Leader Newsletter October 2017 | Part I
How to be dissatisfied like a leader
Satisfaction is death (George Bernard Shaw)
“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” – Thomas A. Edison
But dissatisfaction makes live unpleasant. Yes, it drives change, but it asks much more. Not all dissatisfied people are leaders. Some use it as an excuse for not trying, for shifting blame and for giving up.
Dissatisfaction in leaders
The drive to make things better is the cause of a leader's dissatisfaction. It is driven by what can be and not by what was. Dissatisfied leaders believe that things could be better; teams could perform better; organisations could make a bigger difference.
People who want other people to make things better for them, complain the most. Organisations often become discouraged, because they give in to dissatisfaction and give too little attention to encouragement.
“There are two kinds of discontented in this world, the discontented that works and the discontented that wrings its hands. The first gets what it wants and the second loses what it has.” – Og Mandino
Involve your community by serving them
The church doesn't hold the same place in society as in the past. How can the church stay involved with the community and restore its place with the people and leaders of the community? How can the church serve the community?
Go to your community leaders with open hands and an open agenda.
You probably already know the leaders who know the heart of your community best. These are the people with access to decision takers and they can influence public opinion. Be open for their suggestions on how the church can serve the community. They know the true needs of the people; leave you own agenda at home.
Promise little, do lots
Be very careful about the expectations that you create. Only promise what you really can deliver within the given timeframe. Always try to exceed their expectations. You can always ask for more work if you get bored! You will lose people's trust if you don't end off well.
Don't be afraid to say who you are.
Get a good logo. You want people to know it is your church that renders the service. The end goal is for every person in the community to know God and His love.
Having mental-health issues doesn't mean you are a weak Christian.
Because I feel alone and depressed, you may accuse me of not praying enough or not reading the Bible regularly or even that I'm applying it in the wrong way. You may believe that people who read the Bible every day and trust in Jesus don't suffer from depression. But mental-health problems happen to anyone – also to believers who stand strong in their faith. For many people with mental-health problems, the shame that fellow believers cause them to feel about their emotional struggle is very hard to accept.
One in five people suffer from depression (National Institute of Mental Health). On Google there is now even a questionnaire that you can use to check whether you are depressed and whether you need professional help. People have emotional pain, even if they seem happy, social and competent. Google developed this instrument so that users can answer questions anonymously, without stigma or shame, without having to talk to someone they know.
But this is not how God intended it to be. Jesus called us to love unconditionally – just as He loves us. How can we be the light of the world if we can't even be a light for someone else? Emotional abuse has the same effects as physical abuse. There is such a thing as emotional post-traumatic stress disorder.
The stigma of mental illness is a problem in a culture where self-confidence, entrepreneurship and a perfect lifestyle on Instagram are seen as desirable. It is often even more difficult for Christians. The church culture says: If you are emotionally broken, your faith is weak or broken too.
Where is the church's voice in mental health? It is often over-simplistic. The church is slow to handle the realities that culture already earmarked for attention.
Myth #1: Jesus said we shouldn't worry. You sin if you worry.
Truth: Jesus encouraged us. We shouldn't worry about money. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus isn't giving an order. Here Jesus gives us the answer to why we can't serve both God and Mammon (6:24). He encourages us to not worry about money, because God will provide. Relax, God understands why you are worried. He loves you; He is the God who comforts us in every trouble (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Myth #2: Trust in God and you enjoy peace and joy. If you don't have peace and joy, you're not trusting enough.
Truth: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Jesus tells us to come just as we are – even if we're confused, anxious or angry. Jesus says we should come just as we are. We aren't perfect, but we're still His.
Myth #3; If you read God's word more often, pray more, praise and worship Him more, you will experience profound peace.
Truth: Jesus was perfect in His obedience, prayer, faith and gratitude. And yet He still experienced emotional trauma. He was overwhelmed by physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and betrayal. Faith gives us the courage to cope with the brokenness of life and to heal our loss. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.' Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. (Mark 14:34-35). When Paul tells us in Philippians 4:5-6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, he encourages us to find peace when we take our problems to the Lord, rather than seeking peace in our own abilities.
Myth #4: The Bible says we should forget the past and focus only on the future.
Truth: Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? (Psalm 56:8). We go back and heal our past with Jesus. In this way, we find His love and heal our hearts. When Paul said: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13) he referred to His old life as a Pharisee. Now he focuses on knowing Jesus and sharing in His suffering.
Myth #5: You don't need a therapist. You only need Jesus and God's word.
Truth: If we look at cases of healing in the Bible, someone had to act in faith and go somewhere or see someone or ask something. If you were hurt, you have to take care of yourself. God's words will give you the power to heal and investigate your emotional wounds. God uses doctors to heal physical wounds. In the same way, He uses psychologists and psychiatrists to help us heal our emotions.
Be curious. Allow God to love you and heal you.
Seven deadly statements of congregation members
Words have meaning. If church members repeatedly use certain words, they will eventually be reflected in the priorities and passion of the congregation. Some sentences and statements can be harmful to a congregation. Here are a few:
1. I like our congregation just as it is.
This statement is a sure sign that Jesus' instruction in Matthew 28:18-20 isn't a priority in the congregation. We should never wish for a congregation to stay the way it is. The congregation should continuously try to bring the Gospel to new people and to add new people to the congregation.
2. My minister doesn't visit me often enough.
This reflects a ministry where the expectation is that the minister should do most of the serving, instead of empowering the congregation. It also reflects a dependent and self-centred ministry to the congregation.
3. I always vote no to keep the leadership on their toes.
This person causes disruptions all the time. He wants the spotlight on himself. He wants attention. In any congregation this person is toxic.
4. I can't worship with our music style.
The worship wars aren't over yet! These people will never be missionaries, because the indigenous people won't be able to use the 'official' song book! It is all about their own preferences and desires.
5. People know where our church building is if they want to attend.
This statement accepts that the church is a place and that Jesus' instruction in Matthew 28 says 'come, everyone' and not 'go'.
6. I like our minister, but ...
These members are false. They tell the minister that they like him, but behind his back they speak ill of him.
7. I pay my tithe, so I deserve ...
This member sees his offering as conditional. He will keep paying as long as he gets his way.
Most congregation members don't make these statements and they also don't have these views. Healthy members should speak up if they hear such statements. If they don't the negative members, critics and bullies will destroy the congregation.