Dr. Ronnie Floyd recently reminded me that leadership is not given by title or position; leadership is earned in times of crisis. I love and appreciate Dr. Floyd’s continued investment in me as a minister of the gospel, as a leader and as my friend.
After almost 20 years of serving as a church leader, I have learned some things that often are only truly learned in the middle of living through a given situation. God places each of us in situations that force us to rely on Him and forces us to examine ourselves by His standards.
In my first pastorate, I left having learned a lesson I wish I could have learned prior to my first pastorate, but some of us have to learn the hard way. The lesson: deal with people problems quickly. If anyone were to ask me: “What are two things you learned in your first pastorate?” I would answer 1. Matthew 6:33 is for real, if you pray and practice it and 2. Deal with people problems quickly.
Every leader is one good leadership decision away from being hated by a few for the good of many. I cannot imagine what stress and burden President Donald Trump must bear each minute of the day. No one should underestimate what any leader that holds the office of President of the U.S. must go through on a daily basis.
Every leader has critics and to a pastor 4 bitter people can feel like 400. I am reminded of one of our heroes of the faith, the Apostle Paul, when he wrote about Alexander in 2 Timothy 4:14
2 Timothy 4:14
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
There are “Alexanders” in every church and I wonder how many them would truly want their legacy to be recorded for all to remember as it was with Alexander the coppersmith.
The problem is that we have so many people thinking they are Paul, the victim, when in fact they are Alexander in the scenario. Let me be clear, I have been an Alexander before and I have even told my church of how I had a heart of treason toward a pastor at one time in my life and God had to break me open and break me down. I even wrote about it in an ebook: “Staph Staff Infection, Leprosy and Other Ministerial Diseases”.
So, some helpful advice jotted out here in a few phrases:
“Right is always right even if no other person agrees and wrong is always wrong even if no one agrees”-unknown
“Never let anyone outside your circle of love”-Dr. Ronnie Floyd
“There is wisdom in the abundance of counsel.”-GOD
“Be FAT: Faithful, Available and Teachable”-some Sunday school teacher somewhere and I add especially when you are the leader.
“Son, if 10 different people are trying to tell you this is a bad idea you might ought to listen”-Some old man I met when I was a very stupid 19 year old.
When you commit to the gospel ministry there is no turning back, there will times of sorrow, times of rejoicing and hard decisions that will be made. There are stands that you will have to take in loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ that will leave you feeling alone and friendless but as a minster of the gospel of Jesus Christ you are not alone, in fact are in better standing with God in those times, more than at any other time in your life.
People may call you a liar on Facebook because they have been lied to and you can never set the record straight because to do so would silence your critics, but do so much harm to the unteachable offender who is blind to his own situation and deaf to those trying to speak into his life. You demonstrate love and mercy, you let him go on knowing in due time God will bring him to his senses and knowing you did not destroy his reputation, he did it to himself.
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov. 18:2)
“And you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.” (Prov. 5:12–13)
You have to take the high road even when others do not. God will be your defender, your refuge and your strength.
I close with one exhortation: If you are sowing discord among the brethren, stirring up trouble in a church read this passage that speaks for itself:
Proverbs 6:16-19English Standard Version (ESV)
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
One of the greatest heartaches for a man who loves God and loves his wife and children is when sin creeps into our lives and spiritual warfare wages war against our Christian homes.
The devil is not to blame for every trouble you face in marriage and in parenting. The sin nature in each of us always plays a part. True enough where sin enters in, spiritual warfare may follow and it is therefore imperative that we guard our hearts and thus guard our homes from the attacks of the enemy and the sin we know as apathy and complacency. We cannot merely be on guard but we must also be on the offensive against sin in our lives.
We deceive ourselves if we think being Christian puts us on an auto-pilot journey to a life free of problems and heartaches. In fact, Jesus clearly stated the opposite, that we will have trials and tribulations if we are followers of the risen Christ Jesus.
In the model prayer did not Jesus teach us to pray: “…deliver us from evil…”? Yes, HE did, and this is where you start. You begin asking God to deliver you from evil and then you seek to follow HIM, not under your version of Christianity but under His authority in real authentic Christianity.
Here is the 10 point check list for men who claim Christ as savior.
God’s mercies are new each morning talk to Jesus about where you are falling short. Admit to your wife and children where you are falling short and then take action to be different. Most of all remember this: ITS NOT ABOUT YOU! THIS LIFE IS ABOUT GIVING HONOR AND GLORY TO GOD AND WE BEGIN AT HOME NOT AT CHURCH!
You will never be able to “flip” your husband without “flopping” on your children. Yes, I have seen her on the HGTV television show: “Flip Or Flop” and today, Cristina LaMoussa is headlining: ABC’s Good Morning America to tell the world that she is OK and her children will be OK after the death of her marriage
I watched the GMA segment on Cristina La Moussa and I am not sure she even believes her own propaganda. Like other celebrities she has a good publicist to get out in front of and capitalize on, all the things life brings and I have no doubt that the visit on GMA is an attempt to minimize damage and maximize Cristina’s following.
While it is none of my business what Cristina La Moussa does, it is my business to point out erroneous information when a celebrity sends a message that I believe is harmful to everyone.
Too many people today believe exactly what I heard La Moussa say on GMA today. Cristina LaMoussa explained that her children are resilient and able to cope and adapt and that everything will work out just fine. I can tell you that this is absolutely NOT TRUE and I have hundreds of people who have walked through it, that are willing to testify.
Perhaps it is not hard to imagine what happened to the marriage with the reported drama in the home and the police called for allegedly suicidal man, then a divorce, and then Cristina with a new man. I do not know what the facts are in this matter and I actually do not care other than the message it sends to married couples everywhere and this is what I want to address:
1. The number one cause of anger in children is marital disharmony.
2. Co-Parenting sounds “cool” or “sexy” implying that everyone is mature enough to handle that Daddy has been flipped, but beware the cost of such disintegration of the family is about to flop somewhere.
3. Do not buy the lie that the kids would be better off in a loving environment and because the current situation is not perfect environment.
a. You will take your problems right into the next relationship.
b. When the new wears off with the new guy, the problems will be right there waiting.
4. “I am not happy; don’t I deserve to be happy? “Make me vomit! There are no perfect marriages and you have to know what real happiness is before you can know how to find happiness. You can be happy and married to the father of your children, some changes need to be made.
5. True happiness is only found in Jesus Christ and in living to please Christ, not ourselves. This is when we find real joy. Matthew 6:33 says it best. (look it up).
If your marriage is a flop, don’t flip your spouse; get some help, you may find that your marriage is a: “Fixer Upper”. May God Bless Chip and Joanna Gaines for the example and inspiration they are in marriage and family using their platform on "Fixer Upper"
Before you pull the plug on your marriage, count the cost and give God a chance to work on your marriage and allow a Biblical counselor the chance to help you work through the issues. As a crisis marriage counselor I see God save more marriages than I see marriages lost. The couples that make it have one thing in common, they are willing to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
I am available to counsel in person, via Skype, or to direct you to a biblical counselor near you. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an excerpt from my latest project on helping men in marital crisis. The book is entitled: "When She Says I'm Done: A Biblical Guide for Men in Marital Crisis" and should be available by Summer 2017
R ealize that as the leader you are to love her and lead her.
E xpress in creative yet simple ways that you value her.
S pend time just being with her and listening to her.
P ray for her, pray for her physical, spiritual and emotional health
E steem her as better than yourself, which will show through your words and actions.
C are for her in every way. Open that car door, take time, be attentive to her at all times, hold her hand, walk with her, and cherish her.
T rust God to change any fault you find in her and stop trying to change her on your own.
The dictionary defines courting as: "special or devoted attention in order to win favor, affection" and true enough when couples first meet this is exactly what happens. Men are the most guilty of trying to win favor until the vows are exchanged and the wedding is consummated, but it goes both ways. Wives please listen up too.
Couples coming in for counseling seem to be more about a "one on one" competition than showing special or devoted attention to win favor. Both spouses will sit down in my office boasting of what they have done, on their own, with responsibilities around the house. They sit glaring at the other spouse as if this is some type of competition and I am supposed to be keeping score so I can declare a winner. Rather than trying to "win favor ", the spouses turn on each other and just try to win, at all cost!
Couples in unhealthy marriages go from courting to an unfriendly game of: "1 on 1". It's like a contest between two rivals that despise one another, but share the same home court. We have to keep courting and not take it to the court or the court house Here is the truth in the marriage tip for this week:
NEVER stop courting your spouse. Never stop showing special or devoted attention in order to win favor, affection. Hey guys marriage is not a 1 on 1, street ball, pick up game. The team is the 2 of you against all others. In marriage if you want to win, Jesus is the coach and the two of you must become one and meet the challenges of life as one, on one.
By the way that is a key to being biblical in marriage!
One of the great challenges in growing spiritually, as a Christian, is the refusal to purchase lies from the enemy. As a born again believer in Jesus Christ you have everything you need to mature, to develop and to realize that you are actually free from your past sins and empowered to resist the temptation toward future sin.
Paul told the church at Corinth this: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”(1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ESV)
Right now I am burdened to speak against the sin of selfishness, the idea just keeps coming back to my mind of how much sin is rooted in selfishness. As a biblical counselor and pastor, I listen to each word spoken by those I am trying to help and in every case I hear words coming from a heart of selfishness. We are tempted multiple times everyday to be selfish. As born again believers we have power over selfishness. We are called to die to self… right?
What if we practice Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This one principle could change the entire world and the only reason this principle has not changed the entire world is that you must have the power of Christ living in you to practice this principle.
I love quoting the Apostle Paul, but Jesus said it best: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)
Many marriage problems originate in selfishness and seem insurmountable because of selfishness. Hey let’s just cut to the chase…anyone can get a divorce. Also, anyone can commit any kind of sin. If our lives are about glorifying God and our marriages are about glorifying God, then we should find the way of escape…not from marriage…but from sin.
Just encouraging you,
My blog post last week came just before hearing of yet another case of "helicopter parents". If you are not familiar with the term, the illustration identifies a parent who hovers over their child. This is understandable in a sense, because the real world is cold and cruel. When your children become adults, you should really consider landing the helicopter. Hovering over your children has some value when they are younger but at age 25 it creates more trouble for your adult child that you may realize.
Helicopter parenting of ADULT children has to stop. I had no idea this problem of parents trying to control their adult children is so rampant, but I am finding this again and again in the couples I am meeting with each week. Marriage is a challenging endeavor, designed by God. God uses marriage for His purpose in each person's individual life.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
I want to offer my belief that marriage issues, for the Christian couple, are a testing of the faith to produce steadfastness. When parents get involved and meddle in the marriages of their children it is possible for a spouse to put his, or her, faith in mama or daddy and not in Jesus.
I said last week that when it gets violent, or potentially dangerous then the situation is much different, but for the everyday situation, stay out of your child's marriage.
When we work with a couple we teach them the biblical principle of: "honor your father and mother" and the biblical principle of: "leave and cleave." Our parents are to be respected but when its time to get married you are an adult that must go forth putting Christ first and each other second.
In short, I see couples regularly who wouldn't have major marriage problems if their parents would just give them a chance to work through their own issues. I hear of parents doing some unbelievable things that I really cannot mention here. This is also a reminder that children should be taught about biblical marriage and have that modeled for them at home during their whole childhood. Many parents are trying to cram in post facto what should have been taught years ago. As the body of Christ we really must get better at the older teaching the younger in a God honoring way.
Land the helicopter, work on your own marriage. Chances are if you are a helicopter parent to adult children, you are merely trying to fix in your child's marriage, what has never been corrected in your own marriage. Ouch...sometimes reality checks require a pinch. With that said, I am here to help, or point you to help. email@example.com
Just reminding you to...
My week thus far burdens my heart to give an exhortation, to give a word of caution to everyone and especially to young married couples. Counseling couples has been a part of my ministry since the beginning and I continue to see the same patterns, the same mistakes mad over and again by different people.
The difference in my counseling now compared to when I first began is simply my own spiritual growth and God given wisdom from 26 years of marriage. Let me pause right here and express that God gave me an extraordinary woman who is the perfect fit for me. Now let me be honest, there are times when we both doubted that we were the perfect fit for each other.
If it were not for the grace of God and the power of God in His mercy and forgiveness we would not have made it this far. I would not trade anything, not anything, for what God allowed me to experience these last 26 years. I want to enumerate some thoughts maybe you use, maybe you share, maybe you just pray for others as you read where my heart is today as I am working with several young married couples who have bought into lies and deception from the enemy.
To Christian Couples:
1. God's word is TRUTH!
2. I don't really care how you feel when you don't first care about the feelings of your spouse and your children.
3. There is never a justification for adultery...never. Wrong is always wrong even when it "feels right".
4. Emotional affairs, cyber sex, phone sex all falls under item item #3 above.
5. Men: your wife does not reach the full prime of her physical beauty until around age 35. ( stick around)
6. Men: if she is not more beautiful to you today, than ever, you have a spiritual problem and a marriage problem.
7. Ladies: Men do not KNOW how to be a husband. Not an excuse for men, but helping you understand why he frustrates you.
8. If you find yourself mumbling about not being sure how and why y'all got together, you are on the verge of entering into a dark place where your marriage will soon die.
9. Stop being selfish!
10. I don't care how passionate you are about your hobbies. Your first passion should be Christ, your second passion is your spouse and you really should be last. God exalts the humble, even in marriage.
11. Your marriage is not about your spouse, or you, it's about GOD.
12. This is a bigger deal than just getting a divorce because you want to "cut your losses."
13. PARENTS of young married couples: "Land the helicopter"; stop hovering over them, give them some space, let them work through their problems. STAY OUT of it unless there is violence or some type of real abuse. (Even then be very wise.)
14. Brats and whinny babies sleep on the couch, you learned that from television not from the Bible. STOP IT!
15. God can and will save your marriage, fix both of you, if by faith you will seek biblical direction for your lives and marriage.
16. Two ways not to deceive yourself: (a) don't think you can attend church every week and everything will be ok. (b) Don't think you can skip church every week and your life will somehow continue to function normally. (See item #1)
17. You must learn how to apply the word of God to the way you live and see change in your life because your default setting is not sufficient to be the man or woman God called you to be.
18. This life matters, its the only one you get and you are are steward of this life to the glory of God. Stop wasting your life.
19. Seeking Christ first and putting yourself last to be the best spouse you can be is SOOOO worth it, I PROMISE!
20. Don't do this to your children. Despite what you have heard, THEY WILL BE AFFECTED!
I have much more but it is best I go for now. Questions...? let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
One more thing...
One of the saddest stories I've ever heard came from a friend who attended a funeral then returned to tell us that the featured song in the funeral was Sinatra's: "My Way".
If you do not really read or listen to the lyrics the song has sort of a nostalgic and comforting feel. Let's face it, Sinatra could make "Yankee Doodle" sound classy and appealing.
So, what's my point? I tried it my way and I found myself ashamed, empty and a prodigal. I had more than a few regrets but even as classy as Sinatra makes "My Way" sound, I promise you that not only does it majorly disappoint, doing it your way will land you in a real place called hell or as a spiritually bankrupt believer under reproof.
Allow me to help you at least with the song, since I brought "ole blue eyes" into this conversation. I bet you never knew that near the end of the song Sinatra actually sings these lyrics that point that this is not the way:
"For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels"
Seriously, "...one who kneels..." this is all about self and so is sin, by the way. Sin is born out of selfishness, there is no way around that. A sinful heart is a selfish heart.
Here is a better quote from Jesus Christ: " For what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul? Mark 8:36 God's ways are not our ways.
At the end I want to say God did it His Way in me. I cannot even do it God's way, God has to do it His way in me. Christ has to be in charge of my life, because I am not my own, I have been bought with a price.
My be biblical thought for today: Don't do it your way...repent!
Yes, this will absolutely help your marriage.
I close with the lyrics of that classic hit, crooning an anti-Christian worldview, just so you can see, who not to be.
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way
I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way
Remember reading in the Bible where Jesus asks someone: "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus never wasted words or moments and there is much to learn from those moments in the Bible.
When your marriage is dead, or dying, you need a miracle. The truth is, every marriage needs the miraculous power of Christ in order to thrive. Both spouses have to be dead to self and alive in Christ. That in itself involves a miracle, so how does one avail such miracolus power?
Call out to Jesus and when HE asks you: "what do you want me to do for you?" tell Him what you want Him to do and believe that HE can do that very thing.
Here is where we fall short, we believe HE can save us from hell but we somehow do not believe HE can fix us, or fix our marriages.
The hardest thing to do in marriage is to lay down that utopian dream of a perfect marriage that you and your spouse create and accept the vision God has for your marriage. When HE asks what you want HIM to do for you cry out to HIM that your marriage needs a miracle and then believe HIM for the changes that will follow.
Walk by faith, not by sight and have heart of complete obedience to the Word of God.
Let your marriage...
Andy Goode is a Biblical Counselor and Pastor in South West Alabama. This blog is about strengthening marriages and providing biblical direction for everyday issues.