3 Church Culture Killers

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"Culture Trumps Vision" say's church growth guru Sam Chand. Oh, how Mr. Chand is right.

I often wonder about the common culture killers in church. Of course, if a churches culture is always fighting a vision, any leader would have a hard road ahead. Culture is created or allowed. It is a leaders responsibility to create their desired culture. Its hard, but it is necessary. Culture is definitely a choice.

Within every church culture, there are realms of influence that leaders cannot always control. If you are leading a church with high-capacity volunteers, one must trust that the key volunteer leaders are projecting the heart of the visionary. Healthy volunteers will create a healthy church culture. However, we all have those high-capacity volunteers that simply stray from the objective from time to time, and fight the culture you are trying to cultivate.

After a few conversations with close pastor friends, I have landed on three toxins of a healthy church culture. Of course, if the culture is not healthy, the vision will be killed.

Take time this month to do a check up on your staff/volunteer leaders to avoid these three culture killers.

Assuming | One our seven staff values that we live by at Cross Point is: Believe the Best. This is by far the most difficult to live out on a day-to-day basis. But it is necessary for our church culture to remain healthy.

Just like your church, we fight the tendency to assume the worst, rather than believe the best. This shows up on three fronts: 1. Staff 2. Volunteers 3. Members

As a staff, when we assume the worst about our co-laborers, we are in essence saying, "I do not believe that you have the churches best interest, nor mine." This is dangerous, and of course, toxic.

You as a leader must confront all assumptions with truth. Hear this: The truth is never the problem. Ever. If you speak truth to your staff, whether it is how you are genuinely feeling, or how you perceive a thing, truth can be the bridge that removes all assumptions.

Your staff and key volunteers must know that assumption has no place in the ministry. If they are aware that truth is the only context for church discussion, then your members will also trust the heart of the leaders. Assumptions will never die, but you can surely help get them closer to the grave.

Dishonor | To me, this is pretty simple. If your staff dishonors one another, it will trickle down quickly to volunteers and members. Instant problems will arise in all major decisions once honor is thwarted. We must honor the gift in front of us privately and publicly.

Honor is not in word only, but in action. Hear this: If you cannot discern the treasure, you do not deserve the gift. 

There is a heavenly treasure in your leader. Discern it and honor it. Do the same for those who labor among you.

Complaining | This dreadful toxin stems from the two above, assuming and dishonor. Complaining is easily accepted and overlooked, particularly if the people you are working with all have the same feelings or mistrust. It is imperative that you as a leader confront complaining. We all confront the issues differently based on our culture, but confront nonetheless, you should.

Allowing a complaining mouth into your culture is basically asking for a poisonous culture. It will spread, just as sure as leaven, it will spread and infect. Complainers find other complainers and complain together. Shut them down or they will shut you down.

Go after these three culture killers hard! Remove them before they kill your culture and trump your vision.

What are some of the culture killers you have experienced as a leader? 

 

Thanks to @kylereynoldsis for the quote "The Truth Is Never The Problem. 

3 Things To Look For Before You Take That Church Job

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For three years I stepped away from pastoring. It proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only for my personal life, but for my family experience. My wife and I learned to love one another again in a whole new way. I got to be a stay at home dad while developing church website as a means of income. Lot's of great things came out of our extended Sabbatical.

Once I was offered a position in our local church, I had a decision to make once more. Do I remain on a permanent or really extended Sabbatical, or do I move back into my sweet spot as a leader?

There was one determining factor: My wife. If she gave me the nod, I would take the plunge. She did, and here we are. We are both so happy.

There is a whole other blog for the info above, one I will share on another day, soon. However, getting back into ministry, particularly when you go headlong into a different church culture can prove to be less easy that one would hope.

For me, it was definitely not like ridding a bike. It was more like hopping on top of the swiftly moving Polar Express.

I remember my first staff meeting with all 42 employees of our multi-site church. I was in awe of the way culture, ministry expectations, and leadership strategies had morphed in only three years. Over my head? You betcha!

Of course, like any good seasoned preacher, I knew how to act my way through the newness of it all.

It has now been 9 months since I started my role as the Dickson Campus Pastor for Cross Point Community Church. Since December 9th of 2012 we have seen some remarkable things take place at our local campus. We have grown close to 200 people in 9 months. Our staff has increased in high-capacity volunteers for the areas that are not salaried at this point. And we are expanding by obtaining our own facility, as we are a mobile campus.

Overall, the Dickson Campus is experiencing tremendous growth, inside and out. Health is our goal, and we all know that healthy things grow.

There are many things to which I have had to adjust as it relates to my leadership style, old habits, and my time away from ministry. In light of this, I have complied a list of things that you might want to look for when coming back into full-time or part-time ministry.

Here are a few desirables that you should look for when stepping back into ministry.

Culture | The culture of your ministry can be summed up in one word: Personality. Your culture is the personality of your church. Once I came on staff at Cross Point, I had to adjust to a completely different culture than from when I stepped out of full-time ministry. Fortunately, I stepped into a healthy culture.

A healthy culture is a non-negotiable for me. I came out of politics, manipulation, and an egocentric world of celebrity and wannabe celebrity preachers. It was disgusting. Now to be clear, I have no problem with well know preachers as our pastor is very well know and influential. However, the way he conducts himself and fosters a church culture of humility, grace, and acceptance is unparalleled, by only a few.

If you are away from the ministry or taking an extended sabbatical, the wisest action you can take is to find a church that has a healthy, grace-filled church culture. If it feels sticky, it is. If it feels free and full of grace, marry it.

Sabbath | If your leader does not rest, neither will you. You must look for a church culture that honors some sort of sabbath day. Our day at Cross Point is Friday. It is a holy day. We disconnect from MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads so that we can connect with family and friends.

You are responsible for your own sabbath. No one else can make you shut off your phone  - well, maybe your spouse. However, you also need to shut off your brain as it relates to ministry. Did you know that it is ok to not think about church?

Find a rest day and rest. Just do it. Your life depends on your ability to rest and be refueled. If your leader does not rest, he will not lead you anywhere but to burnout. Get some rest, you deserve it.

Health | Spiritual and physical health are nonnegotiable's. Simply put, a great leader will invest in those he is leading. What does this look like on a practical level? It could be annual or semi-annual retreats for the staff. Maybe it is personal mentoring time with your leader. Health could be your leader holding you acceptable for your sabbath day. One of the best gifts our church offers is counseling for all employees. We are encouraged to go to a counselor on a regular basis, and yes, the church covers the bill.

Many of our staff members work out together on a regular basis. I am not sure what health looks like for you, but you are not going to last if health is not a priority for you.

Look for these three key areas before you say yes to your next job. Life and peace are dependent upon these three.

What are some of the attributes you look for in church leadership? What are some of your expectations as it relates to church leadership and staff? 

3 Partners of the Pastor

There are seasons of ministry, sometimes weeks or even months, that I have this ongoing nerve knott in the pit of my stomach. I hate that feeling. It keeps my mind racing when I am trying to read, pray, socialize and even sleep. My focus is dulled by the ever-present neurotic pulse.

Just like you, I have prayed, fasted, and asked others to pray for me to find relief. Sure, there are times when the inward tension is totally removed, but then there are those other days.

Thinking back over the last 15 years of ministry, I have found three companions that I do not think are strangers to called ones.  These three copious companions can also become three agents of momentum and change if we carry the proper perspective.

I want to confess that I am still learning to view the following displeasure through a healthier lens. Without a better perspective, I would live in constant, inward tension.

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Discomfort |  Unaware of how you have handled the discomforts of ministry, I want to be the first one to say that I hate them. What do I mean by discomforts? Inward pain, embarrassment, confrontation, opinionated people, etc. These are but a few of the many discomforts that you and I face in life and ministry.

Regardless of the type of discomfort, I am doing my best to lean into a better way of handling my response. Some time ago, I shared a blog correlating our pain and fear. Unless our pain is greater than our fear, we will be less likely to do something about the fear.

The same goes with our discomforts. The discomfort that we experience as leaders can actually become the means by which we move into a different way of living, thinking, and leading.

A few days ago, I went fishing with one of our faithful church members. Wearing my Keens is most comfortable until I step into a shallow spot in the water and tiny gravel get logged under my heel or in between my toes. Immediately I find somewhere to sit, take off my Keens, remove the gravel, place my shoe back on and move on with my day.

My discomfort made me stop… My discomfort made my sit… My discomfort made me adjust….

You see, I could just complain about the gravel or discomfort in my shoe, or I could make the necessary adjustments to continue on with my day.

If you are dealing with discomforts, just take a moment to stop, sit, and adjust.

Begin looking at your discomforts as a means to move or take action.

Pressure | Who among us today is new to this beast? No, not one…

We are all companions of pressure, if ministry is our career. This too is a discomfort we continually face. The pressure to become a better leader, pastor, and administrator is ever looming. The pressure to grow the church, personal ministry, and blog following is too much. Majority of the time we attend conferences, we leave feeling worse than when we arrived. There is pressure on every side.

On top of all the ministry pressure, there is the pressure to be a model spouse or parent. We try to lead our home while leading His church. That's a lot of responsibility… and pressure.

However, I think if we look at pressure as a means of helping us, it will allow us to lead through the pressurized times with a little less anxiety.

How can we do this?

First, go to counseling. No, not your best friend - but someone who has a totally unbiased perspective. This will allow you to see yourself through someone else's lens. It can be scary, but it can also save your life. Sometimes, we do not need anything more than a better perspective. This will allow us to better manage the pressures in life.

Pressure never leaves, it just gets managed on a healthier level.  

Secondly, just know that pressure gets easier, if you get wiser. I am convinced that the longer we are exposed to certain pressures, the more we are learning to handle it along the way.

After a while, you will discover that pressure becomes your friend. No, it's not fun, but pressure is necessary. The old truth remains: Diamonds are lumps of coal under immense pressure over an extended period of time. You are just a diamond in the making.

Interruption | A few days ago, a pastor sent to me this quote, "Ministry is a life of interruptions."

Oh, how true this statement. It's Friday, and you are getting ready to go out with your family for the day and then it happens… the cell phone begins to ring. You want to ignore it, but you have a Messiah complex. You have to see who is calling you in case they need you. You then do what you know is a no-no on your off day - you answer the phone. "Pastor, I just really need your help today…" You know the rest of the story.

Yes, there are times that people will come to the office without scheduling a meeting with you. There are times that people will call you with a genuine emergency and you have to drop your plans to tend to the sheep. Life in general is full of interruptions. However, when you are a pastor, everyone's interruptions can potentially become your interruptions.

How do you shut off the interruptions? You can't. But you can manage them!

Here are a few things I do to manage ministry interruptions.

  • I have a volunteer assistant vet all of my meeting requests and she also takes care of my schedule. I do not schedule things for myself… ever. She does this for me so that my time and family are protected.
  • I hold my Sabbath day as holy. Fridays are the day that Cross Point pastors rest. Unless someone is dying, I will not budge on this day for anything or anyone. I suggest you do the same.
  • There are times that I will have someone else help me with things that pop up, if I am extremely busy. There are people who want to be utilized in your church. Find them and allow them to help you pastor the people.
  • Here is the hardest one: I just say no. You cannot say yes to every request, but you can say no to the ones that are not a priority.

I hope this bit of information helps you free up your life. There are many things that we as pastor carry, however, there are healthier ways to carry those things that are permanent partners of ministry.

What are some ways that you handle ministry matters? 

3 Thoughts That Will Destroy You

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I grew up in a small town. This mindset was prominent in the churches in our area. There is the idea that exists in people's minds that goes something like this: "Because I support the local church financially I have authority in the life of the leader." In other words, "Don't you know that you work for me? I pay your salary."

There are a few things backwards about this way of thinking. 1. It's not in Scripture. 2. It's manipulation on the behalf of the church member. The list for this is much longer - but these two are most prominent in my mind.

We have to remember that this is not about us. This is ministry, not manipulation.

Good Is Good Enough 

Jim Collins said: "Good is the enemy of great". If you are going to do anything in the ministry, let me encourage you to do it with excellence. We are not asking for perfection - just excellence.

You Owe Me 

If ever there is a toxic mindset in the church, it's the "You owe me" mentality. Maybe this relates to the first one we discussed - "you work for me". This poisonous mindset is the brother of the first mind-set mentioned above. They walk hand in hand. Here are some examples of "You owe me".

"I gave you my time, what are going to do for me?"

"I deserve recognition for the hard work I have done at this church".

"I was one of the founding members of this church and I have the right to be heard".

"I am entitled to… ___________" Just fill in the blank.

The "you owe me" mindset will destroy your staff, your momentum, your finances, and your commitment. People who think like this still think that church is about them and for them. 

How do we avoid these? Here are 3 ways to avoid and address these poisonous thoughts in your volunteers and staff.  

  • Don't give up on people who are unhealthy. They can be taught how to be healthy. Give them a chance to correct the poisonous behavior. However, do not allow them to infect others. You must manage the wounded while bringing healing. Coach, teach, mentor, and align them with God's Word. 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Pray for discernment on when or how to remove people from leadership. If they are a volunteer, pray for wisdom and surround yourself with people of wisdom in how to address the toxic person. Once you get direction, move carefully in removing them from volunteering. Also, follow-up with them after you remove them to extend love. James 1:5
  • Good, solid, healthy teaching from the stage is essential. However, we cannot use the stage as a means of rebuke for one or two people. Others should not be hit by the shot meant for a few. We have to be more mature leaders than to do something like this. I have done this - and it profits nothing. However, we should be leading and teaching the desired values and vision to our local church, often. Vision corrects values. If we teach a healthy vision, values will align over time. We must be slow to anger, and slow to speak - particularly from out position on stage. James 1:19-20

How do you as a leader address these mindsets? Do you face them in your own life? If so, how do you deal with them personally?

 

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3 Key Elements To A Healthy Church Culture

culture

"Culture Trumps Vision" says Sam Chand. Oh how he is correct. As pastors we often tend to cast vision of great and lofty ideas and dreams. We diligently attempt to implement our vision into the church over a period of time. We also have the tendency to ask our staff to immediately buy in to that which we have dreamed up.

Before we discuss Chand's quote, let me pose a few questions.

  • How often do you vision cast?
  • Since the last time you chise to cast vision, what has been implemented successfully?
  • How much staff turnover have you experienced?

These are tough questions because all of these challenges are measurable. I remember the last time I chose to cast vision. I also know what I have implemented successfully, and that which never got off the ground. I also know the temperature of my staff and the turnover, whether on paid staff or volunteer basis. How? All of these things are measurable.

Vision has to be measurable. If vision is not measurable by the standards of those you are leading, they will easily be discouraged, lose focus, and possibly give up and quit.

So let's revisit Chand's quote. "Culture trumps vision". What does this mean? Let's take a look at more of Dr. Chand's words.

"Like a good consultant, I would probe and prod and create leadership architecture to facilitate the pastor’s vision—however both of us knew something was still amiss till one day… One day the invisible hit me—it wasn’t the vision, the mission, the core values, the facilities, the finances, the ministry programs etc—it was the toxic culture that created a quagmire and bogged down vision fulfillment. We need to understand what we mean by the term organizational culture. It is the personality of the church. My simple definition of church culture is: “this is how we do things here.”

"Culture is the personality of the church. This is how we do things here." (paraphrased)

These two simple sentences have made me think and rethink culture. Over the last few weeks as I have been growing and learning my new role at Cross Point,

I have given much attention to our staff culture. If my staff culture is not healthy, then so goes the church.

This is why we are working on three areas or cultural elements within our paid staff and volunteer staff. Love, Honor, and Grace. These three elements are key to where we need to grow at this current time. Let me give a simple definition for each.

  • Love - View each paid staffer or volunteer staff as whole person and believe the best regardless of others opinions.
  • Honor - Acknowledge the gifts that they posses. Respect and reward them privately and publicly.
  • Grace - Give to them unmerited favor; the same that you would want for yourself. When they fail, align yourself with their failure and bring great encouragement.

We can all have varying definitions of these three of the elements listed above. Regardless of how we define them, these are a good starting point for any staff.

Culture takes time to develop. But changing your church or staff culture has to be very intentional. You start with yourself, then your staff and go from there. Hear this: We DO culture, we don't only talk culture. Culture is intentional on the behalf of the leader.

Confront unhealthy culture with love and patience - but whatever you do - confront it. Do not allow toxic culture to exist in your presence. I will give you one example of how I have confronted toxic culture within the last month.

Due to transition, people have a lot of legitimate questions. However, within the church we often tend to go around the source of information to find someone else's opinion. I was in my office unbeknown to a volunteer. I overheard them speaking negatively about another to one of the staff members. I immediately got up from my desk chair and confronted this person. I killed gossip. The person apologized and said he realized what he was doing was not right. I took a moment to explain my insistence on not allowing toxic actions within staff. He completely understood.

He and I are still friends.

So my question for you today is this: What area(s) can you begin to write down that need a detox?

Once you have identified these key areas, begin to use the three elements above to help bring health to your church or staff culture. It will not happen over night, but it will happen. You may lose a few, but that's ok. It's good to let go of the toxins :)

Don't allow your church culture to trump your great vision. Your vision is worth more than that.

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Sam Chand's quoted text can be seen in full HERE on Dr. Dan Reiland's blog.

2 Reason Why I Love This Messy Church

Why do I love the church so much, even when she is a messy bride? I have a huge list of why I love the church, but I just want to share two things that immediately come to mind.

  1. The church is the pillar and ground of truth 1 Timothy 3:15 
  2.  The church does not belong to me, the church belongs to Jesus. Acts 20:28 

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Why are these two things important? Glad you asked.

Without a moral compass, such as the church, we will find that truth decays. Yes, we have many things we teach or have taught in error. However, teaching in error does not nullify those things which have held true since the inception of the church. Therefore, we must continue in truth as it is revealed to us by the Scriptures and the wondrous Holy Spirit.

The neat thing about this set up is that we do not own the church, but we grow the church. For some, this is difficult to grasp, for the rest of us this truth is sweet relief. We are happy to serve the church, but we could not pay the price for this bride.

Lastly, I would say that I love the church because Jesus loves the church. How can I not love that which He loves? Sure, the bride can be messy, but Jesus still loves us.

Continue serving the church. The churches mess becomes the message.

 

Posted on January 7, 2013 and filed under Church, Leading, Pastor.

5 Nobodies That Changed My Life pt. 5

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Some time back, I met with a bishop of a church from Alabama. Me, Amber, and Carson were having dinner with he and his wife after a series of web design meetings. I can't tell you want spurred the conversation, but we got on the subject of anxiety.

I asked this man a very vulnerable question. "Bishop, do you ever get nerves in your stomach that seem to never leave?" He smiled.

I said, "It's like I am nervous or feel pressure or my nerves are in my stomach all the time. I mean ALL the time. Since I was an older teenage boy I have had this feeling of nervousness or anxiety. I can't give you a reason as to why I feel this out of control, but it never leaves. Things in life can be perfect, but I am constantly nervous."

He responded with wisdom and kindness. He let me know that he had struggled with this same thing for over thirty years. He then said that I needed medication to remedy my problem.

This gave me relief and troubled me at the same time. My wife was relieved as she explained to him the severity of what she was observing. She told him that I had not been myself for some time and it had gotten really worse over the last few months.

Amber was right. I had turned into a jerk. Ok, I was an ass, I admit it.

He gave Amber instant comfort as he explained to her that there was hope and help for my situation. This gave me some peace as well.

He told me that he had suffered with this for a long time and that he had been on medication and that this medication has changed his life for the better. His son was sitting next to me. He agreed with his father quickly.

It was here at his dinner table that Bob Hellmann helped me make the decision to do something immediately about this anxiety...or whatever it was that had a grip on me.

That next Monday I made an appointment and had an evaluation with our primary care physician. I was happy to hear that I was not bi-polar or suicidal. I kinda knew that...but it is alway good to hear that you are NOT those things. I could handle a little depression - but bi-polar? It scared my deeply.

The doctor told me exactly the same thing that the Bob had shared. She diagnosed with GAD or General Anxiety Disorder. It is amazing that the diagnosis made me less nervous. Isn't it an ironic thing to be told you are somewhat crazy and this instantly calmed me? Maybe this was a part of my craziness. I digress.

My sense of humor is a little warped at times. So in Matt Wade fashion, I asked her if she had any pills that I could snort. She did not find that funny. Puzzling...

I also asked her if she had anything size of a hockey puck. She cracked a little smile on that one.

She was ready for me to leave, so she handed me a bag of samples. Those samples became my best little friends.

Image courtesy of the Hellmann Family

I have been on Lexipro 20mg for over three years now and I am better for it. Bob Hellmann chose to become vulnerable and transparent with me and Amber that day. Because of his care for me, Amber and I live in a lot more peace. I don't live with that ole knot in my stomach everyday.

I am so happy that I met Bob Hellmann. What I thought was a business deal turned into him getting into my business and changing my life.

Bob, you may not be a household name, but you are famous in me and Amber's life. We love you tons. Thanks for helping me in an odd place in life.

Posted on November 15, 2012 and filed under Blog Series, Church, Leading.

5 Nobodies That Changed My Life pt. 4

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When I was 19 years old I met a man who would forever impact the way that I do ministry. Louis Jones has been in my life in a very formal way for many years. We met in Anniston, AL in 1999.

I have traveled a great deal with Bishop Jones over the years. We have spent more time together praying than with anyone I know as it relates to preachers. He is good man with a heart from Jesus - like no other I have never known.

However, Louis has taught me some of the most fundamental principles of excellence that I still practice today in my everyday life and ministry. I want to share a couple of thoughts with you or instances where his example has impacted my present way of living.

First, whether we were in a hotel room or someones home we would always make the bed and clean up after ourselves. You have to understand that the ministry hosts often want to be able to serve you hand and foot. However, Louis taught me that we are not to be served, but we are here to serve. So, many times we would cook, clean, and serve the hosts.

Image Courtesy of the Jones Family

We never went into an airport bathroom and left the sink counters covered in water. We would never leave our hotel room in a mess. Our clothes may not have been expensive, but they were certainly not wrinkled.

Excellence permeated everything Louis touched. There may be many things that he wanted to teach me while we worked together, but the one thing that sticks with me today is his passion for excellence.

It doesn't have to be perfect, but it always has to be excellent.

So my challenge to you today is this: Iron your clothes, wipe off the counter, clean up your table, don't leave the hotel room a mess, keep your car tidy, and live excellent.

Louis Jones may not be a household name and he may not be famous,  but he is known in our house in a special way.

Thanks for giving your life to us Bishop. 

Posted on November 13, 2012 and filed under Blog Series, Leading.

5 Nobodies That Changed My Life pt. 3

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I've always had a few ladies in my life. This particular woman has been a mom to me for many years. I kinda think we adopted one another. Her son Adam and I are the closets of friends, almost 15 years.

Carol Drinkard is a pioneer. She planted and has pastored the same church for almost 40 years. Not only has she pastored the same church, she did it in a part of the country where women in leadership was frowned upon. It has always been taboo to be a woman pastor, but particularly in North Alabama. Regardless, she has much to teach us men about what it means to be faithful and steadfast in the face of church turmoil.

Carol is not only a role model for me, she is a mom. And as any mom will do, she knows how to give her children a good smacking when they do something that is out of Christ's character. Let me share with you one story.

A few years ago, close to 15 years - wow - I was preaching at her church, Bible Way in Fairview, AL. I was an egotistical windbag who only new a handful scriptures. But Carol knew the importance of training all of us young guys to be effective later in life, so she let us fail. Did you hear me? She allowed us to fail without making us feel like failures. 

Well, I spewed out some nonsense about a certain church group down the road to make a lame point. After service we all went out to eat - as any good church group would do. As we sat at dinner she leaned over and said she wanted to chat with me before I left to go back home.

After we had all said our goodbyes, instead of heading home, I decided to just go to her house to chat. So we all headed over to the Drinkard residence. As always, we laughed till we cried. But then that moment came where she said, "Son, before you go I want to talk with you about something. You know I love you and love your ministry. But I want to ask you to be careful about one thing. When you are preaching it is not wise for you say anything negative about other denominations or people that you may no agree with. There are all kinds of people from all sorts of denominations that we will minister to. We cannot be offensive to them due to our opinions. We must love them." I am sure I rolled my arrogant eyes.

15 years later I can appreciate her wisdom. There are times that I still state my opinion, and yet I still hear her "gentle voice" reminding me to "shut it." LOL

Oh how I wish I had her by side in every conversation. I would have missed a lot of hurt and embarrassment if she had physically been there. However, her words of wisdom and grace are ever on my heart in many conversations.

I love you Carol "mamma" Drinkard. You have raised up countless preachers who understand your wisdom now and we are all thankful. You may not be a household name, but to many of us you are more than famous.

For your entertainment: Mamma Carol does not like the word "fart". If you say fart, she will make you pay $1. I am serious. Trust me, we have all paid the toll.

So, Carol's email address is mcdrinkard@gmail.com I want you ALL to email her one word - FART. 
Posted on November 7, 2012 and filed under Blog Series, Church, Leading.

5 Nobodies That Changed My Life pt.2

Image Created By Matt Wade Like most kids, I wanted to be a great athlete. If you know me, you understand that this is far from my reality. Baseball is of course a great American pastime and it was the one sport that I felt confident enough to attempt playing. I was awful. I mean awful. There is not one athletic bone in my body. Music is my thing - tuba I can play. I also play piano pretty well. Baseball?…not a chance.

Regardless of my abilities, I wanted to play baseball. So my dad signed me up and I started the season. We needed a catcher, so I volunteered. I figured if someone was throwing the ball straight at my face I could catch it. I did pretty good.

One day, like most teams, we had a less than great practice. So coach had us take a lap or two around what seemed like the largest baseball field in the state. I didn't have time to take off my catchers gear, so I just took off running with it on. Here's the problem - I don't run. I probably should, but even when I was a kid I just didn't run a lot.

Image Courtesy of the Burr Family

I wanted to quit running so that my legs would cease to burn with the fires of hell. But I kept on chugging along. After we had finished exasperating ourselves, we collapsed on the outfield grass. Coach then looks at the team with utter disgust - as usual - as says, "If you guys are gonna win, you've gotta give it all you've got. But I do want to recognize a person who has been working really hard and pushing himself. And that person is Matt. Good job Matt, keep on working hard."

Those words have stuck with me for the last 20 years. Why? It is imperative that you find someone who feels as though he or she isn't good enough to be playing on the field of life and tell them "Good job, keep working hard." No, they are not profound words for most - but for me, to have my coach say to me that I had done a good job and to encourage me to keep working hard made such an impact on my mind that I still remember it this many years later.

Actions of edification will stick with a person through his or her life if the encouragement comes in a time of great need. I needed to feel like I was worth playing baseball. Even though I didn't improve my game much, I sure took off running as hard as I could whenever we had to take a lap.

Danny Burr may not be a household name, the world may label him a nobody because he wasn't rich or famous, but his encouragement made him a somebody to me...and a whole lot of other wanna be baseball players.

Thanks Coach Burr.

 

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Posted on November 1, 2012 and filed under Blog Series.

5 Nobodies That Changed My Life pt.1

This blog series is dedicated to those who are not household names, those that some would consider "nobodies", but to me, they are greats. These people changed my life. Enjoy part 1 of 5. Image Created By Matt Wade

When I was a teenage preacher, I got to preach at a lot of churches. I mean a lot. However, most of the time I would just come and go, say what I wanted to, and had little accountability in my life for the things that I would preach. I assume the pastors of those churches were just happy that I was done. I was a very legalistic young man. I thought that I actually had something to do with my salvation. Trust me, living in Grace is much easier.

I had the privilege of preaching at a church called the Quinton Church of God. As a young charismatic boy, I would go in and preach like there was no tomorrow. If I didn't sweat, I didn't feel like I really preached. I remember preaching at this church and I even remember the message that I attempted to preach. I was yelling about how David would live in the shadow of the Almighty and all of the things that go with dramatic, intense preaching.

Ever so often, for some reason I would use the phrase "I don't care". I assume I was saying something like, "I don't care what you have been through in your life, you will make it." Or, "I don't care if you don't like this type of preaching." Either way, I sounded like a jerk.

Well, after I had sweated enough and preached everything that I knew in the Bible it was time to go home. I thought that I would just collect my check and hit the door and hopefully get to come back and preach again some time. Not the case. The pastor asked me to come and sit with him for a few moments while the other people mingled. He began to share with me his thoughts about my message and appreciated my passion and even the content of some of the things that I was saying.

He then said, "Matt, there is something that you say in your preaching that is quite hurtful. You may not even realize that you are saying it, but it can come across very negative and hurtful." I looked at him as though he was an idiot. How dare he correct me. Doesn't he realize that I know everything? I mean I have already been preaching for one year. What can this old man teach me? Holy cow, I was such an egotistical idiot.

I acted as though I was interested or cared, so I allowed him to tell me what he wanted to say. He said to me, "Matt, you often say the words 'I don't care.' Those three words should never be in any message that you ever preach. It doesn't matter how you were saying them or their intention, it comes across as though you actually do not care and we as leaders must always care."

Have you ever left a meeting and felt as though you were 1 inch tall? I certainly did that day. I often feel small every time I think of the words "I don't care". Pastor Mark Brown gave me one of the greatest bits of wisdom that I've ever experienced in life. You see, you and I are called to care with every fiber of our being.

I have tried over the 15 plus years of my ministry to root out the words "I don't care". I have often failed. I'm so glad that preachers like Mark Brown can look past the immaturity and the ego of young preachers. If it had not been for men of God speaking into my life such as this, I could possibly still be saying, "I don't care".

If you know me, you know that I care. But I would hate for my words and my actions not to be aligned. So today, let us strip out the words "I don't care" from our vocabulary, especially if we are preachers. We do care.

Thank you Mark for teaching me that the context of my words matter more than my careless preaching.

 

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3 Lessons I Learned From Street Kids

Today's GUEST POST is from Sam Werner of Missions Manual. Enjoy. I used to work with street children. I could read, they couldn't. I could do math, they couldn't. I lived in a house, they didn't. None of those things made me better than them by any means. But, it put me in a position where I could help them. It put me in a position to lead.

I loved those kids. I wanted to help them. I wanted them to be off the streets, learning to read and write.

Being a leader means being privileged with special information that you're to pass on to others. Whether it's guiding someone through the alphabet or managing a group of people in a church, leading is a responsibility. It takes humility.

I learned 3 lessons while working with street kids.

1.  Give grace. Those street kids tried hard. They wanted to get off the street, but it's a struggle. They'd run away and come back several times.  I have no idea what they've been through. I can't grasp what their life was really like. They need patience. They need grace. I constantly needed to give them another chance. It's the least I could do.

2.  Have fun. If I set rules, they'd break them. They first need to trust. If I bark rules at them without building some kind of relationship, the rules would be meaningless. They need to know that the rules are for their protection. And they need to trust me that I want to protect them.

One way to build trust is to have fun. Fun helps us let down our guard. We learn to enjoy each other in the midst of having fun - we're become ourselves. It builds relationship when we're ourselves, when we're vulnerable with each other.

3.  It's not about the ministry. Yes, a house to rehabilitate street kids is important. But the kids are more important than the house. If I'd get caught in meaningless errands for the ministry and not spend face time with the kids, I'd lose perspective. People should always come before the ministry.

I've come across a lot of leaders in my life. I try to glean from the good ones and learn from the bad ones. But of all the leaders I've worked under none taught me as much as those kids. I learned that my responsibility as leader in that ministry was more of a privilege than a right. I learned that leading is more about learning, more about serving than anything else.

Sam and his wife, Ana, have served in several missions organizations. YWAM, IHOP, Iris Ministries, and Bethel Church in Redding, California are some of the places they've learned about missions and ministry. God has used them in children's ministry, technology, healing prayer, and in everything practical that comes along with ministry. Their heart is to serve and see God move in the nations.  
Sam shares his experiences on his website MissionsManual.com. You can connect with him on facebook & twitter.
Posted on August 9, 2012 and filed under Guest Posts.

10 Things I Like, 10 Things I Dislike

I enjoy reading things about people who I have never met. Particularly when they write about things that they enjoy or that for which they do not care. So, I wanted to share with my readers 10 things I like and 10 things I dislike. I hope you enjoy my lists. I like lists. I dislike long, drawn out blogs. Wait, we are not to that part yet.

Image by wordans

Here we go, in no particular order.

My likes:

  1. I like drinking coffee in silence with the same cup each day.
  2. I like the way freshly cut grass smells.
  3. I like presidential things.
  4. I like shallow streams and rivers.
  5. I like watching the shows Friends and Andy Griffith - a lot.
  6. I like anything Apple Inc. creates - whether I need it or not.
  7. I like watching my son sleep.
  8. I like writing while listening to Explosions in the Sky
  9. I like my church and pastor.
  10. I like attending Drum Corp Intl. events. I go every year.

My dislikes:

  1. I dislike that my wife dislikes Andy Griffith.
  2. I dislike religion and politics even though I believe in Jesus and America.
  3. I dislike that some churches/people often make gay people feel awful and alienated.
  4. I dislike how people use FB & Twitter to wound others.
  5. I dislike Microsoft products although I have to use some of them.
  6. I dislike politics. Have I mentioned this already? Sorry.
  7. I dislike churches/people who place undue pressure on pastors to be perfect and refuse to accept and embrace the humanity of their leader when they expect their leaders to love them as they are.
  8. I dislike spicy food that burns my mouth.
  9. I dislike when people are late to anything. (e.g. church, coffee, meeting, etc.)
  10. I dislike condemnation, guilt, judgement, or the likes from anything considered Christian.

Discuss Question: If you had a list, would you share it with us all? Please do in the comment section of this blog.

3 Reasons I Have Lied

Today is Transparent Tuesday. So of course I am going to share my mess with you all. First a quote: "He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions." THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 19, 1785

Here Are 3 Reasons I Have Lied:

  1. It was easier than telling the truth in that moment. This is a temporal fix. It always caught up with me.
  2. I would have lost something had I not told a lie. This is a selfish posture.
  3. I would have caused grief in another's heart by telling the truth. Hiding the truth from someone when you possess it is equal to lying.

None of these reasons will ever redeem lost integrity. Giving a reason does not hold the same power as redemption.

Make a choice to tell the truth. I have - even if it is uncomfortable, potential loss, or grief. 

10 Ways I've Treated My Wife Like A Dog

mamber_blog

Sometimes I get asked, "Matt, why do you write about things like this?" My response is generally the same each time. I want to help prevent other leaders from doing the same things in their life and ministry as I have done. So, below is a bit of our story. In 2003, I somehow convinced Amber to marry me. I guess it was my humor -  cause I had no money nor looks.

Either way she married me and I am glad.

During our first 4 years of marriage there were ten awful actions that I did that could have ruined my wife forever as well as our marriage. I want to share them with you now.

Here are the 10 Ways I Treated My Wife Like A Dog
  1. I tried to force her into the model preachers wife. I expected her to dress and act or present herself in a certain way.
  2. I treated my church members better than I treated her. I gave them my time, money, and heart. She got the left overs.
  3. After we left the pastorate, I pressured her to attend a church in which she did not want to be a apart.
  4. I pressured her to speak publicly. She would get nauseated. I didn't care.
  5. I brought home the issues, sin, struggles, and bad decisions I made as a leader and dumped it on her and never took responsibility for my own actions.
  6. I constantly criticized her for not "supporting me" in the ministry.
  7. I lashed out at her for questioning my judgement on ministry and money matters. We got into debt.
  8. I abused her paycheck and work ethic.
  9. I caused her to be bitter toward the ministry and the church. She has recovered thanks to me changing, time, and our local church. 
  10. I moved her 5 times in the first 5 years of marriage. I'm just glad one of those moves was not her moving out.

Before you send a lynch mob to Nashville, know this: I am a totally different man. That old guy does not even exist. I promise that he is dead and we are glad. 

I have made the following decisions in my life for the sake of Jesus and marriage: (These correlate to the ten things above)

  1. She is not a preachers wife. She is an individual with hopes, dreams, and life of her own. She is my best friend and lover. She is also an incredible nurse.
  2. I will never give the church a place higher that I place my wife. The church has survived 2000 years without me and will do just fine with or without me. But, I must be a husband committed to serving my wife and son first.
  3. If she chooses to never go to church again - I will love her and probably stay home with her from time to time. Thankfully, she loves to attend again.
  4. She will never be asked to even answer my phone if she doest want to speak.
  5. My past sin, struggles, and bad decisions as an individual and leader are between me and Jesus. She is not my dumping ground. The cross is the place for those things.
  6. She was then and still is today the greatest support system a human could need or want in life and ministry. I would not be in the ministry today if it were not for my godly wife. She rescued me from religion ans self-destruction.
  7. I go to her now for discernment on most matters.
  8. I respect and adhere to our budget. I also own my own business and work.
  9. Through much forgiveness, prayer, and going to an incredible church - we are both in the healthiest place of our lives. I do not want the greatest entity that has hit planet earth (THE CHURCH) to be the one thing that breaks my wife's heart ever again.
  10. We are in Nashville and we are staying here. The only way we move is if we are both in agreement to do this for the sake of our livelihood or our son.

Leaders, don't treat your spouse like a dog you can kick around. They are your partner for life. They are yours forever; a gift from the Lord Jesus.

If I  were to write a letter to Amber and allow you read it this is what it would say:

Dear Mamber,

You have healed me from religion. You have rescued my life from destructive and ridiculous thought patterns. You have been the only steady thing in my life. You should have left -  I am so glad you didn't. I am forever indebted/committed to you. I will always be faithful and never waver in our marriage covenant.

I am wildly in love with you and I thank you for sticking around. Thanks for your unreal patience with my process of change and repentance. Thank you for not withholding forgiveness when I ask for it. Thanks for always making me feel special even when I fail. I fail more that not. You are always there to help me keep going.

A wife is supposed to be a helper. You are so much more. You are a sustainer. You are still my girlfriend, pal, and hot date.

Also, thanks for our red-headed son. He is perfect - just like you.

Your mess of a husband, Matt

Two things you should know: I tell her these things all the time, not just on a blog. And, Mamber is her nickname.  It's a combination of Matt & Amber  -  Mamber

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10 Reasons I Write For You

A few days ago a man asked me, "Why do you write about issues that are so sensitive to the church, particularly to leadership?"

My response is simple: "Because I have to."

I want to share 10 Reasons Why I Write for the Hurting Leader
  1. I care about you deeply.
  2. I believe that your life and ministry are not over.
  3. I have been hurt like many of you and have made it back to a healthy place in life and ministry.
  4. I believe that you are worth it.
  5. I understand that you need a voice.
  6. I also realize that you are a voice to other hurting leaders.
  7. I don't want you to ever feel alone again.
  8. I want to dialogue about the real issues with you.
  9. I want to provide a safe community for leaders.
  10. I don't want you to quit.
Matt Human Like You
Posted on August 31, 2011 and filed under Being Human, Leading, Musings.

10 Reasons Why You Should Not Be A Pastor pt. 2

Yesterdays blog "10 Reasons Why You Should Not Be A Pastor" incited some strong feelings with many. Although this was never my intention, I am glad that there was some attention to the matter. It is an important and undiscussed issue. May I clarify a few things?

As I stated in yesterdays blog - I am not suggesting in any way that small churches are not legitimate or needed. They are. Period.

I merely used a reference to small churches who struggle DUE to a small leader who is functioning in the wrong capacity in ministry.

I am also not suggesting that a pastor who is in a season of struggle, dryness, or financial instability should quit the pastorate. Neither am I suggesting that this makes them illegitimate or unqualified as a leader. We all struggle. We all fail.

However, there are many men and women of whom I am aquatinted or know personally that need to reevaluate his or her call to the ministry. This is not an insult to you or the people of whom I speak, but a rescue statement.

If I see someone drowning, I am not going to let them drown even if they wanted to die. I am going in after them...to save them. To rescue them.

The same principle applies here: If I see an acquaintance, or a friend who is about to launch any type of ministry that he or she has no business attempting, I am going to step in and yell "DON'T DO IT, ITS NOT WIORTH IT"!  The same applies to anyone who is trying to pastor and has no call to do so. Why not stop the madness while you can?

My question is this: Do you not feel this same sense of responsibility?  Many of us started out with a pure zeal for God. Somehow that zeal got flipped upside down through all the politics, competition, ego, and identity crisis in ministry.

Part of the mission of Human Like You is to bring to light the lies that religion, people, or the enemy has placed on many lives. We just want you and others to be free from anything that stifles the call of God. This could even mean leaving your current ministry position to find the ONE thing in life that you are truly called to fulfill. 

Our team is here to help guide you. If you need to chat, please email us to initiate new possibilities. EMAIL

Posted on July 26, 2011 and filed under Being Human, Leading.

10 Reasons To Not Be A Pastor

Here is a confession: I was one of those guys who had no business trying to pastor a church or at least not the way I chose to do it. So, I wanted to list 10 reasons why you should NOT pastor a church.1. If you use the church as a financial base for your personal life. 2. If your church becomes a platform for your ego and self promotion. 3. If you are not impacting your local community for Christ on a regular basis. 4. If you are constantly having to raise money to pay for your building, electricity, car, housing allowance, water, garbage, etc. 5. If your idea of vision is "getting those people to do what you say". 6. If the turnover rate with attendees, staff, etc is a consistent problem based on poor leadership. 7. If you have seen no substantial spiritual or numerical growth in two years or more. (The church was created with multiplication in mind.) 8. If there are new church plants around you that are growing and succeeding. 9. If you refuse to partner with other leaders in your area because you would not be in charge or get recognition for the project 10. If you think your vision is THE vision for your area.

This is not about small churches. This is about small leaders.

Many small churches are important and needed in their communities. However, there are many "pop corn" churches that open for all the wrong reasons. Here are my recommendations and what one should initiate immediately: 1. Find a legitimate, active, caring church around you - REGARDLESS of size and partner with them. 2. Put your building up for sale to initiate the alleviation financial pressure. 3. Submit to a pastor, life coach, counselor, or whomever that can help refine your calling. 4. Humble yourself and pray for direction. 5. Release those precious sheep to a leader who can help them and heal them. 6. FInd a job and work like a normal human being. 7. Realize that the church has survived for 2000 without you. It will be alright in your absence. 8. Focus on your marriage and your children and personal development. 9. Get a budget for your new financial life. 10. Possibly go back to school. Online, or on campus. This will help define your calling or redefine your calling.

Do you know that it is ok to STOP doing the wrong thing?

The people that you are trying to lead will be thankful in the long run. They may be hurt and frustrated in the beginning, but they will appreciate the alleviated pressure. Let me ask you this again…

Do you understand that it is ok to STOP doing the wrong thing?

I stopped. I am happier for it. So is my wife. We are glad that our son will never have to experience that kind of church or leadership.

More on this tomorrow

Posted on July 25, 2011 and filed under Being Human, Confessions, Leading.

3+ 3-

Me, Amber, and Carson had a wonderful time on vacation with our great friends (Carson's god parents) Adam & Brianne Drinkard. Ohio is definitely not a normal place to vacation, but we had rather be with friends than on the beach by ourselves. While on this vacation I did NOTHING to enhance my spiritual life. This may be an odd statement, but I really just wanted to do nothing. But in reality, being with friends is a spiritual matter. We cannot and will not flee spiritual growth or death. We are going to succeed in one or the other.

Fortunately, I did not realize that I had been "set up" to grow. The Lord had something else in mind for this vacation.

Here are 3 positive things and three negative things that I learned about myself while on vacation.

I will begin with the positives for ego sake.

1+ I have an ability to make people laugh. This makes good for a ministry geared for leaders who are under a lot of stress. 2+ I love to give people whatever I have. 3+ Ok, maybe there are only two...

The Negatives:

1- I am overbearing with my opinions and need brokenness in this area. 2- It is hard for me to allow others to be right regardless of what is right or wrong. 3- There are times that I foster a climate of tension without knowing it.

ONE MORE? Since I did not have a third positive, I will make up for it and share one more negative

4- I only become the guy described above when I am around those to whom I feel superior.

While on vacation, I have made the decision to NOT-BE-THAT-GUY-ANYMORE. He started dying on the way back to Nashville.

Do you have some positives and negatives that you can immediately identify? If so, thats good. BUT, identifying them is the beginning. We must not merely identify potentially harmful characteristics, we must die to them.

Posted on June 21, 2011 and filed under Being Human, Confessions.

3 of My Failures As a Leader

Failure-Is-Not-Final1

I have always aspired to be a great leader. Who would really dream of being mediocre? The problem with leading is this: You can fail.

Failure is a subject that has been written about countless times, so I will not attempt that here. However, I did want to share three areas in which I have "failed successfully".

1. The Lone Ranger

I have the tendency to say things like this:

I can get it done better than someone else. I am more creative, quicker in work procedures, and know exactly what I want in the outcome. I will just do it myself.

"BY MYSELF" is exactly where I ended up in the failed project. The arrogance of the statement above is a sure death to a dream and ultimately death to the actual project.

2. This is a great idea

I have a lot of great ideas. But I also have a lot of forgettable ideas. Let me say it bluntly: I've had a lot of stupid ideas that only I thought were great. It is essential to your success that you surround yourself with others who will bring a lot of reality into your dreamy idea.

3. I trust you

These three words have been spoken as a means to comfort the one speaking those words. Here is a confession to you: If I verbalize my trust in you, it is probably because I DO NOT TRUST YOU. So, I lie. The lie is not to you per say - it is to myself.

This seems to be a trend in a lot people that I know. We say things out loud to try to convince ourselves of what we have spoken. I am happy to say that I have ended this trend in my life. I simply choose to trust those around me or not connect at all.

The fact is this: Trust is something you do, not something you say.

Find people that you can trust - not because you "feel it" but because they have a reputation for being trusted.

I have made many adjustments in my heart and mind over the past two years. Learning to trust has been difficult. It has also shown me ways in which to gain and give trust to others and experience loyalty as a team.

Here are a few ways to ensure loyalty with others: 1. Respect their gifting and services by compensating them well. 2. Be transparent with those around you. Allow them to see your humanity. 3. Promote their services to others.

Question: What are some ways in which you have learned from your failures as a leader?

 

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Posted on May 20, 2011 and filed under Leading.