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Entries by Dave Kraft (764)

Sunday
Jul052015

Holding down a job or fulfilling a calling?

Quite often people are asked what they do for a living or what their job is and, quite understandably, they will respond with something along the lines of: I'm a school teacher, I'm in sales, I manage or own a business, I'm a computer programmer, I'm a software developer, I'm a stay-at-home mom. When asked where they work, the name of the company or business will be mentioned.

All of this is answering the question, what is your job? A deeper, and more meaningful, question to ask is what is your vocation? Someone might say that your job and your vocation are one and the same, but that’s not the case…they are vastly different.

The word “vocation” actually means “calling.”  I looked up the word  “vocation” in Webster’s dictionary and read: “from the word vocare, to call, a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action, a divine call to the religious life.”

I believe, and the Bible teaches, that all followers of Jesus have a divine call on their lives that goes well beyond a job?


When I became a Christian at age 20 I had a “job” at the post office. Over time, God began to make clear to me what my calling is. I increasingly understood it to be developing the next generation of leaders. I believe I would be doing this no matter what kind of job I held.

If I were to ask you what your job is, you could tell me what you do to put bread on the table and meet your monthly financial obligations; but if I ask you what your vocation is, I am asking you something entirely different…what God has called you to do, which may or may not have anything to do with your current job. What’s really wonderful is when your calling and your job are one and the same for this is where a sense of true fulfillment and godly satisfaction will be found. So many are willing to settle for a "job” rather than do the hard but rewarding work of discovering God’s calling for their life.

As I talk with 20 and 30 year olds in the course of my professional coaching and leadership development activities, I meet a lot of people who are looking for a job or have a current job, but are not seeking Jesus for what their calling in life is…what they have been created to do…gifted to do…are really passionate to do. There was a song in the 50s titled, “Get a Job,” by the Silhouettes.  It was one of those fun songs that people my age listened to on the radio, danced to at sock-hops and laughed about, but never really thought much about. It seems to me that many young adults (and maybe older ones as well) are trying to “get a job” but are not searching deeper for what their true vocation (calling from God) is. In my book “Leaders Who Last” I devote a chapter to this important topic.

The purpose of this post is to simply get your mind and heart cranking on asking yourself if you have, or are pursuing, a job or a true calling from God.

From page 84 in “Leaders Who Last” here are a few questions to prime the pump!

  1. What do you enjoy doing?
  2. What do you avoid doing? Why?
  3. For what do you wish to be remembered?
  4. How might the offer of money or promotion sidetrack you from your true calling?
  5. What would your life look like if it turned out well?

On my website under Book Notes, you will find a book by Marcus Buckingham, “The Truth About You.” Read this Book Note to further prime the pump to discover your calling--not just a job. Marcus is not writing from a Christian perspective so he will not talk about Jesus in what he writes; but, nevertheless, I think his line of thinking and his questions will lead you from a “job” mindset to a “calling” mindset.

Have at it and, if you want, you can email me davekraft763@gmail.com and let me know how the transition from thinking job to thinking calling is coming along for you. I'd love to hear from YOU!

 

Saturday
Jul042015

How to hire the best and right people!

The best decision you can make is bringing on the right people. The worst decision you can make is bringing on the wrong people. Here are some great ideas from Doug Franklin on making good staff (paid or volunteer) decisions.


Originally posted by Doug Franklin

Over the last 25 years of being involved in student ministries, I have seen many churches and youth ministries hire the right people and hire people that they wish they could have used a mulligan (a do-over).  I have seen new hires make the organization look like a brilliant success and I have seen some hires leaving churches and other organizations wondering what direction they were moving.

Through watching many people get hired over the years at my own church and others and personally being involved in hiring many employees, I have learned a few key dos and don’ts for the hiring process.  Listed below are these dos and don’ts and how they apply.

The Don’ts:

5.  Don’t limit your candidates

 

Many churches and organizations pick a couple candidates without opening up the position to any who might be interested.  Of course you want to be cautious and not have 30 applicants for a part-time position, but you also don’t want to limit your choices to one or two individuals.  If you limit your candidates, then you may be limiting who God wants on your team.

4.  Don’t assume a good volunteer will be a great staff member

 

Many times when hiring, churches and organizations will hire those volunteers who are amazing at what they do.  Although this is probably where a lot of your hires will come from, don’t think just cause they are good at volunteering that they will be a great paid staff member.  I have seen many people enter into full-time ministry disillusioned with what it actually takes to run a ministry.  They were great volunteers, but not necessarily great staff members.

3.  Don’t assume you are hiring the candidate’s spouse when you hire the candidate

 

I have heard many horror stories of youth pastors and staff members getting hired on and the manager who hired them expecting the employees spouse to be a non-paid full-time staff member.  Just remember when you hire someone that you are hiring them to do the job, not two people.

2.  Don’t hire emotionally

 

Many times over the years, I have seen people hire someone because they were getting anxious about filling a spot or because they were emotionally tied to a person and wanted them on the team.  Don’t ever allow your emotions to control your actions.  Think logically about who you are hiring and make sure they are right fit because of their heart, giftings, personality, vision and strengths, not because they are your best friend.

1.  Don’t speed through the process

 

Hiring the right person usually takes time.  Don’t rush the hiring process.  If you just stay focused on the long term vision and not the present need, then you will make your decision wisely.  Don’t allow your need for someone to make you rush a decision that you will regret later on.

The Do’s

5.  Do know the vision of the person you are hiring

 

Every person has a vision for their life and the ministry they want to do.  When hiring someone you must make sure that the vision for the ministry they have is the vision that the church is already shooting for.  When visions clash, everyone becomes frustrated and goals are not achieved.  Everyone on the team must have the same vision for what the ministry should look like.

4.  Do have the person(s) fill out gifts, personality and strengths tests

 

In order to know if the person will fit well on the team, have the candidate take every test that is useful in knowing their personality, gifts and strengths.  Without this knowledge, it is almost impossible to know if the person will fit or not.

3.  Do observe the person in action first

 

I remember one hire we needed to make one time.  We were looking at this one individual and on paper the person looked perfect.  Over the phone, the individual sounded like a sure fit.  So one last move we made was to go and see the person in action.  We decided after the visit that the person wasn’t right for our need.  That night taught me to always see a person in action first.  It will allow you to see how the person interacts with students, leaders and parents.  It will allow you to see the person’s skill set played out in ministry.  Don’t go on word or reference allow, observe the person, then make your decision.

2.  Do hire from within

 

The most strategic hire for any organization should be from within.  If you are in the process of raising up leaders now, then when you need a new staff member later, you will have a few to choose from.  Hiring from within assures you that the person knows the culture, values and vision of the church and they are in line with all these.  If you have the person in your flow already, then always hire from within.

1.  Do seek God’s guidance

 

It sounds cliché, but it is essential for any church or organization to seek God’s guidance when needing to hire someone.  You can make sure the person’s vision is in line, you can have the person fill out any tests, you can observe the person many times, you can even have the perfect person already in the ministry, but if you don’t have God’s blessing and guidance, then the decision will ultimate not be a success.

Hiring someone for ministry is so important.  If we are to be responsible with what God has entrusted to us, then we must be careful with how we spend the money that people are faithfully tithing.  If we have a need and we do our due diligence to find the right person, then goals will be achieved and lives will be changed.  Be smart, hire once, see success.  

 

Thursday
Jul022015

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION!  BIBLICAL?

Okay, I am forewarning you upfront on this one.  I want to stir the pot a bit; get controversial.

Lately I have been hearing a lot of negative comments about "Behavioral Modification."  I have been told that it is unscriptural to tell people to modify their behavior. It flies in the face of grace and is a gospel of works. I especially hear it in the context of counseling somebody. 

It sounds something like this: "Never tell a person to change their behavior; their actions or thoughts." I gather from this advice that I should never tell somebody to stop doing this or that; to stop sinning in deed or thought. I don't understand. My Bible (and yours) is full of admonitions to: Put off, put on, stop offering yourself to sin, be more gentle, more humble, more loving, more honest; to press on, strain forward. Read Colosians 3:12-17, Romans 6:12,13, Philippians 3:12-16.

I am reminded of the person who said they had learned to speak French but without the verbs. You can't speak any language without verbs, and you can't live the Christian life without verbs (action words).

I have been told I am giving people unhealthy and unbiblical counsel when I ask them to stop sinning or behave differently. That's asking for superficial "behavior modification." What's wrong with asking someone to modify their behavior to be more Christlike?

Didn't Jesus tell the man in John 5 not to sin anymore? Read the Sermon on the Mount and notice all the do's and don'ts.

Here is where I think the disconnect is.  The issue is not asking somebody to change (modify their behavior, conduct, action, thinking). The issue is what (who) is motivating them to change, and where is the power coming from to change?

The people ranting about the wrongness of preaching behavior modification are assuming (big assumption here) that we are asking a person to change in order to feel better, have a nicer life, be free from the affects of sin and personal pain. The assumption is also being made that we are asking this person to pull themselves up by their own proverbial boot straps and, in essence, change themselves.

Here is what I think, and I want to hear from you and have you enter into some healthy dialogue here; not in an email to me, but by commenting here on this blog so we can get a discussion thread going.

The Bible commands us as Christians to change and be conformed to the image of His dear son (Romans 8:29)

Two issues that are overlooked are:

  1. Purpose- Am I seeking to change for my personal benefit or to please and obey the one who purchased me through his death on the cross? Is it for my honor, or His, for my glory or His, for my purposes or His? It should be all about Jesus, not all about me!

  2. Power- Jesus makes it abundantly clear in John 15 that without Him we can do nothing. We can't change ourselves, we can't have victory over sin, we can't be more kind, more gentle, more patient, more anything. Author Fred Smith says it well when he says, "Remember the power comes through you not from you; we are the pipe, He is the pump."

Every New Testament passage requiring behavior modification is enveloped with the wonderful truth of our position in Christ and the power of the resurrection. Look closely at Romans 6:1-13 in this regard.

So I feel complete biblical freedom to tell people they need to modify their behavior if they have been saved by Jesus and belong to Him. But, I present this challenge in the context of purpose and power.

It is not a matter of grace or personal responsibility, but grace with personal responsibility.  We always get into trouble when we pit one biblical truth against another instead of embracing them both. Luther described it as "Rightly dividing Law and Gospel."

Have at it; agree or disagree and tell me where I am wrong, if you feel I am.

 

Tuesday
Jun302015

Key signs of mediocrity in a church

No leader or church has as a goal to be mediocre, but some wind up there anyway.

What would you look for to know if you are going in that direction? 

Chuck Lawless shares 12 signs that organizationally you are headed there.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

I suspect this post may offend someone, but that’s not my goal. I want churches to strive for excellence simply because our calling is to do what we do for God’s glory. I fear, though, that many congregations settle for mediocrity. As a church consultant, I’ve learned that these signs are often an indicator that the church overall does not strive for excellence:

  1. No plans for evaluation. When I ask church leaders about their strategy for evaluating the worship service, the sermons, the programs, etc., they often have no intentional evaluations. Seldom does a church move far beyond mediocrity when no assessment occurs.
  2. Tolerance of mistakes. Granted, no church is perfect. On the other hand, churches that repeatedly have mistakes in the bulletin, misspelled words in PowerPoint presentations, and confusion in worship services are sending wrong signals.
  3. Poor maintenance of the church grounds. It’s easy for regular attenders to inadvertently miss the out-of-control bushes, the dying flowers, and the broken asphalt – but guests may not miss the same stuff. What they see when they enter the lot says something about the church’s commitment to excellence.
  4. Poor upkeep of the building. Maintenance is a never-ending chore, but tasks like removing clutter, painting walls, and replacing light bulbs are not that difficult. To ignore these jobs is to settle for less than the best.
  5. No records of attendance, growth, etc. I understand churches that don’t want numbers-consciousness to trump their God-centeredness, but my concern is the church that pays no attention to numbers. Seldom have I seen those churches strive to improve in many areas.
  6. No clear discipleship strategy. Few churches have a defined strategy to lead new believers toward growth and maturity. The church without a plan will wind up with stagnant, non-growing believers (often even among leaders) – and that’s mediocrity.
  7. Toleration of sin. The congregation that permits blatant sin to continue without steps toward redemptive discipline fosters a church that looks like the world. To ignore sin in the camp is to settle for less than God’s best.
  8. No class for membership. Potential members should understand what membership means before they make a commitment to the congregation. Churches without a membership class are essentially inviting members to join with no expectations. Little zeal toward the church – mediocrity, that is – is often the result.
  9. Lack of vision. Church vision statements are common – but so are the leaders and laypersons who don’t know their church’s vision. Churches that are not driven by a compelling, oft-stated vision are frequently stuck in the mediocrity of yesterdays.
  10. Little attention to the nations. I admit my biased interest in reaching the world, but I am only reporting what I have seen: churches that do not have a global passion tend to be inwardly focused and self-protective. They seldom push themselves beyond the comfort of their norm.
  11. No new workers in place. When all the church workers are the same ones who have worked for years (even when they’re excellent workers), something is amiss. The church may have seen no growth, or they may have no plan in place to move new members into ministry. Eventually, a lack of new workers will lead to tired workers who cannot give their best in every area of service.
  12. Lack of “healthy chaos.” The healthiest churches I know are continually evaluating and stretching themselves while deeply holding to the Word and the truth of the gospel. A bit of chaos is the norm. Stagnation, on the other hand, is mediocrity lived out.

What other signs of mediocrity have you seen?

 

Sunday
Jun282015

Being both appointed and anointed

There are two critically important aspects to leadership fruitfulness.  One gives birth to the other.

In my morning Bible reading a while back, I came across 2 Corinthians 1:1 in the New Living Translation,


“This letter is from Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our dear brother Timothy.”

As soon as I read the word “appointed,” the word “anointed” popped into my head and heart.  I thought this could be fodder for a post.

I am reminded of what King David understood,

“And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” 2 Samuel 5:12 (ESV)

I think a first step in any leadership role is to have a strong sense of calling.  God has appointed me to this role, responsibility. There are a lot of reasons why this is important and one in particular (and the only one I will mention at this time) is that when you are tempted to quit/give up/throw in the towel, your sense of being appointed/called/selected will mitigate against your caving in and giving up.  Here are two other verses where Paul expresses a strong sense of being “appointed.”

“Paul, an apostle--not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--...” Galatians 1:1 (ESV)

 “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.” Ephesians 3:7 (ESV)

When you look at all that happened to David and Paul and, given the fact that they did not quit, this deep sense of call seems to me to be a key factor

I’m not about to give you some step-by-step formula to obtain a call.  I believe it is received, not achieved.  Pray that the Holy Spirit seals in your spirit a strong sense of calling, of being appointed--whether you are in leadership or thinking of stepping into leadership at some point.

Wrestle with God in prayer as Jacob did (Genesis 32:22-32), no matter how long it takes.

 Secondly, I believe that “appointing” needs to be coupled with a sense of “anointing”--having God’s hand obviously on your life and on his work through you. 

 “They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful…” Luke 7:16 (The Message)

 

A number of years ago, I was at a Billy Graham crusade in San Diego and listened to Grady Wilson ( a Graham assoicate evangelism) speak at a local church there.

During a Q&A session he was asked how Billy Graham stayed humble for all those years. I'll never forget Grady's reponse when he said that when the team formed they made a deal with Billy that if God would keep him anointed, they would keep him humble. God's anointing and a few good friends to keep me humble.

Oh to experience God's obvious anointing on my life. I believe there is a big difference between me being at work and Jesus being at work.  I long to see his fingerprints all over what he is leading and empowering me to do…otherwise, what’s the point!

I want, and desperately need, a strong sense of both being appointed and being anointed!

 “We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now.” 2 Timothy 1:8, 9 (The Message)

   Interact with me on this! Please leave a comment.

  +What does appointed and anointed look like for you? In what way do you long for this as well?