MEN- 4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men


    In nearly 20 years of ministry and marriage, I have observed a lot of different forms of spiritual leadership among Christian men. At some point in the journey, even the most spiritual of men will embody each of these forms. Truth be told, I will embody each of these forms at various times every week! However, it should be our goal to strive toward greater leadership at the Lord equips and trains us for the calling He has set before us as men.
4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men
1. The Abdicated Leader- “I don’t want to lead.”
The word abdicate literally means “to renounces one’s throne.”  The throne carries honor, but it also carries responsibility.  Sadly, there are many men who abdicate their role as a leader because they do not want to carry the burden of leadership for their marriage and family.
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Vacuum:  Wherever there is a vacuum, something will eventually fill the void.  The reality for many families is that where the man has abdicated his role, many women have had to step up as spiritual leaders in the home.  Even more devastating is how media, negative peer influences, other men, and even gangs can fill the void that a man who has abdicated his leadership leaves behind.
2. The Impotent Leader- “I don’t feel I can lead.”
This man wants to lead, but feels powerless to do so.  Perhaps a negative self-image, a lack of a role model, or a more domineering member of the family has made this man feel unable to fulfill his role as a spiritual leader.  
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Doormat:  The impotent leader will quickly become the house doormat if he is not able to assume his leadership role.  This will ultimately cause him to disengage from the family and resign to let someone else lead.
3. The Ill-Equipped Leader“I don’t know how to lead.” 
This man wants to lead and feels empowered, but has not been equipped with the tools to lead his family spiritually and emotionally.  In this form, either the man or his marriage and family will be frustrated and may even run into conflict due to the inability to navigate the leadership dynamics skillfully.
Picture of the Solution- A Leadership GPS:  Men need the tools and equipping to be spiritual leaders.  Thankfully, God has given us the Scriptures, the church, and the perfect example in Jesus Christ.  One of the wisest things that a man can do as a spiritual leader is to enlist a mentor who can help guide him in his leadership journey.
4. The Spiritual Leader“I am ready, willing and able to lead.
The Spiritual leader is the man who is God-directed, Christ-empowered and Bible equipped in his leadership.  He is by no means perfect, but he leads from a heart of service, humility, confidence and courage.  The spiritual leader guides his family to grow closer to Christ, by first modeling it and second, charting a course to lead his family in the ways of the Lord.
    There is no perfect spiritual leader other than Jesus Christ.  All we can do is trust in the Lord and depend upon Him to motivate, empower and equip us for every step of the leadership journey.

Lost Arts: What to do with the “How are you doing?” Question


3 Ways We Respond to the Question- “How are you doing?”

“Life right now… sucks.”  Ever felt that way?  Of course you have, because you are human.  We all find ourselves in those kind of seasons of life where we are so discouraged, beaten down or unhappy with the state of our lives that it is hard to know what to do.  Then, you go to church (unsure what good it might do) and someone asks you a seemingly innocuous question- “How are you doing?”  How do you respond?  I have found that there are…
3 Common Ways We Respond To The “How are you doing?” Question:
1.  Deflect and Pretend:  This is clearly the easiest, and therefore the most common.  Most of us when dealing with struggle will not open up about that struggle with others, finding it easier to put on a mask and pretend like everything is OK.  When we do this, we isolate ourselves from those around us and we convince ourselves that no one else understands or cares what we are going through.  This can lead to dark bouts with discouragement, doubt and even depression.  It can also unwittingly make us hypocrites, pretending to be one thing, while in actuality being something else.
2.  Dump and Puke:  This response is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  There are some that are so consumed with their problems and struggles that whenever someone asks them how they are doing, they tend to “dump” their depression and “puke” their problems on others.  As the descriptive imagery indicates, this is not a pretty picture.  While it is important that we feel able to share our struggles with others, we should be careful to not be so consumed with unloading all of our baggage on others that we become insensitive to the fact that they are carrying a load of their own.  
3.  Discuss and Pray:  This is the healthiest and holiest way to respond to the question- “How are you doing?”  When you discuss your struggles and problems with others, you give people an opportunity to listen and share.  The dialogue produces mutual understanding and deeper relationship as the “weakness” of vulnerability is the catalyst for the strength of the friendship.  Even more importantly, when those issues have been discussed and a shared understanding has been accomplished, there is no better place to take those burdens then to the foot of the cross in prayer.  When you pray together, you remind yourselves of this gospel truth- “I am not ‘OK’.”  Only in Jesus can we find healing, only in Jesus can we find forgiveness, only in Jesus can we find rest for our souls.  When we pray like this together with our brothers and sisters in Christ we find the we can be mutually strengthened, encouraged and inspired.
     At Essential, it is my prayer, that every Sunday, and all throughout the week, we will see our church family taking time to discuss and pray together.  When I look across the room after a service, it is my hope that I will see more and more organic groups of people sharing life together and coming together in prayer.  As I talk with our members and leaders, it is my prayer that more and more I will hear of our people getting together over coffee, or coming together in living rooms to share and pray together as the body of Christ.

Lost Arts: 3 Creative Ways to Pray More Often


3 Creative Ways to Pray More Often

“Pray without ceasing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Devote yourselves to prayer”
Colossians 4:2
“Pray in the Spirit in all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
Ephesians 6:18
 “At the judgement seat the most embarrassing thing the believer will face will be the smallness of his praying.”
-Leonard Ravenhill 
     Ok, we get it… we need to pray more! We are all convicted by verses and quotes like these and yet we struggle to see how we can grow in our faithfulness to God in prayer.  How do we incorporate prayer into our busy lives and schedules in a way that is meaningful and honoring to the Lord?  Perhaps this will help.
3 Creative Ways to Pray More Often
1.  Pillow Talk- One way to honor God in prayer is to make prayer the first and last communication of every day. You may not be fully alert, you may even doze off, but giving God this time is a wonderful way to bookend your day in prayer.  Instead of drifting off looking at your phone or immediately checking your texts and emails, be still and give your first and last moments of the day to the Lord. As the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” so beautifully expresses, we should desire this of God- “Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”
2.  Establish Daily “Prayer Pockets”
– We all have little “pockets” or “windows” of time in our day which can be made into a regular opportunity to spend time in prayer.  In my life, I decided to take my first drive of the day as a regular “pocket of prayer.”  Whenever I get in the car for my first errand or meeting, I have committed to give that time to God in prayer.  I turn off the radio and just pray out loud to the Lord for the duration of my drive.  This has become one of the sweetest and least distracted times of prayer for me every day.  What are those prayer pockets in your life?  Is it while walking home from the bus stop?  While taking a shower, putting on your make up, or waiting for the coffee to percolate?  Perhaps it is while folding the laundry or mowing the lawn.  As you identify those “pockets of prayer” commit to the Lord that every time you have one of these opportunities, you will make the most of it in prayer.
3.  Prayer Walks
– Some reading this might be “workout warriors” while others “couch potatoes,” but taking regular walks is good for the body and soul.  There is something powerful about communing with God through the physical exercise of walking in the context of nature or just being outdoors.  The practice of walking and talking with God goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:8).  As you go for a walk, disconnect from technology, begin to pray and listen to God’s voice.  Look around at the beauty of your surroundings and thank God for His creative glories.  Consider the neighbors and those in the community who might need a touch from God.  Work through the problems of your day and give your worries, anxieties and fears to Jesus.  You will soon love to walk with God in prayer.
            While there are other times to pray like before or after a time of Bible study, before a meal or church meeting, or simply a time set aside for the express purpose of prayer, these 3 creative ways to incorporate prayer into the busyness of your day will provide some regular opportunities to grow closer to God and abide in Christ.