1-1-5-God’s Family


1-1-5-Gods Family

The Risk of Investment

Read Matthew 25:14-30

The master divided the money (talents) among his servants according to their abilities.  I he/she failed in their assignment, his excuse could not be that he was overwhelmed.  The talents represent any kind of resource we are given.  God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and he expects us to invest them wisely until he returns.  We are responsible to use well what God has given us.  The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have.

We are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do.  For a few people, this may mean changing professions..  For most of us, it means doing our daily work out of love for God.

We must not make excuses to avoid doing what God calls us to do.  If God truly is our Master, we must obey willingly.  Our time, abilities, and money aren’t ours in the first place – we are caretakers, not owners.  When we ignore, squander, or abuse what we are given, we are rebellious and deserve to be punished.

The person who diligently invests his or her time and talents to serve God will be rewarded.  The person who has no heart for the work of the kingdom will be punished.  Those who bear no fruit for God’s kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who are faithful.

If the Master returned today, what would he say about the way you’ve used what he gave you?

How have you worked at developing it?

What kind of responsibility do you feel toward God regarding your talents?

When if ever , have you observed that the more you used a talent, the more talents God gave you?

What will you do this week with the talents God gave you?

One of the best ways to figure out what God wants you to do with your life is to take a look at your abilities and assets.  Finish the sentence by checking three or four things: “I’m good at…”
working with children
listening/caring
helping behind the scenes
playing an instrument
problem solving
coaching/teaching
organizing/administering
acting/singing
sharing my faith
motivating/leading
getting others involved
crusading for a cause
peacemaking/reconciling
cooking/homemaking
teaching the Bible
running a business
helping others start a business
working with old people
playing ball
making people laugh
sticking it out
cheering other on
hanging out with the kids
being sensitive to others
raising money

Add two more things you are good at:

Now imagine how these abilities could be used to share Christ’s love and do God’s work in your circumstances.  Be specific as you apply your strengths to “Kingdom business.”

What is your favorite excuse for not using your talents?

What do you need to get you started?

Discovering your God-given gifts: Here is a simple test to help you identify some of your special gifts.  It focuses on seven ministry gifts that are mentioned in Romans 12:6-8.  For each question, choose the response which best describes you.  Then tabulate your scores.

Would you consider it more loving and caring to:
P help a person change for the better (or)
S invite a needy person into your home?

To form an opinion about something, would you:
P go by what you feel and believe already (or)
T research it until you are confident enough?

In giving advice, do you:
P quote Scripture as basic ideals for action (or)
E give practical, motivational steps for action?

Are you more likely to find fulfillment in a:
T teaching career (or)
G business venture?

Would you rather:
P pray for someone (or)
G provide for him/her?

Would you rather:
T train others to do a job (or)
A delegate work to others?

Would you rather spend time:
P in prayer (or)
A organizing a Christian project?

Do you find that you:
T enjoy intellectual pursuits
C daydream and fantasize a lot?

Would you rather participate in:
P an intercessory prayer group (or)
C a program to feed the poor?

Would you prefer to:
E do individual counseling (or)
A manage a group project?

Would you rather:
S help set up for (and serve) a church dinner (or)
T speak to the group after dinner?

Do you encourage people:
E by sharing your own experiences (or)
G by giving them practical help?

Would you rather:
E give motivational speeches (or)
C help with caring type ministries?

After a meeting, do you feel it is more important to:
S make sure the room is left in order (or)
E spend time socializing?

Would you rather:
G financially assist an ongoing project (or)
A organize the ongoing project?

Would you rather help someone in need by:
G give generously to a ministry (or)
C minister directly to those who are hurting?

If a room needed cleaning would you:
S get a broom and sweep it yourself
A figure out who is best suited for the job?

Would you rather work with:
A a group (or) C one person at a time?

Are you more attentive to:
S peoples practical needs (or)
C how people feel?

Do you like to have:
T a few select friends with similar interests (or)
E lots of friends, the more the better?

Review these answers you checked. Count up the number of “T’s” and put that number on the line below next to Teacher,  Do the same for the other letters/gifts.  When you are done you will have a preliminary idea of what your ministry gifts may be.

(T) Teacher
(S) Server
(G) Giver
(C) Compassionate Person
(P) Perceiver
(E) Exhorter
(A) Administrator

This exercise has been taken from the book Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts-Don Fortune, @1987. Chosen Books/Revel.

If Jesus asked you for an accounting of his investment in your life up to now, what would you say? “I am committed to the will of God in my life…”

If you knew you could not fail, what is one thing you would like to give your life to?

Spiritual Gifts Inventory: Part 1

Wagner-Modified Houts Questionnaire-Step 1

For each statement, indicate to what extent it is true of your life: Do so by entering on the line to the right a 3 for Much, 2 for Some, 1 for Little or 0 for Not at All.

Upon completion of Part 1, go to Part 2 to find out what your spiritual gifts are.

  1. I have a desire to speak direct messages from God that edify, exhort or comfort others.

  2. I have enjoyed relating to a certain group of people over a long period of time, sharing  personally in their successes and their failures.

  3. People have told me that I have helped them learn Biblical truth in a meaningful way.

  4. I have applied spiritual truth effectively to situations in my own life.

  5. Others have told me that I have helped them distinguish key and important facts of Scripture.

  6. I have verbally encouraged the wavering, the troubled or the discouraged.

  7. Others in the church have noted that I was able to see through phoniness before it was evident to other people,

  8. I find I manage money well in order to give liberally.

  9. I have assisted Christian leaders to relieve them for their essential job.

  10. I have a desire to work with those who have physical or mental problems to alleviate their suffering.

  11. I feel comfortable relating to ethnics and minorities, and they seem to accept me.

  12. I have led others to a decision for salvation through faith in Christ.

  13. My home is always open to people passing through who need a place to stay.

  14. When in a group, I am the one others often look to for vision and direction.

  15. When I speak, people seem to listen and agree.

  16. When a group I am in is lacking organization, I tend to step in to fill the gap.

  17. Others can point to specific instances where my prayers have resulted in visible miracles.

  18. In the name of the Lord, I have been used in curing diseases instantaneously.

  19. I have spoken in tongues.

  20. Sometimes when a person speaks in tongues, I get an idea about what God is saying.

  21. I could live more comfortably, but I choose not to in order to live with the poor.

  22. I am single and enjoy it.

  23. I spend at least an hour a day in prayer.

  24. I have spoken to evil  spirits and they have obeyed me.

  25. I enjoy being called upon to do specific jobs around the church.

  26. Through God I have revealed specific things which will happen in the future.

  27. I have enjoyed assuming the responsibility for the spiritual well-being of a particular group of Christians.

  28. I feel I can explain the New Testament teaching about the health and ministry of the body of Christ in a relevant way.

  29. I can intuitively arrive at solutions to fairly complicated problems.

  30. I have had insights of spiritual truth which others have said helped bring them  closer to God.

  31. I can effectively motivate people to get involved in ministry when it is needed.

  32. I can “see” the Spirit of God resting on certain people from time to time.

  33. My giving records show that I give considerably more than 10 percent of my income to the Lord’s work.

  34. Other people have told me that I have helped them become more effective in their ministries.

  35. Other people have told  me that they knew that I cared when they had material or physical needs.

  36. I feel I could learn another language well in order to minister to those in a different culture.

  37. I have shared joyfully how Christ has brought me to Himself in a way that is meaningful to non-believers.

  38. I enjoy taking charge of church suppers or social events.

  39. I have believed God for the impossible and seen it happen in a tangible way.

  40. Other Christians have followed my leadership because they believed in me.

  41. I enjoy handling the details of organizing ideas, people, resources and time for more effective ministry.

  42. God has used me personally to perform supernatural signs and wonders.

  43. I enjoy praying for sick people because I know that many of them will be healed as a result.

  44. I have spoken an immediate message of God to His people in a language I have never learned.

  45. I have interpreted tongues with the result that the body of Christ was edified,  exhorted or comforted.

  46. Living a simple lifestyle is an exciting challenge for me.

  47. Other people have noted that I feel more indifferent about not being married than most.

  48. 48.  When I hear a prayer request, I pray for that need for several days at least.

  49. I have actually heard a demon speak in a loud voice.

  50. I don’t have many special skills, but I do what needs to be done around the church.

  51. People have told me that I have communicated timely and urgent messages which must have come directly from the Lord.

  52. I feel unafraid of giving spiritual guidance and direction in a group of Christians.

  53. I can devote considerable time to learning new Biblical truths in order to communicate them to others.

  54. When a person has a problem I can frequently guide them to the best Biblical solution.

  55. Through study or experience I have discerned major strategies or techniques God seems to use in furthering His kingdom.

  56. People have come to me in their afflictions or sufferings, and told me that they have been helped, relieved and healed.

  57. I can tell with a fairly high degree of assurance when a person is afflicted by an evil spirit.

  58. When I am moved by an appeal to give to God’s work, I usually can find the money I need to do it.

  59. I have enjoyed doing routine tasks that led to more effective ministry by others.

  60. I enjoy visiting in hospitals and/or retirement homes, and do fine in such a ministry.

  61. People of a different race or culture have been attracted to me, and we have related well.

  62. Non-Christians have noted that they feel comfortable when they are around me, and that I have a positive effect on them toward developing a faith in Christ.

  63. When people come to our home, they indicate that they “feel at home” with us.

  64. Other people have told me that I had faith to accomplish what seemed impossible to them.

  65. When I set goals, others seem to accept them readily.

  66. I have been able to make effective and efficient plans for accomplishing the goals of a group.

  67. God regularly seems to do impossible things through my life.

  68. Others have told me that God healed them of an emotional problem when I ministered to them.

  69. I can speak to God in a language I have never learned.

  70. I have prayed that I may interpret if someone begins speaking in tongues.

  71. I am  not poor, but I can identify with poor people.

  72. I am glad I have more time to serve the Lord because I am single.

  73. Intercessory prayer is one of my favorite ways of spending time.

  74. Others call on me when they suspect that someone is demonized.

  75. Others have mentioned that I seem to enjoy routine tasks and do well at them.

  76. I sometimes have a strong sense of what God wants to say to people in response to a particular situation.

  77. I have helped fellow believers by guiding them to relevant portions of the Bible and praying with them.

  78. I feel I can communicate Biblical truths to others and see resulting changes in knowledge, attitudes, values or conduct.

  79. Some people indicate that I have perceived and applied Biblical truth to the specific needs of fellow believers.

  80. I study and read quite a bit in order to learn new Biblical truths.

  81. I have a desire to effectively counsel the perplexed, the guilty or the addicted.

  82. I can recognize whether a person’s teaching is from God, from Satan, or of human origin.

  83. I am so confident that God will meet my needs that I give to Him sacrificially and consistently.

  84. When I do things behind the scenes and others are helped, I am joyful.

  85. People call on me to help those who are less fortunate.

  86. I would be willing to leave comfortable surroundings if it would enable me to share Christ with more people.

  87. I get frustrated when others don’t seem to share their faith with unbelievers as much as I do.

  88. Others have mentioned to me that I am a very hospitable person.

  89. There have been times when I have felt sure I knew God’s specific will for the future growth of His work, even when others have not been so sure.

  90. When I join a group, others seem to back off and expect me to take the leadership.

  91. I am able to give directions to others without using persuasion to get them to accomplish a task.

  92. People have told me that I was God’s instrument which brought supernatural change in lives or circumstances.

  93. I have prayed for others and physical healing has actually occurred.

  94. When I give a public message in tongues, I expect it to be interpreted.

  95. I have interpreted tongues in a way that seemed to bless others.

  96. Others tell me I sacrifice much materially in order to minister.

  97. I am single and have little difficulty controlling my sexual desires.

  98. Others have told me that my prayers for them have been answered in tangible ways.

  99. Other people have been instantly delivered from demonic oppression when I have prayed.

  100. I prefer being active and doing something rather than just sitting around talking or reading or listening to a speaker.

  101. I sometimes feel that I know exactly what God wants to do in ministry at a specific point in time.

  102. People have told me that I have helped them to be restored to the Christian Community.

  103. Studying the Bible and sharing my insights with others is very satisfying for me.

  104. I have felt an unusual presence of God and personal confidence when important decisions needed to be made.

  105. I have the ability to discover new truths for myself through reading of observing situations first hand.

  106. I have urged others to seek a Biblical solution to their affliction or suffering.

  107. I can tell whether a person speaking in tongues is genuine.

  108. I have been willing to maintain a lower standard of living in order to benefit God’s work.

  109. When I serve the Lord, I really don’t care who gets the credit.

  110. I would enjoy offering cheerful conversation to a lonely, shut-in person or someone in prison.

  111. More than most, I have had s strong desire to see peoples of other countries won to the Lord.

  112. I am attracted to non-believers because of my desire to win them to Christ.

  113. I have desired to make my home available to those in the Lord’s service whenever needed.

  114. Others have told me that I am a person of unusual vision, and I agree.

  115. When I am in charge, things seem to run smoothly.

  116. I have enjoyed bearing the responsibility for the success of a particular task within my church.

  117. In the name of the Lord, I have been able to recover sight to the blind.

  118. When I pray for the sick, either I or they feel sensations of tingling or warmth.

  119. When I speak in tongues, I believe it is edifying to the Lord’s body.

  120. I have interpreted tongues in such a way that the message appeared to be directly from God.

  121. Poor people accept me because I choose to live on their level.

  122. I readily identify with Paul’s desire for others to be single as he was.

  123. When I pray, God frequently speaks to me, and I recognize His voice.

  124. I cast out demons in Jesus’ name.

  125. I respond cheerfully when asked to do a job, even if it seems menial.

Part 2-In the grid below, total up the numerical value of each of your responses to the answers requested for each line and place the sum in the “Total” Column.

Rows-Use questions       Total,                     Gift

  1. 1, 26, 51,  76, 101Prophecy

  2. 2, 27, 52,  77, 102Pastor

  3. 3, 28, 53,  78, 103Teaching

  4. 4, 29, 54,  79, 104Wisdom

  5. 5, 30, 55,  80, 105Knowledge

  6. 6, 31, 56,  81, 106Exhortation

  7. 7, 32, 57,  82, 107Disc. of Spirits

  8. 8, 33, 58,  83, 108Giving

  9. 9, 34, 59,  84, 109Helps

  10. 10, 35, 60,  85, 110Mercy

  11. 11, 36, 61,  86, 111Missionary

  12. 12, 37, 62,  87, 112Evangelist

  13. 13, 38, 63,  88, 113Hospitality

  14. 14, 39, 64,  89, 114Faith

  15. 15, 40, 65,  90, 115Leadership

  16. 16, 41, 66,  91, 116Administration

  17. 17, 42, 67,  92, 117Miracles

  18. 18, 43, 68,  93, 118Healing

  19. 19, 44, 69,  94, 119Tongues

  20. 20, 45, 70,  95, 120Interpretation

  21. 21, 46, 71,  96, 121Voln. Poverty

  22. 22, 47, 72,  97, 122Celibacy

  23. 23, 48, 73,  98, 123Intercession

  24. 24, 49, 74,  99, 124Exorcism

  25. 25, 50, 75, 100, 125Service

What ministry is most interesting to you?  Which people and what kind of ministry would you like to get involved with?  Mark the opportunities you would like to check out:

Worship

Usher
Greeter
Teller (counts offering)
Parking volunteer
Prayer Group

Children

Sunday School
Preschool
Elementary
Vacation Bible School
Music activities
Art support (posters, bulletin boards, etc.)
Junior Church

Youth

Youth Sunday School
Junior High volunteer
Senior High volunteer
College Volunteer
Transport

Specific Adult Ministries

Seniors
Singles
Men’s Ministries
Women’s Ministries
Personal and spiritual growth seminars
Trustees (Maintenance, etc.)
Elders (Spiritual Counsel, etc.)
Board (Leadership, etc.)
Administrative (Treasure, etc.)

Adult Bible Fellowships/Small groups

Teacher/facilitator
Fellowship Team (directs/organizes groups)

Ministry Teams

Hospital Visitation
Grief Ministry
Telephone Ministry
New Member Ministry
Unemployment Ministry

Music

Drama
Video & Audio tapes
Adult ensembles
Adult choir
Soloist
Productions, sets, etc.

The Scriptures describe the Christian family in a variety of ways.  One of the most powerful metaphors for this is used by the apostle Paul, who states that every Christian is part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).  Just as the human body has many parts, so it is with the body of Christ (12:12).  It encompasses people of vastly different ethnic groups, cultures, ages, abilities and interests.  Yet this heterogeneous body is a unity (12:13).  Jesus has connected every believer with himself in such an intimate way that he lives in us and we in him.  In a burst of creative love God has laces us fragmented lonely humans to himself and to each other with bindings of love.

The bonds of the whole Christian family fashioned by the power and love of Jesus Christ are distinct from those of other groups.  All Christians are involved in a unique web of relationships that transcend the normal barriers of human prejudice.

A Right and Responsibility to Train

Even Christian Leaders sometimes find themselves asking questions like: “What right do I have to involve myself in another person’s life?”  or “What right do I have to pry into another’s life or responsibility do I have to train another person?”

We have the responsibility to train based on the concerns of people.  Frequently I find that people, especially those who are hurting, want to talk about their concerns.  Although they may flinch when you first ask about what deeply concerns them most, they will later express relief and be grateful that you cared enough to ask, listen, and help them to deal with their concerns.  Widows and widowers frequently complain that after their spouse’s death, friends and other concerned people seem reluctant to talk about the deceased.  Contrary to what you might think, most widowed people want to talk about the significant other they have lost.

In general, people desire the loving relationship of fellow Christians.  It is our privilege and responsibility to share this.

Anxiety

Anxiety, Stress, Fear, Tension – Technically these words have different meanings but they are often used interchangeably to describe one of the most prevailing characteristics of twentieth-century human beings.  Psychologist Rollo May has called anxiety “one of the most urgent problems of our day.”  It has been termed the “official emotion of our age,” the basis of all neuroses, and “the most pervasive psychological phenomenon of our time.”  Although anxiety is as old as human existence, the complexities and pace of modern life have alerted us to its presence and perhaps have increased its influence.

Anxiety might be defined as an inner feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, concern, worry, and/or dread which is accompanied by heightened physical arousal.  It can arise in reaction to some specific identifiable danger (many writers call this “fear” rather than anxiety), or it can come in response to an imaginary or unknown danger.  This latter kind of anxiety has been termed “free-floating.”  The person senses that something terrible is going to happen but he or she does not know what it is or why.

Various kinds of anxiety have been identified (e.g., real, phobic, ego neurotic, basic, and separation), but for our purposes let us consider only a few of these: acute and chronic, normal and neurotic, moderate and high.

Acute anxiety comes quickly, is of high intensity, and has a short duration.  When people are suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by anxiety, the condition usually is acute.  Chronic anxiety, in contrast, is persistent and long-lasting, but of lower intensity.  Chronically anxious people seem to worry all the time and in response to a variety of situations.  Much of their anxiety is free-floating.

Normal anxiety comes when there is real threat or situational danger.  The anxiety is proportional to the danger (the greater the threat the greater the anxiety).  It can be recognized, managed, and reduced, especially when outward circumstances change.  Neurotic  anxiety involves intense exaggerated feelings of helplessness and dread even when the danger is mild or nonexistent.  It cannot be faced squarely and dealt with (which is what Freud believed).  To quote Rolo May’s precise but technical description, neurotic anxiety “is disproportionate to the objective danger because some intrapsychic conflict is involved.”

Anxiety can vary in its intensity.  Moderate anxiety can be desirable and healthy.  Often it motivates, helps people avoid dangerous situations, and leads to increased efficiency.  High anxiety can shorten one’s attention span, make concentration difficult, adversely affect memory, hinder performance skills, interfere with problem solving, block effective communication, arouse panic, and sometimes cause undesirable physical symptoms such as paralysis or intense headaches.

The Bible and Anxiety

In the Bible “anxiety” is used in two ways, as fret or worry and healthy concern.

First, let us consider anxiety as fret and worry.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that we should not be anxious (worrying) about life’s basic needs, such as food and clothing or about the future.  We have a heavenly Father, Jesus said, who knows what we need and will provide.  In the New Testament Epistles, both Peter and Paul echoed this conclusion.  “Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing,” we read in Philippians.  Instead, Christians are to bring their requests to God, with a attitude of thanksgiving, expecting to experience the “peace of God which surpasses all comprehension.”  We can cast our anxieties upon the Lord knowing that he cares for us.

Anxiety as fret and worry comes because of a sinful turning from God.  Instead of acknowledging His sovereignty and preeminence we have shifted the burdens of life onto ourselves and assumed that we alone can handle the problems that we face.  When man turns from God and becomes his own god increased anxiety is inevitable.  Perhaps is is not surprising, then, that in an age of increased godlessness there is also increased anxiety.

In contrast, anxiety in the form of a realistic concern is neither condemned nor forbidden.  Although Paul could write that he was not anxious (that is, worried) about the possibility of being beaten, cold, hungry or in danger, he said that he was anxious (that is , concerned) about the welfare of the churches.  This sincere care for others put a “daily pressure” on Paul and made Timothy “genuinely anxious” (that is, concerned) as well.

According to the Bible, therefore, there is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable challenges of life (the ones you can have a realistically significant impact on).  To ignore danger is foolish and wrong.  But it is also wrong, as well as unhealthy, to be immobilized by excessive worry.  Such worry must be committed in prayer to God, who can release us from paralyzing fear or anxiety, and free us to deal realistically with the needs and welfare both of others and of ourselves.

Admittedly, however, it isn’t always easy to “stop perpetually worrying.”  It is difficult for people to “cast their burdens on the Lord,” to trust that God will meet their needs, to wait for his help and to know when they should take some responsibility for meeting a difficult situation.  Anxious people often are impatient people who need help in handling their pressures realistically and within God’s perfect time schedule.  The trainer can help such people to see God’s promises, to recognize his power and influence in our daily lives, and to take action when appropriate.  For may trainees it is also helpful if they can understand the causes and effects of the anxiety which may be persisting in a troublesome way.

The Causes of Anxiety

For a condition so widespread as anxiety, it should come as no surprise that numerous causes have been identified.  For example, in a little book titled The Problem of Anxiety, Freud discussed this condition in terms of his view that human personality has three parts: the id which consists of instincts that demand immediate gratification, the ego which  is aware of the external world and keeps the personality in contact with reality, and the superego which is the moral sense of right and wrong.  Anxiety arises, Freud wrote, (a) when the ego recognizes a clear threat to the person (this was called “realistic anxiety”); (b) when the id begins to get too powerful, so that it threatens to overwhelm the ego and cause the person to act with socially aggressive or sexually unacceptable behavior (neurotic anxiety); or (c) when the superego gets too powerful, so that the person is overwhelmed by guilt or shame (moral anxiety).  Later writers shifted away from this Freudian view and described anxiety as being less an internal instinctual struggle and more the result of cultural pressures or threats from the world in which we live.  Then came an emphasis on learning, with the proposal that anxiety is a condition that we acquire through conditioning.

Sifting through these and other theories we might conclude that anxiety arises as the result of threat, conflict, fear, unmet needs, and individual differences.

1.  Threat.  Following an in-depth survey of the literature, psychologist Rolo May concluded that anxiety is an apprehension that is always

cued off by a threat to some value that the individual holds essential to his (or her) existence as a personality.  The threat may be to physical life (the threat of death), or to psychological existence (the loss of freedom, meaninglessness).  Or the threat may be to some other value which one identifies with one’s existence: (patriotism, the love of another person, “success,” etc.).

Threats, therefore, can be of different kinds including those which come from perceived danger, a threat to one’s feelings of self-worth, separation and unconscious influences.

(a)  Danger.  Crime, war, violent weather, unexplained illnesses, even visits to the dentist, can be among those events which threaten individuals and cause anxiety.  The anxiety arises because the individual feels uncertain about what is coming and helpless to prevent or reduce the threat.  At times, most people are anxious about applying for a job, giving a speech or taking a test.  Often this apprehension comes because of our uncertainty and feelings of helplessness.

(b)  Self-esteem. Most people like to look good and to perform competently.  When anything comes along to threaten our image or to imply (to others or to ourselves) that we are not competent, then we feel threatened.  On a simple level, self-conscious people often sense a mild anxiety in new social situations because they are threatened by the reactions of others.  On a more serious level, some people avoid taking exams or risking failure because the failure which might come would be too threatening to their self-esteem.

(c)  Separation.  It is never easy to be separated from significant other people.  It can be confusing to be on our own and painful to realize that an important person in our life has left or rejected us.  Concerned about the uncertainty of the future, faced with a gaping inner void, and sometimes wondering “What do I do now?”, individuals often feel threatened and saddened when losses occur through moves, death, divorce, or other separations.  So significant is this in explaining anxiety, that a psychologist named Otto Rank once proposed that all anxiety arises from separation, beginning with separation from the mother’s womb at the time of birth and ending with the separation from human existence at death.

(d)  Unconscious Influence.  Even counselors who reject many of Freud’s theories often agree that unconscious influences may be at the dangers in our society that to keep free from immobilizing fear most people have to ignore some potential stresses and push these out of their minds.  This is not necessarily bad if done deliberately and temporarily, but according to Freud, when threats and concerns are pushed into the unconscious ideas move toward becoming conscious and that can be threatening because we are then forced to face difficult problems which we don’t understand or know how to solve.

Such an interpretation is difficult for the counselor to see at first.  By considering the times and places when anxiety was aroused, the trainer often is able to get a clue concerning the specific danger which threatens the trainee.

2.  Conflict.  Another cause of anxiety is conflict.  When a person is influenced by two or more pressures there is a sense of uncertainty which often leads to anxiety.  Most general psychology books suggest that conflicts come from two tendencies: approach and avoidance.  To approach is to have a tendency to do something or to move in a direction which will be pleasurable and satisfying.  To avoid is to resist doing something, perhaps because it it will not be pleasurable or satisfying.  There are three kinds of conflicts: approach-approach, approach-avoidance, and avoidance-avoidance.

(a)  Approach-approach conflict.  Here is a conflict over the tendency to pursue two desirable but incompatible goals.  We may be faced with two dinner invitations on the same night, either of which would be pleasant.  Often making such a decision is difficult and sometimes it is anxiety arousing.

(b)  Approach-avoidance conflict.  Here there is a desire both to do something and not to do it.  For example, a person may grapple with the offer of a new job.  To accept might bring more pay and opportunity (approach), but it also may bring the necessity of a move and the inconvenience of a training program (avoidance).  Making such decisions can involve considerable anxiety.

(c)  Avoidance-avoidance conflict.  Here there are two alternatives, both of which may be unpleasant: like having pain versus having an operation which might in time relieve the pain. 

Most conflict involve a struggle between tow or three alternatives, each of which may have both approach and avoidance characteristics.  A young person may wonder, for example, whether to stay in the present job. shift to another job, or return to school.  Each of these alternatives has both positive and negative aspects, and anxiety persists until the choice is made (and sometimes, lasts after the decision while we ponder “did I make a mistake?”).

3.  Fear.  As we indicated earlier, some trainers would distinguish fear from anxiety.  let us recognize, however, that the same inner apprehension which characterizes anxiety can alos come in response to fear.  Fear and anxiety, therefore, are similar, even though they may not be identical.

Fears can come in response to a variety of situations.  Different people are afraid of failure, the future, achieving success, rejection, intimacy, conflict, meaninglessness in life, sickness, death, loneliness, and a host of other real or imagined possibilities.  Sometimes these fears can build up in one’s mind and create extreme anxiety – often in the absence of any real danger.

4.  Unmet needs. For many years psychologists and other writers have tried to identify the basic needs of human beings.  Cecil Osborne, for example, has concluded that six needs are fundamental:

  • survival (the need to have continued existence)

  • security (economic and emotional)

  • sex (as an expression of love; as a sexual being)

  • significance (to amount to something; to be worthwhile)

  • self-fulfillment (to achieve fulfilling goals)

  • selfhood (a sense of identity)

If we fail to meet these or other needs, Osborne believes, we are anxious, “up-in-the-air,” afraid, and often frustrated.

But what if all of these needs are met?  Would life be complete and satisfying?  Probably not!  There still would be questions that transcend life on earth: Where will I go after death?  Does existence consist of only a few short years on earth?  One writer has lumped these and related questions into something called finite-eschatological anxiety and paired this with the anxiety of sin – that which comes when our thoughts and actions have violated divine commandments and broken our communication with God and others.  We can have no real freedom from anxiety until we are at peace with God, resting in his promises for eternity, and know the stability of sins confessed and completely forgiven.

5.  Individual Differences.  It is well known, of course, that people react differently to anxiety-producing situations.  Some people are almost never anxious, some seem highly anxious most of the time, many are in between.  Some people are made anxious by a variety of situations; others find that only one or two issues trigger anxiety.  Free-floating anxiety – the kind with no clear cause – characterizes some; others are made anxious by clearly identified dangers.  Then there are those with claustrophobia, hydrophobia and the other phobias – irrational fears of enclosed spaces, water, heights, or additional circumstances most of which are not in themselves dangerous.

Why are there differences like this?  perhaps the answer comes in terms of the person’s psychology, personality, sociology, physiology or theology:

  1. Psychology.  Most behavior is learned as a result of personal experience or teaching by parents and other significant persons.  When we have failed and must try again, when we have been hurt in the past, when others have demanded more than we could give, when we have seen anxiety in other people (e.g., the child who learns to be anxious in thunderstorms because his mother was always anxious), when we have developed the capacity to think of the potential dangers in a situation, when our perception of a situation gives us reason to suspect danger – all of these are psychological reactions which arouse anxiety.  Since we each have different experiences and different ways of viewing the world, we differ in our intensity and frequency of anxiety.

  2. Personality.  It may be that some people are more fearful or “high-strung” than others.  Some are more sensitive, self-centered, hostile, or insecure than others.  These personality differences arise from a combination of inherited and learning influences which, in turn, create individual differences in anxiety.

  3. Sociology.  A past president of the American Psychological Association once suggested that the causes of anxiety rest in our society: political instability, mobility which disturbs our sense of rootedness, shifting values, changing moral standards and religious beliefs, and so on.  While these are not the only reasons for anxiety, it surely is true that the culture and subcultures stimulate anxiety in some people but give others such a secure environment that anxiety is much less prominent.

  4. Physiology.  The presence of disease can stimulate anxiety, but so can dietary imbalance, neurological malfunctioning and chemical factors within the body.  Anxiety, of course, can trigger physiological reactions, but physiology can also contribute to increased anxiety.

  5. Theology.  Beliefs have a great bearing on one’s anxiety level.  if God is seen as all-powerful, loving, good, and in ultimate control of the universe (which is the biblical teaching), then there can be trust and security even in the midst of turmoil.  If we believe that God forgives when we confess our sin, that he promises life eternal, and that he meets our needs on earth, then there is less cause for  anxiety.

It should not be assumed, however, that nonbelievers necessarily are more anxious than believers.  (Some Christians, for example, are so worried about pleasing God that their theology increases anxiety.)  Nor should it be concluded that anxiety always reflects a lack of faith.  The causes of anxiety are too complex for such a simplistic explanation.  nevertheless what we believe or do not believe does contribute to individual differences in the extent to which we experience anxiety.

The Effects of Anxiety

It should not be assumed that anxiety is always bad.  When anxiety is nonexistent, life can be boring, inefficient, and unsatisfying.  A moderate amount of anxiety (not too little, not too much) motivates us and adds zest to life.  When anxiety is great, however, we begin to experience crippling physical, psychological, defensive, and spiritual reactions.

  1. Physical Reactions.  It is common knowledge that anxiety can produce ulcers, headaches, skin rashes, backaches and a variety of other physical problems.  Almost everyone has experienced stomach discomfort (“butterflies”), shortness of breath, an inability to sleep, increased fatigue, loss of appetite, and a frequent desire to urinate during times of anxiety.  Less conscious are changes in blood pressure, increased muscle tension, a slowing of digestion, and chemical changes in the blood.  If these are temporary they cause little, if any, harm.  When they persist over time the body begins to break under the pressure.  This is the origin of the psychosomatic (psychologically caused) illnesses.

  2. Psychological Reactions. Everyone who has taken an examination knows how anxiety can influence psychological functioning.  Research has shown that anxiety reduces one’s level of productivity, stifles creativity and originality, and interferes with the ability to think or to remember.  It is interesting to notice Rollo May’s conclusion that people with higher intelligence and originality likewise are more inclined to be anxious.  At the same time, intelligent persons also are able to develop more effective ways of managing and controlling their anxiety.

  3. Defensive Reactions.  When anxiety builds up, most people unconsciously rely on behaviors and thinking which dull the pain of anxiety and enable us to cope.  These defensive reactions, which are well-known and often seen in training, include denial of the anxiety, pretending  the anxiety-producing situation does not exist, blaming others for a fault which really is our own, rationalizing by logicallyy explaining away the symptoms and their causes, slipping back into childish ways of reacting, and so on.  Sometimes people escape through alcohol, drugs, a host of hypochondriacal complaints or even withdrawal into bizarre behavior and mental illness.  These are all ways of trying to cope.

  4. Spiritual Reactions.  Anxiety can motivate us to seek divine help where it might be ignored otherwise.  But anxiety can also drive us away from God at a time when he is most needed.  Fraught with worry and distracted by pressures, even religious people find that there is a lack of time for prayer, decreased ability to concentrate on Bible reading, reduced interest in church worship services, impatience and sometimes bitterness with heaven’s seeming silence.  The Christian leader/lifestyle trainer may be welcomed as a spiritual minister, or rejected because he or she represents a God who has permitted the stresses and left the impression that he doesn’t care.

Training and Anxiety

It is not easy to train anxious persons, partially because it can be very difficult to uncover and cope with the causes of the anxiety and partly because anxiety is psychologically contagious.  Anxious people often make others anxious – including the trainer who is trying to help.  To train anxious people, therefore, the trainer must first be alert to his or her own feelings.

1.  Recognizing the Trainer’s Own Anxieties.  When a trainer feels anxious in the presence of an anxious trainee, it is well to ask oneself several questions:  What in this situation is making me anxious?  Is the trainee anxious about something which makes me anxious too?  What does my anxiety tell me about the trainee?  By considering one’s own anxiety it is sometimes possible to gain insight into the trainee’s anxiety.  By asking these questions, trainers are able to learn about themselves and about the trainee.  These questions also enable the trainer to keep from confusing his or her anxieties with those of the trainee.

2.  Demonstrating Love.  Love has been called the greatest therapeutic force of all, but nowhere is this more true than in the reduction of fear  and anxiety.  The Bible states that “perfect love casts out fear” and while this statement concerns fear of future judgment it surely demands a broader application.  One writer has suggested that “the enemy of fear is love: the way to put off fear, then, is to put on love….  Love is self giving; fear is self-protecting.  Love moves toward others; fear shrinks away from them….  The more fear, the less love; the more love, the lest fear.”  To show love, especially mixed with patient understanding, to introduce trainees to the love of Christ (His love he gives and the love we give Him), and to help them experience the joy of loving others, can all help to cast out fear and anxiety.

3.  Identifying Causes.  Of course it would be unrealistic and inconsistent wit both biblical exegesis and sound psychology if we were to assume that anxious people should simply experience and show love without ever attempting to identify the causes of their anxieties.  Fear and anxiety are God-created emotions.  They warn of danger of internal conflict and the sensitive, loving trainer does not tell the trainee to “buck up” or “just stop being anxious.”  Instead the trainer seeks to assist the trainee in the difficult task of uncovering the sources of anxiety.  This can be done in several ways.

  • Observation.  In training, does the trainee show evidence of added anxiety (shifting position, deep breathing, perspiration) when certain topics are discussed?  What are these topics?

  • Reflection.  Can the trainee suggest circumstances which have raised or currently raise anxiety?  It might be helpful to ask, “When are you most anxious?”  “When are  you not anxious?”  “When was the last time you felt really anxious?”  “What was happening in your life then?”

  • Contemplation.  As a trainer, remind yourself of the previously listed causes of anxiety.  Raise some of the issues and as the trainee talks about them watch for signs of anxiety.  Then discuss your hunches.

In all of this, remember the need for patience and understanding.  By its very nature, anxiety often arises in response to threats which are vague and difficult to identify.  By pushing the trainee to “snap out of it” or to “hurry and tell me what is wrong,” we increase the anxiety, create more confusion, and risk losing or alienating the anxious person.  Once again it is important to emphasize loving patience.

4.  Encouraging Action.  The goal in training is not to eliminate all anxiety.  Instead the goal is to help trainees become aware of the sources of anxiety and then learn how to cope.  To do this, the trainee can be helped to identify some specific actions to be taken, goals to be achieved, and skills to be learned.  The trainee must be helped to confront the anxiety-producing situation directly, admitting his or her apprehension, but moving ahead (with the trainer’s support) in spite of the anxiety.  “Courage consists not of the absence of fear and anxiety but of the capacity to move ahead even though one is afraid.”  The trainee is helped to take action and to move through the anxiety-producing situations rather than moving around them or retrenching before them.  The trainee must be helped to see that there is more to be gained by facing and trying to overcome the anxiety – even though this can be risky – than by wallowing in a state of anxietyy which may be painful but also familiar.  In all of this be careful to avoid intellectual discussions which may sound reassuring but which do nothing to help one take action to deal with the anxiety.

5.  Giving Support.  As we have seen, anxious trainee can get little help from tense, impatient trainers.  The trainer, therefore, must be calm, supportive, and patient as he or she watches progress which may, at times, be very slow in coming.  There may be times when there really is nothing that a trainee can do to take action against the source of his or her anxiety.  At such times it is of special importance to feel the caring support of a warm relationship with an understanding trainer.

6.  Encouraging a Christian Response.  The Bible gives an unusually specific and clear formula for overcoming anxiety.  In Philippians 4:6 we are instructed to stop being anxious about anything.  As we have seen, however, it is practically impossible to simply stop worrying.  Such deliberate effort directs our attention to the problem and can increase anxiety rather than decrease it.  A better approach is to focus on activities and thoughts which indirectly reduce anxiety.  The Bible describes how this can be done and in so doing gives a formula to be shared with trainees:

  1. Rejoice.  This is a command, repeated twice in Philippians 4:4.  When the world is dark and dreary, the Christian still can “rejoice in the Lord.”  This is because of Jesus’ promise that he would never leave us, that he would give us peace, and that he would come again to take believers into a place prepared for us in heaven.  With this knowledge we can believe in God and not let our minds be troubled or fearful.

  2. Forbear.  “let your forbearing spirit be known to all,” we read in Philippians 4:5.  It has been said that the Greek word translated “forbear” has no real equivalent in English.  It means: led everybody see your kind, sweet, gentle, considerate, gracious attitude.  These qualities do not come naturally.  They come with God’s help and as we work to control our tendencies to condemn or demand our rights.  A negative condemning outlook on life builds anxiety; a gracious forbearing attitude reduces it.

  3. Pray.  Philippians 4:6 gives several instructions about prayer in times of anxiety.  Such prayer should be about everything (even small details), should include definite and precise petitions, should involve thanksgiving for divine goodness, and should be accompanied by the expectation that supernatural peace will be forthcoming.  A major cure for anxiety, therefore, is prayer.

  4. Think.  Anxiety surely arises when we think about injustice, problems, human weakness and what might go wrong.  Philippians 4:8 instructs us, instead, to let our minds dwell on positive things such as that which is honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and praiseworthy.  Here is evidence for the power of positive, biblically based thinking.

  5. Act.  The Apostle Paul sets himself up as a model for action.  “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, put into constant practice.”  The Christian’s task is to DO what the Bible teaches and not simply to sit listening.  Anxiety reduction involves godly behavior even in the midst of the anxiety.

Preventing Anxiety.

The previous paragraphs, which comment on Philippians 4, give a formula for preventing anxiety as well as an approach to counseling.  When people can be helped to rejoice, forbear, pray, think and act in accordance with scriptural teachings, there is progress toward anxiety control.

Studies of military personnel in combat situations reveal other ways in which people defend themselves against anxiety.  First there is the development of self-confidence – a belief in one’s ability to meet the challenges of life.  Second, there is involvement in work and other activities which presumably expends nervous energy and distracts one from the anxiety-producing situation.  Work has been described as one of the handiest ways of preventing and relieving anxiety, but work can become compulsive and be a way to keep from dealing with the causes of one’s anxiety.  Third, there is faith in the ability and confidence of leaders who can deal with dangers.  Then, these military studies showed, there is belief in God.

1.  Trust in God.  The person who learns to walk in daily contact with God comes to agree with the hymnwriter who wrote, “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”  This conviction can bring great security when others are inclined to be anxious.

At times, however, such trust leads to a blind denial of reality, to a refusal to accept responsibilities, or to a rigidity of thinking which ultimately prevents the person from adapting to changing circumstances.  In contrast, the Bible encourages realistic confrontation with problems and flexible decision-making.  This enables people to grow and adapt to change or danger, while they maintain an underlying confidence in the sovereignty and wisdom of an all-powerful God.

2.  Learn to Cope.  Coping with the causes of anxiety, when and before they arise, can prevent the development of anxiety.  Such coping involves the following, each of which can become part of a person’s lifestyle:

  • admitting fears, insecurities, conflicts, and anxieties when they arise;

  • talking these over with someone else – on a regular basis if necessary;

  • building self-esteem;

  • acknowledging that separation hurts, attempting to maintain contact with separated friends, and building new relationships with others.

  • seeking help from God and others in meeting one’s needs;

  • learning to communicate;

  • learning some principles and techniques of relaxation;

  • periodically evaluating one’s priorities, life goals, and time management.

Conclusions about Anxiety

Writing about physicians, psychiatrist O. Quentin Hyder summarized much of what we have said about anxiety.

Patients who do not get well quickly sometimes become very impatient at their apparent lack of progress….  The fact is, however, that the patient’s feelings of helplessness, apprehension, imminent danger, loneliness, and frustration would be far worse if he did not during the crisis period have the security of knowing that at regular intervals he could unburden his thoughts and feelings to someone who he believed really cared and was equipped by training and experience to help him.  The doctor on his part must convey understanding, sympathy, confidence, ability to help, and genuine concern.  Once the patient is sufficiently confident in his doctor’s ability and care he can pour out his fears and admit to other emotions that are troubling him such as depression, hostility, anger, and guilt.  As the patient does this, the doctor uses a skillful blend of authoritative persuasion, suggestion, and directive advice with supportive reassurance and nondirective sympathetic listening and understanding.

That blend of skills enables the trainer and trainee to face and deal with the problem of anxiety.

Quality of Life

Where Do Leaders Get the Vision and How do they communicate it.

When it comes to vision, no statement is more frequently quoted (or misquoted) by Christians and non-Christians alike than King Solomon’s observation: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18 KJV).  Scripture’s timeless wisdom once again proves relevant to modern life.

Where Do Leaders Obtain Their Vision?

Because an opportunity presents itself, the leader assumes it must be God’s will to move forward.  This is an undiscerning approach to leadership.  There is much more to determining God’s will than merely assuming that every “open door” is an invitation from God.

Duplicating Success

In the case of churches emulating the success of other churches, it seemingly eliminates the need for Christian leaders to cultivate an intimate relationship with God.  While there is nothing wrong with churches making use of successful programs and methods developed by others when they sense God has led them to use them, church leaders can be seduced into thinking all they need to lead their church is the latest seminar or popular book.  Such leaders spend too little time examining and evaluating their relationship with the Head of the church while spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on the activities of others.  Pity the people who follow such thoughtless leadership.

Vanity

Religious leaders may lead their churches to build larger auditoriums or to televise their services, not because they genuinely sense God’s leadership to do these things, but in order to enhance their reputation as preachers.  In truth, the growth of the organization merely feeds the leader’s pride.  Countless businesses have crumbled under leaders who were motivated by vanity rather than by vision.  Churches have been saddled with crippling debts as they sought to repay bills incurred by former pastors looking to make a name for themselves.

Need

Organizations gain a sense of relevance when they are equipped to meet the expressed desires of the general public.  Churches reap a benefit – those churches most in touch with their community’s expressed needs will be viewed as a more relevant, viable option by those whose needs they address.  people who are not born again cannot fully understand their own spiritual needs.

In reality, what they need is to have Christ as the head of their home and to raise their children using God’s standard instead of the world’s.  God’s assignment for a church may not include meeting every need being expressed in that church’s community.  God equips each church for particular assignments (1 Cor. 12:12-31).  The church must discover its vision not by seeking the opinions of people but by seeking God’s will.  Often, need-based church visions cause Christians to neglect their relationship with the Head of the church as they focus their energies on meeting people’s needs.  Christian leaders should be motivated by the Holy Spirit.

Available Resources

The availability of resources sometimes induces vision.  That is, organizations gravitate toward certain activities or priorities simply because resources such as manpower, or finances, or equipment are available to them.  Rather than the resources serving the churches the churches become enslaved to the resources.

As a general rule, resources should follow vision, not determine it.  Leaders must first decide the vision for their organization and then marshal the necessary resources to achieve it. 

leader-Driven

How do leaders generate vision?  They envision a desirable future for their organization and then develop a plan to achieve the results.  What kind of person is qualified for such a demanding task?  Leaders who have had a broad range of experiences, who hae traveled extensively, have read broadly, who know a wide variety of people, and who have stretched their thinking through education and a mosaic of life experiences are thought to have a good chance of developing compelling and innovative visions.  Once leaders develop a vision, they have the onerous task of selling it to their constituents.  Often leaders put their reputations and credibility on the line as they seek to win support for their vision.  When people reject leaders’ visions they are expressing a lack of trust in their leaders.

This all sounds exciting and can generally elicit a chorus of amens from the audience, but is it biblical?  Isaiah 55:8-9 cautions: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”

The message is clear.  leaders’ best thinking will not build the kingdom of God.  Why?  Because people do not naturally think the way God does.  The apostle Paul observed, “Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater oof this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor. 1:20).  God’s ways are completely different from man’s ways.  he has different priorities, different values.  When people “think great thoughts for God” and “dream great dreams for God,” the emphasis is on dreams and goals that originate from people rather than from God.  The danger is in believing that human reasoning can build God’s kingdom.  It cannot.

This Scripture ought to motivate Christian leaders as they seek God’s will for their organizations.  Big Hairy Audacious Goals when viewed in light of this verse?  is it possible for a leader to dream any dream that is worthy of God?  Christian leaders who develop their own visions, no matter how extensive, rather than understanding God’s will, are settling for their best thinking instead of God’s plans.

God’s Revelation

God does not ask his followers to operate by vision.  God’s people live by revelation.  Proverbs 29:18, although widely used, is also widely misapplied.  The popular translation is, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV).  A more accurate translation of the Hebrew is: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (NIV).  There is a significant difference between revelation and vision.  Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive.  Leaders can dream up a vision, but they cannot discover God’s will.  God must reveal it.

Christians are called to a totally different approach.  For Christians, God alone sets the agenda.  Throughout the remainder of this book, the term vision will continue to be used, but it will not connote the popular idea of a leader-generated goal or dream.  Instead, vision will be used to refer to what God has revealed and promised about the future.  The visions that drive Christian Leaders must be derived from God.

Only God can reveal his plans and he does so in his way, on his time schedule, and to whom he wills.  It is critical for leaders to walk closely with the Father, so they are keenly aware of his revelation and are ready to respond in obedience to his initiatives.  The role of Christian leaders is to be the vanguard for their people in understanding God’s revelation.  The Christian leader is far better described as a servant of God.  When God revealed his plans, he frequently did so in the form of a promise accompanied by vivid imagery.  Thus, when God spoke, his people clearly knew what he planned to accomplish.

An examination of God’s promises, as seen through the Scriptures makes two things obvious: (1) God’s promises are impossible to achieve apart from him, and (2) God’s promises are absolute.  They are not open for discussion or amendment.  The real key to God’s promises is not people or physical resources, but God.  The Leader’s job is to communicate God’s promise to the people, not to create the vision and then strive to enlist people to buy in to it.

How Does Vision Inspire and Move People?

It is undeniable that great visions move people.  Christian leaders have a tremendous advantage over secular leaders.  people want to be a part of something significant.  people want to be a part of something God is doing.  if it is clear that God has made a promise to a group of people, there should be little difficulty in enlisting the support of group members.

How Do Leaders Communicate Vision?

If a vision must be sold to others, it is not a compelling vision and is probably not from God.  Christian leaders don’t sell vision; they share what God has revealed to them and trust that the Holy Spirit will confirm that same vision in the hearts of their people.  Christian leaders know they cannot change people; only the Holy Spirit can do this.  If the Holy Spirit is not convincing people to follow in a new direction, it may be that God is not the author of the new direction.

Establishing that the leader’s role is not to set the vision or to sell the vision begs the question: “What is the Christian leaders role?”  It is to bear witness to what God says.  Christian leaders must bring followers into a face-to-face encounter with God so they hear from God directly.  Once their people hear from God themselves, there will be no stopping them from participating in the work God is doing.  That is because the Holy Spirit will take the truth, as shared by the leader, and confirm it in the hearts of the people.

As people grows in their relationship with God, they will hear from God themselves and want to follow him.  No one will have to cajole them or entice them into following.  It will be a natural heart response.  The key to Quality of Life, then, is to encourage followers to grow in their relationship with their Lord.  It can only be achieved when leaders bring their people face to face with God and God convinces them that he is a God of love who ca n be trusted.  When people sense they are a part of something God is doing, there is no limit to what they will be willing to do in response.

Communicating Vision Through Symbols

leaders can relate what they have seen and experienced from God to their people.  A helpful exercise for leaders is to attempt to draw a picture of the promise they believe God has given them of the future.  It is one thing to describe in words what leaders believe God has promised; it is another to portray it in a  symbol.  Leaders discover symbols that summarize what the organization believes about itself and its future and use them to communicate their vision to others.

Communicating Vision Through Stories

One of the most effective ways for leaders to relate what God is doing is through the telling of stories.  The power of stories is that they appeal both to the mind and the heart.  When the people of God are making decisions it is not enough to simply know in their minds they are making the logical decision.  They also need to know in their hearts that God is the author of their activity.

Wise leaders continually help their people see how God is working in their midst.  leaders can do this by telling stories – true stories of how God has worked in the past and how God is working at present.  leaders also link what God has done and is doing with what he has promised to do in the future.

A story detailing God’s activity in the midst of a secular world can engage people’s hearts and gain their commitment.  There are at least three kinds of stories leaders need to regularly share with their people.

  1. Stories from the past.

  2. Stories for the present.  Leaders should also share stories relating to the present.  What is God doing right now?  Leaders should never assume their people will automatically make the connection between what is happening in their midst and God’s activity.  The leader’s role is to help people make the connection.

  3. Stories that light the future.  Third, leaders should hold before the people images of the future.  God himself did this, using such imagery as the “land flowing with milk and honey” to help his people grasp the essence of what he was promising.  When Christian leaders relate stories of the future, they are not simply describing a desirable future.  Rather, they are relating what God has indicated he intends to do.  For Christian leaders, all past, present, and future stories should come from God and be God-centered.

Leadership is Communication

You cannot be a poor communicator and a good leader.  Christian leaders don’t just tell stories for the sake of telling stories.  They rehearse what God has done, they relate what God is doing, and they share what God has promised to do.  If the story is about God’s activity and promises, the Holy Spirit will affirm its authenticity in people’s hearts.  people don’t have to buy into a vision; they simply have to see that God is making a promise.  leaders cannot grow weary of bearing witness to God’s activity.  Churches ought to have stories that all the members know and recite that remind the people of God’s ongoing activity in their midst.  The people will see that God is the one who has led them thus far, and that God is currently leading them and he has a plan for their future.

Conclusion

Vision is crucial for an organization.  Its source is God’s revelation of his activity.  God’s revelation can usually be stated as a promise and can be expressed through an image.  When leaders successfully communicate vision to their people, it will be God who sets the agenda for the organization, not the leader, and the people will know it is God.

Messages from God.
  1. Ephesians 3;20

  2. Luke 9:51-56

  3. Joshua 24:1-13

  4. Genesis 12;1-3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:17; 18:12; 22:17

  5. Psalm 111:3-4

  6. Mark 1:23-39; John 5:17; 19-20

  7. John 15:15

Student Prayer

O heavenly Father, grant me a deeper knowledge of who you are.  Fill me with an unselfish love.  Let me embrace the intricacies of life, scorning simplicity and help me to pursue wisdom all of my days.  Amen.

Homework

1. Giving and Receiving Help

Time: 20 minutes

Write the following items, on a piece of paper.

  1. What did you experience in this exercise?

  2. Why is help sometimes hard to accept?

  3. What are the implications of this exercise regarding active training for your trainee?

Please relax and make yourself comfortable.

I’m going to ask you to imagine something, but first I’d like you to close your eyes.  Slow down your breathing. Breathe deeply.  Really relax.  Then open your eyes.

Think of a time when you needed help, but were reluctant to ask for it.  Get a specific incident in mind.

I want you to relive the incident in your imagination.  What was the problem?  Try to experience it again what you felt at the time..

You must have thought of asking for help.  Why didn’t you?  Try to experience again the feelings elicited by the thought of asking for help from others, the thought of accepting help.

Think of how wonderful it would have been, had someone broken through your reluctance and come to you instead of waiting for you to come to them.  Think of how it would have felt to have someone to listen to you… to have someone understand.  Now, go back in your mind to another incident in your life, this time one in which someone did help you, where you were able to accept help.  Think of that situation.

How did it feel?

Now come back to the present.  When you feel ready come up with answers to those questions.

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About georgehach

I am a retired Lay Minister, acting as a prophet for God to understand the end times that is comingg and how to prepare for it.
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