Lessons from Nehemiah Part 4

An accurate view of reality.

 Nehemiah had a vision: to see is people safe back at home. Nehemiah had a task: to build the wall in Jerusalem. His vision and his task motivated him to act on behalf of his people.

Nehemiah displayed incredible leadership when it came to actually carrying out his God-given task. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem went to the source of the problem: the wall. In chapter 2 we read that late at night he got up and walked the walls to assess the damage. Instead of relying on other people, he saw the problem for himself. Through his first hand knowledge he was able to come up with a plan to rebuild the wall. 

What would have happened if Nehemiah started work on the wall without seeing the damage? He may have sent workers to the wrong spot, not provided the right resources or underestimated the need. 

In order to be a Spiritual leader, we must have an accurate view of reality. In other words, we have to solve the problems that actually exist. To have an accurate view of reality, we need to see the problem for ourselves.

One time I had a small group leader that I thought was doing a great job. He was a nice guy and was faithful, so I assumed that everything was great in his group, but I never observed his group. I started to hear rumblings of discontent and dismissed them as students being complainy. I decided to visit his group anyways to see him at work. Through watching him firsthand I realized that he was dropping the ball on some key areas. Since I saw him lead a group first hand, I was able to help him grow in these areas and he became a must better small group leader.

When we fail to have an accurate view of reality we start solving the wrong problems and we solve them in the wrong way. We answer questions our students aren’t asking. We fix programs that don’t need fixing. We don’t see the problems until they have become out of control.

Leadership requires that we face our challenges head on and we can’t do that if we don’t know what the real issues are.

Step back and observe – If you are in the middle of the storm you can’t see things objectively. Sometimes you need to let go of some tasks so that you can observe your ministry.

Ask questions from the right people – If you want to know how you are doing ministering to families, then you should probably talk to some parents. 

When you know what’s really going on in your ministry, you’ll be able to make the necessary course changes to solve the problems that actually exist.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

Guest Post: Does God Give Second Chances?

John 21:15-17 is one of my favorite passages.

Jesus is alive and well after his crucifixion. He conquered death and Hell!

He reveals himself to the disciples in a way that is very familiar. He tells them to cast the nets and they catch many fish. They finally realize who he is.

Flash back to chapter 18. Peter denies Jesus. He does not associate with him when asked if he was one of his disciples. He hears the rooster crow and then goes out and “wept bitterly”. What kind of friend was he? What had he done?
Would this be the end for him? Would he ever truly follow God again?

This is where 21:15-17 is so beautiful.
Jesus asks him three times if he loves him. And Peter says yes each time. No doubt I believe he did love him. He was at that moment experiencing the astounding grace of Jesus.

Jesus was reminding him of his mission. To “catch people” or evangelize and to “feed the sheep” or pastor/lead the church.

Think about this. Jesus came to them even though they had pretty much forgotten what he had told them. Jesus didn’t give up on them. He didn’t give up on Peter.

Think of how much Peter blew it. Some may say he didn’t deserve a second chance.

Sadly, I can relate with Peter. I am Peter.

I gave my life to Jesus yet many times have denied him, turned my back, chose my own way, and betrayed him. And I have wept bitterly. But Jesus has never left me or given up. In fact, he has remained constant. And that overwhelms me.

Our ministries are full of students who don’t think God even cares or they feel as though they have gone too far. They are overwhelmed with guilt. They don’t fit in.

We MUST preach grace and show grace. We must teach leaders and volunteers to never give up on the students who seem to be gone and hopeless. Or stop fighting for the lonely and broken. God WILL work and move!

God most definitely gives way beyond second chances. His love never fails or gives up!

Matthew Sawyer is the student pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Dothan, AL. (www.sbcdothan.org) Matthew writes his own blog at: http://matthewls.com/

Lessons from Nehemiah Part 3

Work the System

Nehemiah is a tutor of sorts for Spiritual leaders. In the past two posts we’ve seen that he was a man of great compassion and courage. He was sensitive to God and His people.

Nehemiah also worked the system. When Nehemiah saw the need of his people he used his position as a cupbearer to his advantage.

In Nehemiah 2 we see the interaction he had with his boss. “If it pleases the king, send me back home to rebuild the walls.” Well it pleased King Artaxerxes and Nehemiah was released to rebuild the wall. He even got the king to write a letter of endorsement to ensure that he would be able to travel safely back to Jerusalem.

Based on what we know of Nehemiah was able to work the system because he was a trustworthy worker. The cupbearer was a position of trust. They ensured that the king’s drink was safe from poison. More than that they gave counsel and wisdom to the king. My guess is that Nehemiah had worked faithfully for years and because of that was able to cash in his chips so that he could go attend to the wall in Jerusalem.

You may think that working the system is using people to your advantage. This feels slimy. I’ve seen people in ministry to use relationships to get free game tickets, meals and even trips. This is NOT what I am talking about. A Spiritual leader must NEVER leverage their influence and relationships for personal gain.

Working the system ISN’T using people, it’s maximizing relationships. Nehemiah didn’t demand or pressure the king, he asked humbly. He also was’t asking selfishly, he was thinking of the people of Jerusalem.

I’ve made the mistake of not asking before. I don’t want to appear as if I’m using others so I don’t ask. This is a big mistake. If I don’t ask, then others aren’t included in serving the kingdom like Artaxerses did. I need to be more like Nehemiah and work the system.

We can work the system in a God honoring way when we act like Nehemiah. Don’t pressure people to get what we want. Serve others without expecting to get something in return. Ask humbly and selflessly when we know they can meet a need. This is working the system.

What are needs in your ministry that could be met simply by asking? Who are the people who can meet those needs? Chances are they are probably more than willing to help as long as you humbly work the system.

Read Part 2 of Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah
Read Part 1 of Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

TYMB 007: Students Called Into Ministry

[powerpress url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/theyouthministryblog/07_TYMB_007__Students_Called_Into_Ministry.mp3″]

In Session 7 of the Podcast, David talks about 4 things you can do when talking with students who feel called into ministry. Behind students surrendering their life to the Lord, students surrendering to to a life of ministry is one of the coolest things a Youth Pastor can experience.

After listening to this session, you will be better prepared to walk with students who feel this calling because you will:

 

1. Affirm Their Thinking Process
2. Point Them To Scripture
3. Help Them Examine Their Gifting
4. Help Them Start With Baby Steps

Action Items:

1. Give the podcast a Rating and Review on iTunes so that other Youth Pastors can find us!
2. What else will you do for students who feel called into ministry? Comment Below!

A Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

If you watched the Grammy’s, or if you have paid attention to pop culture recently, you have heard Macklemore’s Same Love. The song was written to make a statement about gay marriage.

As a youth pastor, I just sat there shaking my head wondering how many of my students were watching the Grammy’s when Macklemore and company performed multiple weddings during the song. Many of these unions were between gay and lesbian couples who exchanged rings to the tune of “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.” Macklemore also goes on a rant about the stance that organized religion has traditionally taken toward gay marriage. Take a listen:

While I don’t know where you stand on this issue, I came across a song on SoundCloud where rapper Bizzle responds to much of what Macklemore tosses out there.

Take a listen:

What do you think about this response? Are the issues handled correctly and in a culturally relevant way? What would your students think? Comment below!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

Russell Wilson on Jesus

In light of the Seattle Seahawks Superbowl win, check out what Russell Wilson says about Jesus. While I was cheering for the Broncos, I couldn’t be more excited for a stand-up dude, and Jesus follower like Russell Wilson.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-on-2-20-13-at-4.14-PM.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask, Email David.[/author_info] [/author]

How to Increase Productivity as a Youth Pastor

Here’s the sad reality… Many Youth Pastors get a bad rap when it comes to being disciplined, organized, and ahead of schedule. But not you. Not this year! Watch this video where I explain three calendars that will make 2014 your most productive year yet.

Get My Ideal Work Week  (Excel File).

Thanks Michael Hyatt for the new template!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Leadership Lessons From Nehemiah # 2

God Inspired Courage

The book of Nehemiah is full of great nuggets on Spiritual leadership. Last week I unpacked how Nehemiah had a tenderness that moved him to action. 
 
Another interesting thing I’ve noticed in the book of Nehemiah is how much prayer is in the book. 
 
2:4 “With a prayer to God in Heaven.”
4:4 “Then I prayed”
4:9 “But we prayed”
9:5 “Then they prayed.”
 
When you read Nehemiah, you see that these short little prayers come when Nehemiah needs courage. It’s when he’s talking to King Artaxerxes and when there is opposition to the building of the city wall. 
 
To me it reveals not Nehemiah’s super-spirituality. Think about this. Nehemiah must have been the one who retold the story so it could be written down. That means Nehemiah (a governor and reformer) intentionally revealed that he prayed for courage. I respect Nehemiah all the more now that I know that he led the Israelites even when he didn’t have the courage in himself.
 
Nehemiah knew that his strength to achieve great things came not from his own abilities and vision, but through the power and strength of his God. More than that, Nehemiah demonstrated humility by letting others see his lack of courage. 
 
By turning to God for courage Nehemiah becomes the leader the Israelites need. He rallied the people around God instead of himself and through that the wall was built and the glory of the city was restored.
 
Many times in ministry we are called to face a challenge that we aren’t up to. I know that I lack courage when I have conflict with someone and I need to address the issue. In those times, Nehemiah begs us turn to God and ask Him for courage.
 
So what about you? What are you lacking courage to do? Is it a hard conversation or a ministry change? Take time right now to ask God for courage.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

Avoiding the Machine of Ministry

If you are in ministry, you might at times feel tired.  I like to think of it as the machine of ministry.

The machine of ministry looks like this:
– You are exhausted mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually most of the time.
– You go through the motions of ministry work.
– Your only concern is the attendance, and you’re not that excited about stories of life-change.
– Worship is hard to get into because you “already know these songs.”
– You compare yourself with other churches and leaders.
– Your appearance gets more attention than your spiritual heart.

I’ve experienced these feeling at times in my own life.  How do we avoid falling into a robot of ministry where we lose sight of the sensitivity of God’s Spirit?

 – Remember the cross.  Preach the gospel to yourself everyday to remember the grace of Jesus and how we do not deserve it.
– Remain teachable.  Admit you have not arrived or know all the answers.  Just because you have a lot of knowledge or experience doesn’t mean that we stop hungering for more of God.
– Pray for people who need Jesus.  One of the sure ways to keep a humble, sensitive heart is to love and pray for people who are far from God.
– Invest in your family.  Get your ministry work done at the office and focus on giving your best effort at home.  Listen to your spouse and help your children know they are loved.  Pray with and for them.  Our families help us stay grounded and focus on what really matters.
– Stay dependent.  Tell Jesus that you need Him. A lot.

The truth is, Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18).  Men can build buildings and programs, but Jesus is the One who ultimately builds the church.  Our role is to be sensitive to how God wants us to serve Him and join what He is doing in ministry.  The long-term success of any man of God isn’t simply statistics, but it is being faithful to God’s calling to love Him and love people.

How are you able to stay close to your relationship with Jesus when ministry is so busy?
How do you avoid the machine and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life? 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/joshrobinson.png[/author_image] [author_info]Josh is the student pastor at Church @ The Springs in Ocala, Florida (www.thesprings.net). Josh has served in student ministry for 9+ years and has a passion to lead students to imitate Christ and influence the world! He has a personal blog at http://joshrobinson.cc[/author_info] [/author]

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

A Tender Heart

Over the holiday break, I read through the book of Nehemiah for the first time in a while. I was struck by the great insights about Spiritual leadership from this great book. For the next few weeks of posts, I’ll be pulling some of these lessons out and seeing what they can teach us today.

The first lesson from learned from Nehemiah is that Spiritual leaders have a tender heart. 

As a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, Nehemiah had gotten word that the people of Jerusalem were in trouble and that the walls of the city were in shambles. This meant that they were vulnerable to attack. More importantly Jerusalem, the a symbol of Israel’s spiritual condition, was in shambles and God’s glory was at stake.

Nehemiah’s reaction to the news reveals much of his heart.

1:4 “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” (NLT). 

Let me remind you that Nehemiah was a politician. He didn’t even live in Jerusalem. Yet, his heart was stirred to compassion for the city and people he loved. I don’t normally think of politicians as having tender hearts toward the people in their constituency, but Nehemiah displays it immensely.

A tender heart is a necessity for Spiritual leadership. Unless we can sense the pain and brokenness of our people, we cannot speak the truth in love. Leadership without a tender heart leads to indifference. We see those in our care as objects to be used instead of people who need to grow. When we lack tender hearts we put programs and initiatives ahead of people. This doesn’t lead to life change and true Spiritual growth.

I know that I am lacking tenderness when I am short with people, when I blame people and when I stop listening to them. I start getting frustrated with their lack of progress or for taking up too much of my valuable time.

We want the opposite. Tenderness sees the pain and walks with the other person. Tenderness helps us value the other person and makes us want to understand their situation.

Every other lesson we learn from Nehemiah is worthless unless we get this one down. Nehemiah is leading others because he cares for their well being.

Is your heart tender toward those you are leading or is it calloused and indifferent? If it is the latter, then maybe you need to spend some time with Jesus asking for a new heart toward those you are leading. Ask God to create in you a new heart of compassion and tenderness for those you are serving.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]