Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Some People Stay & Some People Go

In 2011, CBN celebrated its 50th anniversary and many leaders from around the country came to celebrate.  Many “big wigs” (as my mom would say) came out for the event, and the 700 Club daily show staff produced the all-day extravaganza. As guest producer of the 700 Club, I was in charge of briefing each one and getting them where they needed to be.  I met the governor of Virginia, congressmen, several international ministry leaders, and several local mayors.  It was a bit nerve wracking (understatement!), but thankfully, one of the leaders in the room was a dear friend (I won’t name names).  I think we were both happy to see a familiar face in the crowd!

At some point, this leader asked me how our new church was going.  I told him that it was a bit more difficult being lead pastors than we’d imagined.  The hardest part? he asked.  I said dealing with people . . . friends leaving . . . hoping you’re getting it right, etc.

He then gave me a piece of advice that helped me, and I scribbled it down.  It’s on a little sticky note that I keep in my desk, and sometimes it helps explain why some people stay and some people go. 

He said every leader experiences three types of followers.  First, the “comrades.” These are people who are with you because they hate something or someone else, and you’re success is their best chance to (and I’m paraphrasing) stick it to them, get back at them, ensure their demise, etc.  When that is accomplished, they will bail.

Then, you have the “constituents.  These are people who believe in your cause, or at least one of your causes.  But, when the cause is gone or their job in the cause is done, so are they.  No hard feelings and no regrets . . . just let them go and bless them on their way out.

Finally, you have your “confidants.”  These people are there for you and will have your back.  Even if you move in a different direction or make a mistake, they are loyal.  I would add that your confidants trust that God has called you to pastoring, they have a teachable spirit, and they pray for you.  They will come alongside you and hold your hands up when you are weary.

Of course not every person/situation fits into these 3 categories . . . each person who leaves & each person’s reasons are unique.  All I know is, this helped me.

To this day, that leader has no idea how much this encouraged me in such a hard season when I really was tempted to quit.  I thank God for all the people who have “stuck it out” with us, imperfect as we are.   I will be forever grateful for our confidants, our friends.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Prov. 17:17

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Change the Atmosphere

When January rolls around, it seems like God gives me a key verse or an assignment to focus on for that year.  This year He showed me Jeremiah 20:13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
 For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.”  

When I read that verse the Lord said, “Lori I want you to praise me this year like you’ve never praised me before.  Every day.  When you’re tempted to mumble, grumble or complain, I want you to praise me.  When the situation is not going your way, praise me.  When you receive bad news, praise me.  I want you to make this a year of praise and thanksgiving. If you do this, I promise to rescue you and meet your needs.”

Immediately, I was both excited and challenged.  As soon as I agreed to make this my goal, I was hit with bronchitis.  When I’m sick, that’s always the most difficult time for me to keep my attitude right!  But, as the sickness dragged on, I realized there were plenty of things to praise God for, and each time I did, I noticed I’d laugh, smile, and feel more cheerful.

As I’ve meditated on this scripture, two other stories came to mind.  First, who isn’t convicted by the story of Paul and Silas singing praise songs in prison? (Acts 16)  I’ve heard that story so many times, but if you stop and think about it. . . how crazy is that?!  Can you imagine how unsanitary, dark, dank, and disgusting a first century prison would have been?  Not exactly a place that would have an “atmosphere of praise!”  Probably more like an atmosphere of moaning, groaning, and swearing!  But as Paul and Silas worshipped, God sent an angel to break open the prison doors and release the chains of every prisoner.  When you praise, miracles are released!  Your praise changes the atmosphere!

When I was a teenager, I read Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place.  One story in the book made a huge impression on me. Corrie’s sister Betsy had a positive attitude and thankful spirit, even in the horrific surroundings of a Nazi concentration camp.  This annoyed Corrie.  Corrie wanted to murmur and complain along with the other women, but Betsy would always correct her and point out the positive. 

One day Betsy said, “Corrie, we need to thank God for the lice.” 

An abundance of ALL sorts of critters, especially lice, constantly harassed Corrie and all the other women in the barracks.  After hearing this, a somewhat exasperated Corrie stated, “Betsy, You’ve gone too far this time.  I’m not going to thank God for the lice.  But it wasn’t too long before Betsy’s prayer made sense. Betsy and Corrie led daily Bible studies each day, and during these forbidden meetings they led many women to the Lord.  They found out later that the German soldiers avoided the barracks because of the lice.

Paul says, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  (I Thess. 5:18) Would you consider joining me as I attempt to praise God in every circumstance?  Realize, we don’t have to praise God FOR the circumstance, but we need to praise God IN the circumstance.  He is able to work ALL things together for good!