Questions & Answers on Leadership Issues

This month, I’ve preached on the topic of leadership. I’ve preached it on because I believe that in the Bible, after the Bible, in leadership positions and without leadership positions, God uses leaders. If we see a problem in the world, we should pray for our leaders, pray that God will raise up leaders, and consider leading.

Anyone can be a leader. We just need a vision of what needs to be done and the wisdom to explain it to people, do the hard things that are necessary to get there, meet people where they are, and remember that it’s a process.

In all of this, we can be assured of God’s great promise to those whom He calls to lead, “I will be with you.”

Several people in my congregation asked me questions about leadership. You can listen to some of the questions and my replies here. You can read the questions and replies below.

What do you when people won’t follow you?
First, always ask first, what’s wrong with my leadership? before you ask, what’s wrong with my followers? Second, there are sometimes that we can’t lead people forward, and we have to recognize our own human limitations and give up. Third, there are some people we have to lead that are difficult to lead. Don’t give up. Keep praying, loving, and looking for ways to move the ball down the field. You never know when God may give a breakthrough!

What is leadership success?
You can look at leadership success in a couple of different ways. You can see success in terms of an objective, e.g., did I get people to the church to clean it before Sunday? In terms of the objective, sometimes you fail. It’s important to see that our value is not based on what we accomplish but on God’s value of us and desires to use us. That doesn’t change, even if we fail. Continue reading “Questions & Answers on Leadership Issues”

A Day at Neyland Stadium

Have you ever been to an SEC football game? It’s something to behold.

A year ago, I went to my first game–UT vs. Mizzou. It was an amazing experience. 100 points scored. The deafening cheers and the loud boos. United emotions all directed toward one object. You’re part of something that’s much bigger than yourself.

This year, I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I studied the ticket prices over and over, thinking over the dates. Could I afford it? What was a good day? A lot going on this fall.

Then, my good friend Jeremy Daley said he was going. He wanted us to go with him.

I pulled the trigger. 8 tickets for $23 a piece for the UT-UMass game. 4/4s of his family and 4/9s of mine.

The Trip to the Stadium
The days passed. Game day arrived. We left at 9:00 a.m. from our house in Sevierville to drive 45 minutes down Chapman Highway to get to Knoxville.

Knowing that it would be a long walk to the stadium, I decided to stop at Bojangles to use their restroom. Plus, I could get a country ham biscuit. I also purchased 6 Bo-Berry Biscuits for the girls at a combined total of 2,820 Calories. The fact that they were shaped like footballs made them even better.

We parked at the Kern Bakery on this side of the Henley Street Bridge. This bridge crosses the Tennessee River and leads into downtown Knoxville.

There are several advantages to doing this. It is easier to get out after the game. It only costs $10 to park. You get an amazing view of the city and the Tennessee River. In addition, you are going to walk no matter where you park. There are very few parking spaces directly next to the stadium.

Still, as children complained about the long walk across the bridge and asked to be carried, I doubted myself. Was this really the best place to park? Continue reading “A Day at Neyland Stadium”

What the Bible Says About Leading Well

God is leading. He is bringing redemption and restoration to the world.

And God leads through leaders. He gives them a vision to lead people from where they are to where they could and should be.

So, the first question in leading is, where do I want to lead people? The next question is, how do I get them there?

One of my favorite summaries of the principles of leadership is in the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Here’s what it says: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

This passage teaches us three crucial leadership principles for leading well. In the diagram above, these are principles for moving people along the arrow to where the “there.”

1. The leader needs to do the hard thing.
The word translated “idle and disruptive” refers to someone who has gotten out of line in a military formation. The leader has to confront those persons and things that are keeping people from moving in the right direction. Continue reading “What the Bible Says About Leading Well”

To Lead–Know Where You Are Going

When I pull up my Google Maps app, Google can usually tell me the best way to go. All it needs to know is where I want to go, then it shows me several routes, including the one that it estimates will be the fastest. I can then quickly make a selection.

The hard thing is knowing where I want to go. I try to use Friday’s as a day with my family. I always want to go somewhere and do a significant activity.

However, I’ve come up to many Friday’s and had nothing. I realized not too long ago that I need to make a list of things I want to do with the family: the Knoxville Zoo, ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg, a day trip to the Cumberland Gap. Once I’ve selected my destination, then it’s fairly easy to figure out a plan to get there.

I think life and leadership is like that. The hard part is often figuring out what we really want to go. I remember asking a woman not too long ago, if you had a week without kids and any responsibilities, what would you do? She answered, “I have no idea.”

She’s like me. I’m often not even clear on what I want. How am I going to have clarity on what is best for other people? How can I lead?

This past week, I was having lunch with another Pastor from our presbytery (a regional group of churches). I asked him, what if all the churches said, “we’ll appoint you pope for a day, and anything you ask us to change, we’ll change in our churches”? What would you tell them to change? It was a hard question to answer. Continue reading “To Lead–Know Where You Are Going”

What’s Your Story?

What’s your story?

Like most Americans, I was pretty hazy on where my ancestors came from and how they got here.

My Mother was born in South Africa to American missionaries. My Father was born near Owensboro, KY. I always thought of my Father and Mother as having very different backgrounds.

A few things happened recently that led me to do some research and realize that the two sources of my ancestry were quite close.

One ancestor that I knew of was Levi Parks Keith. He was from my mother’s side, was in the Illinois cavalry in the Civil War, and died of disease late in the war.

I realized that “Levi Parks Keith” was a pretty rare name, so I did a Google search. This led me to a site called Grave Finder.

On that site, I found not only where he was buried but also information about his life and links to other family members, including his father and mother.

His Father, Mason Parks Keith, came from Virginia to Kentucky and then moved to Southern Indiana where most of my family stayed.

This intrigued me because I knew my Father’s family was rooted in Northern Kentucky and Southern Indiana as well.

I began to plug in some general history. The Great Lakes States as we know them were not open to settlement until quite a few years after the Revolutionary War. In addition, Kentucky was opened for settlement before the Great Lake States. Continue reading “What’s Your Story?”

We Were Made to Lead

God did not create human beings to sit around.

He wanted them to take leadership and do something.

Here’s what God said: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28).

In other words, don’t leave things the way you see them. Take leadership to do significant things that bless yourselves and others and glorify God. Continue reading “We Were Made to Lead”

God Uses Leaders

Leadership is a common topic in the modern world. Because it is so common, some people might think it’s just a secular topic and not a Christian one.

Consider, though, that God Himself is a leader. He is leading the world where He wants it to be.

But how does He lead? How does He move things forward in redemptive history? Generally, through leaders. Continue reading “God Uses Leaders”

A Pastor’s Response to Disaster

Last December, I stood next to a woman looking with sad eyes at the burned out remains of a building. “Did you live here?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. She then went on to tell me about how she had escaped the fires that overwhelmed the town of Gatlinburg. She had left her pets behind, fleeing for her life.

I told her that I was a Pastor and that I would like to pray with her.

After the prayer she asked me, “Since you’re a Pastor, can you tell me, was God punishing me by taking away my pets because I left them behind?”

I assured her that though we all had sins, God had shown His love for us by sending his Son to die on the cross, and that if we believed in Him, we could be certain that all of our sins were forgiven and that we stood before God as if we had done everything right. She said that she believed, and I assured her of God’s love for her, even though times were tough right now.

I prayed with her again. I gave her my card. I left, and she left. I was gratified a few weeks later to get a text from her. “Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. It really helped.”

On November 23, 2016, fires worked their way down the mountains to the town of Gatlinburg and destroyed 2400 buildings, killed 14, and left thousands displaced. It was a disaster like I had never experienced before.

The next few days were filled with making sure our members were alright, crying with people, watching the news to get updates, and trying to figure out what to do.

Over the next few months, I had a lot of opportunities to work with and talk to people affected by the fires. One was the woman I mentioned in the opening story.

As I watch another disaster unfold in South Texas, my mind has gone back to those days in Gatlinburg, and tears have returned to my eyes as I think of the trauma of them. It’s still hard to believe.

I think of Pastors who will be confronting this disaster in Texas. I think of other Pastors who will experience similar disasters. To them, I’d like to offer here a few lessons I learned from living through disaster.

1. Call your congregation together for prayer and worship. The fires were Monday. We had a worship service on Wednesday. The fires on everyone’s mind. We needed to give ourselves a proper outlet for the horror we had just witnessed.

2. Drop what you’re doing and make the disaster a priority. The fires gave me opportunities to connect with people I never would have been able to connect with. The whole experience was very difficult, but it provided some amazing opportunities to experience the love of Christ given and received. Continue reading “A Pastor’s Response to Disaster”

God Will Supply All Your Needs

We all need things we don’t yet have, don’t control, or worry we’ll lose. We’re dependent on other people and things for our survival, much more than we think.

This worry about our needs can become all consuming. We can get consumed with worry about food, shelter, and savings. We can get consumed with whether or not we’ll be loved. We can get consumed about making sure we have security and protection from harm.

Into the midst of our worries, we have this promise from God, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

This promise is a rock of refuge in a sea of anxiety about our needs. It is a foundation on which we can build our lives as Jesus taught us (see Matthew 6:25–34). Continue reading “God Will Supply All Your Needs”

Being Content When Other People Won’t Cooperate

We can get discontent with things. We want a better house, car, guitar, gaming system, phone, etc. It’s easy to struggle with wanting what we don’t have.

But discontent with things pales in comparison with discontent with people.

Here’s why. No matter how much money I have or how many resources I employ, other people will always do something slightly different than what I want. Oftentimes, totally different!

So, if we are dependent on the cooperation of others for our contentment, then we are in for a bumpy ride.

That can be really hard. We want people to like us. We need love. We are concerned about the people for whom we have some responsibility.

So, how can we be content when people don’t cooperate? Continue reading “Being Content When Other People Won’t Cooperate”