Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learning from the Past with C.J. Ortega

                When embarking on a new life adventure, such as leading a church, it’s not uncommon to expect success straight out of the gate.  Success being defined as progressively moving forward in the task God entrusted to you.  From what I’ve learned recently, both from experience and other Pastor’s testimonies, succeeding in your mission on the 1st attempt isn’t a guarantee.
                 I believe God calls individual people for specific responsibilities.  What I find interesting is the Greek meaning for the word “calling” in Ephesians 4.  The word used is klesis, which is defined as an invitation to the responsibilities God has assigned for you.  Just because someone is invited to accept these responsibilities doesn’t guarantee success from the start. 
                 There is something very beneficial from making mistakes in life.  Pastor C.J Ortega shared his thoughts “One lesson I’ve learned in church planting is that I don’t want to dismiss my past experiences when it went bad, because there is so much value in what you learn from those experiences.”  This notion of learning from your mistakes is very true, especially in ministry.  What I have found is that if things aren’t going the way we had hoped or planned, then it requires me to draw closer to God. 

                If God has entrusted us with specific responsibilities, then He also needs to be the source in which we gain direction.  I think God allows us to make mistakes, because in those mistakes it forces us to depend on Him and to trust Him so much more.  What I have learned is when I’m in that humble and vulnerable state, that is when he reveals Himself and teaches me how to overcome the adversity.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wise Words from a Young Couple

            Elijah and Ashlee Hollis of the PowerPlace Church spent their Tuesday night in a classroom to share their personal experiences as youth pastors and the values they have learned through these experiences.

            One item that stood out for me was the vision they have for their ministry as youth pastors.  They said “take youth and raise the standard of living with them.”  This statement opened my eyes. 

            Understanding the culture of today’s youth, there is a tremendous epidemic of an identity crisis that says “if you don’t look or act like the world tells you to, then you don’t fit in anywhere.”  You can imagine the level of self worth within today’s youth when they decide not to live up to the world’s standards. 

            Elijah and Ashlee make it their mission to build these kids up with a strong self-esteem that is identified with Christ.  Through their experience they have discovered just how broken kids are these days. The pressure to fit in and live up to the worlds standards has brought suicide to a new level.  Bullying and self mutilation are also among the big issues this couple has also dealt with.  Therefore, building self-confidence within these kids is their main objective.

            How do they do this?  Intentionally “doing life together”, walking along side them in their struggles and fears, but most importantly they lead these kids by living a “real-life” example for them to follow.  As they extend themselves and invest into the lives of these young people, they gain influence in their life opening the door to share the life changing message of Jesus Christ.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Vision To Die For

                I’ve heard it said, “without vision how can you know where you are headed?”   In leadership, vision is a must.  Before someone will follow your lead, they need to know that you are confident in the direction you are going.  That’s fair enough , isn’t it?

                         Pastor Bill Hybels spoke at a leadership conference a few years ago and talked about how important it is for a leader to “own” a vision.  His message was simple.  He asked, “Would you be willing to sacrifice deeply or even die for the vision God has placed in your heart?”  It’s almost impossible for any leader to hear that question and not be drawn to reflection.  

                        To put this idea into perspective, think about some of the greatest humanitarians in history; Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi and most recently Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Each one of these men paid the ultimate price to see their vision come to completion.  They understood deeply the severity and importance to see the end result of the vision that drove them through life.  

                        Hybels agrees and encourages leaders within the church to take ownership of the vision that has been placed on their heart.  Understand that it has been given to you for a reason; and that is to see it through to the end.