Okay, time for a little survey here.  Just click on the type of resource that you feel like would be MOST beneficial to you as you lead your ministry. Take a little poll:

There is many common issues we all deal with in college ministry and same sex attraction is certainly among the top.  If you have longevity and trust with those you work with, you know this to be true.  Well, here is a fantastic…and I mean fantastic example of what a healthy relationship with someone who struggles with this looks like and the positive impact it can have in a church context.

Sin is serious, but…

 —  April 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

In college ministry we work with a lot of people that deal with shame and guilt.

Yesterday I taught on Mark 9:42-50 and talked about the seriousness of sin.  I defined sin for in two ways:

  1. to fall short of God’s perfect character
  2. to do, say, or think something God wouldn’t do, say or think
We talked about how when we recognize our sin and how seriously it offends God, we can be certain we are in tune with the Holy Spirit.  But, then we have to be careful.  We will “deal” with our sin in one of two ways: (1) in shame and guilt or (2) with Holy Spirit conviction.  I have a chapter on this in my next book coming out – more on that later.
Shame/guilt and conviction are not equals.  In fact they couldn’t be more opposite.  They stem from different “sources” and lead us to two completely different places.  I broke down the differences between these two in the following ways:
Shame and Guilt:
  • Views sin through the lens of arrogance and perfectionism.  In other words, we are ashamed of our sin because we feel as though we are “above” doing such things.
  • Counsels us to run from God because we sin.  We feel as though we have to work certain things out before we go to God.  We talked about how this is precisely the trap Adam and Eve fell into in the garden after they sinned.
  • Counsels us to harbor our sin.  Shame and guilt hold us back from confessing our sin to God or other people.  We don’t confess it to others because, viewing our sin through the lens of shame, we feel as though others will treat us different or hold it against us in some form.
Shame and guilt are real feelings that we all face to one degree or another.  But it’s not of God.  There is no grace in shame.  No Jesus.  No gospel.  No Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will help us recognize our sin, but He will not use shame and guilt as a motivator to deal with it.  Instead, He convicts us (John 16:8-11).  Here’s how I broke down conviction:
  • Views sin through the lens of humility and God’s grace.
  • Counsels us to run to God because we sin.  When we are convicted, we recognize our limitless weakness to be perfect and look gratefully to God’s grace.
  • Counsels us to confess our sin to God and to others.  We confess it to others as well for two reasons: (1) so that God can show us His grace through His people and (2) so that we experience the beauty of accountability.
Helping college students differentiate between these is vitally important.  Shame/Guilt will cause us to shrink back from God, the people of God and the work of God.  Conviction on the other hand will draw us to those things and allow us to freely engage in God’s mission.
Could be some good discussion over a cup of coffee with student today…

Leadership can be tricky.  And developing a formula is nearly impossible.  Everyone is wired differently and certain people can do things that work for them but are entirely awkward for others.  But to be an effective spiritual leader there are at least 3 things we cannot do.

(1) Put people’s gifting as higher priority than their character.  Spiritual leaders are concentrated and focused on developing Christ-like character before they are utilizing someone’s abilities/gifts in their ministry.

(2) Belittle others to make themselves feel better.  Spiritual leaders don’t look down on other people but instead serve them in humility, are heart broken over the areas they are failing and then seek to build them up with humility and grace.

(3) Have a Messiah complex.  Spiritual leaders don’t think they can do it all or fix everyone.  Instead they recognize where they are weak, bring others around them that are stronger than them in certain areas, and view themselves as a conduit that God sometimes uses.

Definition of Leadership

 —  April 19, 2012 — 2 Comments

When I was in college someone gave me a list of different definitions for the word “leadership.”  It was a Word document, about 4 or 5 pages long.  It was single spaced and simply had different ways well known leaders had defined leadership.

You know how sometimes certain things, for whatever reason, jump off the page and smack you in the face?  Sometimes it’s convicting things and others are simply something that may be worded in a way that gives fresh perspective.  Well, there was one definition from this long list that popped off the page to me.  I wish I had the document because I don’t remember who said it.  In fact, I’m fairly confident I have somehow reworded it a bit from that document – which means it’s probably good I’m not quoting someone!  Anyway here is what I remember it saying:

Leadership is getting people to love doing things they previously hated doing.

I wonder if some people might call this “manipulation?”

1. Pray.  A spiritual leader always seeks to follow first.  She/he seeks wisdom and direction from God and then leads others toward those ends.  If leaders aren’t following first, they may be leading people, but it’s likely not spiritually.

2. Disciple.  Spiritual leaders help others learn about and from Jesus.  They provide practical wisdom or insights from their own life experience, but they try and point back to the character and person of Jesus as they do so.

3. Serve.  Spiritual leaders serve among those they lead.  They don’t view themselves as being above doing certain things but instead often lead by example and do things others won’t.

4. Open Up.  Effective spiritual leaders understand that people are longing for practical insights into how to live out their faith…so they give people that through opening up their marriages, finances, usage of time, etc.

5. Give.  Spiritual leaders create space for themselves, but they don’t separate their life from their ministry.  They have a life focused on consistently giving to others and they serve with their families.  They don’t “clock in” and then “clock out.”

Grad Pack

 —  April 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Today Simply Youth Ministry has a deal going on a little gift pack for graduating seniors.  You should check it out.  One of my books, 99 Thoughts for College Age People, is included in this bundle.  Hope it’s a help to you!  Check it out, here.

Leadership 101 Thoughts

 —  April 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

Over the next couple weeks I will be throwing out some thoughts on leadership.  I of course have a lot of different thoughts so this will be simply me throwing out whatever thought comes to me at the point of writing.  They will be somewhat random, straight to the point and hopefully helpful for you – although you may be the one that should be writing these instead of me.

Todays thought comes from the apostle Paul and understanding a bit about his ministry.  For me, one of the biggest things that pops out about his leadership is the fact that he “lived among” those he served.  See Acts 20:17-21 for an example.  You can also see this phraseology throughout the book of 1 Thessalonians.

You might say Paul’s leadership was “down to earth” and there is a beauty to leading this way.  He didn’t lead from a position, he led from his life – that’s a big difference and one that is critical for working in college ministry.  In Acts 20:17-21 alone we see those he led could attest to at least the following things:

1. his humility.  Can we look at those we lead and say to them that they can attest to our humility?

2. his compassion for them as human beings. Do we actually love people or just say we do?

3. his own trials in life.  Do we allow those we lead into even the difficult aspects of our lives?

4. his commitment to speaking truth. Do we love people enough to tell them the truth?

5. his consistency between public and private settings.  Are we consistent in character regardless of where we are?

6. his unchanging message.  Are we committed to telling everyone about the gospel?

It seems as though Paul could answer all these positively, which is partly what made him such a powerful leader.  I hope we are able to do the same.