Category Archives: leadership

How To: Love The Broken

Logo 4Written by Lori Wilhite

A few years ago my husband was strolling with a friend at Caesar’s Palace. While they walked under the painted skies chatting, something crazy happened out of nowhere. Mid-sentence, mid-word, our friend threw up. Barfed. Upchucked. Right there on the floor of the Forum Shops.

In shock at what had just happened, they kept on walking. What?! They didn’t stop? They didn’t call for a clean up on aisle 3? Nope. They kept walking.

Worried that he was now escorting a ticking time bomb, my husband decided they should turn around and head straight to the bathroom.  As they did a U-turn, and started back toward the scene of the crime, a poor unsuspecting lady walked right into the middle of that mess. And before they could shout out a warning, both feet flew up and she landed flat on her booty. She lifted up her hands and asked her two friends, “What is this?”

Um. Ma’am. That was Mexican food for lunch. So sorry. Ewww. Just as gross as you think.

Isn’t that just like life? People are casually walking along when suddenly they find themselves both feet up and flat on their backsides in a mess. Maybe they created that mess themselves. Or maybe that walked straight into a mess caused by a spouse, a friend, a child, or family member.

Now what?

As my husband says: Ministry is messy because sin is messy. Get over it. Grab a mop. And start helping clean up.

People are broken. Their lives are a mess. Maybe they’ve fought hard to stay sober, but have fallen off the wagon. Maybe they’re drowning in debt. Maybe self-hatred or depression has them tied up.

It doesn’t do much good to stop, point, and say: Hey you. You’re in a complete mess. You need to help yourself. It is frustrating and time consuming and flat out exhausting to help you out of your mess … again.

Nope. We reach down into the mess. Grab hold of their arms and help lift them up. Over. And over. And over again.

Why? Because I’m broken too. And I’ve been sprawled out in a mess. And I know that Jesus has used people to love me and lift me out of my mess. If I hadn’t had those people, I might be in that big-fat mess still.
Lori Wilhite2So, how do we love the broken? It doesn’t have to be perfect. And it doesn’t have to be pretty. We just have to be willing. Willing to reach down into the messiness of life and help people put their feet on The Solid Rock again.

Ministry is messy because sin is messy. Let’s get over it, grab those mops, and start helping people clean up.

How To: Love The Ungrateful

Logo 4Written by Evelyn Kay

I love my kids.  Really, I do.  I thank God for choosing me to be their mom. However, there are some days, like grocery shopping day, when they make me question whether or not God paired them up with the right mom.  Grocery shopping days are not my favorite days because it takes up most of my day.  We are a family of six, and it involves going to several different stores to get all of the necessary items needed and wanted.  As the kids start filing in from school, they take a look in the pantry, the freezer, and the refrigerator to evaluate my shopping.  Their remarks are always more critical than appreciative.  I didn’t get the right type of cereal.  They don’t like the Gatorade flavors.  I purchased the wrong brand of chicken nuggets.  What happened to just being grateful for food in the house?

Likewise, many of us have experienced the same type of ungratefulness in the context of ministry. We give of ourselves day after day, only to be taken for granted.  The use of our talents and gifts go unnoticed.  Our extra time and energy spent on a project is met with criticism.  It can be frustrating.  We may want to quit working in a ministry, or we want to resign from our leadership position, however we cannot let the enemy distract us from our calling or purpose.  We have been called to this life of ministry, and God has already equipped us with what need to minister to those that require a little more effort to love.

First, we have to remember that we are called to serve God, not people. We can get caught up in the doing and forget to focus on why we are doing it.  Are we serving to get approval from people, or are we serving for approval from God?  We can serve until Jesus returns and not get one “thank you” or “I appreciate you,” and that’s okay.  Colossians 3:23-24 says to “Work at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Second, we have to check our own ungrateful attitudes. (Ouch!)  Unfortunately, our pride can cause us to get upset or disappointed with others when we are not treated the way WE think we should be treated for the work that we have done.  We cannot become bitter or angry when we don’t receive the love and appreciation that we may feel we deserve.  Instead, we can model the behaviors and attitude that we would like to receive from others.  Go out of your way to catch someone doing good, and let them know how much you appreciate their service to the Kingdom.  Appreciating others leads to more appreciation!

Evelyn KayLastly, if we never receive the thanks we deserve, we must continue to love anyway.  God calls us to be like him.  If we claim to be a child of God, then we must act like his child as referenced in Luke 6:35 “Love your enemies.  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.”

Keep serving God.  Keep modeling thankfulness.  Keep loving anyway.  Our greatest reward will be hearing our Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

How To: Love The Know-It-All

Logo 2Written by Stephanie Shouse

The other day, I took my teenager to the doctor to figure out how to deal with some problems she was having. As the doctor asked her questions about school and her friends, he came to the conclusion that some of the issues were stemming from the fact that she is bored in her classes and feeling frustrated with the immaturity of some of her classmates. In fact, the doctor’s exact words were that my daughter is “highly intelligent” and very “emotionally mature” for her age. Thanks, Doc. That’s just what my teenager (who already thinks she knows more than me) needs to hear. Perfect. Can you hear the sarcasm dripping off those words? The good news is that since then she has realized that just because she’s “highly intelligent,” she doesn’t actually know it all. And that realization has saved her AND our family’s sanity!

It seems to me that Know-It-All’s are some of the most difficult people to love. And it’s not because they may be “highly intelligent” or “emotionally mature.” They’re hard to love because they are hard to teach (since they know everything), impossible to correct (because they’re never wrong), and a challenge to lead (because in their minds they should be the one leading). And yet God calls us to love even the Know-It-All’s in our ministries. So how do we do that?

Recognize the reason behind their Know-It-All demeanor. One big reason behind a Know-It-All is insecurity. Someone who is insecure often exhibits a mask of knowing more than they actually know because they want to impress people or are afraid of revealing their shortcomings. Being vulnerable is scary, so they put up a front to make everyone think they know more than they do. People with this deep insecurity need us to teach them that it’s okay to not be okay. We can do this by modeling an attitude of authenticity, letting ourselves be vulnerable and admitting our own mistakes graciously. We can help them overcome their insecurities by praising their imperfect efforts and helping them recognize that weakness showcases God’s strength (2 Cor. 12:9). Admitting weakness allows God to get the glory!  When an insecure Know-It-All recognizes that their attitude steals glory from God, they just may change their attitude!

Lead with confidence in your calling. The other reason behind a Know-It-All is pride. A prideful person is blind to their own sin and only sees the faults of others. Their goal is to showcase their own greatness and bring down anyone in leadership over them. When these people attack, our natural response is to put them in their place. To take them down a peg and prove our own importance. But that effort causes us to end up in a harmful cycle of trying to out do one another- constantly jockeying for position and influence- while unintentionally putting the spotlight on ourselves rather than on God.

Stephanie ShouseNonetheless, it’s not our job to make others humble – it’s our job to model humility. Showing humility in the presence of a prideful person is very difficult, but God says when we do- He will lift us up. We can stand strong in our humble position knowing that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:7-10) Being humble does not mean letting the Know-It-Alls undermine your leadership. It means that we don’t spend our time trying to prove the Know-It-All wrong, rather we spend our time obeying God, fulfilling our calling and working to make God’s name great. When we have nothing to prove, the know-it-all has nothing to fight against. When we voluntarily humble ourselves- the know-it-all has no way to put us down. When we push God’s name forward and lead from a position of confidence in God’s calling on our lives, the know-it-all finds themselves fighting a losing battle against the God of the universe.

Stay focused on the goal. Our goal is not to prove to the Know-It-All that we are right, and they are wrong. Our goal is to bring them into a right relationship with God, so that God can fix whatever is behind their Know-It-All attitude. We can be right, or we can have the relationship. We must do whatever we can to build relationships based on love and respect- even when people are difficult to love.

How To: Love The EGRs

LogoWritten by Cindy Beall

I started to dread going to church. Gosh, I hate admitting that, but it is so very true.

It wasn’t because my church was boring. Or that the worship was lame. Or that the message was uninspiring. Or that our staff wasn’t top notch. None of that was the case. No, the reason I felt this way was because of one woman.

This gal was high-maintenance. And I don’t mean just a little bit high-maintenance. I mean real high-maintenance. Extra Grace Required kind of maintenance. Every ounce of mental and emotional margin I had was zapped after a conversation with her.

I found myself trying to figure out ways where I could not have those encounters with her. Arrive to church after worship started. Jet out the side door during the final prayer. Stay backstage until I knew she was gone.

Then a couple of things happened that revolutionized my mindset.

One, I shared my frustration with my husband and he said that he has struggled with this as well. Then, his next statement baffled me. He said, “Now when I see her, I go directly up to her. I don’t wait for her to come to me.”

For real? He willingly subjects himself to a high-maintenance conversation? Stab me.

After arguing with myself, I finally decided to give it a try. The next week I got to church early and went right up to her. We hugged and I engaged her in a conversation that included lots of questions on my part. It wasn’t long or drawn out – less than five minutes. And then, I went about my way.

There was no blood. Or pain. Or anything terrible. It was actually very pleasant. So, I began to make this my new habit. She was the first person I would go up to. I would ask about her life, pray with her and tell her I loved her. And it only took five minutes of my time.

I’m convinced she felt loved because her neediness subsided quite a bit. In fact, she often tells Chris and me how much she loves and appreciates us. How she feels loved by us.

And it only took a five-minute conversation on my part. Five minutes of my oh so precious time made a woman feel loved. I literally made her day with just a little bit of intention.

That is humbling and convicting.

The second thing that occurred that shifted my thoughts about this was the realization that maybe I’m a high-maintenance person for someone else.

Gulp. Say it isn’t so.

But, it is! I can read people fairly well, and I can tell when they are finished with a conversation with me. I can tell when they want to walk away. I can tell when someone doesn’t want to stop and visit. I can tell that they are thinking, “I hope she stops talking now.”

And that, my friends, is brutal.

Cindy BeallThis understanding helped me even more. I needed to show more compassion and grace toward people whose lives are a bit more challenging than mine instead of just being annoyed with their neediness.

Today, this woman is one of my favorite gals at church. Is she still high-maintenance? Sure. But, not as much. Or maybe, my heart is just so different towards her now that I hardly notice.

We all have people in our lives who deplete our emotional margin more than they make deposits into it. That’s ministry. That’s life. But, if we will shift our mindsets and ask God to help us see how we can invest in their lives and be a blessing to them, He will.


Word Up.

Word of the yearNew Year’s Resolutions. We resolve to do something new, quit something bad or consider a change. We make them every year. Sometimes we keep them, sometimes we don’t.

This annual custom has been around longer than you and I might think. According to Webster, New Year’s resolutions have been around since 1671. A Scottish writer named Anne Halkett wrote certain “resolutions” such as “I will not offend any more” on January 2nd of her writings, which possibly indicates that this was a common practice at that time.

And in recent years, many of us have taken those yearly resolutions and decided to focus on just one word. This simple, yet profound word helps us stay on track and get back on track with just its mere mention. Yes, this has become quite the practice and is often commemorated by people making pictures with their word or even getting a tattoo of it.

What’s your Word for the year? Do you have one? Do you want one but haven’t decided on what it is yet?

Well, our Leading and Loving It team would love to hear what your word is. Not only that, we want to pray for you in regard to it.

So, in the comments below, please share your word with us. We will be praying that 2017 will be your best year yet!