Tag Archives: influence

Impact

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Jackie Robinson, the man who was credited with breaking the color barrier for African-Americans in baseball, was quoted late in his life. He paved the way for many others who just wanted an opportunity. During the MLB season on April 15th, all the players will wear his uniform number 42 to honor his contribution to America’s pastime. He dared to make an impact.

He also said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” At some point, you have to decide to get in the game. Few of us could earn our way onto a major league field but all of us have ways to impact the people in our circle of influence.

You might be surprised at the eyes on you, those who are watching to see how you live your life. It starts with our most intimate relationships. Our families and friends can see us at our best and our worst. Some of our most impactful moments will come when we get knocked down. Will we get back up, blame someone else for our woes, or just quit? Jackie Robinson had plenty of moments flat on his back. He kept getting up.

As Christians, we are given many opportunities to impact our world. In our day of division and strife, it is time for believers to speak the truth in love and live out our convictions based on God’s Word. Our playing field is full of divine appointments where the grace of God becomes our incentive to demonstrate His love. Too many times Christians have justified the world’s opinion that we are judgmental, insulated, uncaring, and rigid. The authors of Growing Young spoke of “myopic spirituality” – a dangerous complacency that can rob us of vitality and relevance in a cynical world.

For Wieuca, impact is more than just a word. We are marshalling our people to specifically address five areas of need where we can make a difference: generational poverty, refugees, human trafficking, public servants, and seniors. You are invited to Impact Night Sunday evening beginning at 5 to learn how you can get out of the grandstand and get in the game.

Making your mark

I believe it is a common desire. Most of us want our lives to count, to stand for something of lasting importance and value. For most of us, it isn’t about fame or fortune; we just want to matter – to our family, our friends, our community, our world. But let’s be honest, some people go about it in peculiar ways.

Try to answer this: “What is the largest group to recite John 3:16 while standing on one foot inside a skating rink in 24 hours?” Evidently such a record meant so much to the people of Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi that 677 folks of all ages attempted this feat. Now they are the proud owners of a record that will stand until the next group of lemmings does it. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?

That’s not what I had in mind. Luke wrote this about David in Acts (13:36), “After David served his generation according to God’s purpose, and then he died.” Two things stand out in this verse:

  1. David served his generation – while he was far from perfect and made many mistakes, he is still regarded as the greatest of Israel’s kings. Brilliant of mind, gifted of ability, and tender of heart, David made the most of his stewardship of time, talent, and treasure. One of my favorite David quotes: “I will not offer to the Lord that which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
  2. David served according to the purposes of God – From his shepherd days and his confrontation with Goliath, to the height of his power and influence, to the end of his life as he surveyed the bright and dark moments of his days; he was a man after God’s own heart. David offered this advice to his son, Solomon: “Observe the requirements of the Lord your God and follow all His ways” (1 Kings 2:3).

We get this treasure, this one and only life. How we spend it, or invest it, is really up to us. For all his faults, he got this right: “I bow before Your holy Temple as I worship. I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name. When I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me the strength I need” (Psalm 138:2,3).

The strength I need … to live a life that matters.

The light that won’t go out

It might have happened to you. Somebody invented a trick candle that magically relights itself. It has provided a lot of laughs, unless you’re like this guy. For his seventh birthday, his parents and sister thought it would be funny to play the candle trick on him. Sitting at the breakfast table, he watched as mom brought the cake over with just the one candle on it. Dad lit it while everyone sang. The boy leaned over and blew the candle out … he thought. Ablaze again, the candle needed another blow. And another and another. At first, he thought it was hilarious, too. After the fifth time, he had had enough.

He grabbed the candle, turned it upside down, and smashed into the cake. “Now light yourself you dumb candle!”

Candles are supposed to go out when you blow on them, right? Jesus told His followers that they were supposed to be light in the world. What happens when difficulty and adversity blow in? Does our light flicker and fade or does it regain new vitality and purpose?

Jesus never promised life would be easy, particularly if we are trying to live as a light in a dark world. Sometimes it might seem that ours is the only light around. You might not think your little bit of light makes a difference, but it does. You might show the way to someone who is stumbling in the dark. You might offer hope and insight to the one who is discouraged.

 

Hold your light a little higher. Someone needs to see your candle.

Go To Where The People Are

John Dillinger said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was. Paul climbed the Areopagus in Athens and braved the dangers (prisons) of Rome to preach the Good News of Christ because that’s where the people were. Jesus traveled the shore towns of Galilee and taught in the Temple in Jerusalem because that’s where the people were.

As we seek to reach our community for Christ, it’s imperative that we go to where the people are; that we make it convenient for our community to find out who we are; and that we approach our neighbors through avenues with which they’re familiar. In 2014, that means we need to have a strong online presence.

Art Rainer recently posted an infographic created by WebDAM to illustrate digital marketing trends for 2014. You can see a portion of that graphic below.

20-marketing-statistics-that-will-drive-2014-e1383266737666.png

We are now one year into a renewed focus on our web presence. Because of a host of dedicated volunteers with an astounding array of talents, we have made tremendous progress this year.

In an effort to go to where the people are, our Marketing and Technology Team is committed to doing the following things as we enter the second year of our new virtual presence:

1. We’re committed to improving our video capabilities. In year two we’ll develop a system to produce simple, high quality videos to communicate with our members and to let our members share their stories directly with our community.
2. We will continue to build our Facebook and Twitter teams with a real focus on increased engagement and interaction as we seek to expand our reach into our city.
3. We will continue to fine tune our promotional efforts, working to find the right blend of print and digital advertising, and the right mixture of promotional and event-based community engagement to most effectively share Wieuca with the world.
4. As our video capabilities improve, we’ll make better use of YouTube as a third branch of  our social media strategy.
5. We’ll conduct an annual review of our website and prioritize needed updates and improvements.
6. We’re committed to praying that God will partner with us in our work and use our efforts to bless His church and our community.

God has given Wieuca people with tremendous gifts and talents. Many of them are serving on our Marketing and Technology Ministry Team.  Join me in praying that God will bless their work and leverage their commitment to make a difference for the kingdom.

Generational Conflict On The Way To The Cross

Jesus was most likely in his early thirties at the time of his crucifixion. The majority of his followers were most likely his age or younger. Meanwhile, the ruling authorities so threatened by Jesus were most likely at least one generation, perhaps two generations, older.

So the conflict between Jesus and the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and even the Roman government was, among other things, a generational conflict. When Jesus said, “You have heard it said of old…but I say to you…” (Matt 5) what some people heard was, “What these old people are saying is wrong; I know how to do it better.”

As the millennial generation comes of age, a growing divide between generations is becoming increasingly apparent. There seems to be a larger gap between millennials and older generations than anyone expected. For example, a new Pew study suggests that the cultural gap between millennials and Gen Xers is much larger than the gap between Gen Xers and Boomers or between Boomers and the Greatest Generation.

With the generational dynamics of the New Testament in mind, let me offer a few suggestions to both older and younger generations.

Three Words for Older Generations
1. You have immense power and influence. Use it wisely. The first time Jesus preached a sermon in his home church, the congregation was so impressed that they tried to throw him off a cliff. Jesus said that he was the fulfillment of scripture and the older generation who had seen him grow up wasn’t ready to accept that God had given him wisdom and authority worth listening to (Luke 4). When you fail to accept the voices of people younger than you, it sometimes feels to them as if you’re trying to throw them off a cliff.

2. Don’t look down on young leaders. Be generous. Give them more respect than they’re due. Paul told Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he was young (1 Tim 4:12). Some of us still read scripture today and adopt a patronizing attitude toward the wet-behind-the-ears Timothy, thinking, “Isn’t it nice of Paul to mentor him. I bet he eventually turned into a fine minister.” Admit it. Sometimes you think that way. Stop it.

3. Remember that the church made great advances before you got here and will continue to advance after you are gone.  Our partnership with God is not an equal partnership. We are not the star players on the team. Just as surely as God found a way to use you, God will find a way to use younger generations for the fulfillment of the kingdom. Make sure you’re an encourager and not a stumbling block to those following behind you (Matt 18:7, Rom 14:13).

Three Words for Younger Generations
1.  Even Jesus had trouble breaking into his profession. The first time Jesus preached a sermon in his home church, the congregation was so impressed that they tried to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4). Nobody ever promised you immediate recognition or success. Put in the hours. Do the hard work. Take your fair share of hard knocks. Your voice is valuable and it will be heard. Be persistent. Remember that prophetic voices of change must be coupled with the Biblical values of perseverance and self-control (2 Peter 1:6).

2. Paul told Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). When Paul told Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he was young, he also gave Timothy specific instructions about how to gain the respect of his elders. Paul’s advice holds true today.

3. Remember that the church made great advances before you got here and will continue to advance after you are gone. Our partnership with God is not an equal partnership. We are not the star players on the team. Just as surely as God found a way to use you, God will continue to find ways to use older generations for the fulfillment of the kingdom. Make sure you’re an encourager and not a stumbling block to those you’re serving with (Matt 18:7, Rom 14:13).

And I guess we all ought to remember that when Jesus got to Jerusalem, there was a cross waiting for him. Generational conflict can lead to extraordinarily poor decision making. During lent it’s tempting to say that sometimes following Jesus means ending up with our own crosses on our own hills with our own ultimate rejections.

But that would be wrong. That’s not where Jesus leads at all. Jesus leads to resurrection.

Leading Transformation 40 Days at a Time

40 Days HERO

At our Fall Leadership Retreat in November and again at our leadership team meetings in January, we emphasized to our leaders that they had a responsibility to be more than managerial or technical or administrative leaders in our church. Our theme in November (re-emphasized in January) was “Leading Transformation.” We believe that God has the power to transform our lives and that we’re at a pivotal time for God to transform our church. Further, we believe that if we have any hope of leading in a transformative way, we must encourage spiritual leadership from all who lead our congregation.

So we emphasized the spiritual aspect of leadership at our retreats and meetings. Most people would expect Bible study leaders and deacons to be spiritual leaders. Not as many people would naturally look to the finance or property committee chairs, or to the church council, for spiritual leadership. And sometimes the chairs and members of these councils and committees don’t necessarily see their purposes as inherently spiritual.

But that’s exactly what we’re encouraging.  We’ve been asking our leaders, wherever they serve, to engage those they serve spiritually by emphasizing both a prayerful dependence on God and a relational intentionality in their interactions with their members.

Last Sunday we launched our 40 Days in the Word experiment. On Sunday afternoon, more than sixty Wieucans gathered in seven homes scattered all over North Atlanta for fellowship and Bible study. And guess what? Three of our four median adult groups were hosted by church council members! Another of our church council members has been an organizational Godsend to our efforts. Three others are actively participating in our 40 Days groups. That’s stepping up to the plate on the spiritual leadership front! The spiritual leadership of our church council members is worth noting and celebrating. I couldn’t be more grateful for the example they’re setting.

As we emphasize discipleship in 2014, we also seek to expand our leadership base. As Wieuca grows, we need a growing number of leaders; leaders to host small group opportunities like 40 Days in the Word; leaders to teach and direct Covenant Group Bible studies; leaders to serve committees and ministry teams; and leaders who are willing to serve our families through our deacon ministry.

To that end, we have a number of leadership training opportunities coming up. Let me highlight two. First, Joel Harrison, director of the Atlanta Metro Baptist Association, will join us on Feb 24th to lead the discussion at our February Leadership Development seminar. Anyone interested in helping to shape the future of Wieuca through leadership is encouraged to attend.

Second, we will be a satellite host for Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit (GLS) on August 14th and 15th. The Global Leadership Summit provides two days of first-class training and inspiration led by innovative leaders in business, government, academia and the church. Put those dates on your calendar and plan to attend. We’ll be beaming invaluable insight and real world leadership experience right into our Peachtree Room.

Remember these upcoming events and remember that God requires all of us who serve his church to become spiritual leaders of those we serve. And if you see a church council member this week, thank them for the example they’re setting in spiritual leadership. One of the best things we can do as the body of Christ is to celebrate our successes together and encourage our leaders. It helps us remember how much we have to be grateful for.

Let Your Light Shine in 2014

Let Your Light Shine

In complete darkness, you can see a single candle at a distance of thirty miles. Amazing, right? There’s just one catch. You have to light it first. And then you have to keep it lit. The power of light to overcome darkness is one of the great themes of the Bible, but an unlit candle is about as useful as salt that has lost its flavor.

As we make resolutions at the beginning of the new year, self-improvement always seems to become a priority. So what can we do to make 2014 the best year ever? How can we use this year to become the best versions of ourselves?  I would suggest that doing what’s necessary to keep our candles lit might be a good place to start. It doesn’t take much to keep a candle on fire, but a few things are required.

  1. A candle must have fuel.
  2. A candle must have an unbroken wick.
  3. A candle must be protected from the elements.
  4. A candle must have an initial spark.

So what can we do to ensure that our light shines steady and true in 2014?

First, we can make sure our fuel tanks are full. Inspiration and experience are the fuels of our faith. The regular experience and inspiration of the living God through prayer, Bible study, worship and community will make sure we have fuel to last the year.

Second, we have to take care of our wicks. In a candle, the wax provides the fuel, but the wick holds the flame.  A good wick is clean, dry and unbroken. To bear the flame we must remain “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  Guard your mind; be careful with your tongue; be controlled in your actions; and preserve your capacity to be the bearer of light.

Third, we have to protect the flame. Just as candles need a shield to protect them from the elements, we need help in preserving our light. Surround yourself with people who are as interested in protecting your light as you are. You’ll never be able to shield your light alone. And never forget, there are people out there who would intentionally snuff out your light if given the chance. You know who they are. Stay away from them.

Finally, remember, a candle cannot light itself. Your light is not your own. It is God’s light in you. But it is yours to protect, to nurture, to grow and to share.

Life moves fast. 2014 will be no exception. In the rush to expand our influence, reach our goals, take the next step forward in life–or in the panic of changing circumstances and confusion about what to do next–we sometimes forget to keep our candles lit. If we thought we were rushed or panicked or confused while the light was still shining, imagine our predicament once the candle has gone out.

So in 2014 I resolve to tend to my candle first; to fuel my heart; to guard my mind; to control my actions; to surround myself with people who will protect my light; to give credit to the source of my light; and once it’s burning strong and true, to share it.

If one candle can light the darkness for 30 miles, imagine what a few candles together can do. Let your light shine and be awesome in 2014.

Happy New Year.