Build Church: 5 Ways Failing Can Actually Benefit Us

It could be argued that we live in a world driven by the need to succeed and to do so at any cost (sometimes). The danger comes for us in building church when such a culture begins to influence our attitude towards what we are doing.

We may become more task focused and less people focused.
We may become all about ‘what’ and forget the ‘why’ behind all we are doing.
We may become overly critical of the small stuff losing sight of the bigger picture.

Such behaviours can change the culture from one faith to one of fear, especially one where people become fearful of not attaining to the right level of success and therefore they withdraw from what it is God is calling them  to do.

Failure is important when it comes to building church for the following reasons:

We learn what works and what doesn’t work. It’s pretty obvious but it means we can then make any necessary changes.

We are actually trying something new or different. The easiest way to not fail is to not do anything new or different.

Shows us as inclusive not exclusive. If the drive for excellence makes people feel like they can only be part of the church by getting everything right every time, we have by default created a very exclusive culture.

Helps encourage creative thinking. Once we know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ the ‘how’ can be imagined in so many different ways. Especially when we know failing at the idea isn’t the end.

Reminds us how much we need to be asking God for some help. God doesn’t think like us. We may have the plan and the dreams but we have to allow God to ordain the steps. Without failing we often don’t learn.

What is the best thing you have learned when you have failed at something?

Lead Well: Repentance & Forgiveness

Leading well in life can be a challenge, even at the best of times. We will enjoy great days, followed quickly by what I lovingly refer to us ‘other days’.  We can create success out of nothing, yet sabotage ourselves just as easily.

And the biggest of sabotages will not come from problems we cannot solve, or from people who refuse to work with us, and not even from missing out on the success we consider we deserve. The greatest of sabotage will come from ourselves and how we respond to the mistakes we make along the way.

Will we cover up? Will we keep living like the other stuff hasn’t really happened? Or will we face the truth of it?

These are pivotal moments. Back in my twenties when I was confronted about certain lifestyle choices I had a decision to make. Ignore it or do the right thing. I had lied, covered up, behaved badly and now it had finally caught me out.

What I did was the hardest thing I had ever done, yet at the same time, it was the best thing I have ever done. I had some really difficult conversations with people I loved and asked them to forgive me.

It was a journey of repentance and forgiveness which was excruciatingly painful but beautifully liberating, all at the same time. I had learned one of my best lessons and I acknowledge that without travelling this path, I may not be leading the life I now am.

Be ready to repent. Be ready to ask for forgiveness. These two might be our greatest defence, helping us to keep leading well in life and to fulfil our true potential for God.

Repentance breaks the hold of whatever it is that has a hold of you.

Repentance disarms those things which can sabotage your God-given potential.

Repentance brings the truth out in to the open where it can then be dealt with.

Repentance gives God permission to get involved and to turn things around.

Repentance leads to forgiveness which leads to an outpouring of grace which sets you up for the future.

Repentance reminds you how much God loves you and how much those closest to you love you as well.

Let today be a pivotal moment kind of day. Be willing to be confronted or to confront yourself. For what and where do you need to say sorry? Who do you need to ask for forgiveness? Take the first step on this journey and don’t allow them to control you anymore.

Walk With God: Moments

An encounter with God can change everything. From a biblical point of view, an encounter with God can be a name changer moment.

Just ask Jacob. He was alone, waiting to head into an uncertain future, one which he had created through his own scheming, deceit and manipulation. He had lived up to his name.

Now, in the dark, alone, frustrated, anxious, lost, at the end of this own options and probably a little bit fearful too, God shows up.

In a moment, with God, everything changes. As it was for Jacob, so it can be for us. God can show up, in that moment.

A moment of acknowledgement. To stop living independently, working life out own my own, with my best laid plans and have a willingness to give depending on God a chance.

A moment of recognition. To see the power of God is at work in your life and His heart is to want to bless you.

A moment of acceptance. Of the person we think we are, the name we or others may have spoken over us and accepting who God thinks you are. Just as Jacob had to answer ‘What’s your name?’ so do we. Once we accept this, the transformation can happen.

A moment of exchange. Simply this, an old name for a new one.

A moment of wrestling. A stretch in our thinking, why we are here, what life is all about, how we should live and who we should live it for.

Rescued. Restored. Redeemed. Transformed. Delivered. Made whole.

The opportunity for a name-changer moment is always available, ever since Jesus did a complete work for us at the cross. Through that one moment, our moment can come.

From captive to free. From lost to found. From old to new. From guilty to forgiven. From unloved to loved. From weak to strong. From broken to whole. Right there in the moment of change is our story, the beginning of a journey of transformation, into the person who Jesus knows we can become.

How does that make you feel?

Lead Well: Think Things Through

For three days this week I was at a Conference in Peterborough with some of the Xcel Leaders. The topic this time was mission and evangelism. In reality the topic of conversation is not important. Instead, it’s the principle of what we were doing which is more important.

If we want to lead well in life we have to be willing to give time to thinking things through And to do so the following 3 step process we were encouraged to use may help.

1. REALITY: Whatever the focus of thinking, how are things right now? What’s working, not working? Be honest. One good thing to do is give yourself a score between 1-5 (where 5 = good).

2. POSSIBILITY: Take some time to think about all the possible ideas. What could you do? This provides a great opportunity to dream, create and innovate, alongside the seemingly obvious stuff too.

3. ACTION: From all the possibilities choose no more than 3 which you could work on. Attach milestones to each one, dates for accomplishment and metrics to measure success.

This process for helping our thinking process could be used for just about any issue. In the end it creates some focus for our energies which have the potential to bring about the much needed turnaround or transformation.

What do you think? How could you make this work for you?

17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017

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Towards the end of 2016 I wrote a two posts about how BIGGER was going to be my word for 2017. Check them out: Am I BIG Enough? and Jesus was the BIGGER Person.

I meant to follow that post with some thoughts as to where we could be BIGGER in 2017, so here goes.  Are we BIG enough in 2017 to…?

  1. Try something new
  2. Break with traditions
  3. Acknowledge you are not big enough & keep growing
  4. Be a carrier of the vision (of church, work, your life)
  5. Serve others
  6. Love the less loveable. Love your enemies
  7. Rely more on God than on my self
  8. Make new friends
  9. Ask every day for the Holy Spirit
  10. Remain humble
  11. Make room for God by letting go of other things
  12. Keep asking God to ‘change me’
  13. Forgive
  14. Repent
  15. Stop complaining about what I don’t have and be thankful for so much that I do have
  16. Be passionate
  17. Live ‘as if’ this is all true

17 things for 2017 where I know I could definitely grow, become the BIGGER person, make more room for all that God can do with all of these in my life.

What do you think? Would you add anything else?

Continue reading “17 Ways to Be BIGGER in 2017”

A Cleansed and Grateful Life

Your cleansed and grateful life will bear witness to what I have done. [Matthew 8:4]

Maybe I try too hard.

Maybe I feel that big is better when it comes to God.

Maybe I make it too much about me.

Walking with God is about putting my life on show bearing witness to all that He has done for me. Nothing speaks louder that a cleaned up life, a life filled with thankfulness, a life that recognises all that God has done.

I am learning that simple is always the best and most effective way she it comes to my relationship with God. In light of this verse I wonder if my life is such a life? How about yours?

Cast Your Burdens

Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. [Psalms 55:22 NKJV]

I am guilty of not always doing this. Just being honest. In my head I know that to cast my burdens on the Lord is the right thing to do but for some reason I just don’t.

If I’m brutally honest it’s because I like to be in control. I like to think that I can sort it out. The consequences of this way of thinking – ‘I’ am getting in the way of God’s best for me.

To ‘cast’ means to throw or hurl, to set aside, discard or reject. In reality to throw something requires letting go of the object you desire to throw. Otherwise it’s just holding on. To set something aside is a deliberate act on our behalf. A choice to put down one thing so it can be replaced by another.

The Apostle spoke about it like this in Ephesians 4. Put off, renew, put on. Put off old habits, emotions and practices, be renewed in your mind, put on new habits, practices and emotions. Capture everything and bring in line with the word of God.

I choose to put off the thoughts that my finances will never be enough. I renew my mind by the Word that tells me that God is my sufficiency, that He can meet all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

I choose to set aside the thoughts that my future is whatever it will be. I renew my mind by the Word that tells me God has a plan and a future for me, that He who has begun a good work in me will bring it to completion.

I choose to reject the thoughts that I will never get well. I renew my mind by the Word which tells me that by His stripes I am healed.

And here’s the bonus: when I choose to cast ALL MY BURDENS on the Lord, He sustains me, He makes me be unmovable. What an incredible exchange this is. I give burdens to God which means I don’t have to waste my energy. I give burdens to God which means I don’t have to run around anymore. My energy on my troubles for Gods energy on my troubles. My rushing about on my troubles for Gods ability to make me secure and steadfast.

Thank you God for being willing to do this for me. Help me every day to cast my burdens on You.

Some Benefits of Change

At 19 you feel invincible. The world needs to be ready for the awesomeness that is you.

I can’t really remember what I was like as a 19 year old stepping into leadership for the first time except that I can almost guarantee that change would have been necessary somewhere in my make-up. I am not perfect now, definitely wasn’t then.

Maybe I was a bit precocious. 
Maybe I thought that no one could tell me anything.
Maybe I was of the opinion that I knew what I was doing.
Maybe I felt this is it, I have made it.
Maybe my people skills were not honed yet and I upset people when I said things.
Maybe there were times when my life and my leadership didn’t always marry up. [See last post]

Quietly and carefully those around me changed me. Some more deliberately, others less obviously. There was no formal leadership development programme when I started. It was learn as you go. Change as you go. Or don’t be a leader anymore.

How has it helped me? CHANGE…

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Clarity – focus, sharpness, some clear self-awareness about yourself and your leadership skills
Hard – it’s never easy admitting that you need to change, but if we don’t then we probably won’t improve
Attitude – the right one is essential. If you don’t work on this then your leadership is lost
Normal – as Giuseppe Tomase di Lampedusa in his novel, The Leopard wrote ‘If we want things to stay the same, things will have to change’. Change just needs to become a normal part of our leading. Not just for the sake of it, but so we are always ready to eabrace it
Growth – if we want to grow then we need the uncomfortableness that change often brings. Some stretch and challenge that will inevitably make us more effective as leaders is good
Energy – a change of programme, some new ideas, a different leader, new team members, a shift of focus – all of these can bring fresh energy, passion and life to something that has maybe gone stale

Everything we do is an opportunity to learn and therefore an opportunity to make change. We must aways be open to the need for change and embrace it rather than fight it. It is not inevitable but it is necessary. Recognising the need for change is one thing, in my head I know it’s right. Far off it sounds great. The transition of it in my heart though, that may take a little longer.

And looking at that list again, I’m still in need of learning and changing, perhaps more than I am willing to admit.

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How have you changed as a leader through the years? What would you share that could help others?