Five Things NOT to Say to Your Friends Who Own Businesses or Run Ministries

Seth and I at the studio to do some repairs one morning before he went to work and before students came in.

Seth and I at the studio to do some repairs one morning before he went to work and before students came in.

 

#5:  “Oh, I thought you only worked on Sundays.”  Nope.  I’ve never met any pastor or anyone in full-time ministry who only works one day out of the week.

#4:  “Most small businesses fail within ___________________ of starting.”  Just fill in the blank with the statistical time of your choice.  I’ve heard 6 months, I’ve heard 1 year, I’ve heard 3 years…all from well-meaning people who read something online about some statistic.  Every time I hear it, it makes me want to do the Jim face from The Office.  You know the one I’m talking about.

#3:  “Your job must be easy.”  Okay, okay.  I HOPE that you haven’t said this to a pastor or a friend who runs a business, but let’s be honest…the majority of us have probably thought it at one time or another.  We think that we could do a person’s job better than that person.  And maybe we can.  But that doesn’t mean we should say it or think it.

#2:  “Oh, don’t be so over-sensitive.  People have the right to have an opinion about you.”  The majority of pastors I know (as well as small business owners like myself) receive nasty phone calls and emails throughout the course of the year.  There are some well-known Christian authors who receive weekly hate mail.  And, if most of them are like me, those comments are the ones that keep us all up at night and those are the comments that make us wonder why we suck at doing what we do so much.

#1:  “It must be nice to ___________________.”  Sleep in on weekdays, work from home, have a life, roll around in candy….you name it.  When you assume…

Instead…

#5:  Put yourself in the place of the other person.  Realistically, do you know anyone who works only one day a week in their career?  I don’t.

#4:  Offer encouragement and your support.  Yes, most small businesses do fail.  The success stories are in the minority–especially nowadays.  That’s why it’s extra important that you encourage and support your friends.  I know that I personally would not be able to run Reverence as effectively without the support of my network of family and friends.  They are my pillars.

#3:  Remember that things are not always how they seem.  Running a ministry like a church (or any ministry) and running a small business are two of the most emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining “careers” that a person can do.  They require everything of you, and it is required of you in a fishbowl.

#2:  Criticism, even constructive criticism, can be painful to receive.  People in ministry and the Christians I know who run small businesses (myself included) are open and sensitive to the people they serve because it’s an innate part of our make-up.  It’s how God wired us.  And because of that, when people who are lovely and well-meaning (or nasty and bitter) say things to us, we receive it more deeply than anything.  Pastors, people in leadership, and small business owners are not above correction or wise, godly counsel.  We need it.  Most of us desire it so that we can continue to grow.  And so when you do say it, pray about it and say it with grace and care.

#1:  Pray for us.  Being a pastor, ministry leader, or running a business IS incredibly challenging.  But, with those challenges come the most beautiful, rewarding opportunities to be a part of the work of God’s kingdom here on earth.  That’s why I love what I do so much.  It’s not about me, it’s not about making money, it’s not about the size of our churches, businesses, and ministries.  It’s about the people we serve.  And, most of all, it’s about Him.  I care so much about every single student and family and staff member who is a part of Reverence that I am constantly on my knees praying or relating a cute anecdote to friends or thinking about what God has next for Reverence.  It’s a daunting, beautiful task that I can only do in His strength.  We all need your prayers!

 

Friday Word

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One of the criticisms of the Bible that I hear is that it is a historical document and therefore inaccurate and subjected to the frailties and imperfections of the human psyche.  After all, if a perfect God used imperfect humans as a means of communicating His message, wouldn’t something get lost in translation along the way?  Especially since we do not have the original scrolls, but rather copies of the original scrolls (like the Dead Sea Scrolls–one of the most important archaeological finds in the modern world) that have been passed down through millennia of wars, famine, fighting, and sin?

When used regarding the inerrancy of Scripture, the term plenary comes from the Latin and English translations of the Greek word theopneustos found in 2 Timothy 3:16:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteous…” (NIV)

Plenary verbal inspiration means that God inspired the complete texts of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, historical and doctrinal details, although He did not change the intelligence or understanding of the authors while doing so.  We can contrast this to the opposite belief of “non-verbal plenary inspiration” where some choose to believe that God only inspired the concepts of the Bible leaving room for more error.

As Christians we can take heart that plenary verbal inspiration is all over Scripture.  There are general claims of inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21); the human writers of Scripture claimed to be inspired (2 Samuel 23:2, Jeremiah 2:1-2, Revelation 1:1); and Jesus claimed that the Scriptures were inspired and fulfilled (Matthew 5:18, Luke 24:44).  The words themselves are inspired, not just the ideas (Deuteronomy 18:18, Zechariah 7:12).  We should note that inspiration is limited solely to the original texts of Scripture–not everything else the writers wrote and not every later copy or translation.

So why is this important to us?

There are many theories on the original writings of Scripture–ones where people cheerfully and willingly accept all the passages on love and brotherhood, but reject all the others on sin, righteousness, and future prophecies; ones where it’s okay to believe the Bible on issues of morality, faith, and ethics, but reject that the Bible has anything valid to say on history or science; and ones where people believe that God woodenly dictated His message and the poor authors rushed to keep up with Him.  We can be assured that every single word in Scripture was meant to be there, by God, as a means to communicate with every single generation since it was originally written and forevermore.  It is therefore applicable to every aspect of our lives and meant to teach us about God, to teach us about ourselves and the world we live in, and to facilitate a relationship with God.

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12

On Prejudice and Adoption

We had a moment two weeks ago when we realized to a fuller extent then we previously had exactly what it would mean to adopt a child that is a different race than us.  Seth and I are so white (I’m Scotch-Irish and he is German) that if you look at our skin close enough you can see our veins, and we’ll be parenting a very dark-skinned African child.  I have always had friends of different races and ethnicities, and Seth and I have friends of different races and ethnicities as well.  Our families are not prejudiced, and as middle class white people, the only prejudice that we’ve experienced are the few redheaded and Christian jokes.  The studio is very diverse.  Skin color does not define the value of a person in our opinion, for we are all precious in the sight of God.   But how will we deal with the prejudice when it does come?  How will we teach our child about it?

Our caseworker said, “You’d be surprised at how comfortable people will be about asking you blatant and mean questions in front of your child.  It will happen when you’re not expecting it–at the grocery store, at the mall, even at church.  You have to decide how you’re going to respond now so that you’re ready when the time comes.”

It is time for parents to teach young people early on
 that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.  
-Maya Angelou

Seth and I talked at length about it, and decided how we would respond when people act small-minded…

1. With grace, the same way that we respond when people act small-minded and curious now.  People ask us a lot of strange and seemingly cold questions and make a lot of remarks that would get me upset and angry if God didn’t give me the grace to patiently see the hearts behind the questions.  And we will teach our child to do the same.  Yes, if someone ever called our child the “n-word” or something else just as ugly and hurtful, I’d probably want to punch them in the face.  But I wouldn’t.  People ask small-minded questions because their worlds are small.  But, Jesus wants us to respond to them in love.  After all, love is the driving force behind our adoption anyway.

2. Use it as an opportunity to educate them.  People ask questions because they don’t know.  Some people are just deliberately mean-spirited, but others are just unknowing. If we can educate them in kindness and help  expand their world through the graciousness of our response, then we have done a very good thing.  If we live in fear of candidly and graciously answering questions, then we teach our children to live in fear and it comes across that we are ashamed of our child and the calling that the Lord has given us.

3.  Always being aware that the child is listening and soaking in every word.  You can’t help what other people say.  You have no idea what will come out of anyone’s mouth at any moment, but you can control what comes out of your mouth.  I can say things like, “____________ is such a blessing to us.  We love him (or her) so much!  Adoption is a truly beautiful thing.”  or “God can bring two hearts together and unite them in incredible ways.”  You can speak the truth about adoption and edify your child at the same time.  The tongue has the power of life and death.  Decide ahead of time what you are going to use it for.

Have you ever heard the saying that you catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar?  It’s so true!  Bitterness and harsh words turn people off, but when you are kind and warmhearted, you can make the world a better place–or, at the very least, plant a seed.  Love begins with a single decision to act, to think differently, to move forward….

The reality is that Ugandan culture is far different than African American culture, and we have to walk a fine line between making sure our child feels like a welcome part of our family and still making sure we are going to help her keep her African heritage.

I don’t mind questions.  I never have…about the studio, about our marriage, nor about our adoption!  In fact, I’ll probably do an FAQ post at some point soon.  Seth and I are confident in who we are in Christ, what we are doing with our lives, and in our adoption calling.  Confidence in Christ alone can handle any doubt, concern, or question that comes.

Streams in the Desert [Testimony Friday]

Banias Falls, Israel (2007)

Like a beautiful package wrapped in red and gold and covered with swirls of Christmas ribbon, the Lord gives me a present during the holiday season each year: a word.  I refer to it as my “theme” word, something that He wants to accomplish in and through me for the following year.

                •In 2008 my theme word was “trust,” and my theme Scripture verse was Proverbs 3:5.

                •In 2009 my theme word was “remember,” and my theme Scripture was Deuteronomy 7:18.

                •In 2010 my theme word was “peace,” and my theme Scripture was John 14:27.

                •In 2011 my theme word was “simplify,” and my theme Scripture was Psalm 40.

In 2012 my theme word was “launch.”  I wrote this on my old blog on December 22 of last year: (more…)