Oct 29

Taking Care of Yourself as a Leader

Recently, I started running. I am a beginner at this sport, but I am loving it (in a crazy sort of way). I have the support of a great organization, and the coaches provide me and the other beginning runners with great advice and encouragement. We can do this! But even as we train, they remind us that some days will be better than others. Many factors prevent us from making the progress we want, everything from hot, humid weather to leg cramps. We know this can happen to us, and it happens to the most experienced runners, too.

The same kind of thing happens to people serving in leadership roles. Some days are challenging, filled with many obstacles. Experienced leaders know that some days, nothing seems to run smoothly. We’ve been misunderstood. We realize we weren’t listening as well as we should have been to someone on the staff (and she could tell). The “to do” list grows longer, instead of shorter. We have a disagreement with an office volunteer. Instead of long term planning, we spend the day dealing with one crisis after another.

After a challenging race, well-trained runners do not quit. They go out to run again, but not until they have taken care of their sore, tight muscles and not until they hydrate themselves.

After a challenging day, experienced leaders do not quit, either. We know we need to get back into the fray. But before we do, we know the importance of taking time to re-group. Maybe we need to pull a few resources from our “Take Care Kit.” (If you don’t have one, create one for yourself! It can be an actual kit or simply a list of things that usually help on days you feel worn out.)

Here are a few ideas for things you might include in such a kit:

  • A list of your favorite Bible verses. Read them slowly and thoughtfully, allowing God’s love to nurture you.
  • A journal in which you can write down your prayers. Talk to your Father in heaven about your day. He understands. Ask for the forgiveness you need. He will grant it. Reflect on what happened to make the day/event so crazy. Think about how you can be better prepared in the future.
  • Cards from people who have affirmed you in your ministry. Sometimes when we are struggling, we need to read these notes of affirmation to be reminded that our Savior has indeed empowered us to serve.
  • A play list of your favorite songs. Music is definitely a tool the Holy Spirit uses to buoy our spirits and refocus our thoughts.
  • A reminder to go for a run or a brisk walk. This often helps give us a fresh perspective.
  • The phone number of your trusted friend or mentor. Sometimes we just need to talk things through. Review the experience with someone you trust.
  • A note that reminds you that you are loved and forgiven and that encourages you to seek the forgiveness of others when you need it.

These things help me. What will help you? Since we are all unique, you will probably add other essentials to your “Take Care Kit.”

Challenges will come as you lead, especially as you lead in church. On days when you feel overwhelmed, pull out your kit. Refuel and refill yourself so you can continue to serve with joy.

Editor’s note: Looking for ways to encourage those who serve and lead in your church? Looking for devotional materials for yourself? Check out the resources CTA makes available–written by those who serve and lead in the church for those who serve and lead in the church!

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc

 

 

Oct 28

Praying for My Pastor – harmony in our church

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share has been publishing brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful.

 

As you begin, read Romans 6:10-11.

The Good News produces extraordinary changes! In Christ and his cross, we live reconciled to God. Peace and forgiveness also mark our relationships with one another. Nothing pains a pastor more than the need to deal with hateful words and hardened attitudes that have grown up in the hearts of God’s people. Pray today for each person in your congregation:

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, I ask that you would give each member of my church the strength to live in peace and reconciliation with others:

• Where anyone believes they have been wronged, bring about reconciliation.

• Where anyone harbors resentment and pain, work your healing grace.

• Where stubborn pride and anger have grown up, grant us the humility and courage to accept and forgive others as you have accepted and forgiven us.

• In particular I pray for . . .

If you suspect you have a problem in a relationship, there probably is a problem! What could you do today to be reconciled (see Matthew 5:24)? One of the most practical things you can do to advance the work of your congregation is to keep short accounts with your sisters and brothers in the faith!

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Oct 27

Life-Changing Prayers — a free devotion for this week’s meetings

This week’s free devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s new devotion book for Christian Workers, Shaping Hearts; Changing Lives: 30 Days to Grow in Service. It is available now, and the product line includes many valuable, value-priced gifts for church staff and volunteers. October is Clergy Appreciation Month in many churches. It’s not too late! How will you honor those who serve you in Jesus’ name?

Imagine you could get up early in the morning, even before sunrise. Imagine you could follow Jesus himself down to the lake shore or out into the countryside. Imagine you could overhear his prayers. If you had that option, would you take it?

Or imagine that the Roman authorities had given you permission to visit Paul in prison. You know that when you arrive, the apostle will be praying. If you could enter that dungeon, would you?

How inspiring it would be to eavesdrop on Jesus’ prayers – or Paul’s! Just think of all we could learn. Just think of the impact such an experience would make on our own prayer life.

Far-fetched? Impossible? Not at all! The Gospels are filled with Jesus’ teachings about prayer. They include many prayers he himself prayed. Nearly all of Paul’s letters include prayers penned – and prayed – by the great apostle himself. We have full and free access! We can learn so much from it!

What will you ask the Holy Spirit to teach you from his Word today?

Read This

John 17 records the prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples – and for you! – the night before he died. Each day this week read through it once or twice, pen in hand. Jot down the specific things Jesus asked the Father to do for his first followers and for us.

Which of these things can you pray for the people you serve? What else do you learn from your study of this, the “Lord’s prayer”? 

Pray This

Lord, teach me to pray as you taught your first disciples to pray . . .

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 22

Recognize, Connect, & Celebrate Your Volunteers

Have you noticed the 80/20 principle at work in your church? For instance, do . . .

  • 20% of the members donate 80% of the weekly offering?
  • 20% of the members contribute 80% of the work toward a successful Sunday school or care ministry?

It isn’t always 80/20, of course. Sometimes it’s closer to 70/30 or 90/10. But generally in life, efforts and results are spread unevenly.

This need not discourage you. Think about it this way: you don’t have to be perfect to make a big impact. If 20% of your effort takes you 80% of the way, then your mom was right! Well begun IS half done!  (The rest of the effort adds polish, zing, and those “nice to have touches” that transform a B- event into an A+ endeavor.)

Do you work with volunteers? Are you a volunteer yourself? Leverage the 80/20 Principle over the next few months and see what happens!

You don’t have to be a perfect encourager to encourage the people you’re working with. You don’t have to send 25 thank-you notes to help your staff feel appreciated. Notice one thing one person has done well this week and say thanks. You don’t need to pray 12 times each day for each volunteer. Start by praying for your staff once each week.

Does even this sound daunting? Then check out the tools CTA makes available free and very inexpensively on our Volunteer Management website. Some customers recently have told us they have never considered our free resources because nothing free can be worth very much, but we just may surprise you! On our free resource page you will find:

  • Volunteer job description templates
  • Themed named badges—in full color
  • A free devotion to encourage volunteers
  • Several articles filled with tips for recruiting, encouraging, and re-enlisting your best people
  • Notes of encouragement you can print out and sign
  • Candy bar wrappers you can use in several creative ways
  • Water bottle wrappers
  • A retreat planner
  • And more!

Connected to all these freebies are related products guaranteed to save you time and effort. You invest the 20% by downloading, printing, ordering, and deploying the ideas. Then watch as the other 80% begins to materialize, under the blessing of our Lord!

Can you think of other tools you wish we offered? Let us know! Maybe we can develop them! After all, CTA’s vision is to see you highly effective in your ministry—and we mean that!

If you would like to reprint this article and distribute it, complete and submit the form here. 

Oct 21

Praying for My Pastor – rest and peace

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share will publish brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful. 

As you begin, read Exodus 16:23.

In ancient Israel, every seventh day was a day of rest. God’s people literally stopped working. This day off was the Lord’s day, a day he gave the nation as a gift, as a sign of his love, and as a reminder of his promise to send the Savior, in whom we find true rest from the impossible burden of trying to save ourselves by our own efforts. Do you encourage your pastor(s) to take a day of rest?

Lord Jesus, our pastor(s) serve you and us each time we gather to worship. Thank you for their commitment and devotion to you and to us. Just as they are faithful in their work, make them faithful to rest:

  • Convince them that they need time off to recharge their batteries and to enjoy your gifts of relationships, recreation, and relaxation.
  • Work in the hearts of each member a sensitivity to this need and a respect for our pastor(s)’ time off.
  • Draw all our leaders to yourself in your Word for their own comfort, strengthening, and enlightenment. May they rest in your sure promise of life everlasting in Jesus our Lord.
  • Above all, I pray . . .

Consider this observation by the reformer Martin Luther: “It is necessary to impress on people at large that all who would be called Christians owe it to God to consider those worthy of double honor who minister to their souls.” How could you express this “double honor” to your own minister(s) this week? (See also 1 Timothy 5:17.)

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 20

Cross-Shaped Prayers — a free devotion for this week’s meetings

This week’s free devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s new devotion book for Christian Workers, Shaping Hearts; Changing Lives: 30 Days to Grow in Service. It is available now, and the product line includes many valuable, value-priced gifts for church staff and volunteers. October is Clergy Appreciation Month in many churches. How will you honor those who serve you in Jesus’ name?

As we pray, Jesus invites us to do it “in his name.” In love, he shares his name, his authority with us, inviting us to use these as our very own:

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 

Our sins make us totally unworthy to enter heaven’s precincts, let alone to ask for anything there. If we presented our own personal credentials, the Throne Room would be inaccessible. Heaven’s suburbs and even the exurbs would be off-limits!

But we come in Jesus’ name, not our own. We come, forgiven at the cross and alive in his great Easter victory. And because of it, our prayers are truly heard and accepted.

Then our Savior invites us to serve – also “in his name,” carrying the credentials he has provided:

Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. Luke 9:48

Just think! Our hands and feet and voices become the channels through which Christ’s love flows.

Imagine That!

In a very real sense, we collaborate with Christ. He joins our prayers to his own. He uses our service to accomplish his purposes. No matter how insignificant, how unworthy, or how ill-equipped we may feel, we both pray and serve in Jesus’ name. Hang on to that truth. It’s life-changing!

Remember This

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 15

Stop! Listen! Share! — Stop Light Chat Cards Help Families Share the Faith

All the experts agree. When parents share their faith in Jesus with their children, the conversation makes an impact. If you’re a children’s minister, DRE, DCE, or Sunday school volunteer, you know you want moms and kids, dads and kids, grandparents and kids talking about the faith.

What gets in the way?

  • Some parents don’t think they know enough.
  • Some families think of the process as too solemn, too formal, too foreign, and therefore, too embarrassing.
  • Some grownups just don’t know how to start.
  • The biggest roadblock of all, though, in most families is a lack of time.

Stop Light Chat Cards blow through each of those barriers. Colorful, fun, easy-to-use, and inexpensive, the Chat Cards pose simple questions designed to open meaningful conversations with kids of all ages–even on the way to school, music lessons, or soccer practice. Encourage parents to keep the Cards in the glove box or cup holder storage console. Then, when the family is stuck in traffic or headed to that out-of-town game, everyone can think, talk, laugh, and even pray together.

 

Editor’s note: Stop Light Chat Cards are one of the newest products in CTA’s Teachable Moments to Go product line. Learn more about it at our website.

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 14

Praying for My Pastor – protection & safety

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share will publish brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful.

 As you begin, read Psalm 121:8.

Hospital calls. Home visits. Conferences. Meetings. Pastors are usually on the go. The car often functions as a second office, as pastors drive from place to place, fulfilling their calling as the Lord’s under-shepherds for your congregation and in your community.

Lord Jesus, today I pray for my pastor(s) as they travel, serving you and your people:

  • Guide them as they plan their day.
  • Send your holy angels to protect them wherever they go, especially as they drive.
  • Give them alertness and quick reflexes.
  • May they faithfully bring your Good News to many.
  • I pray especially …

Offer to do some running for your pastor. Perhaps you can pick up some congregational supplies or visit someone in the nursing home.

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 13

Heart-Shaping Prayers — a free devotion for this week’s meetings

heart-shaping-prayerThis week’s free devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s new devotion book for Christian Workers, Shaping Hearts; Changing Lives: 30 Days to Grow in Service. It is available now, and the product line includes many valuable, value-priced gifts for church staff and volunteers. October is Clergy Appreciation Month in many churches. How will you honor those who serve you in Jesus’ name?

Suppose someone said, “Tell me about God’s callings in your life. How do you serve him?” How would you answer? (If time will permit, let a few volunteers comment.)

Some of us have taught Sunday school for decades. Others fold the monthly newsletter or visit members in the hospital each week. Some preach sermons or run the homework help desk for community high school students. Many volunteer at community events and most of us serve our co-workers on the job and the members of our own families at home.

The answers go on and on. There are, after all, a million ways to make a difference – a million important ways! Still, one specific calling belongs to all of us who belong to Jesus. We get to pray for those we serve, and those prayers may be the most important thing we do!

By themselves, our prayers have no power. But the one to whom we pray has all power! What’s more, he is our Savior-God, the one who loved us so much he died for us. He has promised to hear and help! What hearts will you ask heaven to touch on earth today?

Read This

Colossians 1:9-12 records the prayer Paul prayed for the Christians in the city of Colossae. Since the Holy Spirit inspired this prayer, don’t you think he intended to answer it?! Read Paul’s prayer. What specific requests could you borrow and use as you pray for those you serve? 

Remember This

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Oct 08

Becoming Significant in Your Community: Reaching Out Beyond the Church Doors

outside-the-church-doorsOne Saturday in October each year many folks in our community are out and about serving in an incredible mission blitz event. They provide a wide range of services for the community that include:

  • Completing home repairs for those in need.
  • Providing nursing home residents with a bag of personal items and lap robes, delivered by children who stay for a while to sing.
  • Cleaning up leaves and other debris at local parks, a cemetery, and in the yards of elderly residents who need help with fall yard work.
  • Helping at a recycling collection site.
  • Conducting a Winterize Your Car Check, where people can bring their vehicles for an assessment they can later share with their mechanic, Meanwhile, their windshield wiper fluid is topped off and their tires and batteries are checked.
  • Operating a free winter clothing and toy store.
  • Sorting and packaging food for local food banks, the food having been collected during a food drive conducted the previous week.

This event, initially hosted by one of our local churches, now includes other churches and organizations in our community, and it enjoys the support of local businesses. Over the past few years, it has grown into an opportunity to share Christ’s love not only with those we serve, but with others who volunteer as well. It’s an exciting, meaningful day of service!

What makes this event so successful?

  • Passionate, resourceful people work hard behind the scenes. They carefully consider all the details. They know how to delegate responsibilities.
  • The organizers understand the importance of advertising through many channels. They have developed a great logo, have adopted yellow t-shirts as signature volunteer wear, and visibly participate in our community’s September parade and festival in September.
  • They make good use of technology, providing details on a dedicated Facebook page and encouraging online volunteer registration.
  • They host an early morning kickoff celebration on the day of the event to help all the volunteers get enthused about serving for the day.
  • They provide many options and opportunities to serve. People of all ages and abilities can find a way to help before or during the event.
  • People are willing to serve because it is a one day commitment.
  • Each year, the organizers evaluate the event and consider changes that could help them reach out to even more people.

What about your community?

Could your church find ways to serve your community? You need not organize a huge Saturday mission blitz, but what part of the event you just read about might work in your setting? Start by gathering a few enthusiastic planners, pray together, and then begin to talk about how God might want to work through you if your goal was to touch people in your communities with Jesus’ love. What doors might your Lord open to joy and service?

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

 

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