Five Things?

Five things? That was the question. What are the top five things you need to work on right now and how are you going to pursue them?

Because of my position at the seminary, I have the privilege of overseeing several offices and a great team of people. We have a weekly time together we call our STATUS meeting. That stands for “Strategic Team And Tactic Update” (Yes, I am full of them!). This is our staff meeting and strategy discussion time. We discuss everything from upcoming projects to ongoing programs to calendars, etc. but we also try to hit on our mission and vision. Why are we here doing what we do? How can we do it better to His glory?

So a week or two ago I asked each leader to submit the answer to the above question. I wanted to know what their current priorities were and how I could best help them succeed at accomplishing them. I mean, I have my own five things (or 500!) but as their leader I need to know what they think is most important and I also need to know what they need from me to best help them. I asked them specifically about their department roles here at the seminary.

Since they submitted their lists, I have been reading through their top fives. These folks have a lot going on. I am impressed with them and what they are seeking to do. It has already helped me to think through my own professional priorities and my top five. How can I mentor, lead, disciple and walk alongside of these great leaders as they work through their issues?

Five things. Makes you think for a moment if you will stop long enough and allow it to. What are the five most important things you should be working on right now? Are you working on them? Will you? When will you? Why not? What are the distractions, the time leeches, the empty busyness, and the obstacles that keep you from the top five things? What are your personal five? Your family five? Your ministry five? Your overall five? What about the people with whom you serve? What are their five? How could you help them accomplish those five things?

I recognize we must, as Aubrey Malphurs once said, “Hold your plans before the sovereign God of the universe in an open hand.” And that, in and of myself, my decisions about my top five things will be flawed. Proverbs 19:21 states, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” But if prayerfully and biblically I begin to ask God to help me to truly understand the most important things on which to spend my best time and energy, I do believe He will help me to understand them. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” And v. 9 adds, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

It seems wise, then, to conclude with a prayer: Lord, help me to know the most important things I should be doing to bring you glory. Help me to prioritize them and focus my best energy upon them. You tell me in Proverbs 14:15, “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” Please help me to be prudent about my top five things.

Pastors, People, Passions, and Prayers

The following post is by Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern. 

Southeastern Seminary is committed to being a Great Commission institution. In fact, our motto is “Every classroom a Great Commission classroom.” Our focus, though, is not only on preparing international missionaries. We are just as committed to equipping leaders for the North American church. Via our academic degrees, our EQUIP training program, and our Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, we want to prepare the finest local church pastors – and it is to those current and future pastors I write this post.

Pastors, you are critical to the work of the Great Commission. Having been a church consultant for almost twenty years, I have never seen a strong Great Commission church without a pastor burdened for his neighbors and the nations. Simply stated, a DNA of brokenness over lost people usually trickles down from the top. Churches seldom weep over non-believers unless a pastor leads them there.

If your longing to get the gospel to the lost has waned, here are some simple suggestions to re-ignite your passion.

  1. Admit to God and to someone else where you are. Confession to God is the first step toward change, and accountability with others is a daily reminder of your renewed commitment.
  2. Ask someone to pray these texts for you: Ephesians 6:19-20 (that you will share the gospel boldly) and Colossians 4:3-4 (that God will open a door and help you speak the gospel clearly). If the apostle Paul needed folks to pray this way for him, surely pastors need this same support today.
  3. Study and preach on “grace.” Frankly, we often lose our passion for the Great Commission because we take grace for granted. Go back to the beginning of your spiritual journey, and let the Word magnify the grace of God again.
  4. At least once a week, take a couple of hours to see your community with God’s eyes. Drive around, praying as you go. If you see worship sites for other world faiths, grieve for those who worship false gods. Pray for the children and teens who attend schools you pass. Go to a local shopping center; sit and watch the shoppers. See them as sheep without a shepherd. Pray for them, knowing you may be the only person praying for those folks that day.
  5. At least once a week, take time to pray for an unreached people group around the world. Go to imb.org or www.joshuaproject.net, and learn about a people group. Open a map, and learn where they live. Read their story. Hear about the spiritual blindness that keeps them in darkness. Consider their final state if no one ever gets the gospel to them. To be consistent with this task, calendar it each week.
  6. Every day, make it a point to tell somebody something good about Jesus. Maybe that person is your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend. Or, perhaps it’s the convenience store employee or the bank teller. What you say may be as simple as, “I’m having a good day because Jesus loves me,” “I’m really glad to be a follower of Jesus today,” or “May I tell you how God answered my prayer?” The point is this: if you speak a good word about Jesus every day (even to believers as a starting point), telling the gospel story will become more of your DNA.

Pastor, implore God to renew your passion for Jesus. Pray fervently and work faithfully so others know Him. Your church will not catch the fire of the Great Commission unless the flame first burns in you.

Resources for Ministry from the Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching

I have the privilege of directing the Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching. The Center exists to equip and encourage pastors to lead healthy, disciple-making churches for the glory of God around the world. Our prayer is that it builds an intentional bridge between the seminary and the local church.

I believe leadership and ministry skills development are responsibilities of discipleship and must be an intentional part of every local church ministry. Through the Pastors Center, we are offering resources and training to our students, as well as to pastors and churches, to further equip them to serve well in the crucible of real life ministry. We are asking important questions like: Who should a pastor be? What should a pastor know? What should a pastor be able to do?

One aspect of what the Center does is to host and conduct various events and workshops in which our students can interact with pastors and leaders. These are normally topical and we have been careful to video them for a much bigger audience. I wanted to use this post today to call attention to what some of those specific resources are and how you can find and share them.

There are two or three general categories to the types of events we are conducting at this time. First we will conduct some campus wide events each year. Dr. Johnny Hunt is coming this fall on Thursday, October 29, 2015 to hold a special Timothy/Barnabas Legacy Conference just for our students, for example. The entire campus will be invited and involved.

We also host several smaller events throughout each semester such as our Authenticity Series: An Honest Look at the Life of a Pastor events. These are normally either interviews or panel discussions with a professor and a pastor discussing a real issue facing church leadership today. We often have a casual gathering of students present who have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the panelists about the subject at hand. Each of these are caught on video and available on the website. On the Center resources page you will find sessions featuring topics such as: expository preaching, how to deal with conflict in ministry, how to balance family time and ministry as well as upcoming features concerning the call to ministry and the pastoral search processes, church finances, how to evaluate your preaching, and many more.

We also host at least one EQUIP Workshop each semester during which we focus upon and deal with some significant ministry responsibility or activity pastors face. These live events include a panel of professors and pastors with experience in the subject area as well as very practical “walk-throughs” showing how to conduct key ministry opportunities. On the website you will find several resources surrounding the issue of marriage, divorce, remarriage and how to plan and conduct weddings for example. This includes a practical workshop in which we walk through the steps of wedding preparation and counseling as well as a special chapel service discussion that deals with the theological issues involved. New sessions in which Dr. Akin and others are interviewed about this topic are coming very soon.

We also just recorded our workshop for this semester on death, grief ministry and funeral preparation and it will be on the website very soon. Again very practical as well as theological and biblical discussions are a part of each workshop. Each workshop also has downloadable resources prepared by the panelists and leaders that can be gleaned from the website. Future topics include the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

You will find all of these video and printable resources on the page linked below. Please go and check them out, view and download, and share this link with as many as possible!

Recommended Resources: http://www.sebts.edu/center_for_preaching/recommended%20resources.aspx