When I was at Bible College I had this conversation too many times:
Me: Why did you choose to go into ministry?
Person: Well I wasn’t really thinking about it all and then my (insert ministry worker here) tapped me on the shoulder and said I should think about it. So I went to (insert Christian conference here) and they encouraged me to do (insert apprenticeship name here) and now I am here.
Me: How did you meet your wife/ husband?
Person: Well I really didn’t like anyone and so my (insert ministry worker here) tapped me on the shoulder and said I should think about my spouse and so I did. So he asked me out/I asked her out at (insert Christian conference here) and to make a long story short we are here.
Me: Why did you buy that shirt?
Person: Well I really didn’t like it and but my (insert ministry worker here) tapped me on the shoulder….
The first two interactions were based on real conversations I had with people at Bible college. The third one was a joke (obviously).
I know of a guy who was at Bible college got depressed and hit the eject switch and went back to working a normal job, which he loved. He then felt guilty because he wasn’t in ministry so he went back to Bible College. I pray that it all works out for him….
I think there is a big push in Sydney to go into fulltime paid ministry. This push is based on godly motives (i.e. more workers for the harvest) but I see a lot of people being guilted into ministry not being led into it by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Please only go into ministry if all of the following are true
1. Your spouse or future spouse is cool with it. This is a no brainer. If your spouse or your fiancée is not cool with it don’t go into it. Love your family over yourself and take a normal job and serve your butt off at your local church
2. Ministry captures your imagination. What I mean by this is that you want to do it. That you think of your perfect future and fulltime paid ministry looms large in it. You think that if you got to the end of your life and didn’t go into ministry you would regret it.
3. People have seen ministry gifts in your life. If people haven’t seen gifts in your life or people have discouraged you from ministry please listen to them. They love you and are saying the hard things to you out of love. If people have encouraged you in your gifts and they have been encouraged by your gifts this is a good sign.
4. You are not going into because you are angry with your pastor. I have heard too many pastors say they got into because they could do a better job than their pastor or that they had a point to prove. If this is you don’t go into ministry until this attitude is checked at the door.
The world needs more gospel workers but we need ones who are truly called by God into ministry.
What do you think?
Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself Dr. Love in any sense and the fact that I am married to an amazing woman is more to do with God’s grace than my own ability. But there have been things that I have wanted to say to young Christian men about dating and girls. Over the last week I have had three guys ask me about dating and how to get a girl to like you (I don’t know why they ask me) so I have written this blog.
Love and the questions of courtship vs. dating and to kiss or not to kiss etc are perennial questions that have been around ever since Josh Harris penned the book that every 16 year old guys hates but every Dad with a sixteen year old daughter loves and wants to give to every hormonal teenage guy on the face of the planet. The book I am talking about is I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And there are many other books like it.
But even though there are books out on dating and love and relationships many questions still remain. As I have said, over the past few weeks, a few guys have asked me about dating and being a Christian guy who likes a girl and so here are questions that I have asked them to think about:
- 1. Are you the kind of guy that you would want your future daughter to marry? This is the question that is going to shape the whole conversation. Take a hard look at yourself would you want your daughter marrying someone like you? If for any reason you would say no. It is time to get to work
- 2. Do you have a plan? I am not just talking about a plan for asking her out and where your first date will be I am asking do you have a plan for the rest of your life? Do you have a plan for the next five years? Do you have a plan for, if you start going out, how you are going to help her love Jesus more? If you don’t know where you are going why should she look to you for leadership? If you don’t know what you are doing in the next five years why would she want to join you on this journey? If you have no plan for how you will help her love Jesus more you will be a dead weight to her spiritually. Guys get a plan.
- 3. Do you have character? I didn’t ask “Are you a character?” I asked “Do you have Character?” Character is about being solid and dependable. A man with character does what he says he will do, on time every time. Are you that? Or do you rock up late, don’t work hard, sleep in till noon, look up porn and generally annoy everyone around you because of your lack of character?
- 4. How are you doing spiritually? I am not asking if you feel great and connected with God (though that is a good thing). I am asking how are you doing with reading the Bible and praying? How are you doing with serving at church? How are you doing with going to Bible study or community group? How are you doing morally? If you need to work on these areas take yourself out of the dating/courting game so you can work on your relationship with Jesus so you won’t be a dead weight to a girl spiritually.
- 5. Are you an interesting person? Are you a person who has a life? Or do you sit at home playing world of warcraft or xbox or whatever? If you have an interesting life where you are doing things that bring value and meaning to people she will be more likely to be attracted to you. Also if you are interested in her more than being interesting she will find you more interesting.
Guys these are the questions I wish someone had asked me when I was 18-20. Have you got men around you who love you enough to keep you accountable?
Be the man that God wants you to be and girls will be attracted to you.
I love reading about leadership. I love thinking about how I can be a better leader. I want to know how to motivate people, how to set a clear and compelling vision etc. So I read leadership books. Not as many I used to but I still read a lot of them.
But increasingly I have felt frustrated with the leadership books I have reads over the years and here is why:
Leadership books have helped me think about what I am not who I am.
If I analyse what the leadership books say I am they say that I am a leader and I need to be better at leadership. Therefore I need to work on all the skills that will make me a better leader.
If I analyse who I am, I realise I am a person who is broken and sinful. A person who needs a great dose of humility, a person who needs to have their skills sharpened, yes. But more importantly I need my character refined.
That is why I am frustrated with a lot of the leadership books that I have read. They don’t deal with your character. They don’t help you see how stupid it is to be a great leader in the workplace and a terrible leader at home. In fact two of my favourite books on leadership were written by men who had affairs and said that their affairs didn’t affect their ability to lead!
Most leadership books don’t say that what our followers need are people of character
How are you working on your character?
How are you working on being a better person?
Because that is what your people need you to be most,
A better person
I used to Podcast. In fact I was a podcast junky. I was podcasting and listening to 40 different preachers. I got so much out of it but in the last few years I have not podcasted anyone. In fact I gave myself two years off podcasting anyone and here is why:
- Podcasting taught me to listen to preaching like I listen to music i.e. for entertainment. If I listen to my music on my new iPhone 4 (yeah I got one just to be cool) and I find the song boring or not as good as another song I skip to the next one. I learnt to do this with sermons. I programmed myself to think that it was the preachers job to entertain me and if they didn’t I just skipped to the next sermon. This meant I was putting myself over the word instead of under. Preaching became entertainment instead of another opportunity to hear from God.
- It didn’t help me to preach better. Okay this is an overstatement. It did help me to think about how to communicate and how to use illustrations etc. But after a few years of preaching week in week out I am finding my biggest weakness in preaching is making every sermon fresh even though we may be looking at the same topic (i.e. justification by faith in Galatians). Therefore, what I need to is to hear how a person preaches through a book and ask myself how they are making it fresh. If I listened to Piper one day and Mahaney the next and then a bit of Chandler the day after I don’t learn how Piper, Mahaney or Chandler handle the Bible week in week out because I usually forget what they preached on when I get around to hearing them again. Therefore podcasting didn’t help me preach better in the long run.
- Podcasting sometimes made me depressed. I thank God for the guys who I listen to but I am not like them. But when I listen to them I want to be like them. I want to be able to be as deep as Piper, as funny as Driscoll, as insightful as Chandler and as passionate as Mahaney. But when I try to be one of them I sound inauthentic. When I realise that I may never have their strengths it can make me depressed and forget that God has given me gifts and I need to play to my strengths because that is how I will be most effective.
- I was tempted to prepare sermons by listening to podcasts and not studying Gods word. When someone I listened to has preached a sermon on the text I am preaching on it is such a temptation to bypass translating, flowcharting, analysing grammar, reading commentaries and systematic theologies etc. the passage and just go with what they say. But that means I am short changing the people at my church in two ways. Firstly, I am not letting myself pastor them by effectively by applying the word to our specific context and secondly I am short changing them in the long run by not letting Gods word change me as I spend hours upon hours each year in the Bible. I am basically not letting myself grow as a pastor.
So I don’t podcast but I still listen to sermons now. But here is what I do now:
- I listen to whole series. So if I listen to 3 sermons a week I will listen to three consecutive sermons from one series and the next week I will listen to the next one and so on until the series is completed.
- I ask myself what is God saying to me through this? I want to retrain my mind so that I realise that when someone is preaching it is God speaking and not another form of entertainment. Therefore I am looking for ways that God is speaking to me through the preacher.
- I pray about what I have learnt. I want to make sure I apply the text to my life and praying helps me do this.
How about you, have you feel into the traps that I fell into with podcasting? How do you use podcasting and sermons on the internet?