1 Timothy 4:16—Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The Apostle Paul wrote his protégé Timothy to encourage him but what makes his words so powerful is his own example. He faithfully paid close attention to his life and his teaching. Next to Jesus, the case could be made that he influenced Christianity worldwide through his leadership more than any other man. His epistles continue as vital roots of the worship, theology, and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, and the Orthodox traditions of the East.
What made Saint Paul such a strong leader was that he:
1 Samuel 16:1—The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, wrote a New York Times Bestseller entitled The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. I listened to Dan speak at a conference for senior leaders at West Point, NY and was fascinated by what he shared. He made a powerful case for how common cheating and lying is in our society and throughout the world.
There is a marvelous tool called StrengthsFinder 2.0. I purchased the book and with the enclosed code answered questions on a website that then listed my top five strengths. I have used this tool with several organizations and with my own family. The beauty of Strengthsfinder is that it reveals what people are good at doing/being. By discovering people’s strengths I am better able to position them where they are best utilized and most satisfied. This is fantastic for team building and for raising morale in any organization where leaders and workers previously focused on weaknesses to their own detriment.
2 Timothy 1:16,17-- May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.
A runner sees endurance as vital to finishing a race; a parent sees endurance as the ability to shepherd a child to adulthood. Endurance originates from the compound Greek word: hupo (under) + meno (to remain) to give us the concept continuing under pressure. It is much more than a physical resolve, it is a mental resolve. Without sufficient why, the what loses meaning and we are more prone to quit.
2 John 12—Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.
While attending a class on cyber security in November of 2012, I was amazed to learn that 4.8 billion people own a mobile phone which surpasses the 4.2 billion people who own a toothbrush. Fascinating! Just imagine if all of those people could connect via a twitter account—the ability to pass information instantaneously is staggering.
1 Thessalonians 1:2—We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers.
Pete and Saul left last month to visit three Segadorian missionary families working in the distant Asheninka tribe. They traveled seven hours by bus, then six hours in the back of a pick-up over a rough road, then finally three hours in a motorized canoe in drizzling rain. As Peter notes in their newsletter it was well worth the sacrifice. Why did these two men go to such lengths to visit these families? They went because they understood how important the value of encouragement is. It is not easy to get from Lima, Peru to remote jungle towns but it you want to communicate to your fellow teammates that they matter; making the effort is the right thing to do.
Last Saturday I bartered for a Sheltie puppy (5 cases of dehydrated food [MREs], two music stands and an old amplifier)! I brought the 10-week-old, tri-color pup home from Silverton, Oregon and he and Hero, our Lab puppy, are fast becoming best friends. Hero is about 55 pounds larger, but that does not seem to intimidate our newest addition—Saber. It is hilarious watching them joust and wrestle and playfully bite.
Ephesians 4:11-13—And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ's fullness.
Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Last week, the head of our food ministry terminated our operations. Nine people lost their jobs and The Road Home lost its office and meeting place. In one swift move, life took an unexpected detour! Why shut down a ministry which last year resulted in over 78 people putting their faith for the first time in Jesus, hundreds of families receiving food and free dental assistance plus prayer and encouragement? Better yet, why treat a ministry like a business and let the fear of lawsuits trump eternal investments? I felt like telling the owner, “When you die, you won’t stand before lawyers, you’ll stand before God, so lead accordingly!” But he was acting according to what he felt was right. He generously gave to help us move on. Rather than protest, it was nobler to pray and seek God’s leading.
Jenny stopped by to get food. I felt bad because I couldn’t remember her name. But she graciously dismissed my forgetfulness and explained that she was still without a job. I reassured her that we were glad to again be able to help her and her five children. I’d invited Jenny to our fellowship many times so we could spiritually encourage her but for multiple reasons she had not come. This time I shared with her that she was a remarkable woman and that many people had come to get food from us as a result of her seeing their need and encouraging them to come. I told her that she was highly regarded in the neighborhood and that I was disappointed she had not come to our Saturday evening gatherings, not because she was missing us but rather we were missing her.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a British historian and essayist, once said, “Tell a man he is brave, and you help him to become so.” His words amplify the word encourage which means to impart courage, to fill with hope, and instill confidence. George Adams wrote, “Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.” I remember coming around the track in the mile relay and hearing the cheers of the crowd. Their voices and the steady clapping of their hands inspired me to run my fastest to win. It is no secret why the home team has the advantage. Adoring fans provide motivational energy athletes harness to succeed.
How radical are you willing to be when it comes to supporting missionaries? It’s nice to have an annual missions week in the church. It feels good to send a check periodically to those laboring overseas. But do you honestly understand what those you know as missionaries experience on a daily basis? Do you know what it means to leave your home country and live in a strange culture among people who speak a foreign language, eat different foods, and relate to one another with a different set of mores? Do you know what it is like to be deeply homesick, constantly vulnerable and very inadequate?