1-1-2-God’s in Control
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was early swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)
Even in the middle of a dangerous sea, when Jesus patiently calmed the storm, he showed the fearful disciples that he truly cared for them. Sometimes even those close to Jesus were slow to realize how much he loved them.
“God, don’t you care?”
Such an honest cry, a doggedly painful cry, I’ve asked that one before, haven’t you? It’s been screamed countless times….
A mother weeps over a stillborn child. A husband is torn from his wife by a tragic accident. The tears of an eight-year-old fall on a daddy’s casket. And the question wails.
“God, don’t you care?” “Why me?” “Why my friend?” “Why my business?” “Don’t you care?”
It’s the timeless question. The question asked by literally every person that has stalked this globe. There has never been a president, a worker, or a businessman who hasn’t asked it. There has never been a soul who hasn’t wrestled with this aching question. Does my God care? Or is my pain God’s great goof?
As the winds holed and the sea raged, the impatient and frightened disciples screamed their fear at the sleeping Jesus. “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” He could have kept on sleeping. He could have impatiently jumped up and angrily dismissed the storm. He could have pointed out their immaturity…. But he didn’t.
With all the patience that only one who cares can have, he answered the question. He hushed the storm so the shivering disciples wouldn’t miss his response. Jesus answered once and for all the aching dilemma of man – “Where is God when I hurt?”
Listening and healing. That’s where he is. He cares.
(From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)
What stories of Jesus’ love and ministry can you share with others? Consider the impact of stories that have taught you. Dare yourself to discover the ways God shows he cares for you in the storms of your life.
If you had been a disciple what would you have told your spouse that evening?
Why did Jesus let the storm come up?
Why do you think the disciples awakened Jesus?
What was the tone in Jesus’ voice when he said: “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?
What is your typical response to storms in your life?
What brings storms in your life?
“Quiet! Be Still!” For the storm you’re facing, what would this mean?
Which would frighten you more-the storm or Jesus?
How do you react to Jesus when he seems to be asleep in your life?
The disciples panicked because the storm threatened to destroy them all and Jesus seemed unaware and unconcerned. Think about the storms in your life – the situations that cause you great anxiety. You can worry and assume that Jesus no longer cares, or you can resist fear, putting your trust in him. We underestimate his power to handle crises in our lives.
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6-10)
During his second missionary journey, Paul visited and encouraged churches established during his first journey. Despite persecution, Paul boldly shared the gospel wherever he went.
Even when we are persecuted for the sake of the gospel, God can make us a powerful testimony. His Holy Spirit will work through us as we reach out to those around us.
Prayer Of Saint Patrick
I establish myself today in:
The power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to hear me,
The word of God to speak to me,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to lie before me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The hosts of God to defend me<
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in breath, Christ in length,
Christ in height, Christ in the heart
of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks to me,
Christ in the ear of every man
who hears me.
Confident in Christ.
(From My Sacrifice, His Fire by Anne Ortlund)
Where can you witness for Christ today: your home, church, school, community? Put your trust in him. Say a word for Jesus.
Notice the change from “they” (v.8) to “we” (v.10). how is this closed door (v.7) pivotal?
How did the Lord open your heart to respond to the gospel?
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How will you take advantage of it?
Perceive more accurately their responsibilities as Christian Leaders.
Move toward accepting God as your co-leader and responsible for results.
See how it feels to turn the responsibility for training over to God.
Experience feelings of leaders to gain better understanding of that perspective.
See themselves as recipients of God’s training, and help others do the same.
Experience Christian community.
Almighty God, you want us to share with others the love and training that you have given us. Without your help we would be lost and confused. We rely totally on you to provide training, guidance and growth. Thank you for the blessing of your love for us and your willingness to have us travel the ultimate road – the road to heaven – that we might receive the ultimate graduation. Amen.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38). This is one of the many images that help us understand that we are partners with God in his work of training for our world. We plant, tend, and harvest crops, but God causes the miracle of growth. We can train others, but God produces the growth, the guidance, the change in peoples lives. It is tempting at times to forget God’s responsibility in the leadership process. In this class, let us look at the division of responsibilities in this process, and grow in appreciation of God’s way of using us in his process of Leadership.
Ass almost everyone knows, the Bible contains many examples of human need. Throughout its pages we read of loneliness, discouragement, doubt, grief, sadness, envy, violence, poverty, sickness, interpersonal tension, and a variety of other personal problems – sometimes exhibited in the lives of the greatest saints.
Farmers teach lessons in hope everyday. They toil for days, even weeks preparing the soil for planting. Tilling, fertilizing, planting seeds, and cultivating – all these activities work to prepare, nourish, and protect the crop. And every day, farmers hope – for warmth, but not too much. When the time for harvest arrives, farmers know they are gathering in hopes fulfilled as much as work rewarded.
The apostle Paul knew this. In 1 Cor. 3: 6-7 he wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” As a farmer’s responsibility rests with preparing a crop for harvest, so the Christian Leader responsibility is to “plant” and “water.” God then provides the growth (control, success and thereby the reward). In other words, Christians are responsible for the work and God is responsible for the results.
What Christian leaders, do is prepare the ground for the Great Leader. Preparing the ground means doing the best possible job to create a situation and then waiting on the Lord’s results. It is God who provides emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual growth according to his will.
The Christian leader/trainer is characterized by a personality which radiates sincerity, understanding, and an ability to confront in a constructive manner. These trainers also are skilled in the application of techniques which help trainees move toward specific therapeutic goals.
The word leader/trainer is defined as: to lead or direct the growth of: to form by instruction, discipline, …educate; … to teach so as to be fitted, qualified, proficient, etc; to make prepared for a test, contest, etc., as by exercise, dieting, etc.; to aim at an object, bring to bear. The word train is defined as: to subject oneself or to be subjected to instruction. …; to form habits or impart proficiency by teaching; to associate, or be on friendly terms.
When he was teaching some of his followers one day, Jesus stated why he had come to earth: to give us life in abundance and in all its fullness. Earlier, in what now is surely the most famous verse in Scripture, Jesus had told God’s purpose in sending the Son -” “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus, therefore, had two goals for individuals: abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.
Leadership is a relationship word. A leader, therefore, is a person whose relationship with others are characterized by service and guidance. connotes “willingness to serve.”
If we take the words of Jesus seriously we are likely to reach the conclusion that a fully abundant life only comes to those who seek to live in accordance with his teachings.
Christian leaders work hard to establish relationships that encourage Christian growth. Christian leaders, however, rely on God for results.
Let us recognize, however, that there are many sincere Christians who wwill have eternal life in heaven but who are not experiencing a very abundant life on earth. These people need training which involves something other than evangelism or traditional Christian education. Such training might, for example, help trainees recognize unconscious harmful attitudes, teach interpersonal skills and new behaviors, or show how to mobilize one’s inner resources to face a crisis. At times such training, guided by the Holy Spirit, can free a trainee from hang-ups which prevent him or her from growing to Christian maturity. For the nonbeliever, such training can serve as a kind of “pre-evangelism”, which clears away some of the subtle obstacles to conversion. Evangelism and discipleship, therefore, are the Christian Leader/trainer’s “ultimate overarching” goals, but they are not the only goals.
In the broadest sense, what you are offering in distinctive Quality of Life is love. Because Jesus Christ lives in you, you are God’s ambassador. You carry the news of his unconditional acceptance and hope-filled training plan and program for a fullness of life. Leadership is a process-like tilling, fertilizing, planting, and cultivating. Processes are verbs and the process of leadership is in your hands.
Living out the knowledge that results – belong to God is living in faith. Such faith has beneficial effects on both the leader and the person receiving the training.
For the Leader
When you as a leader realize that God is responsible for the results, you are freed from worry and false expectations. Demands on yourself to get results are silenced, and so are any demands for the trainee to shape up or change. Instead, you can concentrate on creating the best educational situation for growth to occur: developing trust and communicating acceptance and love.
If you do not rely on God to provide the results, you are in for trouble. There are only two other places to look for success. First, you can become self-oriented and pressured from within, trying to force people to grow or change through your help. Weighted down by this responsibility, you fall into worry about results or increasing self-doubts about your ability as a leader. This cycle of doubt and worry can lead up to become increasing self-absorbed and consequently less a servant.
Second, you can place responsibility for success on the one receiving your training. If you choose this course, what first seems like a great relief – at least is no longer up to you – will eventually leave you frustrated and exasperated. God has provided human beings with many inner resources to cope and change. Yet people broken by problems in life will not be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, nor should you expect them to do so. The healing power of God is needed.
Trusting God to provide results means freedom for you, the leader. Yet freedom is not license. Ceasing to worry about results does not entitle you to not do your best. Although God provides the growth, being a good farmer is hard work. So is being a good leader. Your motivation and preparation is not diminished when you rely on God for the results; rather, your reliance on God gives you the guidance.
What makes a good trainer?
Warmth. This word implies caring, respecting, or possessing a sincere, nonsmothering concern for the trainee – regardless of his or her actions or attitudes. Jesus showed this when he met the woman at the well. Her morals may have been low, and he certainly never condoned sinful behavior. But Jesus nevertheless respected the woman and treated her as a person of worth. His warm, caring attitude must have been apparent wherever he went.
Genuineness. The genuine counselor is “for real” – an open, sincere person who avoids phoniness or the playing of some superior role. Genuineness implies spontaneity without impulsiveness and honesty without cruel confrontation. It means that the trainer is deeply himself or herself – not thinking or feeling one thing and saying something different.
Empathy. What does a trainee think? How does he or she really feel inside? What are the trainee’s values, beliefs, inner conflicts and hurts? The good trainer os continually sensitive to these issues, able to understand them, and effective in communicating this understanding (by words or gestures) to the trainee. This ability to feel with” the trainee is what we mean by accurate empathic understanding. It is possible to help people, even when we don’t completely understand, but the trainer who can empathize (especially near the beginning of training) is most likely to be effective as a lifestyle-trainer.
Other Important trainer characteristics. The good trainer, for example, is able to get along efficiently, having a relative absence of immobilizing conflicts, hang-ups, insecurities or personal problems. The effective trainer is also compassionate, interested in people, alert to his or her own feelings and motives, more self-revealing than self-concealing, and knowledgeable in the field of training. The Christian might summarize all of this by stating that the trainer must be loving.
Loving. Christianity’s lifestyle offers an approach to life which is based wholley upon love and thus is able to help where secular counseling fails? This raises a thought-provoking challenge for the Christian trainer: a basic way to help is to love – asking God to love needy people through us and asking him to make us more loving. The effective Christian trainer is loving. This is basic. But he or she also seeks to develop therapeutic characteristics and attempts to become proficient in the knowledge and use of basic training techniques.
The Goals of Training
What are some of these goals? Any list must include at least the following.
Self-understanding. To understand oneself is often a first step in healing. Many problems are self-imposed but the one being helped may fail to recognize that he or she has biased perceptions, harmful attitudes or self-destructive behavior. Consider, for example, the person who complains, “Nobody likes me,” but fails to see that the complaining is one reason for this rejection by others. One goal of training is for an objective, perceptually alert trainer to assist those being helped to get a true picture of what is going on within themselves and within the world around them.
Communication. It is well known that many marriage difficulties relate to a breakdown in husband-wife communication. The same is true of other problems. People are unable or unwilling to communicate. The trainee must learn how to communicate feelings, thoughts, and attitudes both accurately and effectively. Such communication involves the expression of oneself, and the ability to receive accurate messages from others.
Learning and Behavior Change. Most, if not all, of our behavior is learned. Training, therefore, involves helping trainees unlearn ineffective behavior and learn more efficient ways of acting. Such learning comes from instruction, imitation of a trainer or other model, and trial and error. The trainer must encourage the person he or she is helping to “launch out” and practice the new learning. At times it also will be necessary to analyze what goes wrong when there is failure and the trainee must be urged to try again.
Christ-actualization. Here is where the faith of the trainer is shared. This is to indicate that the goal in life is to be complete in Christ, developing our greatest potential through the power of the Holy Spirit who brings us to spiritual maturity.
Support. Often people are able to meet each of the above goals and to function effectively, except for temporary periods of unusual stress or crisis. Such persons can benefit from a period of support, encouragement, and “burden bearing” until they are able to remobilize their personal and spiritual resources to effectively meet the problems of living.
Today we live in a world of quick fixes, fast foods, and instant replay. We aren’t content wit waiting for answers tomorrow; we want everything today, right now.
When it comes to unraveling difficulties, most folks want immediate painless solutions. And, of course, such do not usually exist.
The person who has turned to you for help is probably at a fork in the road of life, and the decision or choice which will be made may have consequences which extend far into the future.
What you say may keep a friend’s marriage together; it may send someone in the direction of a new career; it may even make the difference between life and death for someone who has lost his way.
In a previous lesson I pointed out the fact that we do bear a responsibility before God for each other as part of the family of God – helping, guiding, and encouraging one another. Jesus told the disciples that after He had returned to heaven they would carry on His works and even do greater works than He had done. his words must have been intimidating; nonetheless, they were true.
Today the healing restoring, training ministry of Jesus is done through us, His people, His body. That knowledge should not only make you want to better equip and train yourself in helping people, but should also make you more willing to make the sacrifices and take the risks necessary in helping someone else.
Training People Takes Time
When someone finally gets around to that question, “What do you think I should do? The ball is in your court.
You can, of course, ignore the question and not respond. But the person wouldn’t have asked unless he or she was serious about wanting your input. Your failure to respond, or at least to listen, tends to endorse what he or she intends to do. Since you didn’t respond otherwise, the person assumes that you are in agreement. It’s dangerous.
Failing to follow through when you are asked for help may actually result in doing more to harm a person than to help. If you do not have the time to help someone, or you feel the better part of discretion would be to let someone else help (which may be appropriate when the one who needs help is close to you), or you simply are not qualified, you still must do something to get the ball across the court.
Guidelines for Effective Training
* When you are asked, “What do you think I should do?” Reserve your comment until you are certain that you have the complete picture.
The greatest single failure of inexperienced leaders is to jump to conclusions, saying things such as “Well, it’s obvious to me what your problem is…” or mentally thumbing through your memorized roster of Bible verses, selecting a couple which seem to have enough weight and then, bang! Hit ’em between the eyes with both of them.
But when you come down hard on someone without understanding the situation, you frustrate and even anger the person who has come to you for help. You’ll never hear those words, “What do you think I should do?” from that person again.
Simplistic solutions to complex issues offer no real help, either.
Whether you call it “the problem” and “the real problem,” or “surface problems” and “root problems,” deep intimate situations of a sensitive nature that may result in embarrassment are not easily addressed. It takes time and confidence in you for a person to be willing to talk about them.
* Be principled as you handle the confidence of people.
Nothing will hurt a relationship or destroy your credibility faster than breaking confidence with people. It adds insult to injury and bitterness to sorrow.
When a person’s life is endangered or the consequences of somebody’s actions violate the law or seriously affect the lives of other people, you have no alternative but to bring someone else into the picture.
What I recommend is that you convince the person who has come to you that you care, you are a friend, and you love the person so much that you will stand with him or her through this whole situation. Then show the person that other people are necessary to resolve the problem. You love them too much to make a mistake; therefore you are bringing into the relationship someone who is better trained to help.
Knowing that you would be willing to go with a trainee to talk to someone about a problem is often enough to help someone make the right decision and begin to work through a problem which has been pushed aside for far too long.
* Be patient with people
Habits that have been many years in the making may not be resolved in a matter of a few minutes. At the same time, however, you have the right to expect change, realizing that the Holy Spirit is the greatest agent of behavioral change the world has ever known. Jay Adams says, “Change for some people is difficult to accept. Change is difficult because change means doing something new, something unusual, something not done before. It usually means exchanging old habit patterns for new ones.” Yet growth requires change, and the fact that someone is hurting necessitates change in personal relationships or patterns of behavior. It must come. But it must come with time.
* Be Professional
You can value a relationship with someone so much that you treat the confidence he or she has placed in you in a professional manner.
Whenever you reach out to a hurting person of the opposite sex, you run the risk of emotional involvement. You can be concerned with people and at the same time keep your emotions firmly in control. Scores of individuals, though, have listened to someone pour out his or her heart, hearing how a mate had been betrayed. Then as the scalding tears came, the person reached out in a warm embrace to comfort the one being counseled. And from that high voltage emotional situation a compromised relationship developed, eventually leading to the downfall of the marriage of the person who was trying to help.
However some people whose marriages are solid do get emotionally involved in helping others, a danger which only you can evaluate. A warm handshake, direct eye contact, a hospitable cup of coffee or a coke are all ways of conveying warmth apart from physical contact.
Some folks are “huggers,” and embracing someone who is hurting is just as natural for them as it is for others to take a hand and shake it warmly. I, for one, advise a certain reluctance when it comes to embracing members of the opposite sex who have come to you for help or training. Their emotions may be volatile, and the person you embrace may wish desperately that a mate would do the same thing. When you embrace someone, even though it is in an office setting or even the warmth of your home, your action can trigger an emotional response which is not in the best interest of either of you.
Never train a member of the opposite sex when you question your ability to handle a situation.
It’s O.K. to bring your husband or wife into a training situation, especially when you are training a member of the opposite sex, by saying, “You know, Bob (your husband) has a lot of insights into how guys think and feel. What would you think about joining us for a cup of coffee Friday night, and we can all talk about this together?”
For your own safe guard against training with someone in a place where your integrity could be called into question (such as in a home with someone of the opposite sex when no one else is present, or in a hotel room). While both of you may be entirely trustworthy and your willingness to help may be completely honorable, the circumstances don’t make the situation look legitimate, something which Paul warned against (see 1 Thess. 5:22).
* Recognize Your own Limitations
You never lose the respect of someone when you say, “You know, I’d like to help you with this, but it is more than I can handle. I’d like to suggest that you see…” (and make a referral to a counselor or a physician).
Don’t play medical doctor, either. It’s dangerous as well as unethical. If someone you are working with has made a commitment to Jesus Christ, and that person has been under the care of a medical doctor who has prescribed medication, don’t say, “Now that you have found the Lord, you aren’t going to need your medicine anymore!”
* Nurture your relationship with the Person you are Training.
Your effectiveness with the person you want to help is determined to a large degree by the relationship you have with that person. Why did your trainee come to you initially? Because you are a “nice person”? You just happened to be there? He or she needs help? Possibly all three, yet the person struggling with some issue felt you could help, even if it was only be extending a sympathetic, listening ear. Often you help another person a great deal by simply listening – something perhaps no one else has done.
When you train, your relationship is especially important. Proverbs 27:6 notes, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” A loyal friend is honest. Words of leaders may hurt and even wound, as the writer of Proverbs attested, but those wounds will heal and may prevent a far greater tragedy.
If you tell someone only what he or she wants to hear, your value as a leader is diminished; on the other hand, if you are so harsh that you drive the person away, your effectiveness is finished.
It is painful for some people to face reality, especially when it doesn’t live up to their ideals. An affair falls into that category; it is a temporary, sometimes “make believe” situation which usually terminates in heartache and suffering.
If you are training with a couple, you strive to be neutral and objective; yet when issues of right and wrong are at stake, the offending person may feel that you as a leader have “ganged up” with the offended party. It is important that you make the one you are trying to help feel accepted as a person though you may reject his or her behavior. How is this done?
Relationships that are built on the foundation of respect, trust, and genuine cordiality form bonds that enable you to keep the lines of communication open when the going gets sticky. Your character and integrity give you status and respect in the eyes of other people. Though you may not have thought of yourself in this light, people think of you as “having your act together,” meaning they think you can help them get their act together as well.
Before a person runs the risk of becoming vulnerable by telling you where he is hurting, he or she usually asks three questions: Can this person help me? Does he or she care about me? Does this person know what he or she is talking about?
The last question (a matter of knowledge) doesn’t cut a lot of ice with most people. Bartenders dispense a lot of advice, but few bartenders have had any training in leadership. If you tend to pontificate or come across as a authority figure who sits in condemnation on the person who turns to you, you’re finished.
Genuine, warm concern for people forges lasting relationships that allow you to be an anchor when the storms of life buffet people. Actually, the preparation is done long before you ever hear those words, “What do you think I should do?”
Surely Jesus radiated this kind of warmth to the people who were touched by His life.
A lesson can be learned from the way Jesus handled the conversation wit the fallen woman. He knew exactly where she was coming from, yet refrained from asking the questions some would ask, such as:
How did you get into this profession?
How many men do you see every night?
Do you enjoy what you are doing?
Christ didn’t focus on the past, but the present (“Where are your accusers?”) and the future (“Go and sin no more!”). When you train the real issue is: where do you go from here and how do you get there?
* Rely totally upon the Lord as you train people
The person who is a Godly leader and friend prays as he listens. It isn’t necessary for you to close your eyes, but it is important to be in an attitude of prayer as you say, “Lord, help me to pick up the silent signals, to read the nonverbal cues, and to hear what is really being said.”
The Holy Spirit often gives you intuitive knowledge to ask the right questions, so that the person begins to reveal the real issue.
The Techniques of Training
Training is primarily a relationship in which one person, the trainer, seeks to train another human being on how to have a better “Quality of Life”. The trainer’s needs are mostly met elsewhere and he or she does not depend on the trainee for love, affirmation, or help. The trainer attempts to step out of his or her own conflicts to become aware of the trainee’s needs, and to communicate both understanding and a willingness to help and care. The giving of help and caring can be a complicated process, impossible to describe adequately in a few paragraphs. We can, however, summarize some of the more basic techniques that are used in any helping situation.
1. Attending. The trainer must try to give undivided attention to the trainee. This is done through (a) eye contact – looking without staring as a way to convey concern and understanding; (b) posture, which should be relaxed rather than tense, and generally involves leaning toward the trainee and; (c) gestures that are natural but not excessive or distracting. The trainer should be courteous, kind, strongly motivated to understand. He or she should be alert to some of the inner distractions which prevent us from attending carefully: fatigue, impatience, preoccupation with other matters, daydreaming and restlessness. Lifestyle-training clearly is difficult and demanding work which involves sensitivity, genuine expressions of care, and alertness in attending to another both lifestyle and spiritually.
2. Listening. This involves more than a passive reception of messages. Effective listening involves:
having sufficient awareness and resolution of one’s own conflicts to avoid reacting in a way that interferes with the trainee’s free expression of thoughts and feelings;
avoiding subtle verbal or nonverbal expressions of disdain or judgment toward the content of the trainee’s story, even when that content offends the trainer’s sensibilities;
waiting patiently through periods of silence or tears as the trainee summons up courage to delve into painful material or pauses to collect his or her thoughts or to regain composure;
hearing not only what the trainee says but what he or she is trying to say and what is left unsaid:
using both ears and eyes to detect messages which come from tone of voice, posture, and other nonverbal clues;
scanning one’s own reactions to the trainee;
avoiding looking away from the trainee as he or she speaks;
limiting the number of mental excursions into one’s own life experiences;
controlling those feelings toward the trainee that interfere with an accepting, sympathetic, nonjudgmental attitude;
realizing that full acceptance of the trainee is possible without condoning or sanctioning attitudes and behavior destructive of the trainee or of others.
It is easy to ignore all of this, and to slip quickly into advice-giving and excessive talking. This prevents the trainee from really expressing hurts, clarifying a problem through talking, sharing all of the details of an issue or experiencing the relief that comes with catharsis. Trainers who talk a lot may give good advice but it is seldom heard and even less likely to be followed. In such situations trainees feel that they have not been understood. In contrast, listening is a way of telling a trainee, “I care.”
3. Responding. It should not be assumed, however, that the trainer does nothing but listen. Jesus was a good listener (consider his time with the perplexed pair on the road to Emmaus, for example) but his training also was characterized by action and specific verbal responses.
Leading is a skill by which the trainer slightly anticipates the trainee’s direction of thought and responds in a way that redirects the conversation. “Can you elaborate on …?” “What happened then?” “What did you mean by …? – all are brief questions which hopefully direct the discussion into maximally productive directions.
Reflecting is a way of letting trainees know that we are “with them” and can understand their feelings or thinking. “You must feel …,” “I bet that was frustrating,” “That must have been fun” – all of these reflect what is going on in training. Be careful not to reflect after every statement (do it periodically) and try to avoid stereotype responses (e.g., frequently repeating sentences beginning with phrases such as “You must think …” or “I hear you saying that …”). A brief summary of what has been going on can also be a way of reflecting and stimulating more trainee exploration. The trainer may summarize feelings (“that must have hurt”) and/or general themes of content (“‘from all of this it sounds like you have had a whole string of failures”), but always give the trainee time and opportunity to respond to such reflecting – summarizing.
Questioning, if done skillfully, can bring forth a great deal of useful information. The best questions are those which require at least a sentence or two from the trainee (e.g., “Tell me about your marriage”) rather than those which can bee answered in one word (“Are you married?” “What is your age?”). Beginning trainers ask more questions than experienced trainers, and since extensive questioning can stifle communication, students are often instructed to ask few questions. Also questions beginning with “Why” are usually avoided since these tend either to sound judgmental, or to stimulate long intellectual discussions which avoid coming to grips with the real feelings or hurts that the trainee may have.
Confronting means presenting some idea to the trainee that he or she might not see otherwise. Trainees can be confronted with sin in their lives, failures, inconsistencies, or self-defeating behavior and they should be encouraged to change their behavior or attitudes. Confrontation is best done in a loving, gentle, nonjudgmental manner. Nevertheless it often brings resistance, guilt, and sometimes anger from the trainee. It becomes important, therefore, that the trainer allow time for the trainee to respond verbally to the confrontation and to discuss alternative ways of behaving. At times such a confrontation leads to confession and a significant experience of forgiveness. Confrontation is an important and sometimes difficult part of training, but it is not the only skill involved in training people.
Informing involves giving facts to people in need of information. This is different from a trainer sharing opinions or giving advice. Information is commonplace and an accepted part of training; advice-giving is much more controversial. Advice-givers often lack enough knowledge of a situation to give competent advice, their advice-giving encourages the counselee to be dependent, and if the advice proves invalid it is the trainer who later is made to feel responsibility for giving bad direction. Whenever you are asked for advice or inclined to give advice, be sure that you are well-informed about the situation. Do you have enough information and expertise to validly advise another? Then ask yourself what might be the end results of this advice-giving. Is it likely to make the trainee more dependent? Can you handle the feelings that might come if your advice is rejected or proven wrong? If you then do give advice, offer it in the form of a tentative suggestion, give the trainee time to react and talk through your advice, and follow up later to see the extent to which the advice was helpful.
Interpretation involves explaining to the trainee what his or her behavior or other events mean. This is a highly technical skill with great potential for enabling trainees to see themselves and their situations more clearly. But interpretations can also be harmful, especially if they are introduced before the trainee can handle the material emotionally, or if the interpretations are wrong. If, as a trainer, you begin to see some possible explanations for another person’s challenges, ask yourself if the trainee is intellectually and emotionally ready to handle such an insight, keep the terms simple as you interpret, present your interpretation in a tentative way (e.g., “Could it be that … ?”) and allow time for the trainee to respond. As you discuss the interpretation the trainee often develops even greater insights and is able to explore future courses of action with the trainer.
Supporting and encouraging are important parts of any training situation, especially at the beginning. When people are burdened by needs and conflicts they can benefit from the stability and care of an empathic person who shows acceptance and can give reassurance. his is more than holding up the downtrodden, however. Support includes guiding the trainee to take stock of his or her own spiritual and psychological resources, encouraging action, and helping with any problems or failures that may come as a result of this action.
4. Teaching. The trainer is an educator, teaching by instruction, by example, and by leading the trainee as he or she learns to cope with the challenges of life, into a better “Quality of Life.” As with other less personal forms of education, training is most effective when the discussions (“How can I control my temper when I am criticized by my wife?”) rather than on nebulous goals (I want to be happier”).
The Process of Training
Training is not a step-by-step process such as baking a cake, or even preparing a sermon. Each trainee is unique – with problems, attitudes, values, expectations and experiences that are unlike any other. The trainer (whose own challenges, attitudes, values, expectations and experiences are also brought to the counseling situations) must approach each individual a little differently and will discover that the course of training will vary from person to person.
In every training relationship, however, it would appear that there are several steps, the first three of which may be repeated several times as problems are considered and reconsidered. These steps involve building and maintaining a relationship between trainer and trainee; exploring challenges to clarify issues and determine how the problems can be handled; deciding on a course of action; stimulating the trainee to act; evaluating progress and deciding on subsequent actions; and terminating the training relationship by encouraging and guiding the trainee to launch out without the trainers continuing help.
For example, the first step of building a relationship is especially important at the beginning when trainees (and trainers) might be nervous and apprehensive. However, once a relationship has begun it must be maintained, so the trainer must never completely lose sight of step one. In training there is a vacillation back and forth between these stages as problems become clearer, solutions are found between these stages as challenges become clearer, solutions are found, and the training moves to termination.
Regardless of how effective the training, its influence can be undermined if the trainee leaves the session and forgets or ignores what has been learned. To meet this problem, many trainers give homework assignments – projects which are designed to strengthen, expand and extend the process of training beyond the trainee’s time with the trainer.
Homework in Training
Some people learn best through hearing – listening to the words of others. Some learn best through seeing – reading books, watching movies, and looking at diagrams. Then there are people who learn best through doing – completing projects, doing role plays, or acting out their feelings. Although there have been some recent exceptions. In spite of this potential for diversity five types of homework task agreements have been used most often:
Testing. This includes questionnaires, sentence completion forms, standardized tests, and writing assignments (such as preparing a brief biography, listing life goals, making a list of what one likes and dislikes about a job, and so on). These written responses are then taken back to the trainer where they are discussed.
Discussion and Study Guides. These sometimes appear in the appendixes of books but entire volumes have been devoted to guiding home study or small group discussion. Sometimes this study takes place independently of any training. Sometimes the study is a task agreement to be completed between training sessions and discussed subsequently in training.
Behavior Assignments. Trainees sometimes are encouraged to change their actions in some small but important ways between training sessions. Saying “thank you,” giving periodic compliments, not complaining about some annoying practice of one’s mate, getting to work on time, reading the Bible for ten minutes daily – these are the kinds of behavior change suggestions which trainers give and then discuss with trainees.
Reading. Books and articles often contain helpful information which can supplement the training sessions.
Audio/Visual Media. CD’s, video/audio tapes, internet, etc.. literally thousands of media are currently available on a wide variety of subjects. The quality of the media and the accuracy of the information is not always good, but these can be improved and used as a helpful supplement to personal training.
The Start of your Spirit-Anointed Leadership and Revival
David took the throne under horrible circumstances. The Philistines had defeated the Israeli army, the Amalekites were attacking on a different front, and total destruction seemed inevitable. But then came David.
If you were to fast-forward through the life of David, you would see an astonishing thing. This shepherd-commoner consolidated the kingdom, drove back Israel’s enemies on every side, forged a prosperous peace, and extended the size of the kingdom by almost 600%.
How did he accomplish all of that? 1 Samuel 16:13 “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.”
When the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon David, two things resulted. They are permanently engraved in the powerful summary of David’s life that his friend Asaph wrote in Psalm 78:72. “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
This combination explains his remarkable success as a man of God. We have and will focus on the integrity of heart in other lessons. here we are going to focus on skillful leadership.
Here is a controversial statement: Every sin, sorrow, or sickness hat has ever existed in this world has come about due to a lack of skillful leadership. Let me try to prove my point.
In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam to “rule over… every living creature that moves on the ground.” This authority was from God. When Satan came to tempt Adam and Eve, he came as a serpent… a living creature that moves on the ground. Adam had been commanded to rule over living creatures that move on the ground! Suddenly, here was one! If Adam had exercised leadership when Satan began to tempt them, and had commanded Satan to stop questioning God and to leave, Satan would have been FORCED to comply, because Adam had been given dominion. How different would our world be today if Adam had exercised the authority that God had given him?
You see, God had not left Adam and Eve defenseless against an attack of this type. God had given them all the authority they needed to rebuff this attack, but they failed to use it. If they had exerted SKILLED leadership and taken dominion there would be no sin (and therefore, no sorrow, or sickness) in our world today.
Let’s contrast Adam with Jesus Jesus was not intimidate by Satan’s temptation: he responded to it with authority. He quoted the authority of the Word of God and then He exercised the dominion that Adam had failed to use, when He said (Matt. 4:10) “Away from Me, Satan.”
Therefore (contrary to the thinking of many) taking leadership is not carnal; it is Christ-like. When Adam failed to lead, our world was plunged into sin. When Jesus exercised leadership in the face of Satan’s temptation, we were saved. Scripture tells us that we are to be like our LORD, not Adam.
Throughout the Old Testament, God commanded and coaxed individuals to lead His people. They refused and asked Him to send someone else, like Moses did, or they had to be drawn out of hiding, like Gideon. God is the initiator of these calls to lead. He is the One who is always trying to get His people to exert leadership!
But Christians today fail to exercise leadership and whenever they do, our enemy is always willing to fil the leadership vacuum left by reluctant believers. Will Christians not lead in the political arena? Then the devil will press his political agenda. Will Christians not lead in the educational system? Then Satan will take charge of our schools. Will Christians not lead in the area of justice? Then our enemy will take the lead in our judicial system and justice will be denied to those who need it most.
May God forgive us for the cowardly abdication of leadership that has caused us to leave the field of battle and permit our enemy to win by default. Where righteous men lead, righteousness prevails. That is why the Lord seeks obedient men and women who are willing to be leaders.
May we learn from Jesus how to lead people entrusted to our care!
Quality of Life
E-mail and cell phones provide instant access to leaders. Technology has made today’s leaders constantly and instantly accessible to people. With such access, people often expect immediate responses from their leaders. Such pressure to make rapid decisions and to maintain steady communication can intimidate even the most zealous leader. Our world craves good leaders. People are warily looking for leaders they can trust.
In the Church
People are desperate for leaders who can make positive changes in their lives! Society at large is displaying widespread and growing interest in spiritual issues. Amazingly, at a time of renewed societal interest in spiritual things, many churches and denominations are declining. According to George Barna, “the American church is dying due to a lack of strong leadership. In this time of unprecedented opportunity and plentiful resources, the church is actually losing influence. The primary reason is the lack of leadership. Nothing is more important than leadership” Although the leadership shortage is universally acknowledged, there is little consensus on how to discover and develop leaders.
In times past, churches focused on the Great Commission. Today’s churches adopt mission statements. Contemporary Christian leaders build teams and lead their people through team-building exercises. Today’s churches use state-of-the-art marketing principles to reach their communities. Many church leaders claim these innovations have resulted in dramatic growth in their congregations, including a significant proportion of converts. Other Christian leaders decry such approaches as blatant theological and biblical compromise.
A pastor’s ability is measured in terms of numbers of people, dollars, and buildings. The more of each, the more successful the pastor. The godliness of a minister may not be enough to satisfy a congregation looking to keep up with the church down the street. Likewise, Christian organizations seem willing to overlook significant character flaws, and even moral lapses, as long as their leader continues to produce.
In this course, it will become clear that many of the “modern” leadership principles currenbtly being espoused are, in fact, biblical principles that have been commanded by God throughout history.
God or King?
The world measured a kingdom’s success by its grand palaces and magnificent armies. But citizenship in such kingdoms come with many stiff prices. God could not have been more clear about the consequences of choosing worldly leadership over divine leadership. Scripture indicates that it is a mistake to separate the spiritual world from the secular world.
God created people to be spiritual beings. Every person, Christian and non-Christian alike, is a spiritual person with spiritual needs. As an example, God is the author of human relationships. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all believers whether they are at church or at work. The kingdom of God is in fact, the rule of God in every area of life, including the church, home, workplace, and neighborhood. To ignore these truths is to do so at one’s peril..
Society’s problems are more than just a lack of leaders. Society’s great deficit is that it does not have enough leaders who understand and practice Christian principles of leadership. Jesus summed up this truth for every executive, politician, schoolteacher, lawyer, doctor, and parent, when he said: “‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well'” (Matt. 6:33 NIV).
One’s calling as a Christian not only takes precedence over his or her career; it actually gives direction to that career. Moreover, a Christian’s calling will give meaning to everry area of life. The world needs political leaders who seek their guidance from the Holy Spirit and not from the latest public opinion poll. The world needs religious leaders who are on God’s agenda and not on their own. The world needs husbands and wives, mothers and fathers who know how to apply biblical promises in their homes rather than merely implementing advice from the latest self-help books.
Messages directly from God
Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12
1 Samuel 8:10-22a
It is our sincere belief that the following passage applies to every Christian: “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chron. 16:9a).
O Lord, help me to be open to the comments of others. let me face my shortcomings with dignity and open-mindedness. Help me ever to work to change myself for the better. Amen.
You are visiting a friend at home who has just come home from the hospital with a broken leg. Help him feel better?
You have a friend who is depressed because his/her job. You are to talk with him/her about his/her feelings, to listen, and to help the feelings get out in the open?
Which of the caring methods seemed more effective? More caring? Why?
Would you label one as result oriented and the other as caring?
Now discuss some or what you have learned within this exercise?
The gift that you gave others by sharing your life story was:?
How can we help you in prayer this week?
Read 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5
What was the wisdom and strength of God?