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Over the past several months, you have learned new ways to stay healthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You have learned different ways to communicate with and stay connected to the people entrusted to your care. You have discovered innovative ways to be and do church. Each of these experiences has helped to shape you into the leader needed for this point and time in history. My question is, how have you kept yourself relationally healthy? 

We know that relationships create the conditions that lead to trust, hope, and satisfaction. So, how are you doing in caring for and cultivating the relationships needed to navigate the uncertainty and confusion of a pandemic and of anti-racism?   

A Person and a Story

G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The only two things that can satisfy the soul are a person and a story; and even a story must be about a person.” How are you keeping yourself focused and healthy regarding your relationship to Jesus, the people with whom you live, work, and associate, and the community in which you live?  

Let’s focus upon two relationships that are necessary for leading today. These relationships are with God’s story and with God’s people. 

Your Relationship with God

Let’s start with your relationship to God’s story. 

1. Listen to God’s story.

Listening keeps your relationship alive. As you listen:

  • Put yourself in the story.  Ask yourself, “What voices of truth do I hear in the story?”
  • Reestablish your relationship with stories that have grown too familiar.
  • Give God thanks and express your gratitude for others.

2. Learn God’s story

The Christian life is a story of relationships. It is your RELATIONSHIP(S)…

  • with others and a peace regarding those relationships that is the number one ingredient in a quality life.
  • to God and to the people God has entrusted to your care that has you in your leadership role at this time. 
  • that help make you who you are. God is Love, and love is impossible outside of relationships. In relationship to God and to one another, you have no choice but to live with, listen to, and learn from the people around you.

3. Live the story

Christians live the story of Jesus.

  • God gives you a new heart and puts a new spirit within you. The word dwells within you. You become a living container for God’s word.
  •  When you tell the story of Jesus forgiving his enemies, you become someone who forgives his or her enemies.  When you tell the story of Jesus’s crossing the street to help an outcast, you cross the street to help the nearest outcast.
  •  Remember your relationship with God’s story is hazardous to your status quo. God’s story has the power to change the world. Be grateful for the ways your life is transformed. 

Your Relationship with God’s People

Another relationship necessary for leadership today is the relationship with God’s people. 

Whether you like it or not, as a leader, you are in the people business. Loving and caring for people has become a way of life. It is never easy but greatly rewarding. It is in and through the people God has put into your life that God shapes you into the person and leader you were created to be. With that in mind, here is a little exercise to assist you in becoming a healthier and more effective leader: 

  • Think of one person for whom you are grateful. A person who helps keep you healthy by reminding you of God’s love and acceptance.  A person who encourages you.
  • Get a face in your mind and a name on your lips. Keep that person in mind as you read the following:

Was It Just Two Pieces of Paper?

Sister Helen P. Mrosla, an assistant professor in the School of Education at Seattle University in Washington, tells the story of Mark and his classmates in a ninth grade math class she taught in Minnesota. One Friday, things just didn’t feel right. The class had worked hard on a new concept all week, and she sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves, and edgy with one another.

Two Pieces of Paper

To stop the crankiness, she asked the students to put their books away and to take out two sheets of notebook paper. She then asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on their paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she asked them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and to write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment. As the students left the room, each one handed her their papers. One of the students, Charlie, smiled.  Another student, Mark said, “Thank you for teaching me today, Teacher. Have a good weekend.”  

On Saturday, she wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper and she listed what everyone had said about that individual. On Monday, at the beginning of the class, she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. She listened as the students said things like, “Really? I never knew that meant anything to anyone!”  “I didn’t know others liked me so much.” After a few minutes, the class went back to studying math. There was no mention of those papers in class again.

A Common Experience from an Uncommon Moment

It was several years later that Sister Helen learned that Mark had been killed in Vietnam. She had gotten word that Mark’s family wanted her to attend his funeral. At the funeral she watched and listened. One of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her and asked, “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” She nodded “yes”. He said, “Mark talked a lot about you.”

After the funeral, most of Mark’s classmates headed to Chuck’s farmhouse for lunch. Sister Helen was invited to come by the house. When she arrived, Mark’s mother and father met her at her car. “We want to show you something,” Mark’s father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.” Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded, and refolded many times. Sister Helen knew what it was without looking at the paper.

A Folded Treasure

Mark’s mother said, “Thank you so much for doing that. As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

Mark’s classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk at home.”

Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

“I have mine too,” Marilyn said.  “It’s in my diary.”

Then Vicki reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I always carry this with me. I take it out and look at it every time I need encouragement. I think we all saved our lists.” 

Your Turn

  •  Do you still have a person in mind? Sometime today, tomorrow or this week, practice addition. Add a word of gratitude to their lists.
  • Make a phone call. Send a Text. Write an Email. Write a note and let them know how much you appreciate them and care for them. It can be as simple as “Giving God thanks for you today. Know how much you are loved and appreciated.” 

Relationships create the conditions that lead to trust, hope, and satisfaction. There are two relationships necessary for leading today: relationships with God’s story and with God’s people.

So, how are you doing in keeping your relationships healthy? Remember, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are available to assist you along your journey. Please do not be afraid or hesitate to ask for help. Let us know what questions you have or what you might need as you develop the relationships that help make you the leader needed for this time in history.

God became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. “Love one another as I have loved you.” You and I are a part of that story. May your relationships always reveal the blessing!

If you’ve spent any time with me at all, you likely know one of the questions that I will ask at some point. The question is some variation of, “Where have you experienced God’s presence?” 

The simplicity of the question can stun people to silence.

When I first started asking the question, I thought the silence I received was my failure to communicate. Then I learned the truth.

To answer the question, you have to be paying attention to where God is at work in your life. In nearly a decade of asking questions about God’s presence, one thing has become clear: most of us are beginners on this journey.

Before you reply, “I was raised in the church. I’m not a beginner!” Let me explain. Read more

During the month of March, there are abundant reminders of the importance of resilience, fortitude, and determination. Lent always has these reminders.

But, there’s another event that happens annually that’s also hard to miss. Whether or not you’re a college basketball fan, the stories that unfold during the NCAA Tournament can leave you sitting on the edge of your seat.

More than once over the weekend, I thought to myself, “It’s over.” And then…

The Unimaginable Happened.

Late Saturday night, the Michigan Wolverines were in a battle with Houston. With 3 seconds on the clock, Houston was in the lead, 63-61.

They had a chance to add two more points but missed two free throws.

At the opposite end of the court, Michigan passed the ball to a freshman, Jordan Poole, who had not scored the entire game. He lobbed a 3-point-shot in the air with one second on the clock, and at the buzzer, won the game. (Perhaps much to the dismay of Buckeye fans following their 86-90 loss to Gonzaga.)

The Wolverines said, “the game is not over.”

After the Michigan v. Houston game, Coach John Beilein said of Jordan Poole, “He practices that shot at the end of every practice.” They also made their free throws, a fundamental shot in basketball.

Reminders of Resilience

Sunday’s games reinforced the message of resilience:

  • Nevada, down 22 points, came back to beat Cincinnati in a 75-73 stunner. The Nevada team said, “the game is not over.”
  • Syracuse, a first four qualifier, beat Michigan State, a favorite to be in the Final Four, 55-53 in the last minute of the game.
  • The 2017 National Champs, North Carolina, fell to 7 seed, Texas A&M.
  • Xavier, another favorite, fell to Florida State. The Seminoles showed the Musketeers “the game’s not over” with four minutes on the clock. Florida State won 75-70, knocking off a number one team.

Perhaps you’ll say, that’s why they call it March Madness.

Or, perhaps, you’ll say, “the game is not over.” While there is nothing about leading the church that is “a game,” I do believe God’s not finished with us yet.

God is NOT Finished With Us Yet

Just like the players, the coaches, fans, and referees, we have a choice to make as we lead the church. God’s not finished with any of us. The challenges leading the church can feel like the pressure of a big game.

Whether you’re frustrated because of leadership challenges in your church or trying to navigate a changing community. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’re lamenting the demands of the church or yearning for the Easter morning celebration. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’re feeling your church is disconnected from your community or you’re tired of trying to connect with little support from your church. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’ve raised money in your church for special ministries or you have run out of money to be the special church in your community. God’s not finished with you yet.

To stay the course and embody the resilience, determination, and fortitude of those who are “playing to win” we need to practice our fundamentals.

If we’re honest, we all know how easy it is to overlook the daily practice of reading Scripture, prayer, and reflecting the love of God in my life. Busyness and the weekly rhythms of the local church can wear on even the most faithful.

You’re Invited to Practice

We’re on the Saturday side of Easter. Sunday is coming. There are opportunities to continue to live as faithful followers of Jesus who are filled with resilience and fortitude.

During the season of Easter, we’re heading into spiritual spring training with Parables: Reflections of Reality.

Sign up below. You’ll practice the disciplines that remind you, “the game is not over.” Or more importantly, God is not finished with you yet.

 

 

I grew up listening to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio. I remember placing my transistor radio under my pillow and listening to Waite Hoyt call the play by play. Over the years I have listened to Al Michaels, Joe Nuxhall, Marty Brennaman, and “The Cowboy,” Jeff Brantley. Today, I still wait to hear Marty say, “This one belongs to the Reds.”

In recent years, I have had the opportunity to attend several Reds’ Caravans. I have met some of my favorite players, talked with new prospects, gotten autographs, and listened to the hopes and expectations of those in the front office.

Read more

We’re expecting you at Spring Training…whatever the current season is!

Only there won’t be baseball bats and hotdogs. (Sorry to disappoint you ;))

There will be parables, prayers, and a reason for you to pause. This is Spiritual Spring Training!

“Parables: Reflections of Reality” is a seven-week journey of reading and praying the Parables, reflecting on the parable, and responding to God. It’s for individuals and/or groups.

That means this spring training is for YOU!

The Process:

  1. Read a Scripture.
  2. Reflect on a question.
  3. Respond to one question.

We’ll include a Deeper Dive into parables several days of the week. But, most of all, here’s your opportunity to engage the Scripture.

Head over to our Facebook Page to follow Transforming Mission. Then, request to join the Parables: Reflections of Reality Facebook Group. And make sure you “see first” to follow along.

Who is the For?

Individuals

Parables: Reflections of Reality is for anyone wanting to practice the disciplines of the faith, seeking to grow closer to Christ, and/or follow Jesus in an everchanging time.

Leadership Team/Church Council/Small Groups

“Parables: Reflections of Reality” gives groups a chance to practice talking about their faith. While it sounds simple, it’s not a practice most of our leaders embrace. What would happen if over seven weeks you practiced naming and listening for God’s movement together?

We’re certain you’ll grow closer to Christ, closer to each other, and may even have clarity on how God is inviting you to be a blessing in your neighborhood/community.

For the one looking to engage the spiritual disciplines, this process can provide structure and guidance. For anyone seeking to be faithful today, tomorrow, and the next day, this is a practice of faithfulness.

So, tell us, what spiritual practice are you ready to practice? Sign up below.  Here’s your opportunity to enter a season of spiritual spring training.

See you on the [mission] field!