When Doing Battle for God, You Need God on Your Side

“When you are doing battle for God, you need God on your side.” I am not certain who I heard this from, but I wrote it down in some notes from a convention recently.  This may seem catchy, but simplistic. However, it is not always the correct scenario taking place in many ministry settings or in the lives of believers. It is so easy to get sidetracked into thinking we know God and we know what would please God. Therefore, what I want to do, is God’s way. Think about this for a moment.

God said His thoughts and His ways are much higher than you and I can imagine. We, in our finite minds, cannot begin to think like God. Yet, we often try to think for God. In the end, we often try doing things the way we want because it is perceived as easier than what God might want. “It is convenient and safer for me because I know how, and I know the potholes and cautions to avoid. This has to please God.”

God grows each one of us by stretching us. No learning or spiritual growth ever takes place in the comfort zone. Yet, we do not like to be stretched. So, we circumvent God’s ways with something we are more comfortable with.

In the book of Joshua, God is very clear in His instructions to Joshua, leading the Israelite nation. In verse two of the first chapter, God says, “Moses, my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them – to the Israelites.” In the verses following, God goes into more detail of the direction He expects Joshua to lead the nation of Israel.

When you are doing battle for God, you need God on your side. Joshua was about to do battle for God and he intently listened for the directions from God. Joshua was successful in his quest and the battles for God as the rest of the book of Joshua depicts. Joshua had God on his side because he listened intently to God and waited for God’s direction.

A second misplaced fixation I see today is church leaders and other believers who try to justify their thoughts by using scripture. As I work with men (& women) who have teaching and leadership responsibilities, I share with them great words I learned from Pastor Leroy Armstrong, several years ago. My version is, “Never use the Bible to go looking for something to say. Always, let what you say come from the overflow of your study.”

In other words, as a spiritual leader (or as a Christian in general) you should never search scripture to find justification for something you want to do. You should be reading and studying God’s word regularly so that He can prepare you for what you need, when you need it. This is true God-usage of scripture. We should never use God’s word, The Holy Bible, to rationalize or defend what we want to do. This is, in my opinion, about as close to worst case heresy as anything else. Yet, I see and hear people use this quite often – pastors, teachers, spiritual leaders, politicians, and people from many walks of life.

Moses did this a couple of times. One in particular, by striking a rock with his staff to draw water for drinking. God had directed Moses not to strike the rock, but to speak to it and the water would flow. However, Moses wanted drama. He struck the rock with his staff because he apparently wanted (or believed he needed) a visual effect of his leadership. The water did flow, but Moses faced some heavy consequences because of it.You can read of other people in the Bible who faced dire consequences because they acted like Moses.

God will give us clear direction. We do not have to try to justify what we want to make us appear spiritual or God-driven. Looking up scripture to defend your position will keep you from accomplishing what God desires. His ways are much higher than yours. And the joy of life comes in allowing Him to accomplish His directives through means that you would never have dreamed or thought of.

Don’t sidestep God. If you’re going to do battle for God, you need God on your side. Let your words and actions come out of the overflow of your study of God’s word.

For more information on this and other leadership help, contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Leading vs. Managing

For this week’s post, I am pulling out one first posted in Feb. 2014 and adding a little.

A little more than a year back I wrote a series of posts on Organizational Health for religious entities including the church. In the first post I mentioned the need for returning to leading instead of managing. In recent months speaking on this topic I have observed many realizing as for the very first time that they have slipped from leading to managing in the church or other religious entities. I have also received several comments and questions about moving from managing to leading. In this article my aim is to briefly address the difference between the two.

I have never met a person who entered the ministry to be a manager. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say one of the following: I want to be in ministry so I can manage people. or I think ministry is right for me because I want to manage programs and facilities.

My guess is, like me, you’ve never heard these or similar statements because no one enters the ministry to be a manager. Rather, a ministry calling involves the desire to lead; leading people to faith in Christ, leading others in deeper spiritual intimacy with God, leading people in maturation of discipleship, etc. It is all about leading. We want to lead. Our passion is to lead.

When you look up the word lead in the dictionary or thesaurus you find words as front-runner, guide, direct, and steer. When you look up the word manage you see the words; to cope, control, and handle. Ask yourself, “Do I prefer to be guided or controlled?” The answer is always guided. Your people, your staff, team, volunteers, and members are the same. They want to be guided, to be led. No one wants to being controlled. It is not an enjoyable lifestyle.

I do understand in leadership there are times when you must manage. However, when our focus becomes managing instead of leading, we have missed God’s calling. While no one enters ministry to become a manager, too often ministers and ministry leaders become managers – managers of people, programs, and facilities. When managing occupies your time you are not leading. In our churches and religious organizations of North America we must return to leading as God ordained and called each of us.

For some pastors and leaders managing is all they know. They have never seen or been taught the difference. There is a very big difference in the two and the effectiveness of good leadership vs. managing always shows in greater beneficial results. You may not realize you are a manager. But if you realize you are or may be, please contact me or someone who can assist and coach you in becoming a true leader.

You may be seeing positive results, but I promise you, as a manager you are squelching the happiness and potential of those you are supposed to be leading.

Every leader is a learner – constantly reading, training, and observing others in order to be a better leader this year than last. When was the last time you read a book on leadership, or attended a leadership conference, and came away with one or more ways to improve? If your answer is more than 3 months ago, you are not growing as a leader and it is likely you are more manager than leader.

For more information on leading in ministry and moving away from the manager mentality contact George Yates and visit soncare.net.


Past Performance, The Best Indicator of Future Expectations

I had been working with Pastor John as a coach for some time. John is a very good young man with a great heart for God. Our main focus was helping John, “give the ministry away.” John had a habit of doing everything himself. And as with anyone trying to do this, some things get dropped, you are spread thin, and burnout can take a toll on your life and ministry. Not to mention you are robbing someone of using their gifts and skills.

Over the months John had been making good strides of giving the ministry away, delegating to others and allowing other members of his congregation to lead in those areas delegated. On one particular afternoon as we were sitting in his office the discussion was about a newly revised Welcome and Greeting ministry. John had put together a good sized team for his church. A training session was held, where he let a couple other people lead in much of the training. This larger group had divided into three separate teams and would rotate manning their positions as the welcoming team on Sunday mornings.

I asked, “What is your next step? What do you need to do next to make this a viable, fruit bearing ministry?”

John stated, “I need to find someone who will make the call (or text) each week to everyone serving the upcoming Sunday morning to remind them.”

“Okay, Good,” I said. “Where should that person come from?”

“From inside the ministry team,” was John’s response.

“Good.” I exhorted. “Who’s doing it now?”

“I am.” Came John’s reply.

“You know that you do not need to be doing that. You need to give that away.” I retorted.

After a couple more back and forth questions and answers between us, John stated that a lady named Ann had offered to take on the responsibility. To which I replied, “Great. Why haven’t you turned it over to her?”

“Because,” he stated, “Ann has offered to do things like this in the past. And she is good at it – for about 2-3 months. Then she just fades away. And I end up with it again.”

I had to give him credit. John had realized a glitch in this person’s service abilities. Rather than continue pursuing the original quest, I shifted gears, still in coaching mode and asked, “How are you going to use Ann?” Within only four questions from me, John came up with the answer. “I need to use her for short term events. We have a church picnic coming up in two months. I need to put her in charge of it. And then I can use her for the Christmas…”

He found it. John had realized the inefficiency. Then with four questions he had come to realize how to best utilize this person’s gifts and skillset. Now we could move back to the original quest, and we did.

Past performance is truly the best indicator for future expectations. However, past performance is relating to behavior patterns, not a one-time mistake someone made. Mistakes can be a great learning experience. Behavior patterns are repetitive.

When you are looking for someone to fill a particular position, reflect on their past performance in a similar position.

For more on understanding how to determine past performance’s effect on future expectations, contact George Yates and pick up your copy of Reaching the Summit.

The Art of Leadership is Creating a Masterpiece of Perception.

Each one of us is a leader. I heard the story of a man I’ll call Jim, who had taken a job with a large company. He and two others were direct reports to one supervisor. Jim was impressed with how his supervisor came out of his office each day and spent time with each of his direct reports. In a breakroom conversation one day Jim brought this up to Bob, one of his two co-workers. To Jim’s surprise Bob did not have the same perception of their boss. Bob’s response was something like this.

“That’s the way you see it Jim. I see it differently.” said Bob. “When he comes out to make his rounds, he stops and spends time talking with you about a lot of things, work and life related. Then he stops at Angela’s desk and asks her how her husband and the kids are doing. When he gets to my desk, he simply asks how things are going with the job or talks about the weather.”

Bob went on to explain, “Sure he comes out and talks to each of us. But each stop is different. You are the one most like him. He feels comfortable talking with you about a variety of topics. With Angela, he talks about the two things he knows he can relate to in her life, her husband, and children. He does not attempt any other conversation. I am of a different cultural background. He does not believe he has anything in common with me and therefore does not attempt any conversation outside his comfort zone.”

Obviously, Jim’s supervisor had made an impression on each of his reports. Jim and Bob had totally different perspectives of their supervisor. Which one was correct in his perception? The answer is they both were. Jim’s perception (prior to the conversation with Bob) was that his supervisor was a courteous man with concern for each of those reporting to him. Jim’s perception was reality for him. His supervisor was courteous and friendly. Bob’s perception was reality too, reality for Bob.

It has been said that perception is reality. In other words, what a person perceives becomes his reality. In leadership if a person perceives you to be a nice and caring supervisor, that is her reality of who you are. If another person feels they have been mistreated by you, then in his reality, you are not a valued leader.

The art of leadership is creating a masterpiece of perception. Not everyone is going to have the exact same perception of you. However, as a leader one of your priorities should be to create a true perception of what those you lead need most. Leadership is not about me the leader, but about creating an atmosphere where everyone under my leadership is capable to function at his/her very best.

Therefore, as a leader every word that comes out of my mouth, every action I make, every laugh, frown, and scowl that crosses my face, is a new stroke of a paintbrush in the mind of each of my reports. Every stitch of clothing that I wear, the amount of time I spend in the presence of (or not in the presence) is adding to the perception painting. Not only what I actually say and do to each report, the perception I create in follower (report) number one, will also be passed on to each of my other followers (reports). What they hear from their peers will be added to their own painting of perception about me.

Every person watching you as a leader is painting a perception portrait of who you are. That portrait is reality to him/her and will be conveyed in his work for the organization and his interaction with others. As a leader, you have control of the palette. Are you helping to create masterpieces?

Remember, leadership is not about you or your personal comfort. It is about building others to be the best, most effective person they can be. If your employees, volunteers, or organizational members perceive your actions, words, and personal displays to be more about you, you are not creating a masterpiece. Their perception of you will determine how far they will allow you to lead them and to what extent they will follow. If you desire success as a leader, begin by creating a masterpiece of perception.

For more information or coaching on this topic contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Riding the Wake of Leadership

As a boat glides through the water it will leave a v shaped trail of waves. These waves are known as a wake. I was with friends that summer evening as we were boat riding on the Ohio River just southwest of Louisville, KY. About a mile ahead of us was a Tug pushing several barges as is often seen on this river. Our driver and boat owner decided to get a little closer to the barges and tug, to follow and ride its wake. Riding other boats wakes was something we were accustomed to. However, we had never ridden the wake of a tug and barges.

Pushing several hundred thousand pounds in those barges, a tug boat produces quite a large wake. We were used to one and two foot wakes. The wake of a working tug can create waves twelve to fourteen feet high. Riding the first of those waves that evening was fun. Something new and challenging. After all, four and five foot waves were twice the size of any we had previously ridden. The real challenge would come a few minutes later. To ride the waves our boat was traveling faster than the tug.

Therefore, we were closing the distance gap on the tug. Before we knew it we were riding on top of a ten-foot wave, staring across a gap at one even taller. Since we were riding across the waves our boat was not positioned to ride with this particularly large swell. In a matter of seconds the wave we had been riding rolled right out from under our boat. This left the six of us and this one small 16ft pleasure boat sitting in a gulley of water, trapped between two waves. In front of us a twelve-foot wall of water. Behind us a similar but slightly smaller ten-foot wall. Nowhere to go. Within seconds the twelve-foot wall of water that was in front of us quickly came crashing down on us burying us under its massive weight and thousands of gallons of river water. The next thirty seconds went by in extremely slow motion – underwater.

Leaders often find themselves in a similar position, riding the wake. It may be the wake of a booming or bust economy. For some it is the wake of competition. Others may find themselves riding the wake of former leaders or successes, and there is always the wake of forward progress.

Great leaders understand and not only accept the challenge of riding a larger wake. They have grown in leadership enough to realize you do not ride a ten foot wave the same as a two or three foot wave.  Too often leaders have one way of leading, and attempt to plow through any situation with that particular leadership “wake running.” Oftentimes to the detriment of those they are leading and the organization which they represent.

Every leader should surround him/herself with other leaders whom they can learn from. If you do not have people whom you trust and have given permission to mentor, correct, and coach you, you will find yourself between those two walls of water. One of them is going to collapse on you. Whom do you know who has successfully ridden the wake further & higher than you? Turn to that person (preferably more than one) and entrust your skills to their tweaking. Be teachable, willing to learn and to change. After all you expect those you are leading to change. First, you must be willing to be changed and flexible. Also, read, study, and grow in your leadership ability.

The simplicity of this one act can move your leadership beyond comprehension and you’ll be able to ride the wake of whatever comes your way. Happy, safe boating!

After that long thirty to sixty seconds, we arrived back at the surface of the river. Only the windshield of the boat was above water. The boat was swamped. Several lessons were learned that evening. We all survived and made it back to shore thanks to other boaters towing us in. Today, we can laugh and talk about it because of God’s grace to us that evening thirty-some years ago.

For more information on Riding the Wake of Leadership or finding the right leaders to be mentored and coached by, contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

A Leader is a Learner

My wife and I had not been married long and needed to move to a bigger apartment closer to where we both worked. One of my wife’s sisters and one brother and his wife came to assist us in moving. After a half hour or so and carrying, softball and baseball equipment, a basketball, golf bag & clubs, bowling balls, tennis balls and racquets, racquetball racquet and balls, archery equipment, shotgun, stunt kites, a lot of Frisbees, and other sports related items, my sister-in-laws asked my wife, “Is there any sport he doesn’t play?”

From my childhood I have enjoyed sports and have always enjoyed learning to play various sports. While I did not play much organized sports, other than church leagues growing up, I did join the professional Frisbee tour for a couple of years. It’s true there is one. And there was some very good money to be made at some of these tournaments. (I never made any, that’s why I am in the ministry today.) No matter what sport it was I watched others, I read, and listened, and I practiced. To learn one simple, basic Frisbee freestyle move, I practiced the move no less than one hundred times a day until I could do it without dropping the Frisbee (more than a month). I played basketball every chance I could as a teenager, in our back yard, in the church parking lot, at friends houses. I played for hours each day, every place I could, and every opportunity I had. A lot of sports equipment went into that moving van because I spent years watching, reading, listening, and learned – a lot.

Fast forward fifteen years, I am working in the gym of our church moving shelving units and weight equipment with Russ, one of our young men in the church. Russ worked in the high-tech industry, one of those you like having around for computer issues, and he was a good friend to hang with. On this particular day we had been working together for a couple of hours and as normal when we were together, talked about a variety of topics. With no warning Russ changes the conversation with the following statements.

“You can talk about any subject. (hyperbole) How do you know so much about so many topics?” Russ was very genuine in making his statement and his question.

While I have heard similar statements over the years, this is a somewhat awkward situation to be in. My reply to Russ was and still is today, “I’m a learner. I read a lot. I read, I listen, I learn.” That’s it, that’s all there is to it. I’m not super gifted, or talented. I simply read and I always read to learn. I observe and listen to others, and I always listen and observe to learn. When I have a needed repair around the house, I watch the repairman. Not to spy on him, but to learn. I may or may not be able to complete the repair in the future, but I can see how things work and where the issue might be with the needed repair.

Today, I am a leader. I’m not certain if I became a leader because I am a learner or if I am a learner because I was first a leader. I simply want to be on the cutting edge. I want to be effective. When I observe anything, I want to know more about it and how I can be a better leader enabling others to be better and more efficient. Therefore, I want to learn. So, I read, observe, listen, and learn.

There is no place or time in leadership to stop learning. Any great leader will tell you the learning never stops. Talk to or read about any great leader of our generation, of the past 100 years, or anytime throughout history; you will find a common thread about continually being a good listener, observer, and a consistent reader. Be a better leader by being a consistent reader. Read to learn. Read to Lead.

To find out more about learning and leadership contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Chance Meeting in a Parking Lot

The morning was warm but not hot, the sun was up, and the day was off to a good start. After breakfast in the hotel on this particular morning I decided to go for a walk. I had a couple of hours before my first meeting, or at least I thought, so a fifteen-minute walk would be good. As I entered the hotel parking lot near the end of my walk, my first meeting was about to take place. A small white car approached from the hotel parking lot. There was no one in the car except the driver, a woman I had never met. With her window down she slowed and pulled to a stop when her car reached where I was.

There were a couple of traveling teenage girl basketball teams staying at the hotel, so I assumed this was the mother of one of the players. Expecting her to ask for directions to some local eatery or store, I stopped when she stopped her car across the drive from me. Her question was of a different sort than I anticipated. Very congenially she inquired, “How far do you walk each morning?”

“I don’t walk every morning. I should. I’m just out for a little walk this morning.”

She nodded demonstrating that she understood. “Do you live here?” she inquired.

I thought this was a little strange, since ‘here’ was a hotel; not the Hilton, but not a rent by week place either. “No.” was my one word reply.

“Are you married?” was her next question. (An unusual question from the parent of a teenage basketball player.)

Raising my left hand to show my wedding band I proclaimed, “Yes I am.” Mind you, I am still standing 10-15 feet across the drive from the car.

“Well. I better let you go. Don’t want to get you in trouble with your wife.” The woman stated.

As I started to walk away, I probably gave the worst reply possible. “That’s okay.” And I turned to walk away.

I hadn’t taken two steps when she vocalized her next question “Is your wife with you?”

And so I realize, Okay, this is no basketball mom. (I catch on quick) But I answered anyway. “No, she’s at home.”

This woman had two more questions for me. How long are you here, and her final question, “Do you want some company?”

There was no hesitation in my voice, nor in my step as I walked away with this plain and matter of fact answer. “No, Absolutely not.” As I (quickly) walked toward the front doors of the hotel, the woman in the little white car casually drove off, likely looking for her next target. Just as quickly as it began, the first meeting of my day was finished – and I was glad it was over.

That was a first for me. I have never before been propositioned and I pray it is also the last time. Yes, I told my wife about it that afternoon.

Life is full of unexpected situations and offers. You will always act out of your core values, those beliefs you hold so deeply that they cannot be deterred. Do you know your core values? What do you do on a regular basis to strengthen your core values those deeply held beliefs? Continually working to build and strengthen your deepest core values will benefit you in everyday life and especially in times when you find yourself in a situation you did not see coming.

For more information on how to discover and develop your core values contact George Yates (no propositions please) and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.


The Rough, Calloused Hands of a Working Father

A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. He passed the initial interview and was going to meet the director for the final interview. The director saw his resume, it was excellent. “Have you received a scholarship for school?” The boy replied, “No.”
“It was your father who paid for your studies?”
“Yes.” He replied.
“Where does your father work?”
“My father is a Blacksmith.”
The Director asked the young man to show him his hands. The young man showed a pair of hands soft and perfect. “Have you ever helped your parents at their job?”
“Never, my parents always wanted me to study and read more books. Besides, he can do the job better than me.”
The director said, “I have got a request: When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father and then come see me tomorrow morning.”
When he returned to his house he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands.
His father felt strange, happy, but with mixed feelings and showed his hands to his son. The young man washed his father’s hands, little by little. It was the first time that he noticed his father’s hands were wrinkled and they had so many scars. Some bruises were so painful that his father shuddered when he touched them.
This was the first time that the young man recognized what it meant for this pair of hands to work every day to be able to pay for his studies. The bruises on the hands were the price that he paid for their son’s education, his school activities and his future.
After cleaning his father’s hands the young man stood in silence and began to tidy and clean up the workshop. That night, father and son talked for a long time.
The next morning, the young man went to the office of the director.
The Director noticed the tears in the eyes of the young when He asked him, “Can you tell me what you did and what you learned yesterday at your house?”
The boy replied, “I washed my father’s hands and when I finished I stayed and cleaned his workshop.
Now I know what it is to appreciate and recognize that without my parents, I would not be who I am today. By helping my father, I now realize how difficult and hard it is to do something on my own. I have come to appreciate the importance and the value in helping the family.”
The director said, “This is what I look for in my people. I want to hire someone who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the hardship of others to do things, and a person who does not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.”

What could you learn by washing the hands of the person(s) whom have made it possible for you to be who you are today? God has created you and me in His own image. His desire for you is greater than your own desire. In fact, He sent His one and only son to give you the opportunity to experience the very best you possible.

If you had the opportunity to wash the nail scarred, working hands of Jesus Christ, what would be your reaction? Would there be tears in your eyes as in this young man in the story above?


Debriefing for Effectiveness

Can you tell me more about the debrief meetings mentioned in your blog post (06/06/16)?” Following the guest post from two weeks ago I have had some inquiries like this one. It is one I am happy to share. In fact, I strongly believe that it is one every church, business, and organization should institute for better efficiency and effectiveness.

 A debrief session is a meeting to determine the effectiveness of an event, ministry effort, single or series of sessions for your organization. I’ll write this for a church event as most readers serve in the capacity of church. The precepts are easily adapted to any organization.

While many churches and organizations review past events, true debriefing does not take place. Leaders must be intentional about proper debriefing, willing to accept input, and ready to make necessary adjustments.

A debrief session is used to not only evaluate a recent event, but to assist in planning for more effective future events. A Debrief session should be conducted as soon as viably possible following the event or ministry session. Everyone who was involved in planning, staffing, & follow-up for the event should be invited to the Debrief meeting. You want to probe all minds and viewpoints possible.

Begin the Debrief session with a sincere statement of gratitude to everyone for being involved in the event. It is also a good idea to have snacks or a meal (pizza, sandwiches, or something light)

I suggest you share these ground rules at the beginning of the Debrief session.

1. A debrief session is not a gripe or complaint session

2. We do not talk about people. Only comments concerning issues and practices are to be shared.

3. Everyone’s input is important and desired. If one person is dominating the conversation, we will ask that person to allow others to speak and to hold his/her thoughts.

Properly formulated questions are critical for thought provoking, truth seeking reality. Do not ask questions that require a yes or no answer. Those are closed ended questions and will not help in a true learning or evaluation of the reality.

The type questions to ask:

1. What did we do well? (always begin and end with positive questions and comments)

2. In your opinion, what allowed this part (answer to #1) to be done well?  (use the word “allowed”, not “caused”)

3. How was the movement and transition, getting to the proper location in the church and moving from one to another room (if this type of movement was involved)?

4. Finish this statement: the time used in _______ portion of the event was _____________. (You insert in the first blank a portion of the event, i.e. missions, standing worship, crafts, etc. and allow participants to fill in the second.)

5. In what areas could we have used more “workers/volunteers”?

6. In planning our next event (or next year’s event) what could make this event;

              a. more effective?

              b. less stressful?

              c. more evangelistic – fruit bearing?

7. In what one way are you willing to step up and increase your assistance with this event?

8. How is our follow-up progressing? What changes do we need to make in our follow-up process?

9. If you were in charge of this event, what would you do differently? (This is best if used in written form allowing members to submit in writing)

10. What role did prayer play and what should we do to enhance/improve the prayer emphasis for this type event/ministry?

There are plenty of other questions that could be asked. These are suggested to help you think through in pre-planning the Debrief session. These questions are designed to keep the focus on practices used and issues/opportunities observed by members throughout the event. (Do not use the word “problem” or “problems”. There are no problems, only opportunities.)

Fortune 500 companies and churches of all sizes adopt this method of review and I trust this post will be helpful in your ministry or organization as well. For more information on Debrief sessions contact George Yates and pick up your copy of Turnaround Journey at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries. 

Praying Through Times of Uncertainty

Last week’s post was chosen not because I was mentioned in it, but because many people have fears and doubts, as did Rachel, when their pastor retires or leaves the church. Certainly this is a time of sadness (in most cases), and uncertainty can creep in. However, through prayer and careful consideration the right person can be found to lead your church through times of uncertainty.

Prayer is a key. Every step, every decision must be bathed in prayer. And not prayer as usual in most churches. The prayer ministry of most churches is weak, at best. The combined time most Christians spend in prayer in a week, including prayer at church and home, is less than 30 minutes. Out of 10,080 minutes given to us, we spend less than 2/10 of one percent of our time communing with the one source for ALL our needs. Two tenths of one percent? I had to calculate that twice to make sure I had not entered the numbers incorrectly.

If you committed to spend 30 minutes each day in prayer how could that affect your life? Thirty minutes per day is still only 2% of the time you have each week. And yet it would increase our prayer time ten-fold. I believe we would see God’s hand at work in a very increased way. God’s word tells us to Draw near to God and He will draw near to us. I ponder what God might do in our lives and in our nation if only half of those called by His name would increase their prayer time to 30 minutes each day truly communing with God?

Does most of your prayer time involve requesting from God healing and safety? If we’re honest, most of our prayers are asking God for something – health and healing of family and friends, safety, and a good day. Think for a moment, what kind of prayer life is this? Isn’t it more like a genie in a bottle than a time of communion with our Creator?

I like to pray scripture. One of things we incorporated at Barrett and Rachel’s church is a time of prayer in the worship service where we prayed scripture. We need to get back to praying scripture – not only the prayers found in scripture – but praying scripture. There is so much of scripture that can be prayed. There is so much that relates to your daily life, personally. If this is new to you then begin with the Psalms. When I pray scripture I first read the scripture in my prayer and thank God for that particular passage. Then I will pray using the words of that passage, changing the identification of the scripture so that it is my supplication, thanksgiving, and request.

Let’s use the first two verses of Psalm 1 as an example. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

My prayer would be, “Lord, may I be considered in your sight, a blessed man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; instead may my delight be in your law, and my meditation be on your law and your commands at all times, day and night.” Then I might pray, “Lord help me to not stand…, walk…, sit…

I do not only pray the words of the scripture passage. I must wrestle with the truth of the meaning and deliver from my heart the passion needed to make these words mine to God.

When the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that in my opinion was stripping away at the very fiber of morality I’m certain prayers were going up in pulpits across the nation. The prayer I led our congregation in that Sunday was not about the justices of the court system, our nation’s leaders, or the proponents of the immorality. God had given me a passage from Jeremiah 3.

Father, God Almighty, forgive us. It is not the court system, or the rulers of our nation who are at fault here. It is us, the church, believers in Christ; those who call ourselves your children. Forgive us O Lord, for we have prostituted ourselves with many partners…We have been unfaithful to you O God. Move on us that we will return to you. Do not look on us with Your anger, show us the way to return to you that you might spare our nation. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord. Help us, guide us to return to you in truth, justice, and in righteousness. Then will you bless our nation and once again make it a great nation…”

Our churches can make a difference in times of uncertainty, both in the church, and in our nation. First, we must bathe in prayer the very thing that we seek to be and to do in God’s will. Praying scripture is only one way, but it will transition your prayer life from worldly requests to truth seeking.

For more information on this topic or helping your church through transition contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries