old Testament Background of Rest in Hebrews 3:7 – 4:11. Bibliotheca Sacra. July-Sept., p. 281-303.
15McKee, Annie, Frances Johnson and Richard Massimilian 2006; Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion: A leader’s road map to renewal. Ivy Business Journal. May/June, p. 1-5.
16Croucher, Rowland (nd); Stress and Burnout in Ministry. Accessed February 2009 at: http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/forum/r_croucher/stress_burnout.html.
17Banks, Bonnie 2008; Rest: A Leadership Imperative. Leadership Advance OnLine. Issue XV, Winter, accessed February 2009 at: www.regent.edu.lao.
18Thornton, Grant 2007; Stress Levels in Emerging Economies Up. Accessed February 2009 at:                 http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/06/06/stories/2007060602830500.htm.
19Telephone survey conducted February 2009 with 25 Assembly of God churches numbering 100 or less congregants in the Northwest region of the United States. In 21 of the churches, the pastor worked outside the church to supplement the income received from the church. Of these 21 cases, 16 of the wives also worked to supplement the household income.
20 Croucher, Rowland (nd).
21Sande, Ken; accessed 2009.
22Bass, Dorothy C. 2005, p. 37.
23Hoomans, Joel 2009; Lessons in Leadership: Rest or Fail. Strategic Leadership Insights. Vol. 2, No. 1. Accessed February 2009 at: http://www.roberts.edu/Academics/AcademicDivisions/ BusinessManagement/msl/Community/Journal/LessonsinLeadershipRestorFail.htm.
24Banks, Bonnie 2008; Rest: A Leadership Imperative. Leadership Advance OnLine. Issue XV, Winter, accessed February 2009 at: www.regent.edu.lao.
25Atkinson, William 2005; Recognizing, Preventing Employee Burnout. Residential Design & Build. May, p. 46-50.
26Wong, Julie Pui 2007; Beat the Burnout. www.pmi.org. November, p. 26.
27Wirzba, Norman 2005; A Sabbath Sensibility: Time Out. Christian Century. July 12, p. 24-28.
28Sherman, Robert 2005; Reclaimed by Sabbath Rest. Interpretation. January, p. 38-50.
29Jones, Brian; Your Pastor’s Dirty Little Secret. Accessed February 2009 at: http://peopleoffaith.com/pastor-burnout.htm.
30Hoomans, Joel, 2009.
31Ibid.
32Sherman, Robert, 2005.
 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.

calling

25 Nov

john cotton, in his sermon titled ‘christian calling,’ gives three criteria for choosing a vocation. the top criterion is that ‘it be a warrantable calling, wherein we may not only aim at our own, but at the public good.’ the other criteria are that we are gifted for the job and guided toward it by God – criteria that would surely supersede cotton’s first one on most people’s list today. all who seek to follow Christ and to answer his call should pursue the key link between their giftedness and their calling . . . there is joy in fulfilling a calling that fits who we are and, like the pillar of cloud and fire, goes ahead of our lives to lead us.

but who are we? and what is our destiny? calling insists that the answer lies in God’s knowledge of what he has created us to be and where he is calling us to go. our gifts and destiny do not lie expressly in our parents’ wishes, our spouse’s wishes, our boss’s plans, our peer group’s pressures, our generation’s prospects, or our society’s demands. rather, we each need to know our own unique design, which is God’s design for us.
 
this compels us to reevaluate if there is disparity between our vocation and our calling. first and foremost, calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. and our second calling is to a vocation to which God has directed us and for which he has gifted us.
 
the compelling question is, ‘are you functioning in your calling?’ and while you are contemplating this, do not be distorted by the notion that there is the ‘perfect/higher life,’ found only in the spiritual,  and the ‘permitted/lower life’ found in the secular. your calling and vocation should be synonymous.
 
beware of those who make vocation different from calling. if vocation is ever distinguished from calling and used to refer to ‘clergy,’ it is a sure sign of the catholic distortion; if vocation is distinguished from calling and used to refer to employment and occupation, it betrays the presence of the protestant distortion. just because you wear the title of pastor or priest does not mean you are operating in the calling of God for your life. and just because you wear the title of homemaker does not mean you are not operating in the calling of God on your life.

                                   (reference os guinness’s book the call)

 

No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.