Why Don’t People Get It? You’ve Got to Teach Them

How do you react when people in your family, organization, or church don’t do what they are supposed to be doing? How do you react when they just don’t seem to get it?

It’s easy for a leader to get frustrated when people don’t do what they are supposed to do. It’s easy to look out in dismay at those around us and say, “Man, these people just don’t get it. They’re going the wrong way.”

Whenever a leader feels that frustration, a good idea is to ask herself, have I made clear where I want people to do and how they are supposed to do it? Have I really taught people what to do? Continue reading “Why Don’t People Get It? You’ve Got to Teach Them”

5 Reasons Churches Should Talk a Lot More About Leadership

Leadership is extremely important. Few things happen in this world without it. We all recognize this. For example, when our favorite sports team is not doing well, who do we blame? The coach. Then, the team ends up hiring a new coach. People are excited . . . or worried. Why? Because leadership matters.

So, if the church is concerned about making people better and making this world a better place to the glory of God, then it should teach on leadership. However, I’ve seen mixed reactions to instruction on leadership. Here are a few of the objections/comments I have received to teaching on leadership. I put my answer next to it and then the positive reason for teaching on leadership in the church.

Reason # 1: Leadership is an inescapable part of the human way of life created by God.

1. Objection: Leadership is a secular topic. Answer: I do not call secular that which belongs to normal human life. It is part of God’s created order. Just as work, marriage, and education are part of life, so leadership is part of life. All of these are part of God’s creation. Faith in God and His Word reorients our way of thinking about all of life, including leadership. If God exists and created this world in which leadership matters so much, then we would expect that He would have something to say about it.

Reason # 2: We all do have and should have people we want to lead to a better place.

2. Objection: I’m not a leader. Answer: people often think of leadership in terms of a leadership position such as a boss, teacher, or pastor. However, leadership is a broader concept than that. We are leading someone whenever we want to influence people to move to a place where they could and should be. Anytime we are concerned about people’s behavior or character and want to see it changed, this involves leadership. Anytime we are concerned about a community, group, or individual, this is an opportunity for leadership. In addition, we not only are already seeking to lead, but we ought to have concern about the people around us and want to see them in a better place. This is our just duty. Continue reading “5 Reasons Churches Should Talk a Lot More About Leadership”

How to Study the Bible

From time to time, people ask me: How do I study the Bible?

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Get to know with the whole Bible. I recommend reading through it or listening to it in its entirety. However, I would also try to get a bird’s eye view of what the books of the Bible are. Another way to approach this is to ask, what is the historical flow of the Bible? How did it all come together? The books of the Bible are not always in historical order in our Bibles.
  2. Move to an individual book and familiarize yourself with the overall structure of that book. It would be good to try and read the whole book before studying its parts so you know where each section is heading.
  3. Discover the individual sections of the book. These sections are not necessarily the chapters, though it’s no problem to study it chapter by chapter. Other ways to divide it include different speeches (like the prophets), distinct psalms, categories of proverbs, a story or account (like in the narratives like Samuel or the Gospels), or a part of an argument or answer to a question (like in the letters of Paul). Don’t get too bogged down in this. Sometimes this is an arbitrary division. For example, the Sermon on the Mount can be seen as one section, but you can clearly focus on the individual parts such as the parable of the wise and foolish builders.
  4. Once you have a section, then you have something to work with for teaching or study. You can then proceed in one of two ways. You can look at what are the parts of it are. For example, in a story, who are the characters, what is the scene, and how does the action proceed? If it is an argument, like in Romans, how does the Apostle support his argument? If it is a poem, what are the major sections of the poem? Again, don’t get stuck looking for the absolute right answer here. Get something so that you can move forward to the meaning.
  5. Ask: what are the parts of the section I don’t understand? Do I know what a denarius is or where Jericho is, for example? Why did James recommend not eating the flesh of strangled animals in Acts 15? Use a Bible dictionary, Google, or a commentary to look these things up, if you have questions. If you don’t, just keep going. For finding the answers, I would recommend Bible Gateway or Study Light. At Study Light, there is a huge list of online commentaries. I’ve found this compilation very helpful.
  6. Once you have a clear sense of what is going on, then ask, what is the purpose of this text? Why is it here? Why did the author speak this to a particular audience? This keeps you from just inserting your own ideas onto the text. So, in the case of the wise and foolish builders, why would Matthew want this recorded for the early church? In the case of John’s Gospel, you have the overarching theme in the text itself (John 20:31).
  7. Next, ask yourself, how is this purpose of this text relevant to human beings in our day? Let’s take the example of the wise and foolish builders. The purpose was to teach people that they should listen to the Word of God and put it into practice so that they would have a firm foundation on which to build their lives. Once you realize that this was the original purpose, then you have an obvious modern purpose: modern people, too, should build their lives on the Word of God.
  8. For teaching and your own application, I would ask another question. How does the answer or purpose of this text answer a question that modern people ask. For example, in the case of wise and foolish builders, aren’t people looking for guidance and purpose? Don’t they wonder why they are here? Don’t people ask, what is really the best way to live? Don’t they wonder, how do we know things are going to turn out well? The answer that the story of the wise and foolish builders gives us is that the Word of God gives us the guidance, purpose, and the right way to live that we are all looking for.
  9. In teaching, I would then do #7 & #8 in reverse order. Start by helping people see the question using examples from daily life, current events, or your own life. Be creative and have fun with this.
  10. Finally, it is good to envision what it would look like if people actually believed that the Bible’s answer was correct or put it into practice. Don’t assume that people can do this. Help them do it. If people really believed that the appropriate foundation of their lives was listening to and putting into practice the words of Jesus, what would that look like?