Sometimes I want to go back in time and simply ask Alexander Graham Bell, “What were you thinking?” I’m sure he could not imagine digital technology. Certainly, he could not have foreseen an entire generation constantly connected to a cell phone. I’m sure he didn’t anticipate the communication tether that would wrap us in email, phones, Twitter, e-books, Facebook, Skype and satellite TV. Whatever Bell’s intentions, faster and more immediate communication can work against personal, spiritual renewal. While I’m certainly not an expert in turning off, tuning out and taking time away, let me suggest a couple of goals that I’m pursuing this fall.
Turn it all off once in a while.
Be sure to turn off all of your devices and electronics and take some time away with your family from time to time. You may need to schedule this time – even if it’s only in your own mind. Find a place or two where you simply won’t take your phone (like the dinner table, or on a walk with your spouse). Maybe you’ll need to designate a day or two per week when you don’t turn on the TV or the car radio. Some of us may even need to participate in a media fast (if that’s frightening, you might want to simply try shutting off Facebook for a day at a time).
Choose your “renewal media”.
Decide to spend some time engaged with media that will help you reach your goals. For instance, this fall would be a great time to develop a book list that you will plan to read in the next several months. You can make a similar plan with podcasts, blogs or audio books. Even if it is only a book a month or a podcast every couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much material you will access over the course of a year. (The first person to text “renew” with their name and address to 712.251.5072 will get a copy of Road Trip Leadership by George Wood)
Listen in God’s presence.
Often, when I am inundated with media, my prayer time begins to feel rushed and fast-paced, too. Be sure to make time to simply be in God’s presence. It seems that when my heart is quiet, I am most able to hear God’s voice.
In order for our ministry to be most effective, we need times of renewal where we escape the din of constant media, and we need to choose to access the messages that will refresh our spirits and our minds. Healthy, renewed pastors are better able to lead healthy, renewed churches.
by Jonathan Barthalow
Some time ago Tom and Heath captured a vision for the college campuses and university students across our state. And now, God is sweeping across eight campus mission fields through the ministry of Chi Alpha, and we know that He has even greater things in store. Because of their leadership and vision Chi Alpha is in place at UNI and seven students were able to encounter God and give their hearts to Him last during the first meeting of the school year!
A crucial aspect of leadership is vision. Without a vision of what could be, we are wandering in the dark only seeing what is, with no direction and little hope for what lies ahead. We need to get a hold of God and ask him for the vision to see things the way He sees them. Perhaps right now, in your home, church or city all you see are things that are not as they should be. Pray for God’s eyes to show you how He sees things. On the college campus, there are many opportunities to look around and be disheartened by all that is broken and distorted, but we choose to celebrate what God is doing in the lives of those who are boldly and confidently at work restoring what has been damaged. We see him at work in the darkest of places, and we’re encouraged by his plans and his work.
The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, visited the projects and met up with a woman who had lived there all her life. She asked him to look around and tell her what he saw. He said, “I see a drug deal over there, broken down buildings,” and proceeded to tell her everything he could see that was wrong. She turned to him and said, “You can’t help us.” She knew that until he saw the project for what it could be, instead of what it was he would be of no use to them. Let’s be that woman in the lives of the people in our sphere of influence and in our communities.
by Lori Jacobs
While an essential part of leadership is discovering what your gifts are, an equally important part is discovering what your gifts are not.
I can’t read a map to save my life, but my friend Kamyl always knows exactly which direction she is going and could maneuver her way across the continent, choosing either the scenic route or the quick route, with no sweat. While I have trouble taking charge, I have friends who love to be in control and give friendly orders to see a goal accomplished. I don’t always see the big picture; however, I do have people in my life who can see a vision for the future and design the path to get there. (In fact, I am married to one of those people).
So, you may be asking, what can she do? If you were to assign me a task, I would type and print a list, a timeline, and an outline, place it all in a 3-ring binder, and carry out every detail. I would even clean up afterward and put everything away, enjoying every step, seeing it through to completion.
God designed each one of us with specific gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12, God’s plan is very clear: “Now you are the body of Christ, and every one of you is part of it.” (verse 27) With this in mind, build a team who will help you explore, dream, work, and grow. Take others along with you–traveling together is so much better than trying to go alone.
God said to me, I could well have made human beings in such a way that they each had everything, but I preferred to give different gifts to different people, so that they would all need each other. – St. Catherine of Siena
Know your gifts. Build a team. Reach your destination together.
“The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, will be on Sunday, September 11. Tributes to those who lost their lives in the attacks, including those attempting to save the lives of others, are planned nationwide.
“In remembrance of the tragic events of 9-11, which also inspired multiple acts of heroism and sacrifice, Dr. George Wood has created a video message and prayer. The brief message, which can be downloaded and used in a church service setting, recalls the events of 9-11, the impact they had upon our nation and recognizes the One who provides lasting peace and security.
“Wood concludes the message with a prayer for those still bearing the grief of their losses, a plea for a spiritual awakening in the Church and nation, and that God would continue to bless America.
“‘The United States — even the world — changed on 9-11,’ states AG Communications Director Juleen Turnage, ‘but God did not. I pray churches choose to use this remembrance video to help touch and change lives.’