I read this Scripture today and it made me think about compassion:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16.
People are not impressed by a churches attendance, staff, growth or buildings. Jesus says there is one force in this dark world that can shed light in a dark world. That force is the local church, the people.
What impresses or impacts people is feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, doing house repairs, helping someone move, visiting someone in the nursing home, helping people in financial trouble, reaching out to those that are hurting and blessing the life of someone else. That gets peoples attention.
The early church in Acts 2, attracted some of the most undesirable, helpless people. They eventually overpowered the world and are still growing today.
So, how brightly is your light shining? How brightly is our churches light shining? Are you involved in activities that will cause someone to say what a good God there is? Maybe your wattage is dim – 25 watts instead of 100 watts.
I am talking about acts of compassion. Many of us like to think we are compassionate, but thinking and doing are two different things. Here are three reasons to engage in acts of compassion:
1. When you let your light shine to others, it will change you.
Think about that. What causes authentic joy in most people? Is it having more money, eating chocolate, nice clothes? Think about this; if you would do something that is pleasurable for you personally like going shopping or tinkering in your workshop and then do something for someone else like rake your elderly neighbors yard or help build a ramp for a handicapped person, what brings more joy. For most people it when we help someone in need.
When people focus on others they are happy, when people focus on themselves they get depressed. I spoke with a guy last week and he shared that the most meaningful time in his life was when he went on a short-term mission trip with his church. That was when he felt most alive and full of joy.
2. You change the world one person at a time.
How can you touch the life of someone? It may be your neighbor, it may be a family you know is in need. There are a lot of people in this world that have next to nothing. Here is a challenge for you. Take one meal and eat only rice. As you eat the rice think about the many people that only have rice to eat every meal. Maybe you can donate food to one of the local food pantries. I am involved with the Greater Dover/NewPhila food pantry at the Dover Salvation Army. We are supplying food to people every Friday. There are food pantries in Uhrichsville, Newcomerstown and Millersburg. Everyone can start right now by doing acts of compassion for one person this week.
I remember some of the people we helped on our huricane Katrina relief trips. I saw the smiles on their faces and the tears in their eyes. That is helping one person at a time.
3. It does something to the heart of God, it blesses God!
Jesus said whatever you did for the least of these you did for me. God loves it when we give and show compassion to other people.
Have you turned any heads lately by simply giving without expecting anything in return. Many people start out with good intentions, but then get busy and preoccupied and forget about all those people out there. We can forget we are in the people saving business. God wants people that are willing to go into the life saving business. He wants churches that are outward focused and shining brightly in their communities and around the world.
I so glad I am part of a church that is reaching out and shining brightly. Every person that calls NewPointe their home church can make a difference in someones life. Think about how you can show compassion to those around you. Be watching for opportunities to help reach out to the world through NewPointe or your own church.
I met with a friend for breakfast this morning, and he shared a story with me that I had to share. My friend does not come to NewPointe Church, but recently left his church of 20 years and is attending another church. He told me about a couple that were members of his old church for over 30 years. He told me that he can only remember them attending the church a couple of times each year. They were a very nice, well liked couple, but they just rarely went to church and never got involved.
He said he met with them last week. They came into his office and got to talking about church. This couple is now in their 70’s, retired and they have grandchildren. They told my friend that they are attending NewPointe Community Church. My friend was surprised that they would attend a larger church with contemporary music. Their old church did only hymns and had a large pipe organ.
They went on to say how much they love going to church. They enjoy the music and the messages and they are now taking their grandson with them. Their grandson absolutely loves going to church and is upset if they don’t come and get him. Last week they both were not feeling good, but they went and took their grandson to KidStuff, which is between the two services. This couple is excited about Church and God and is growing after 30 years of being a member of a church and going through the motions.
I love hearing stories like that because it let’s me know that NewPointe is reaching a wide variety of people in all stages of life. It let’s me know that we are connecting with people and are helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the word Coach. I met with an Executive Coach to talk about my personal and professional growth; I have been meeting with a nutrition coach twice a week to stay accountable on my weight loss goals (I have lost over 8 pounds in two weeks); I am currently coaching about 18 small groups here at NewPointe Community Church. I also coach around 15 volunteer teams.
So what is up with coaching and why is it important in our lives? I have come to realize that I need other people to hold me accountable, encourage me, motivate me and push me to my full potential. On my own I tend to get off track and out of focus. I can easily lose track of the vision for my life, marriage, ministry, health and work. I can do OK and get by, but I can get easily distracted. If you have set up some goals for your life, I highly recommend finding a coach to help you achieve those goals. That can be a little different for everyone. For some people that may mean going out and hiring someone like a fitness trainer or executive coach. Or it may mean finding an accountability partner that will ask you tough questions on how you are doing. Others may need to find more of a mentor to learn from and give them advice.
When I think about a good coach, there are some qualities that stand out. You may think about sports when I say coach, but this applies to our everyday lives as well. So here are some thoughts on a good coach:
A good coach chooses players well. If you are leading people in any way, you are coaching them. A good coach sees the potential in people and can draw out that potential.
A good coach constantly communicates the game plan. They tell people what they expect of them. Give them an opportunity to perform, and be a part of the plan. They let them know how they are getting along, so they can learn and improve and then rewards them for doing a good job.
A good coach takes the time to huddle. Meeting with people on a regular basis is vital in any coaching relationship. I meet with my nutrition coach two times a week. It keeps my goals in front of me and keeps me accountable to do the hard work. Regular huddles improves focus, give you an opportunity to listen, and to make changes as needed.
A good coach knows what his players prefer. People value appreciation for a job well done. People also like the feeling that they are “in” on things. They also want to know that someone cares about them.
A good coach excels in problem solving. I look to my coaches to help me solve problems. I also try to help solve problems for the people I coach. Often times the people I meet with come up with their own solution, but they just needed someone to talk to and think through the problem.
A good coach provides the support needed for success. What I mean by that is you get everyone involved, give plenty of affirmation, simplify as much as possible and create momentum. Often this is done by sharing stories of success.
A good coach commands the respect of the players. The key here is trustworthiness. Building a trust relationship is vital. They let people know they care about them.
A good coach does not treat everyone the same. Sometimes a coach has to be firm and tough. Other times you need to be patient and kind. People all respond to different kinds of motivation and attention. They know their people well enough to understand how to motivate and encourage them.
A good coach continues to win. Good coaches focus on the basics and keep things simple. They focus on skills that will help the team be successful. To win you need to be willing to change and adapt and constantly recast the vision to your team.
Finally a good coach understands the levels of the players. Some players need direction, some need coaching, some need support and other can be delegated to. Knowing the team is vital.
Maybe you need to go find a coach like I did. Maybe you need to be a coach like I am. Maybe you need help in your marriage, your work, your ministry, your health, your relationships. Finding a good coach can really jump start you on your way to improving quickly. Maybe you need to be a coach to others, by sharing your wisdom and knowledge. In any case, coaching is important. If you want to go to the next level you need someone to coach you. Even Tiger Woods has a coach that he meets with on a regular basis. If Tiger needs to be coached then I need to be coached as well.
Sorry it has been a while since my last posting. Between internet and computer problems and just being a little busy I have not been posting.
One of my goals this year is to read 20 books. I have been up and down on my reading and yesterday after talking with a friend of mine I was inspired to refocus my reading and plan out what I will read this year. I like reading fiction and non-fiction, so I plan on mixing the two. Fiction is more for my own therapy and non-fiction is to learn and grow.
I want to advance my leadership this year and I know that I need to change some habits to do that. One thing is to be more structured and disciplined in my reading. My friend told me that if you can read 15 minutes a day, you can read most books in two weeks.
I just finished a fiction book by James Patterson called Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. It is a romance book, which I rarely read. However a friend gave it to me and so I read it. I was surprized by one of the things I learned in the book. The author talks about the story of the five balls.
It goes like this.
“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls -family, health, friends and integrity- are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginning of balance in your life.”
I was talking with another friend of mine on Tuesday morning and he was sharing about some ministry stuff he was doing and then about work. He told me he knows the ministry stuff is more important than work and it reminded me of the five balls. He said that he could walk away from work, but he cannot walk away from family, God and ministry to hurting lost people.
I would call the integrity ball the spiritual ball. Our relationship with God. That ball is very important and should not be dropped, but it is usually the first one to be dropped. When you drop that ball you tend to think that you have more time to spend on juggling the other four balls.
I have found that when I drop the spiritual ball I tend to struggle even more keep the other four in the air. You see God wants to be first in our lives. He tells us that he does not want anything else in front of our relationship with Him. If we do that, the other balls are much easier to juggle because now our vision is clear and our purpose in life is clear. If your looking for some balance in your life think about that.
I hope that helped some of you as much as it did me.
On Thursday I taught a class on Ethics to a group of leader’s in the Leadership Holmes County class in Millersburg OH. I have taught this class for several years now and I still enjoy the interaction I get. This group had around 23 people. This yearly program has helped to raise the awareness of the importance of leadership development. It is encouraging to see leader’s taking the time from their busy schedules to work on themselves. There are similar programs in Tuscarawas and Wayne counties as well.
Ok, so here is what I talked about for two hours. I know you can hardly wait to read about ethics. It can be a dry topic, but I believe it is a vital part of our work and private lives.
The big “ethical” scandal right now is in Major League Baseball with steriods and HGH. A few years back it was Enron, Tyco & Arthur Anderson. I started by asking the group to do an exercise. I asked them to write down what they would want people to say about them at their funeral. Not what would they say, but what you want them to say. Those usually are not the same, but while you are still alive you can change that. This will help you to focus in on the important things in life like relationships and your character. This happened to Alfred Nobel. One morning he woke up and read his obituary in the paper. His brother had died, but they wrote his obituary. It focused on his invention of dynamite and how many people it has killed and places it has destroyed. Alfred was stunned and did not want to be remembered that way. So he spent the rest of his life promoting peace and eventually had the Nobel peace prize named after him.
I believe that ethics comes down to personal choices and the character of each person. Character really matters! Here are some talking points on character:
Character is more than talk
Talent is a gift; Character is a choice
Character brings lasting success with people
Character doesn’t always get rewarded in our lifetimes
People cannot rise above the limitations of their character
I went on from there and talked about Five Factors that Keep us from Always being ethical. You see, most of us can say that we are mostly ethical, but not always ethical.
The first factor is pressure. Things like deadlines, peer pressure, big opportunites, bad results and financial problems all cause pressure. That pressure can cause us to cut corners and make bad choices.
The second factor is pleasure. The “if it feels good do it” mentality has cause huge debts, bankruptcy, divorce and all kinds of addictions. To fight this factor you need to avoid temptation, pratice discipline, delay gratification and see the end results.
The third factor is power. Power itself is neutral, like money. It is the love of power or money that gets us in trouble.
The fourth factor that keeps us from always being ethical is pride. Ken Blanchard said that pride is the greatest addiction in the world. To fight against pride you need to work on being humble. A good definition of humilty is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking about yourself less.
The fifth factor is priorities. Our priorities can get messed up quickly if we don’t know what our values and vision are. As a business or individual we can get stretched in so many directions that we end up not being good at anything. The Hedge Hog concept from the book “Good to Great” asks: What are you deeply passionate about? What can you be the best in the world at? What drives your economic engine? Answer those questions and you narrow your focus.
I then went on to give five ethical anchors that can help us make ethical decisions.
1. Ethical behavior is seldom a last-minute decision
2. Leading by example is a crucial component for integrating ethical behavior into a corporate culture.
3. The people within an organization must believe in its core values or those values will be worth very little.
4. Personal ethics are formed by our inner-space view of the world around us.
5. Friendships are a key part of shaping and maintaining your convictions
Well, those are the highlights. I also shared a bunch of stories that illustrate these points. I am sure you can think of some as well. I would love to hear about ethical choices you have had to make or lessons you have learned along the way.
Most people like to hear stories. Whether it is on TV, magazines, newspapers or the internet. We relate and remember stories. That is why every Monday morning at our staff meetings we share stories that we have heard or experienced in the past week. This is a great motivator for our staff, because it reinforces that our church is making a difference.
I met with an executive coach this past week and he asked me what gets me excited. I told him hearing stories about life change. Stories about people growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Stories remind me that what I am doing really does make a difference. The Bible is filled with incredible stories, like Joseph, Esther, Daniel, and my favorite Nehemiah.
Here is a story from last week:
I called a guy that has started coming to NewPointe this past week. He had asked that someone call him, so I did. He had some questions about where we stood on certain things and what I thought about some situations he was in. After we covered those topics I asked him how he ended up at NPCC and why he came back.
He said that the reason he first came was his girlfriend. She came here and wanted him to come with her. His background with church was much different than NPCC, he had grown up Catholic. He said that at first he was a little shocked that you could take coffee into church. He told me that he immediately connected with the music and then the message was practical and easy to understand. He said the reason he came back was becasue he liked it and found it very helpful. He also has two children and they loved it wanted to come back as well (That always helps).
He has been here 5 or 6 times and plans on continuing. He told me one thing that really connected with him was when Pastor Dwight talked about the church being a tool shed, where we come to get tools to help us grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He said he looks forward to Sunday’s now and plans to make this his Church home. I am so excited about what God is going to do in this guys life. I know there are many more people with similar stories and that keeps me going.
I would love to hear other stories of how God is working in your life. I have heard stories about restored relationships, reconciled marriages, transformed finances, physical healing, emotional healing, transformed parenting, people finding their place to serve, stories of new friendships through small groups, stories of changed attitudes at work stories of community outreach. If you have a story please share it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.