Posts Tagged ‘pastoral leadership’

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Scars

November 9, 2009

Looking in the mirror, I see a scar on my nose between my eyes.  May not be noticeable to many people, but I see it.  It’s fairly small now, but when I was younger, it took up the bridge between my eyes.  When I notice it, I remember the event that brought the scar as if it were yesterday.

Running around the church building during Vacation Bible School, I blacked out for a moment and woke up to find people standing around me asking if I was ok.  Only five, I didn’t think anything of the pain throbbing between my eyes, however, the blood that I saw did change things.  I can vividly remember who was around me, the weather that day, the feeling at the doctors’ office and the feeling of being strapped to a board as they operated on my wound.  Funny how a little scar can bring back such vivid memories isn’t it?

I found it interesting while reading John 20 how Christ showed himself to the disciples upon His resurrection.

John 20:20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

After reading this verse, I began thinking about the pictures of Christ I have seen growing up.  As I thought about it, I can hardly think of one picture where Christ does not bear the wounds of Calvary.  It was the scars Christ bore on His body that made the disciples recognize him.  The scars showed where the nails and spear pierced His body and proved what God had brought him through.

Outside of the scar on my nose, I hold deeper scars, perhaps barely visible, if at all, to those around me.  These are scars from painful decisions I have made in life or the result of wrongs dealt to me.  Regardless of their origin, I still bear them, as do you.  Maybe you choose not to get too close to people around you as the result of a scar left by someone who violated your trust.  Perhaps you have been emotionally abused and those scars prohibit you from taking an type of criticism without putting up a fight.  Regardless of the scar, we can all admit to how deep they run and the lasting effects they have on our everyday lives.

If you’re like me, Satan uses some of these scars to remind me of past mistakes and to deter me from activities Christ may be urging me to get involved with.  Unfortunately, a number of us fall into this silo and never recover from whatever traumatic experience we have had.  We feel remorse, shame, embarrassment and avoid the topic at all costs.  In fact, when the subject begins to head in that direction, we are usually overtaken with anxiety.

Paul, when writing to the early church, made mention of the scars he had for the Gospel and found peace in them.  We too should follow his lead.  Instead of an addiction reminding us of our bad decisions, perhaps we should use them as a witness to prove what Christ has redeemed us from.  Radical thought isn’t it?

Our enemy would rather we focus more on our shortcomings and see these as barriers to witnessing to those around us.  I’d venture to say many Christians fall into this trap and never see the opportunities to minister to those we come into contact with everyday.  I’d venture to say as men, we struggle with this more than women due to our pride.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  2 Cr 11:30

Christ isn’t looking for perfection, He’s looking for men who will be willing to bear their scars as a testimony to what Christ can do with someone’s life when they submit to Him and His sovereignty.  What scars do you have that you could use to tell the world Jesus is alive?

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry.  In his free time, he also contributes to KingdomBusiness.com as a writer on Christian Leadership.

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Chicken Little And Philippians 4:4-7

May 26, 2009

chicken-little-sky-fallingBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV

Is it just me or should someone have shared this verse with Chicken Little?  Poor guy!  He was simply trying to warn everyone of an impending doom right?  He should have to suffer from all of the ridicule and pain shouldn’t he?

You know, I think part of a child’s DNA is composed of anxiety.  Granted, all of them show it differently, but they all have it.  Whether they are anxious about their grades, friends, audition, or in our household, the daily schedule, anxiety commands a lot of our children’s thought processes.  I do not believe I would be going too far on a limb to say that most of us never grow out of it.

So how do you use the movie Chicken Little to discuss Phil 4 and anxiety?  There are a couple of key lessons to highlight with your child as you watch the movie:

1.  Anxiety is like a cold, it spreads quickly. Notice how the entire town goes absolutely crazy when Chicken Little’s first episode occurs.  It becomes a pandemic very quickly.  A recent example of anxiety spreading over something that may or may not have been something terribly concerning would be that of the swine flu.  It seemed like in only a few short hours, the world was going to be taken to its knees by this new virus.  Only three weeks later, I see very little about this all-powerful flu… so would that be 2009’s “The Sky is Falling!”  Anxiety spreads and makes things worse, Phil 4 tells us not to be anxious!

2. The Bible teaches us to hold fast to Christ, He gives us the ability to be anxious for nothing, for He is our Shepherd. Spend some time explaining to your child the role and characteristics of a plain ole shepherd and then help them understand how Christ is the Good Shepherd.  He said, “my sheep know my voice.”

3.  Our anxieties are funny to God. One of the things I love about this movie is how it accurately portrays false anxiety.  We can usually run around like a chicken with our head cut off when really, we should spend time resting in the promise that Christ will never forsake us.  Help your children understand that to Christ, our anxieties are sometimes if not most of the time crippling to our faith.  Faith is the ability to let go of our anxieties and cling more to the hope and promise we have in Christ’s sovereignty.

Sure, we all have anxieties and some would say they are inevitable and inescapable, but Christ told us to “cast our cares upon him.”   Part of being a dad, uncle, older brother or whatever type of leader you are, is having the ability to teach children to trust in Christ alone.  If you’re like me, maybe if you say it enough to them, you will start to remind yourself of this solid, yet simple truth.

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Selfish Desires – Seagulls

April 15, 2009

If anyone has seen the movie, Finding Nemo, everyone remembers the seagulls.  Their famous, repetitive phrase, “MINE!” reverberates in my ears every time I hear a seagull overhead. (If you click on the image, it will take you to a rough clip of the scene we will be discussing.) I have three children and much like the seagulls, I hear “MINE!” more times than I care to think.  It seems like one of the first of original sins is that of selfishness.

Although this is a funny scene, this depiction might allow you an opportunity to talk some about selfishness with your children.  Many of us would jump at the opportunity to take this subject head on, especially emphasizing the problems caused by sibling selfishness.  I would like to challenge you to take the message deeper and help your children understand what the Bible teaches us about selfish desires, and potential “end scenes” if this problem goes undiagnosed.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

– Matthew 16:24

Christ talks specifically about selfishness in many of his parables, but in this verse, he takes it head on.  I love how he states, “If you want to be my follower…” Deep down, I believe we all struggle with selfishness from time to time and to go even further, selfishness will often prohibit us from truly following Christ and going “All in,” if you will.  How many times do you think we sound like the seagulls in this scene to Christ?  Whether it be with our finances and the issue of tithing or simply, giving more of our time to the Kingdom by getting up earlier in the morning, we all usually tell Christ “MINE!”

So what are some of the lessons you could teach your children using the Seagulls in Finding Nemo?

1.  Selfishness will ultimately blind and bind you! One of my favorite parts of the clip is how the pelican is able to get away from the nagging seagulls in hot pursuit of what they claim as theirs.  In my humble opinion, it is a great example of how we could also use another great passage from Matthew:

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
– Matthew 7:14

Just like the pelican, one who is unselfish is able to narrowly pass through openings most will not see, nor be able to pass through.  The seagulls, so blinded by their selfishness, were unable to see the narrow opening in the sail and soon found themselves bound in the sail itself.

2.  Selfishness is annoying not only to parents, but also to God. Although this particular clip is funny the first time, if you were to consistently here, “MINE!” all day, it would become rather annoying.  I would have to imagine this clip is a small commercial of what Christ often hears from those who love him.  MINE!  In one of the earlier scenes, the pelican is actually agitated by the constant gawking of gulls and tells them loudly to hush up. (he uses different words though)  The sound of selfishness to Christ has to be just as annoying and disheartening.  Christ left us constant reminders to be unselfish in our giving, just as he was.  Take some time to explain to your children how selfishness can lead to various other sins of the flesh.  It starts out annoying, but if left unchecked, it could become deadly.

3. It’s hard to stop. I laugh to myself when I think of how many times I am much like those gulls who are stuck in the the sail yet still manage to say, “MINE!”  Selfishness can become deeply rooted and this is a great reason to urge you to help teach your children about selfishness now!  Don’t you wish someone would have helped you earlier in life with this issue?  I know if the issue of “MINE!” would have been dealt with earlier in my life, perhaps I would not be wishing I had not spent so much time, money, sleepless nights, and other investments in chasing what I thought I was entitled to.

Before preaching to your children about selfishness,  I would strongly urge you to sift through the topic in your own walk.  Personally, I struggle with my selfish desires for something as simple as sleep.  I like sleep, but don’t see much of it.  I believe the last time I slept all night may have been prior to children.   I go through great lengths to defend my naptime on Saturdays and Sundays.  My schedule revolves around them and I wake up thinking about the next time I will be able to lay down.  Where most have something called sleep apnea, I have “lack of sleepaphobia.”

Sure, it’s funny, but I wonder if there are other things in my life that when Christ calls me to a deeper union with him, all I can respond with is “MINE!”

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Lines-Fear Part II

April 6, 2009

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

What are some of the fears most Christians have but may not know about? Here are just a few!

Confession

Ok, I realize they are not major things to others, but to me, the sight of a rooster or a clown begins the slow shutting down of major life systems in my body. My chest gets tight; I can hear my heartbeat in my head, and get physically ill, all within only two or three seconds of the initial sighting. So, regardless of what anyone else sees in these evil winged animals and demonic looking clowns, I am petrified.

I remember the first time I confessed my fear of roosters and clowns to someone close to me. It was a major leap of faith for me to confess such a fear to anyone and actually have to admit I was vulnerable. Before you ask the question, yes, this person laughed when I told them. In that moment, however, I realized the tremendous fear of confession I was harboring. It was almost harder telling someone else I had a flaw than it would be facing a clown holding a rooster.

A fear of confession is real and needs to be dealt with. I would venture to say all of us, on some level, have a fear of confession. It is not easy for us to dismount from our pedestal to mention even so much as one of the flaws we have.

If you don’t think you have this particular fear, let me ask you one question. What is that one sin you try your hardest to ensure no one knows about? Now, think about telling that sin to someone close to you, a way of confessing it and dealing with it. Do you realize now you have this fear?

Humiliation

As mentioned above, sometimes fear and pride go hand in hand, as would be the case with humiliation. We all try our hardest to “save face” in front of our friends, families, and co-workers. It seems there are some things in life that are not much different than grade school. Whether we admit it or not, we are still in the race to be sure we are wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, have the right technology, driving the right car, etc.

A fear of humiliation is a devastating enemy behind the line. This particular fear might keep you from sharing your testimony with one of your co-workers. It could keep you from asking a burning question for fear of not knowing the answer. The fear of humiliation keeps us on the bench, spectators to Christianity. Fear of humiliation would be the equivalent of a soccer player having the fear of running. It’s counter to the Christian DNA.

The fear of humiliation is usually brought about through a past experience. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. In most instances, humiliation may not be known to anyone but you, even if it happens in a room full of people. I have seen some who later tell of events where they were humiliated, yet on the outside, they were laughing at themselves along with everyone else.

Rejection

Rejection and humiliation are different animals, but close in kin. Humiliation is not as personal to me as rejection is. In my humble definition, rejection involves the submission of myself to someone, only to be rejected by them. Humiliation can be done unintentionally, however, rejection, almost by definition, has to be personal. It is a devilish beast to deal with.

If you think about people in your life, most have this fear which may be tied to something that happened in their families, a past relationship or some other type of situation. It is a far reaching, deeply rooted fear that eventually permeates everywhere in their lives.

The fear of rejection works a lot like humiliation when it comes to a Christian’s walk. Rejection often prevents a Christian from being involved in a small group, or an evangelistic group. Of all the fears, however, I believe this has the greatest potential for change. Why? Christ, of all people, knows the feeling of rejection all to well. He was rejected by followers, Peter, teachers, clerics, politicians and numerous others. From the cross he yelled, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone who is dealing with the fear of rejection might want to cry out the same sometimes.

Failure

Atychiphobia-the official name of the fear of failure. I can identify with this one in particular. Most of us have a fear of failure, disappointing those you love or simply just failing. People who fear failure do not take any type of risks, play not to lose-if they even play at all. It can be a crippling and at times, but it is not beyond victory.

If we find ourselves with the fear of failure, we should be greatly comforted by several of the characters of the Bible. Failure seems to be a great theme throughout Scriptures. Of all of the great failures, Peter is my favorite. He seemed to be a complete pro at it. He slipped up while trying to walk on water. He sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. When the time came to step up, he denied knowing Christ three times. Regardless of these, Christ still had an affection for him. Christ saw the reasoning behind his failures… passion. That is something Christ can work with.

As I mentioned before, I have had my own struggles with the fear of failure. I always equated Christian with holiness and holiness with perfection. Warped vision I know. In prayer, I brought my fear of failure to the Cross several times, but always managed to take it back. There was one time, however, Christ did not let me take it back. It was time I learned to get past this fear.

In my Prayer Place, I was shown a cup and a nail. Every time I thought of a failure, the nail would put a hole in the cup. Eventually, there were several holes in the cup. Christ asked me, “What do you see?” Of course, my answer was, “the holes.” Christ pointed out that His Grace was like water being poured into the cup. As the water poured out through holes, it was clear to me that my faults, weaknesses, my holes was what allowed his grace to pour through my life… minister to others if you will.

Although I thought it was over, Christ turned the cup open face down and placed a candle under it. As you would guess, the light from the candle shown through the holes. It was quite apparent the message given to me… embrace my failures, they are what Christ uses to glorify himself.

Overcoming our Fear

I love the story of Paul and Silas and I believe it has a lot to tell us about fear. In a way, all of us become imprisoned by our various fears. My fear keeps me from farms and circuses. For some, it keeps them from flying, others might not ever take a risk and share the Gospel with someone out of fear of rejection or humiliation. Fear can be a powerful enemy.

Let’s look at Paul and Silas and how they dealt with fear. As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Fear

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Lines: Fear

April 3, 2009

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

Here is an interesting list for you to consider:

  1. The number 13
  2. Air
  3. Body Odors
  4. Dentists
  5. Dust

So what do all of these have in common?  They are all listed as diagnosed phobias.  The list of diagnosed phobias was pretty exhaustive and surprising.

Alektorophobia.  That is the phobia I have.  Pretty terrifying and to save you some time researching, let me define it for you.  I have a gripping fear of chickens, well, roosters primarily.  Oh, and I have another one, Coulrophobia.  Again, another serious phobia I have of clowns.  I know you are laughing to yourself, but you have them too.  Those silent, hidden fears that keep you caged in yourself.

I found it interesting that when trying to determine the total number of phobias, the answer was quite simple, “there are as many phobias as there are things and situation.”  When I reread over Genesis, I read about the numerous items God created, but found it interesting that fear was not one of them.  So when did fear become so common and accepted as something just to name and accept.  Who comes up with all of these names for the million phobias listed? I would daresay Adam had the easier job naming all of the animals.

Why is fear considered an enemy behind the line?  Interestingly enough, even when you would describe yourself as fearless, you truly are not.  I found this to be true personally.  Granted, I have a distorted fear of clowns and roosters, I thought when it came to faith, I could be considered as fearless.   After comparing myself to some of the people in Scripture, I am not that fearless.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  – Acts 16:25

After reading about Paul and Silas singing in the midst of facing almost certain execution… painful execution, I can’t really say I am all that fearless.  Of all of the emotions and all of the possible behaviors to display in a time like that, I can’t say that I I would have necessarily chosen to sing hymns to God first.  That, in my humble opinion, is pretty fearless. In today’s environment, we need more of that type of fearlessness.

Most of us, however, would recognize our other fears or phobias.  Those who are afraid of heights stay away from high places.  Others who are afraid of flying don’t even go to http://www.travelosity.com to price flights, it’s just not an option to consider.  And those of us who are afraid of clowns, we steer clear of circuses.  We are able to embrace the fears we know about, but not the fears that are “behind the line.”

If I asked you to speak to a group of people regarding your testimony or to simply share the Gospel with them, unless you were agorophobic, you would not have a tremendous problem with it right?  Chances are, the group I assembled would be somewhat believers ready to receive or at least listen to what you had to say right?  Let’s change the situation.  What if I were to ask you to stand up in a crowded movie theater before a movie started share the Gospel?  Ok, that feeling you just felt in the pit of your stomach, that is the enemy behind the lines… fear.

We all have it, fear of failure, embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection.  This fear is the fear crippling many Christians, especially Christian Men in today’s society.  As a man, it is easy to be the bold one in business, the “take no prisoners” type.  Personally, at one time in my life, I felt great pride in taking down an opponent whether it be a competitor in business or simply someone who, in my opinion, needed to be put in their place.  It was almost second nature.  The tide has shifted though for those of us who have submitted ourselves to Christ.

There is a fear infested in us that lies dormant, it seems, until we commit ourselves to Christ and take up His armor and mission rather than our own?  Suddenly, your ability to “take down enemies” seems to be nonexistent when it comes to defending your faith.  What am I speaking of?  Let’s say someone in your office speaks about women in a lewd and disgraceful manner.  Will you stand up and tell them that it is no longer acceptable to speak in those ways about women?  Ok, if you answered yes, let’s take it one step further.  If you were asked why the sudden change, would your answer be, “Because I have committed myself to Christ and we are to love and honor our wives as Christ loves the church, not speak about them so harshly.”  Yeah, not as easy.

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

logo_facebook

About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

urch Development as a Church Consultant.

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Enemy Behind the Line: Unwillingness to Change

March 26, 2009

Change.  Such a small word brings such different emotions from different people.  Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I see challenging every Christian, especially Christian Men; that of Unwillingness to change.

change-1For some, the emotion is pure excitement and thrill.  There are those who earnestly live to have the adrenaline rush associated with change.  They seek to change large and small things in life.  Sometimes, they will simply move the phone from one area of the desk to the other, simply to have change.  Their enemy is monotony.

For others, the emotion associated with the word change is pure anxiety.  Losing control is not an option they embrace and any type of change, regardless of the size, will send them into orbit.  They enjoy knowing what will happen, when it will happen, and to what degree it will happen.

Unfortunately, as the aphorism goes, “Change happens.”  It is inevitable.  In fact, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle says, “There will always be an element of uncertainty in the universe.”  So, if something is not certain, wouldn’t that indicate there is change on the horizon?

Change Agents, or people who initiate change,  can be some of the most well-liked or deeply-despised people in any organization, office, church, or even family.  It seems they have a mug shot to live up to with their energy, out of the box thinking, and convictions.  Depending on what they are changing in your life, you either love them or hate them.  If anyone understood the meaning of this, it was Christ.

Being the ultimate Change Agent, Christ knew his ways would be embraced by some and hated by the multitudes.  A common day for Christ was experiencing such a variety of emotions.  He might have begun his morning being embraced by the father whose son was just healed to being taunted by the Pharisees for challenging one of the rituals they had in place to … you get the point.  Christ himself said he came to change the world and redeem it.  After all, it was in his DNA.

If you were to go through the lineage of Christ’s human side, you would find a whole slew of Change Agents.  This cast of characters ranges from Abraham to Moses to David to Solomon to even John the Baptist.  (Ok, John the Baptist was a cousin, but still in the family tree.)  Not only was Jesus fully God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the “Changer”, Jesus was fully human and of a line of men who embraced change.  Even Jesus’ last command, the Great Commission, was a challenge to change the world, so why is it so hard for some of us who believe in Christ to change or become agents for change?

Chances are, if you are reading this book, you are either one who enjoys change or are looking for ways to become a change agent.  I am not invoking an overhaul to Christian Doctrine, but rather, a simple action plan for embracing the teachings of Christ.

The fact remains that every door swings on at least two hinges.  Regardless of the size, make, or design…two hinges is what you are dealing with.  The same goes in life for all of us.  With every opportunity, we have one of two decisions to make, should we embrace the opportunity to spark change, or do we merely settle for the ways of yesterday.  Most of all of the great heroes of the Bible are noted not because they were ordinary, but because they were extraordinary.  In their lives, they made pivotal decisions affecting not only their lives and the people of their time, but the lives of many to come, including you.  Had Abraham not chosen to listen to God’s calling and follow the path God designed for him, he would not have been the one God used to form the nation of Israel.  Had Moses not embraced the call to free the Israelites from the oppression of Pharaoh, he would have missed out on the opportunity to lead the Exodus, part the Red Sea, receive the Commandments, and much more.  Had David not embraced the challenge from Goliath, would he have been so popular of a king in the early years?   Each of these men had one of two decisions to make, they chose to embrace the call from God to become a change agent and most of them at great costs.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Coveting

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Leading in Turbulent Times

February 25, 2009

This is a repost of an earlier article.  With everything going on in the current events, thought it would be good to revisit it.

As a Christian leader, please know now is the time to shine. Because of our stature within the organizations we serve and the natural disposition of associates to seek our counsel, we are poised to be able to show the fruits of putting 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to work. Those around us naturally look to us for cues on how to act or interpret the most recent news in the market.

With the market in turmoil, I’ve been exposed to a number of my clients’ anxious phone calls, questions about the future of the company, and more close to home, how are they going to be affected. I could be worried about the status of my position, whether my bills would be paid, how would I provide for my family and the other items on the list of eternal worries, but if I did that, would I not be any better than those who did not know Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be in the world but not of the world? If we have anxiety and spend time biting our nails about the economy and the state of the world market, what then do we have to offer the lost? After all, acting in this manner, we are not showing we have anything more to give them than what the world does. This should not be the case.

I understand there are restrictions around what we can and cannot say in the workplace about our faith. (Even though, based on my reading of Title VII, it protects Christians too, but that’s another blog.) There are ways we can show Christ through our actions, words, and most of all, silent conviction. Think for a moment of the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If that is truly the case, what picture do you present when you have the opportunity to interact with one of the clients you support? Is it a picture of worry? Anxiety? Anger?

If we portray the “solid rock” we stand on through our actions, we do not have to necessarily lead a Bible study in our office, or carry the Bible in our hands during meetings, or place a poster of Christ behind our desk for people to know we are more than just card-carrying Christians… we are true believers. When the disciples were upset with the waves and the wind of the storm they were facing, Jesus was asleep. He knew His destiny, He knew that God would protect Him and He rested in that faith. When the disciples awoke him, he almost seemed (at least through my version) as if he could not believe they woke him up for that “little storm” that was tossing their boat. With only a few words, “Peace be still,” the waves, rain, and wind came to a screeching halt. They were no more. Christ knew the providential protection of his father in heaven, but was still trying to teach that to his disciples. If you notice, they remark at his calm nature when trying to wake him, the thought had entered their minds, “What does he have that I don’t that he can remain so calm?” Jesus had honest, pure faith. Jesus did not begin a huge “lesson on the boat” series, choosing rather, to teach them through his actions.

As a Christian leader, we have the wonderful ability to touch several divisions within the organizations we serve. Right now, if we were to look outside of our boat, we would see the storms of this life. We would recognize the fear and anxiety of those around us. With this said, we have a critical choice to make in this moment. Do we choose to show anxiety about the storm tossing our boat, or do we choose to do like Jesus did and rest in the sweet faith that God is ultimately in control. If we show that type of silent, convicting faith through our actions, those who do not understand will come to us, seeking that which we have… peace. It will be in those moments the Holy Spirit will be with you and allow you to work great mini-miracles of faith by simply sharing your own personal testimony with someone who is standing on the shifting sands of life.

Do not let your position in the company be a hindrance, but rather

  • Choose to fan the flame of your Spirit’s fire by daily spending time with Christ in prayer and in the Word
  • Test everything and only hold on to what is good. How do we do that? Recognize the feelings we possess by their fruits. (more on that in another blog)
  • Make the conscious effort to stay away from evil. With the market crashing as it is and the anxiety level of those around us, the temptation to jump in the hog mire will become more attainable. Remember, Christ will always provide you a chance to flee.

Do you have some ways that you’ve used in the past that work? How about stories? Please share.

Stumble It!

About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.