Advice on Taking Advice & Admonishment: Open Wide Your Heart

Have you ever received a piece of advice from someone that made you feel like shutting down? At times we receive correction that is handled gracefully which is easier to receive. And in other occasions someone in authority may give us a nudge that isn’t offered with kid gloves. Interestingly, the Bible guides us to receive all of it, whether its served up wth a nice bow or not. Wisdom is gained by being a teachable person. If you notice that your heart closes or responds coldly to people, teachers, pastors, your boss, when they offer you correction or exhortation, then you may want to take a step back and figure out why.

HOW YOU RECEIVE ADVICE INDICATES IF YOU ARE ASCENDING OR DESCENDING IN MATURITY

The Apostle Paul ran into this situation and has some very valuable advice for all of us. Apparently, he had been working day and night to lovingly teach and shepherd the early Christians in Corinth. And although he was committed to them enough to say the hard things, they lacked the maturity to receive his leadership and guidance. In fact rather than having an open heart to Paul, they were responding coldly to him.

Spiritual Adventure Keeps the Leader’s Soul Healthy

Adventure is any pursuit you step into where you are not sure of the outcome. –Muhia Karianjahi (Kenyan leader)

In the event that the cabin loses air pressure, please put your oxygen mask on first and then after you have secured your own mask, help your child to put on their mask. – Flight attendant

SURRENDER YOUR SOUL FIRST TO JESUS SO YOU CAN CARE FOR OTHERS LONG TERM

Leaders especially are always thinking about how they can help other people. This is good, but not if you get out of balance. It seems like the right thing to care for the soul of someone else in need even at the expense of our own soul, but this is not the pattern we see in Scripture. You need to first tend to your own soul’s thirst for God. Then you can attend to the needs of others with much more grace.

IS YOUR SOUL CRAVING A DEEPER ADVENTURE WITH GOD? 

Let’s consider some of these passages that reflect on our soul’s deepest desire for adventure with God:

A Conflict Resolution Tool You’ll Want to Memorize

conflict resolution

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine

If you fit into any of these categories below, this post will give you a tool you can use all of the time. Do you want to…

  • Build Deeper Relationships with Teenagers and Help them with Conflict Resolution with their Friends?
  • Lead Small Groups Effectively
  • Train Volunteer Youth Leaders How to Deal with Conflict
  • Be a Christ-Centered Parent to Teenagers and College Students

This tool is for you…

PERSONAL STORY

Have you ever had what you thought was a really great idea that in the end went horribly wrong?

One winter a few years ago we got a storm that dropped about 3 feet of snow in our neighborhood. And since we didn’t have a snow plowing service, I thought it would be a “great idea” to take my Toyota Landcruiser out, put on the chains and just drive up and down the street a bunch of times to make some tracks for our neighbors to be about to get out of the neighborhood. I got my kids in the car, we started driving like a tank through huge drifts of snow, having lots of fun, and it seemed to be working.

Well, after the snow tracks got packed down… all of a sudden, we hear this huge “screech, ka bloom…” and the front end of my Landcruiser lost its steering. I thought… oh, the snow must be too deep lets just rev the engine more… well we drove right up on the sidewalk and I couldn’t steer the front end… we got out and discovered that unbeknownst to me, my chains had started to digging through the snow and was grabbing onto the asphalt below the chain had broken, wrapped around the steering arm, and snapped it… so the front wheels were turned completely sideways… (as the tow truck lifted my Landcruiser up to drag it way I thought, “Hmmm… I sure did think that was a great idea… but it was a really bad one…”

Joshua 22 is a profound story that shows how one group of Israelites thought they had a Great idea, but actually it turned out to be a really bad idea, and hurt other folks badly… maybe that sounds familiar in your life?

CONFLICT + RESOLUTION = INTIMACY

Conflict resolution is not just a skill for counselors. If you want good relationships in a sinful world, you will have to learn how to resolve conflict.

Early on in my ministry experience I learned a formula that continues to ring true in my life: CONFLICT + RESOLUTION = INTIMACY. When you step toward the person you are in conflict with, and humbly seek resolution, the natural result almost always is that we become closer to that person. There is no silver bullet on how to do this, but one technique that I learned from studying Joshua 22 has given me a tool to resolve conflict.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION IS LIKE “CHESS”

To get the most of the technique I am about to share you really have to read Joshua 22. Maybe read it now or at least read it after you finish reading this post. Like “chess,” to win the game you have to be aware of the whole situation, you have to think ahead and anticipate obstacles. Similarly, what we learn from Joshua 22 is that the context behind this event is an epic conflict that almost began a civil war among Israel. Joshua 22 gives us a formula for conflict resolution that lawyers and professional peace-makers still use today.

After studying this passage and how this conflict was resolved I thought of an Acronym, CHESS to help remember the main steps for conflict resolution. I like acronyms because in the heat of the moment it is easy to remember them and then you can start walking through the situation with more objectivity and less emotion.

Here is the easy memory tool called, “CHESS” that you can use to diffuse and resolve conflicts successfully:

C: CHARACTERS

First identify all of the characters or people involved in the conflict? Joshua makes a point to list out all of the tribes and some of the background of jealousy and animosity between these tribes. Sometimes we jump over thinking about the bigger context of our relationships because we are so distracted by our hurt. It is important to understand each person involved in the conflict because there may be a few people you need to have a conversation with, not just one. Ask: Who are all of the people involved in this conflict?

H: HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIPS

What is the history of the relationships in this conflict? Step back and think about if there is a history of this type of conflict with this person. Maybe there is a pattern that needs to be pointed out. By thinking of the history of your relationship with this person will do two things:

  • First it cause you to “take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of the other person’s eye.”

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

  • Second, it will give you more perspective in how to approach this person with grace and patience because you will not come across as an irrational person with a selfish agenda to be right.

E:  EVENTS

What is the flow of the Events that led up to the conflict? Are there any other mini-conflicts or offenses that led to this current blow up? If you take the time to become aware of the events leading up to this conflict, other people will respect you when you initiate a conversation. They can tell that you care because you have spent time thinking about the whole situation, not just your own hurt.

S: SIDES

There are always two side’s of the story. If you want to be a peacemaker and relationship builder you need to realize there is always two sides to a story. Get the other person’s story and actively listen to them. Repeat back to them, “So what I’m hearing you say is…  Is that right?” Then they have a chance to correct you if you heard them wrong, or to affirm that you heard them correctly.

S: STATE THE PROBLEM CLEARLY

Joshua clearly states the problem and offers resources to resolve the problem. He identifies the relevant issues, that made the problem blow up. Then Joshua explained what resources the people had to deal with the problem to resolve the conflict (they had the Law of Moses, and the authority of the priests to look into the matter). [1]

If you’d like to listen to my full 40 minute talk explaining Joshua 22 you can click the link below. Thanks!

Click here to LISTEN TO MY TALK ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION FROM JOSHUA 22

Please share this post with a friend who might benefit from it!

[1] The case-writing principles developed in this post were inspired by the following case-study tool for missiology: 7 Steps to Making a Case Study into a Learning Tool
 

Lunchroom Gospel: How to Grow Your Youth Ministry

Most of us remember what it is like in the lunchroom. After you get your lunch you scan the room for a table to sit where you will feel welcome. Adolescence can be a season of devastating insecurity, and the lunchroom can shine a spotlight on your loneliness. Kids are just waiting for someone to shine and share the Gospel with them.

 

I have spent a lot of time in lunch rooms with kids. Today as much as ever we must not abandon the lunch room and other places kids hang out. We need brave young leaders who are willing to go into the world of kids to be authentic representatives of Jesus. A song by John Michael Talbot casts a compelling biblical vision for those who might go offer the Bread of Life of the Gospel to kids in middle schools, high schools, and colleges:

Come to the table He’s prepared for you
The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release
Come to the table and sit down beside Him
The Savior wants you to join in the feast,,,
And here at the table, sit those who have loved you
One is a traitor and one will denyBut He’s lived his life for them all
And for all be crucified  (John Michael Talbot song, “Come to the Table”)

REMEMBER THE LUNCHROOM SO YOU DON’T LOSE YOUR HEART FOR ADOLESCENTS & THE GOSPEL

Imagine carting your lunch tray out of the food line and as you look over the crowd you see a popular kid smile at you. With the wave of his hand he invites you to come sit at his table. You probably feel awkward.  Like crossing the street you look side to side wondering if he is waving at you. Glancing back, you see his eyes look right at you. He nods and beckons you to come sit next to him. Sheepishly approaching his table, his friends shift a bit to make room for you. And they all give you a warm welcome. This is a picture of the Good News of Jesus. It symbolizes the ministry of reconciliation Jesus has given to his disciples to share with the world through warm hospitality.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

WHEN SOMEONE INVITED ME TO THE TABLE

When I was I was in high school, this scene happened to me, but it happened on a soccer field, not the lunch room….

Canoe - Jim Eliot Quote

“I may no longer depend on pleasant impulses to bring me before the Lord. I must rather respond to principles I know to be right, whether I feel them to be enjoyable or not.” – Jim Elliot

4 Ways to Exponentially Improve Youth Leadership Training | Daniel 1:17-20

Like the priests who took the first steps to lead Israel into the icy waters of the Jordan River (Joshua 3), young leaders today need to be apprenticed toward brave new leadership.  When you take into account the huge youth population bulges in many nations coupled with geopolitical instability likely for decades to come, vanguard student ministry organizations and churches committed to introducing more kids to Jesus must start thinking more about strategic sustainability. Strategic sustainability implies health and growth even in the midst of unpredictability. To achieve this you must have a principle-driven leadership training framework.

At the center of any strategy to influence wide swaths of young people of any nation is to identify, train, and empower younger leaders. In this post I’m not writing to just any leader, I’m addressing those young leaders, organizations, and churches out there who dream about changing the next generation with the Gospel.  As I look at young leaders in the Bible who stand out as models for us to follow today, Daniel rises to the top.

LEADERSHIP TRAINING MUST ADAPT, RE-EDUCATE, AND RE-TRAIN

Daniel provides a clear pathway for leaders to expand their influence more broadly. We can’t rely on cultural norms to provide an incubator for basic leadership understanding anymore. Churches and mission organizations must pioneer the way and in many ways re-educate and re-train their younger leaders who want to serve. We can’t make assumptions anymore. We must have much more than mere skills training. Instead, leadership training must involve a combination of education+training+apprenticeship. That will be the foundation of strategic sustainability for student ministry organizations in a world of fracturing cultural norms.

Daniel had four remarkable qualities that broadened his leadership: COMPREHENSIVE KNOWLEDGE, CHARACTER, COMPETENCE, and an ability to CONNECT people to God by using his spiritual gifts. These four qualities are the mark of catalytic leaders. Now lets look at each of them in context…

4 Things College & High School Campuses Need

If you are a college student, student ministry leader, or parent of a college student I want you to read this post. College is a window of opportunity. With just a bit of intentionality your college ministry experience could be the difference between a bowl of oatmeal and a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipping cream. Our college campuses are of course intensely secular places, but there’s really nothing new about that. Followers of Jesus have always been on the outside, a little strange in comparison to the dominant culture. Yet one thing that does seem different today on college campuses is the scale of erosion in the soil of Christian community.

CSU college students

The concern is that without context, it is hard for a young believer to grow and progress in Christ. Without an adequate alternative culture of Jesus-loving friends around you, there is a good chance you will be impacted more by the dominant culture around you, rather than you impacting it. Context to live out our faith is absolutely crucial.

The Benefits of Involving Parents (& Grandparents) in Your Student Ministry

Parents (and grandparents) are an absolutely vital part of your student ministry. This is true of middle school, high school, and in some ways even college ministry. Regardless of their faith, whether Believers or non-believers, parents of teenagers are still the primary gatekeepers for their kid’s involvement in your student ministry. And even parents of college students, who may not really be a “gatekeeper” any longer, can still be a catalytic advocate for your ministry.

In the grand scheme of things, your relationships with parents may be just as important as your relationship with students. Parents enhance your student ministry by giving you ideas, feedback, resources, and prayer. Your whole ministry will benefit from parents who are appropriately involved as advocates, especially among other parents.

Involving parents in your student ministry

If You Need Fund Raising Help, I Recommend Support Raising Solutions

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. -Matthew 9:37-38

Some people are called to full time vocational ministry. If you have an insatiable draw toward missions or ministry that you just can’t shake, then maybe God is calling you. There will always be a need for cross-cultural missions until Jesus comes back. Missions is temporary. When Christ returns, there will be no more missions, that window will be closed. Yet right now it is wide open. There is a famine for the Word of God on every continent, and the Holy Spirit is raising up men, women, and young people from just about every nation to lay their lives down for Jesus to advance the Good News. And some of those whom he calls will be sent out as full time workers for his Kingdom.

To Understand Confucius is to Understand Much of China Today

Confucius is one of China’s most revered sages. Although he lived and taught his disciples somewhere around 551-479 B.C., Confucianism is still the most popular philosophy in China today. The context of Confucius’ rise in popularity is interesting. Times were chaotic and quite violent in China at the time of his professional life. There were great divides between classes and clans and this was disturbing to Confucius because it weakened society and created distrust and poverty. He grew up with minimal personal family connection so this seemed to create a vacuum in his own heart for connectedness and the benefits of a tight-knit family. Understanding his background helps us understand where the deep roots of his philosophy came from.

Confucius picture