Posts Tagged prayer
Justin Anderson is one of the lead pastors at Redemption Church, and he was kind to spend some time last night with our leaders at our monthly “2nd Tuesday” gathering. Training leaders is a high priority for us as a church, and Justin’s words were great things for us to hear. I had asked him to speak on the topic, “How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry.” Unfortunately we didn’t have the audio equipment available to record his talk, but here’s a summary of what we learned.
Foundational Principle — Grace Leads to Action
In Ephesians 2:8-10, we learn that we are absolutely dependent on God’s grace. We are saved by God’s grace, period. But this always leads to action always follows from true grace. If you don’t think God loves you by grace, you miss the gospel. If you don’t act as a result of the grace you’ve received, you misunderstand the power of the gospel.
How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry
1. Use guilt, shame, or moralism to motivate people. While guilting people into action is always easier and has power to produce results, it produces only short-term results. The gospel motivates by grace, love, and a compelling vision for the future. So should we. There are times when we need to administer a “kick in the pants” to those we love, but we should not make guilt our de-facto motivator.
2. Stay off mission. Many leaders convince themselves and their people that they “aren’t ready” for mission or that they need to grow more first. The result is that they end up insulated in a Christian subculture that never contributes to the overall Kingdom of God.
3. Use your ministry to prop yourself up. It’s wonderful to receive compliments and encouragement, but if you are using your ministry to find your identity, you are an idolater. One of Justin’s former pastors said, “Compliments are like perfume. Smell them and you’ll be fine, but drink them and you’ll be sick.”
4. Don’t let your ministry get bigger than you. Many leaders put themselves at the center where nothing can happen without them. As a result, the ministry stifles and young leaders never develop their full potential.
5. Forget that your ministry is just a piece of the puzzle of the church. Because we love the ministry we do, it’s easy to see our ministry as the ultimate one. As a result, many leaders and ministries compete with each other rather than serve each other. Leaders are called to raise their sights above this and keep the big picture in mind.
6. Sacrifice your family or personal walk with God for the sake of ministry. If your life is screwed up, your ministry is screwed up. If you don’t pray or love your spouse because you are “doing ministry,” soon you will have no ministry to do and your life will be in shambles.
7. Lead negatively more than positively. Rather than being an encouraging coach who celebrates others’ wins and allows them to have a voice in their development, many leaders focus too much on what is broken and on telling others what to do.
8. Forget that there is nothing more important than knowing, loving, and experiencing Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3 that everything was rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. If we forget this, then our ministries–which should be designed to help people love Jesus–miss the mark.
9. Overspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who pray but don’t plan. They talk but don’t do. This is a mistake. We should both pray and strategize.
10. Underspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who plan and do but don’t pray. They over-value their creativity and resourcefulness and forget that they desperately need the Lord to guide them.
11. Forget that millions of Christians have come before you. Leaders are prone to have “new” ideas that aren’t really all that new and to convince themselves that their ideas are novel. But they aren’t. For example, in the 90s Bill Hybels talked about being “Contagious Christians” and now people talk about being “missional.” Many of our ideas are not new or novel (if they were it might be heresy), but are simply repackaged versions of things Christians have done for centuries. We would be wise to learn from them and humble ourselves.
Here is a remarkable story from Matthew Braselton, one of the Second Mile pastors. Stuff like this is why I love our church! Matthew writes:
Last night was one of the most difficult, yet most encouraging nights of my “career” as a pastor. I was called by Greg Scallon, who works at Gilbert Hospital around 5pm and asked if I could come lead an impromptu Prayer service at 8pm for a young lady who was tragically injured in a motorcycle accident the day before. When he called, she was on life-support, but had no brain activity. She was 19 yrs old, a pre-med student at U of A, and volunteered at Gilbert Hospital on the weekends. She was a beloved member of the staff family at the hospital, and many of her co-workers were grieving and hoping to meet together to pray for her.
Greg, who has a significant leadership role at the hospital, is know for his commitment to Christ, and the lady organizing the prayer time asked if he knew of anyone who could lead it.
When I got the news, I asked some folks for help in getting the word out to our church family (via The City, phones calls, text messages…). I was blown away by how God provided over the next few hours!
Many of you dropped whatever plans you had for the evening, showed up at 8pm in the cold, and stood outside to pray for and support around 60+ grieving people you didn’t even know. This sort of self-sacrifice and “running toward pain” is a dramatic embodiment of Jesus’ heart and mission and a stunning display of His love, grace, and compassion. The service went well, and many of you had a chance to pray gospel truth over a ripe harvest field of hurting lost folks searching for answers.
As I reflect on the events of last night, I am brought to tears as I consider the grace of God and the evidence of His Spirit working in the lives of people in His body. Allow me to thank God for a few things in relation to these events:
1. I thank God for men and women like Greg Scallon who faithfully live out their faith, day in and day out, in the secular work arena. He certainly is a light of hope in that place, and had (has) the blessed privilege of being used by God in a very difficult situation like this.
2. I thank God for changing the hearts of selfish sinners (like me) such that they would be moved with compassion by the suffering of strangers and press in to people’s pain in an effort of offer the hope and healing power of the gospel.
3. I thank God for a hope that is unshakable, imperishable, and undefiled. A glorious hope that stands as a beacon of light, security, and life in the midst of great sorrow and pain.
Since last night, the family removed the young lady from life support and she passed away.
Greg said the impact you all made on the staff at the hospital is incalculable. He’s had many people ask about our church, God, his faith… A relatively small sacrifice of your time seems to be creating a large impact for the kingdom.
Please continue to pray for all the folks touched by this tragedy. God is certainly at work in powerful ways, and it’s so cool to see people drawn to Him through this.
Thank you, Second Mile!
One of our key distinctives at Second Mile Church is that we celebrate the sovereignty of God over everything. This means we believe that God is in absolute control of everything that happens.
In light of this, an obvious question, especially as we study about prayer is “If God is in control of everything and already knows everything that will come to pass, why bother praying?”
Bruce Ware has a chapter on this in the book For the Fame of God’s Name, and here’s one of my favorite paragraphs from his much more comprehensive answer:
One of the most startling and wondrous realizations that any Christian can have is that much of the purpose of prayer has to do with one simple thing: relationship–that is relationship coram Deo (before the face of God). One great and glorious reason God devised prayer was to use it as a mechanism to draw us to himself, to help us see how much we need him, to set before us constantly the realization that he is everything we are not and he possesses everything that we lack. We are weak, but he is strong; we are foolish, but he is wise; we are untrustworthy, but he is faithful; we are ignorant, but he is infinitely knowledgeable; we are poor and empty, but he is rich and full. Imagine this: although God does not need any of what we bring to him in prayer, he longs for us to bring everything that we do bring to him and so much more!
Another good quote from A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (by Paul Miller):
We don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; we just need to be poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit makes room for his Spirit. It creates a God-shaped hole in our hearts and offers us a new way to relate to others.
This Sunday we kick off our new series, Jesus on Prayer, and we have one big, audacious goal for the series: We want to pray more in the next 3 months (individually and collectively) than we ever have in our entire lives.
Therefore, we’ve done two things to help you pursue this goal:
1. We’ve created a companion prayer guide book that will lead you into personal times of prayer, provide space for notes during Sunday sermons, and launch you into prayer as a group. These books are available for $5, so be sure to bring cash or check this Sunday. (Note: almost all Community Groups will be using this as their primary resource this fall). You can also download it here.
2. We’ve aligned our Community Groups with the sermon series to create a tangible environment to apply what you learn. The following community groups still have room if you’d like to join one (click here to sign up):
– Monday, 6:30pm – Brian & Angie Ring (Hunt Hwy & Johnson Ranch)
– Tuesday, 6:30pm – David & Ashley Cady (Recker & Ray)
– Wednesday, 7:00pm – Robert & Cheri Horn (Higley & Pecos)
– Thursday, 7:00pm – Doug & Linda Saul (Higley & Queen Creek)
Here are some other things you can do to get ready for this series:
- Invite a friend to join you. This would be a great series for anybody wanting to know more about how to grow in a relationship with God.
- Join a Community Group and get involved with people who will encourage you along the way.
- Read the Pastor’s blog posts on prayer.
- Buy Paul Miller’s outstanding book, A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World.
- Read the Scripture passages that we’ll be studying during this series.
Hope to see you soon!
Here’s another quote from Paul Miller’s excellent book, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World:
We tell ourselves, “Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.” Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don’t try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allow them to access grace.
I am getting really fired up for our next series, Jesus on Prayer, where we’ll look at Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Our goal for the series is simple but audacious: As individuals and as a church, we want to pray more in the next three months than we ever have in our entire lives.
One of my favorite resources in preparation for this series has been Paul Miller’s A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World. Here’s a brief quote from this book that motivates me to pray:
Imagine your prayer is a poorly dressed beggar reeking of alcohol and body odor, stumbling toward the palace of the great king. You have become your prayer. As you shuffle toward the barred gate, the guards stiffen. Your smell has proceeded you. You stammer out a message for the great king: “I want to see the king.” Your words are barely intelligible, but you whisper one final word, “Jesus. I come in the name of Jesus.” At the name of Jesus the palace comes alive. The guard snaps to attention, bowing low in front of you. Lights come on and the door flies open. You are ushered into the palace and down a long hallway into the throne room of the great king, who comes running to you and wraps you in his arms.
The name of Jesus gives royal access. They get through. Jesus isn’t just the Savior of my soul. He’s also the Savior of my prayers. My prayers come before the throne of God as the prayers of Jesus. “Asking in Jesus’ name” isn’t another thing I have to get right so my prayers are perfect. It is one more gift of God because my prayers are so imperfect.