DifferentLeader.com

Thoughts on leadership, life, and ministry from Kevin V. Harris

Thankfulness is contagious

As I was trying to discern some of the qualities and characteristics of pastors who are doing really well in ministry, I was surprised that the most common trait was an attitude of abundant gratitude.

Simply stated, pastors and leaders who have an attitude of continuous gratitude are doing very well in ministry. They are joyous. They serve joyous congregations. They see a steady flow of first-time guests at their churches. And they are more likely to see many church members growing as more devoted followers of Christ.

Why? Why are thankful pastors doing so well in ministry? As I have come to know these pastors, I see five common answers to this question.

1 Thankful pastors are focused on that which really matters. We have a limited amount of emotional energy. We can choose to focus on the energy drainers or those things that renew our energy. Thankful pastors focus less on critics because they are focusing on the blessings of God. They are able to see more clearly God’s vision for the church, because they are seeing the good things God has already done through their attitude of thanksgiving.

2 Thankful pastors have a contagious attitude. The church often takes on the personality of the pastor. If the pastor is legalistic, the church is legalistic. If the pastor has a dreary demeanor, the church follows. But if the pastor is continuously thankful, the congregation becomes a thankful church. That’s a fun and joyous place to be.

3 Thankful pastors attract those who are not yet in church. They remind me of the passage in the early church where the numbers were growing daily because they were “enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). The unbelieving world is attracted to a place of joy and thanksgiving.

4 Thankful pastors lead congregations that give abundantly. In the same context of Acts 2 I noted above, the joyous and awe-filled church gave sacrificially and abundantly (Acts 2:45). People give out of a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving, not one of guilt or compulsion.

5 Thankful pastors tend to have longer tenure. They are so thankful for their present churches that they don’t have the green grass syndrome for other churches. They stick around long enough to develop trust, earn a place in the community, and establish a healthy leadership approach.

It is indeed one of the most consistent characteristics I have seen of successful pastors. Thankful pastors tend to do well in ministry.

By the way, I am so thankful for you pastors and other church leaders. I am thankful for your ministries and your sacrificial service. I am thankful I have the opportunity to serve you.

You are a blessing.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Parts of this posted borrowed from Dr. Thom Rainer.


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Brokenness brings beauty

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

Jeremiah 18:4-6

This passage is such a beautiful image of God sitting at the wheel, looking down at the flawed piece of pottery, and refusing to toss it. The potter made another jar “as seemed best to him.” All the same clay and the same cracks, but all made new. There is no junk heap. The art is in endless possibilities of one piece of clay.

Lord Jesus, you are the Potter and we are the clay. Take my broken pieces and remold them into what You want me to become for Your glory. Make me into what seems best to You.

If you know of someone who is dealing with their own pain of brokenness, please share this with them today and encourage them. Brokenness paves the road to beauty. God is not finished. He will complete what He began in you.

What are you known for?

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35

I enjoy reading post from friends on Facebook. I often “like” post that are funny, Interesting or impactful to me. Many time others will “like” a post or video on my timeline as well.

However, real life isn’t about how many “likes” you get. It’s about how much love you show. The only way people will know that you are a follower of Jesus is by how well you love other people.

They won’t know that you’re His disciple by how many followers you have.

They won’t know that you’re His disciple by how many likes you get.

They won’t know that you’re His disciple by how quickly you are to respond to emails.

Believe it or not, they won’t even know that you’re His disciple by how many Bible verses you post!

No, they will know that you’re His disciple when they can see your love being acted out. When you get involved in the lives of other people, when you care for them right where they are, when you open up your heart and you do life with them—that’s when they’ll see something in you that they really want.

Others won’t know you by your “likes”. They will know you by His Love.

Don’t worry, trust God

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Isaiah 26:3 NLT

These scriptures tell us to fret for nothing, but pray about everything! It tells us in doing so; God will give us a peace others cannot understand. Refer to Isaiah 26:3. He will guard our hearts against all harm and danger.

The word guard is defined as a precautionary measure warding off impending danger, damage, or injury. Isn’t that good to know? God is listening to your prayer requests, providing you peace and protecting you from any danger.

Think of times when you were waiting anxiously for a prayer petition and you decided to stand on faith and let go and let God. Can you recall when He moved mountains just to meet your needs?

Whatever you are concerned about today, let go and watch your faith move the mountains in your life.

Be a true worshipper

Everyone worships something, because God made us to worship. Some people worship sports teams, others worship what people think about them, and some worship TV, or smart phones, or all kinds of other stuff. They worship them by glorifying them and elevating their priority or importance to a level greater than God. They spend most of their time being excited about these things, getting crazy about them, and giving all their attention to them. 

You can be different, though.

Be a true worshipper. Praise God, celebrate God, honor God, and give all your attention to Him!
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”

‭‭John‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT‬

Jesus, remember me

“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:42-43‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Historians and archaeologists tell us that the little section of land called Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, was actually a landfill. Have you ever seen a landfill up close? Flies buzzing around. A bad smell in the air. Everywhere you look is pile after pile of rotting, stinking trash. And Golgotha was the worst sort of primitive, barbaric landfill possible.

When the Romans were crucifying criminals, often there would be no one  around to claim the bodies. So soldiers would peel the bodies off the beams and toss the corpses into the garbage heap. Then wild dogs and other feral animals would eat the flesh off the bones. That’s the place where Jesus was crucified—the worst sort of garbage dump imaginable.

The fact that Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus in paradise is highly significant. You see, on that day, paradise came to a landfill. Paradise was connected to a garbage dump, and that connection was Jesus.

We may be living in a garbage dump today, but paradise can still find us. Our lives may be disgustingly messy and flies may buzz all around us, but Jesus is always near. That’s great news, because even if we’re in a really tough spot, we never need to count ourselves out. There’s always hope.

Start fresh with a simple faith from a heart that believes enough to pray a basic prayer: Jesus, please remember me. That prayer only requires a breath, just enough to change the direction of our eternity. God placed the criminal in proximity to Jesus because God wanted to let us know we don’t need to be high and mighty to get to heaven. We aren’t blessed by God because we’re better than anyone else. We get to heaven because of a simple prayer of faith.

In that prayer we acknowledge that we have nothing to offer God. We come to Jesus as helpless in our pain and despair as a thief stretched out on a cross. We look at Jesus on the cross beside us and say, “You’re God. You’re innocent of any crimes. You could get down off that cross if you wanted, but you’re there by choice for a purpose. Will you please remember me?”

Sometimes people put more words around that prayer—and that’s fine. You might understand more about spiritual matters than the thief did. But if you know far less, that’s okay too. If all you know is that Jesus was innocent, crucified for things he didn’t do but things that you had a part in doing, and if you believe that Jesus could have climbed off that cross if he wanted to but stayed there for a reason, and you just want Jesus to remember you, then your prayer is heard.

God will hear your simple prayer and bring paradise to the messiest situations and lives. Jesus is not afraid of darkness. He’s not put off by the stench of old rotten bones. He’s not afraid of a few flies. Jesus will bring paradise even to a garbage dump.

Respond

The story of the thief on the cross shows us that Jesus wasn’t drawn to those whose lives were “perfectly” together. What hope does this give you today?

In what ways did the thief who asked Jesus for mercy show he understood the gravity of his situation? In what ways have you also asked God to remember you?

What does this story tell you about the extent of God’s mercy?

On The Road Again

So it’s been several months since my last post (sorry, I’ve been busy). But today I found a little app on my iPhone that allows me to post to my blog.
So here’s to potential rebirth of my blog.
I will stick with for at least a few days…we’re leaving Oakland today for a cross-country trip back to Grayson with our youngest two daughters. I’ll send some updates from the road.
Most importantly, HAPPY 24th ANNIVERSARY to my darling wide, Cindy.
She’s the love of my life!

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Jesus uses the least

Jesus used the little that was given and did a miraculous thing. Through this story we learn that we must bring the little that we have so that God can miraculously multiply it to affect thousands. It is not a coincidence that the person whose obedience fed thousands was a little boy. Often it’s the least likely person that God uses to do the most profound things.

The Lord was with him

I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in Genesis 41. There is a repeated phrase, “The Lord was with Joseph and he was successful in all things”.

Now this sounds encouraging until you step back and read it in context. Many of this instances were in the midst of terrible situations. He was thrown into prison, he was bought as a hired servant, he was forgotten by those who he had helped. Yet, the Lord was with him and blessed him.

At one point in the story, the Favor of God was so strong on Joseph that it spilled over onto others who he was working for. His anointing even amazed the ungodly into the realization of the fact that God’s hand was on his life. Pharoh, Pottifar and others saw God through the anointing in Joseph’s life.

In today’s religious circles, we have turned favor into a prosperity gospel. Favor does not equal earthly blessing! God’s economy is based on things of higher value.

Be careful when you pray for a deeper anointing or more of God’s favor on your life. You may end up alone and at the bottom of the world’s value system.

Oh God, let us be so filled with your anointing that an in believing world will see You through our lives.

Swords Are for Killing

I read this earlier and wanted to share it. Great stuff!

Author: John Piper (http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/)

In New Testament times swords were not for digging, shaving, or whittling. They were for killing. The only reason Peter cut off Malchus’s ear was that he missed (John 18:10).

But Herod didn’t miss: “He killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).

Many saints have felt the full force of the sword: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword” (Hebrews 11:37). So it was and will be: “If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain” (Revelation 13:10).

That’s what swords are for. So when Paul calls the word of God the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17, he is serious—something must be put to death. And it is not people. Christians don’t kill people to spread our faith; we die to spread our faith.

The link in Paul’s mind is given in Romans 8:13.

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Sword is for putting to death. And by the Spirit we put to death our sinful deeds. So I conclude that the way we kill our sins is with the Spirit’s sword, the word of God.

All temptations to sin have power by lying. The are “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They tell us that the pleasure of the sin is worth it. The killing blow against these lies is the power of God’s truth. Hence the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, is the weapon to use.

As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” That is what swords are for, especially the Bible.

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