Building Trust

One thing I have learned that is foundational in everything I have done, it is that I must build trust before I can impact change. I can have the latest and greatest information in the world. I can be the most skilled in my profession, but if I do not build trust before I try to impact change then my efforts are wasted.

I have watched many people go into organizations, specifically churches, and try to turn everything upside down overnight. They showed no signs that they cared about the people but made it clear that implementing their agenda was top priority. Some are successful and run everyone off who disagrees, or they are run off by those who disagree.

You may be trying to influence someone right now. It may be a group of people or a few individuals. Remember that they need to see your compassion and care for people before they will buy into your competency.

As a pastor and chaplain, I had to learn this many years ago. Remember you are not trying to build a résumé. You are making a long-term investment that will hopefully lead to transformation in the lives of others. Be patient. Build the bridges. Watch the barriers come down. I promise you it will be well worth the wait.


The Proper Way to Disagree

Let me just cut to the chase. If you disagree with someone, make it as public as possible, call them an idiot, and make them feel stupid for not seeing things your way.


How many of us are guilty of that? We immediately get on social media, let everyone know how angry we are with someone, and get as much attention as possible. Facebook is a great place for sympathy, right? 

Public places are not appropriate for private disputes. If my wife and I have an argument, I don’t tell anyone. My wife and I work it out. It’s no one else’s business but mine and my wife’s. 

Such disputes can do major damage to the cause of Christ. Several years ago, I came across a guy on the internet who called himself the “watchdog”. He was not a watchdog but was one of the things in Proverbs 6 that the Lord hates – “he who sows discord among the brethren”. His website was dedicated to bashing a preacher. I commented one day (a huge waste of energy that I can’t take back) and remarked about how unbelievers were probably reading this and wanting nothing to do with Christianity because of his hateful approach. I predicted that he would say that the real people doing damage to the cause of Christ were the pastor he bashed daily and those like him.

When approaching someone with whom you disagree, ask yourself how you would want to be confronted (the Golden Rule). The purpose is not about you being right. You and I can love those with whom we disagree (we’re kinda commanded to). I disagree with a lot of people, but I do my best to treat them with dignity and respect. I’ve always heard that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. This approach may preserve your relationship and allow you to lead someone to faith in Christ one day. Think about that the next time you have a disagreement.

Let Me Shove This Truth Down Your Throat

I’m sure you really want to read this after reading the title. None of us likes having things shoved down our throat. In my years as a Christian, I have seen and heard many approaches to delivering the truth. Some of them are way less palatable. You have zealots who will tell you that you can just go to hell if you won’t hear them out. There are those who arrogantly parade what they perceive to be truth and condemn all those who do not believe exactly as they do. I may be wrong on this one (and the Lord will correct me one day if I am), but I am to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and understand that the Holy Spirit does the work. As the old saying goes, I lead the horse to water but I can’t make him drink.

I probably wrote this recently, but someone may need this again. I was asked recently about how I convert my hospice patients. I said, “I don’t. I build a relationship, share the message, and leave the rest to God. God does a better job of changing hearts than I ever could.” 

I understand that you may want to let everyone know what you know, but your approach may make or break them. Arrogance and the high-pressure salesman approach have always sent me running. I do not argue my faith. I do my best to lovingly state the facts and my stance. I don’t convert.

I believe it was D. L. Moody who was approached by a man who pointed to a man in a drunken stupor and said, “Mr. Moody, isn’t this one of your converts?” Moody replied, “I must be one of mine because it certainly isn’t one of the Lord’s.” The best you can do, my friend, is lead someone to conform to a certain way of life or thought pattern. Eventually, they will go back to their ways. That’s what a legalist does – he conforms. The true child of God is transformed. The legalist condemns others. The true child of God is filled with the fruit of the Spirit and understands the balance between grace and truth. Be repulsive or be salt and light…it’s your choice!

The Danger of the Ministry Spotlight 

I was reading an article today that highlighted a high-profile ministry leader and the demise of her marriage. As a pastor who has been through divorce, it was heartbreaking to read the story. It brought back to mind all the pressures of being in the spotlight and the feelings of living in a glass house. People often watch you and wait for you to fall while they don’t put the same biblical expectations on themselves. REVELATION: GOD’S STANDARD FOR HOLINESS IS THE SAME FOR EVERYONE!

The pressure of keeping up the persona of being a Proverbs 31 woman or the man who is bold as a lion can be draining, especially considering that we are human and will falter and fail. We, as “ministry personalities”, are often expected to have a certain level of personality which often pushes many of us off a cliff. In the effort to keep up appearances, please people, and “do ministry”, we lose our families as a result. I’ve heard ministers justify missing key events in the lives of their children in the name of ministry. Someone else can preach in my absence before I miss the birth of my child or some significant moment in their life. God instituted the family BEFORE the church (the order is plain in the book of Genesis), and I understand that my family is my first ministry. 

To those who expect certain things from ministry leaders: From the bottom of my heart, please be understanding if your pastor is not present for your toe surgery when his son is being presented with a special award. Don’t mess up his date night with his wife because you have a complaint about the music. 

To those who are in the ministry spotlight: no fame, prestigious event, or huge honorarium will buy back the time you forfeited with your spouse and children. People will be mad if you say no, but do it anyway. You only have one chance with your family. Don’t waste it!

Asking the Tough Questions 

I grew up attending Christian School and was taught the “right and wrong answers” to anything biblical. I went off to Bible college and was given a systematic way to make all the difficult things of Scripture work into a traditional framework. However, I got into ministry and the pre-packaged answers did not always fit real-life situations. 

I was taught that if someone had a struggle, the only solution was to stop it. If someone was depressed, tell them to have more faith. When someone’s faith was weak, I was supposed to tell them how horrible they were for doubting God. These bandaids are not a solution. They cover the problem. Remove the bandaid, and the gaping wound now has MRSA. 

People need to ask the tough questions, search the Scriptures, and think for themselves in order to strengthen their faith. When I was in ministry, I didn’t have the professors telling me how to think anymore. I had to take a hard look at Scripture and seek the Holy Spirit for myself.

I watched this work when I worked with a youth pastor in a church where I used to serve. He would ask the youth the hard questions and make them think for themselves. The retention rate of the youth that are now adults is amazing. This youth pastor didn’t feed them the answers. He allowed them to ask the tough questions and find the answers. Their faith is rock solid as a result. 

So when someone comes to you with an addiction problem and wants help, don’t do this:

I’ll Be Praying for You…Really?

I have heard so many people tell me they would pray for me, and I have done the same. It’s the “Christian” thing to say, but do we really pray for someone when they request prayer?

I was confronted with this idea today as I had two co-workers ask that I pray for relatives who are sick. I stopped where I was and prayed for the situations because I could easily forget or dismiss the prayer request altogether. 

Many of us have good intentions, but do we follow through? Do we really pray for someone when we say we will? Do we mean “I love you” when we say it, or is that just part of southern culture here in America?

I want to challenge you to follow through if you tell someone you are going to pray simply out of habit. God does awesome things through prayer. He changes us, and He works out the situation according to His plan. Exercise your communication with God and watch Him work in ways that blow your mind. 

Is Your Stomach Growling?

I love those moments when my stomach growls loudly in the middle of a quiet room. Don’t you? Nothing embarrassing about that, right? It would normally happen to me during a Sunday morning church service because breakfast wore off and I was ready for lunch.

I thought about hunger today as I was visiting a patient. This man is writing books about biblical matters as he wraps up his last days. His writing is primarily Scripture with minimal commentary. He asked me to read this aloud, so I did. I was reminded about how the Bible feeds the soul. My spirit fed off the countless verses he used to write these books. 

If you have weekend visitation with the Bible (or less), you’re starving. To those of you who are genuinely a child of God, you were designed to hunger for the meat of the Word. Without it, you become spiritually anemic and weak. You will have no spiritual muscles to fight the enemy or weather the trials of life. 

You can’t expect your preacher to “feed you”. I’ll blow a gasket if I hear someone say, “I’m not being fed.” I’m not much of a cook, but I never missed a meal when I was by myself. I fed myself some “gourmet” microwave meal or some “fine dining” from a fast food establishment. This physique didn’t come from not “being fed”. Just like we take the initiative to feed ourselves physically, it is our responsibility to do so spiritually. 

Starving or being spiritually healthy? It’s your choice. I hope you choose the latter.

Blogging Helps

When I started blogging, I shared this on Facebook and hoped to have a few people read this. Today, I have approximately 485 followers and others who read who are not WordPress bloggers. I honestly don’t remember how I got to this point, but I am amazed and enjoying the journey.

I understand that some people don’t seek the same results from blogging as I do, but I know some who do and would like to learn more about building an audience.

I am not an expert. As you notice, I’m not the guy who has 100k followers. They have a gift of reaching a wider demographic, but I admire what they do. They know how to engage people on multiple levels. 

Here are some helpful introductory tips if you want to grow your blog.

  1. Share it on your social media links. If you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and some others, you can set WordPress up to automatically post. This was the foundation for the first several months of my blog.
  2. If you want likes, follows, reblogs, comments, and other forms of interaction, give what you want to receive. You may be an awesome writer, but people are less likely to respond to your posts if you think you’re the only awesome writer in the world.
  3. Use images. I’ve been amazed at how stats are higher for posts with images than those without. I used an image of a guy with a watermelon on his head as I wrote about peculiar people. It was goofy, but people were drawn to it.
  4. Be real. People today want authenticity more than ever. If they can relate, you have a faithful follower.
  5. Develop connections with other bloggers. I have had some great contact with other bloggers by email, phone, and Facebook. These people are wonderful, and we have a connection that runs deeper than just words. With that said, use appropriate boundaries.
  6. Get into blogging groups on Facebook. That is a wonderful tool that I have used more in the past than recently. You will encounter others who use blogspot and other sites, but the camaraderie and “iron sharpens iron” principle is still helpful. 
  7. Mix it up. Some of you are far better at addressing multiple subjects. Some of you are poets, photographers, and knowledgeable in multiple areas. I admire you and glean from you. You can connect with people emotionally and intellectually. That is a gift!

I’m not sure why you blog. You may have started out like me and had no clue about followers, likes, etc. You may want to continue to keep it simple. If that is you, just enjoy every second of it. Be yourself and accomplish the purpose you have set out to accomplish. Happy blogging!