Interdependent Dependents

Image by K. LathamBy Sam Snyder

The other day I was teaching my son how to use a wheelbarrow while I was moving a big dirt pile with my kids. He wasn’t quite tall enough or strong enough to make it all of the way by himself so I walked behind him carrying enough weight to balance the load and keep him going so that he could learn. He made it all the way, but he knew that it was only because I helped him that he was able to do what he did, not once did he think that he had done that all by himself.

Our lives are similar: God is behind us carrying the weight and keeping things steady, yet sometimes instead of recognizing His presence and His work in our lives we think we are the ones doing it without anyone’s help! We find ourselves in a culture that values independence, probably to a fault. We just celebrated Independence Day in United States and it’s great to be independent from the governments of other countries and to experience many freedoms we have today, but for many that independence has become an independence from God and from other people. There are many people “doing what is right in their own eyes” as long as they feel that they don’t “hurt” anyone (which is a pretty subjective measurement if there ever was one). They go through life without acknowledging God or giving Him thanks (Romans 1:18-32). Being surrounded by this it is easy for US to forget that we are God’s children and that we are called to dependent on Him!

I’m pretty sure that’s the type of relationship that Jesus modeled for us. Jesus lived His life IN Dependence not in Independence. He went so far as to say that He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). That’s a deep level of connectedness and dependence! The kind of dependence that a child has on a parent as their dependent or that the body has on the head to function. That’s why this new community, that is the church, is often talked about in the New Testament as a Body or a Family.

In Ephesians 4 Paul wrote about the importance of unity and interconnectedness within this body, the Church, which we call the Body of Christ. Each part works together to grow the whole body to maturity, connected in a deep unity rather than divided:

Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Paul uses a picture of interdependence in using the picture of a body growing up and building itself up as each part does its work. So Christ is the head and we are as dependent on Him as any part of a body is dependent on a head. We are meant to not only be dependent on Him but we are intended to be interdependent with each other, as no part of our body can fully do what it is meant to do without the cooperation and interconnectedness of the rest of the body.

Image by Jeremy PiehlerWe do need God and we do need each other. We are called be God’s dependents as His children and we also need every single member of the Body of Christ to be who God has created them to be and do what God has called them to do! God has knit us together to be inter-dependent with the His Body, with His Family! Dependent on Him and inter-dependent with each other, not to be independent from Him and from each other. This is true on a personal level for each of the people called to minister in the local expression of The Church we are working with, but it is also true in the greater expression of the Body of Christ as a Fellowship of Churches and in connection with the other expressions of the Body of Christ in our communities we live in and around the world. We need every part to do its work together with the others so that the WHOLE Body can grow and mature (Ephesians 4).

Are there ways that you have been living your life independent of God or without acknowledging Him as God or giving Him thanks?

Are there ways that you have functioned in life and in ministry believing that you didn’t really need the other personalities, giftings, cultures, or parts of the body of Christ within your local church body, your local community, or our Fellowship of Churches?

How can you value every individual member in the congregation God has called you to lead and help connect them to the rest of the local church Body?

How can you connect in greater ways with the other ministries in the Body of Christ to advance God’s Kingdom together?

How can we grow in missions by working together? How can we grow as leaders by working together?

How can we grow in our ministry impact by working together and learning from each other?

Meeting The Challenge Of Change

By Tom Yerman

ChangeWe are living in a time and place in which we here in America are possibly only beginning to experience and better understand the reality and challenge of something we only read about historically. The world is constantly changing and this younger nation is falling faster and further away from the One who gives it its stability. It is easy to see the evil that is rising up and challenging our faith and moral standards. The Foundation we were built on is solid, unmovable, and unchangeable, but the problem is that people in leadership positions of authority are making decisions/choices to distance themselves and our Nation from that Foundation, which we were built on, in a more evident way.

Head in SandChange is nothing new to this world, but the moral issues and sinful changes that are pressing upon this nation in opposition to God is something that is becoming more intense and difficult for people to embrace or admit. People either see it, don’t see it, or don’t want to see it. In reality, the hostility toward Christianity is increasing, truth is being suppressed, our Constitution is being ignored, freedom is being stripped away, and God is being rejected. I’m talking about the true God, our Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom He revealed Himself to the world. We cannot disregard what is clearly happening! We as a Nation are living in a time where the sinful practices of its citizens are becoming bolder, more widely accepted, and even promoted by its governing leadership.

God’s Church must be watchful, alert, and ready for every fight that is coming (laws that oppose our faith). The Church of God is called for such a time as this, making the most of every opportunity. There are three things that follow-up on sin. The first is sin’s consequences, the second is God’s judgment, and the third is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though these simple basic truths are offensive to people they must continue to be taught and proclaimed clearly without complication. Acts 4:8-20 and 5:29-42 give us courageous examples to follow. Different times, same challenges. There are no laws that man can make that will keep us silent or inactive in fulfilling God’s call and anointing on our lives for proclaiming the truth of His Word He entrusted to us. Sin is sin, Heaven and Hell are real places, and there is only one-way out – said with a smile.

Truth is needed today as it has always been and always will be for stability in the midst of evil. Truth does not change. And people cannot change the truth, but truth can change people. The issue is not so much that people want to change the world, it’s that the people themselves don’t want to change.

Fellow pastors and leaders I’m writing this to lovingly share my heart and encourage all of us to simply remain standing firm arm in arm with each other in Christ with His Word during these increasingly challenging times.

Our unity and care for each other in Christ during these times is critical – as Jesus revealed by His prayer for us, (John 17:20-26). Be mindful that the darker it gets, the brighter we will shine. Be certain that when the enemy comes in like a flood, God is faithful to lift up a standard against him. God, also named Yahweh Nissi (God my banner and victory) is our covering and clothes us in Christ with His love. Be assured that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. I know I’m not saying anything new, but that’s the point.

SwordBe prepared and remain standing on the truth. Take time to be intimately encouraged, refreshed, and strengthened by God, His Word, and prayer – daily. There is no greater relationship on earth than when a human being decides to take the time to talk and walk with his God, the Living God. The intimacy of prayer brings our soul and the presence of God together through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word. God has called us to a lifestyle of intimacy with Himself. And we can all agree that we have no greater need today than knowing that our God is 100% behind us. Remember, Remain, and Be. God has touched the hearts of mankind now it’s time to touch His. Walk courageously. Walk confidently.

Tom Yerman has been an FCA Pastor and Minister for many years in the Chicagoland area.

Honoring

As we approach Father’s Day, I can’t help but think of the importance of honoring the fathers in our lives, not just our parents, but also honoring the spiritual fathers in our lives. We have been blessed to have some great spiritual fathers and mothers over the years in the FCA who have left a legacy of deep connection and family. I know I have been tremendously blessed by being part of a family of ministers and ministries who are actively pouring into others and pouring into the next generation of leaders. I am thankful for all of those who have gone before me and those who have taken the time to pour into my life. It inspires me to do the same for others!

I was unexpectedly blessed this morning by a phone call from a friend who just called to thank me for being a part of his life over the last 10+ years. It was something so simple, yet so thoughtful and meaningful!

Who has poured into your life? Who can you thank today? Is there a spiritual father or mother you can honor this weekend?

At the 2015 FCA Convention the Heritage Committee honored Dr. Warren Heckman and his wife Donna for 57 years of ministry in the FCA and for these last 10 years as National Coordinator in the U.S.

Check out the video to see this beautiful tribute:

There were some great things shared of their life and ministry when we shared this video on Facebook. Here are a few:

A true apostle of the gospel!”

“I was blessed to be under his ministry for many years in Madison.”

“So glad we were a part of these years in Madison. What a blessing for our family.”

“Warren always made me feel important and loved. When i grow up I want to be just like Pastor Warren”

“An example to many of us of this generation…”

“An amazing man who has blazed a path of ministry so steeped in integrity, passion, and heart. Warren was a faithful spiritual dad to so many of us.”

“I will never forget walking into my 1st Bible study…Donna was our leader. Both Pastor & Donna had a contagious love for the word and worship! So grateful for our years under their leadership!”
 
Who can YOU honor with a phone call or message today?

Leadership or Management, Which One Is Better?

LeadersManagersThere is so much that has been written on the importance of leadership and management over the years. Some people have pitted one against the other or highlighted one and hated the other, but I believe we need both! I think we’ve all met people who couldn’t manage well, so they ended up leading people all over the place or the long way to their destination. And we’ve also met people who could manage things…to death…because they weren’t going anywhere, but at least things were in order.

John Maxwell is famous for saying that “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” But it does seem that there is a bit more to leadership and influence that could be unpacked. There was a powerful quote that has stuck with me since last year’s International Convention. Dr. Matthew Thomas was teaching and quoted Dr. Myles Munroe: “Leadership is the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, produced by a conviction, ignited by a purpose.”  Wow, that about does it, doesn’t it?

Leadership is about taking people or organizations places and management is about handling things (literally, mana = hand, anyway, I digress…)  Management is necessary for good leadership because it is what makes possible the execution of the things that move the people or organization forward. In other words, leaders create vision and managers help to carry it out. You could say that leadership is the process of pointing the direction and management is the process of taking care of the details to arrive at the destination. A leader could be a manager and a manager could be a leader.

Leadership is not just the capacity to inspire, but to influence and influence towards a vision because of a purpose: To get something done. But, if you don’t manage well you may have a bunch of inspired and influenced people who don’t know what to do next. Jesus challenged His followers to be good leaders and managers with the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:21-30). He expected the servants to use both leadership (vision to see the possibilities of what to do with the talent) and management (the ability to carry the vision out successfully) in His story, but one of the servants thought that he could be safe by simply maintaining the asset he was given and was called wicked for doing so. People often confuse managing with maintaining, which may be one of the reasons that people have shied away from using titles like Manager or Administrator and have instead leaned towards things like Leader or Visionary.

Management often comes with a title, not always, but leadership can be done with or without titles. Leadership can be exerted whether or not you hold a title or a managerial position. King David is a great example of someone leading and managing without a title. Even when he was out in the wilderness escaping from Saul and without any earthly authority or title, people came and followed him (1 Samuel 22:1-2). David didn’t get the title of king until long after people had been following him…and he didn’t wait to start organizing people to get good things done until having a title either.

On the other side of that there are people who want the title or management position, but are not leading people anywhere. David’s grandson, Solomon’s son Rehoboam, was like that. He had a title but was led by his own pride and by his group of friends and there is not much to say of his reign besides the decline and loss that the people of Judah suffered during his “maintenance” (1 Kings 12:8-11).

I think, that when it comes to leadership and management, we’re all still learning! Let’s not be like the wicked servant or like Rehoboam who tried to maintain what they had instead of receiving a vision from God and then taking steps to carry it out! Press on to be the leader that God has called you to be, in whatever stage of life you are in. If that means learning to manage better then go for it! If it means being willing to lead without a title or formal recognition for the greater good then go for it!

One great book that I would recommend to you if you want to dig into this some more is The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell. Is there a book that you have found helpful in growing in leadership or management?