It’s a learning process

After 16 years of being lead pastor with my 16th anniversary a few days ago and 1 year of being “gofor” pastor (go for this and go for that)  I have learned so much with each passing year…
1.) I am learning every single day and I am not even close to “having arrived”…
2.) I have learned, never submit your resignation on Monday:) Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance.
3.) Don’t criticize something you do not know anything (enough) about. Some get caught up in publicly criticizing other ministries that we have no idea why they actually do what they do. Because when you are looking from the outside in you can’t understand the direction or reasoning for decisions that they have made. I was a church member longer than I have been a pastor.
I have never left a church unless to move to a different state, and although I was close to my pastor (very close, at his house weekly) I still didn’t know enough to criticize him (although I would have never) I realized that if I did not hear it out of his mouth it didn’t weigh very much with me. I think this is a pretty good rule… Rumors always grow with every person. So if it starts off he makes $300 too much a week by the time it gets around to everyone he is making $160,000 a year:) (which he actually deserved having to put up with some he had to put up with…😳) most second hand information is from a position of being on the outside looking in… also don’t allow church members to beat up on your subordinate ministry leaders. Most of them are volunteers (for me anyway) and are doing their very best.  Always coach them up but never tear them down.  I know at the moment it’s hard to tell which is which for the person being coached..
4.) I have learned if someone tells me so and so said this… I Don’t take the word of the person that brought me the information, but go to the person who supposedly said it and ask them. Chances are they didn’t say that thing that was said, and if there was something said with negative connotation, try to work out the disagreement agreeably. The pastor is not always right and the member is not always wrong and  Vice a versa
5.) I have learned don’t take too much stock in a down Sunday or invest too much emotion in a big Sunday. A church breathes in and a church breathes out. There will always be some coming, and  there will always be some leaving.
6.) I have learned you can’t do the work that God called you to do by yourself. You have to find Jesus for yourself, but you shouldn’t serve him by yourself.
7.) I am learning don’t let a few people change your opinion of most people. There are amazing people in church, And there are mean people at church. And I have learned there are times a sweet person can be mean, and there are times that a mean person can be sweet:) I would also put pastors under the same category. After all we are all human with the same emotions and shortcomings.
8.) Lastly, I have learned when God has you at a certain place don’t ever leave out of frustration and get out of the will of God; also don’t overstay your season. If and when you do leave, do it the right way. And always remember it’s not a business that you are trying to build, it’s the kingdom of God…..Your Personal study, worship and prayer time will keep you in the right perspective.

 

I still consider myself a novice and I know every situation is different, but each year if I remain teachable I’ll learn more and more.
Oh yeah and you always need a mentor into your life that can rebuke you when your wrong… i’m sure there are tons of things that could be added to this, and probably some that could be removed… just my perspective..

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United we Stand

The United States of America is to me…the greatest nation in this world, even with it’s woes and problems. Our flag should be a uniting symbol  of Americans!! A moment that we can as Americans say, I know we have disagreements and problems that have to be fixed, but we are ALL, rather black, white, red, yellow or blue, we are all “One Nation under God…..” I understand the need some feel to protest equality or injustice, but let’s not during a moment that all of our disagreements should cease, while we are unified and united as brothers and sisters around the flag. If our flag wasn’t an important statement or symbol, it wouldn’t be draped over the coffin of a soldier who comes home after sacrificing their life for this great country. I know some say they are not disrespecting our military when they do not respect the flag, but I can tell you as a veteran, nearly all that have served and are serving take it as a poke in the heart. Until you have stood at attention while saluting a flag covering your friend that just gave up his life for this great nation, it’s hard to explain how it truly makes you feel. I can’t make everyone honor and respect our flag, but I can certainly tell you that my family and my children are honored to stop when our national anthem plays, face the Flag and place our hand upon our heart. I know my voice isn’t large enough to reach everyone, but I can reach someone. We need unity!! And yes, we can still have disagreements yet be in unity. Ray Goodson (a WWII veteran and hero) taught me that you can disagree but do it agreeably. The truth is, I know America cannot be healed by holding hands around a raised flag, but we can certainly respect the flag while standing UNITED as Americans and still our voices can be heard, AND we can listen to the voices that are speaking, without drawing a rigid line of division… honestly the only thing that’s going to heal our nation is #2c714 I ask that you please do not put any dividing or argumentative statements on this post. This isn’t necessarily about the protest that are taking place before #NFL games; it’s about anytime we have the opportunity to stand united as a nation, around our flag, we should do so with pride in our heart knowing that our nation is not perfect but it is the best nation in this old world… to all of my friends from Canada, Africa, Mexico, India, Uruguay and England… Don’t be mad at me you know I bleed red, white and blue!  The last thing I will say is a quote from one of our great Presidents, united we stand divided we fall…

WW2 hero

I remember when I was about 12 years old, I was spending a couple of weeks with my grandparents at their home in the country (Hebert, La) One specific morning we got up and had a huge breakfast as usual, but on this morning my granddad (JD Parker) kept looking out the front door as though he was expecting company (which we didn’t often happen so far out on the Boeuf River) . It wasn’t very long that I realized he was Looking for and expecting company. As I looked out the door I saw an elderly gentleman getting out of a very nice vehicle and began almost jogging towards my granddad, and when they met face-to-face, I will never forget seeing this man hug my granddad for what seemed like a solid minute. He kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you…After all of these years I finally found you….. I just wanted to come say thank you….” My granddad very casually says you’re welcome. As I sat in the dining room just off of the living room and eased dropped on the private conversation, I soon found out why he was thanking my granddad. They were both serving in World War II and my granddad’s unit, along with the gentleman that came to see him, was pinned down by enemy fire, and they had to have someone that would go for help because their radio had been destroyed. My granddad volunteered and went through enemy lines (rather sneaking or fighting I do not know) that day to get help and save his #brothersinarms from certain death, and this gentleman had been searching for my granddad ever since just to thank him. I also learned at that moment that my granddad received the medal of valor and a Purple Heart. I will never forget that moment. Well today my aunt (Judy Evans) gave me the flag that was given at my Grandads funeral, and my sweet wife @tiffanyjones73 placed it in a shadowbox for me. I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed with emotion. As a #veteran myself it seems to mean a little more!! #mycountry #myflag #ww2veterans52366468113__A89CC0E0-A425-40A8-B3F7-CF7C76EB2C44.JPG

Broken crayons still write

broken crayons still color… when my daughter was about 3-4 years old, she was coloring in the floor when all of a sudden she began sobbing uncontrollably. I asked her, what’s wrong baby girl? Her response was barely understandable…it’s broke it’s broke. She had pressed too hard and broke her (pink) crayon in half, and with tears running down her face she was holding one half in each hand and looking at me only the way a daughter with hurt feelings can look at a father. I got down on the floor with her and said baby just because it’s broken doesn’t mean it’s no good. I grabbed a fresh piece of paper (so I would not ruin her masterpiece) and wrote her name and then colored in the vowels…. I then said to her, see baby broken crayons still color, now you have one and I have one.
You know much like this experience, life can put so much pressure on you that it can break you, but I want you to know that broken crayons still write. You still have value and usefulness. Don’t let your brokenness keep you in the box. Color through your brokenness because much like when my daughter thought her broken crayon was a tragedy, it provided double the usefulness, one for her one for me… broken crayons still write…

Guard Your Legacy

When your adversary can’t get your favor,  he will come after your legacy!!  You determine your heritage in the present….

I once planted cucumbers I’m my garden (yes I have planted a few gardens in my time…. I had an amazing tractor named hank….yet I digress) and I took great care in the cultivation and fertilization of my cucumbers… but while I took great care in the planting and nurturing of their growth, I didn’t take notice that there was squash growing right next to them…. the squash got intermingled during pollination and ruined the legacy of my cucumbers.  Let me briefly explain, Ray Goodson ( One of the greatest men to ever live) told me that you protect the legacy of your vegetable/fruit by drying your seed and using them year after year… I was so busy worrying about the PRESENT growth, that I did not notice what was right next to them, and because of this, the legacy, the heritage of my cucumbers ended..  I use this analogy to remind you that you can be very vigorous in watching over your children, your faith, your marriage or your vegetables growth that you allow what’s next to them to ruin what they could have been!!

Be careful what you allow yourself to grow next to….‬ “..evil communication corrupts good manners” or like my mom said it, birds of a feather flock together… you determine your heritage today…. Guard Your Legacy.

Save or walk away…

……. I was walking one day when I heard the muffled barks of a dog (maybe two)… When I walked towards the sound I came upon a couple of old, skinny, starving dogs; they were drowning in a hole they they themselves had dug, and could not get out (and then it began to rain)…. I didn’t even think about it, I reached in and saved them. I gave them the food that I had, and while they were recovering I was rubbing their head and petting them (I’ve heard these type of dogs will bite…but they looked so  friendly) they got to their feet and ate the food and then all of a sudden for no obvious reason they both began attacking me. I got away thankfully with only a few minor wounds…… some have told me I should have left them where they were and let them drown, because they dug the hole themselves AND they bit me. After some thought, If I had it to do all over again I would absolutely save and feed those old dogs. I’ve learned my mistake was not in saving and feeding them, but in staying around to pet a dog that bites.  In some cases you should reach in, pull them out, even feed them but then get clear so they can go their way, because a biting dog is going to bite you no matter how good you are to it. Who knows maybe the old dogs will not bite and just maybe they will be your most loyal companions…🐾

Raising Godly children who become Godly adults AND stay the course!

There has been a continuous thought on my mind ever since I have had children, and have become a church leader. I often ponder and ask the question to pastors who have gone before me, how do you in my case especially as a pastor, raise your children to not become burned out with church, or worse fall out with God completely…. ( pastors kids see the good and the bad) maybe I can explain it like this, when you go to your favorite restaurant where the food is absolutely amazing, but if you were to go in the kitchen and see how the food preparation area was in chaos and possibly not even clean and how the cooks often got in verbal confrontations over the preparation of a meal, it would make you have second thoughts about your favorite restaurant. Even though you love the food, when you have access to the kitchen it makes you view your favorite dish much differently, and if you’re not careful it will make you not want to go back to that restaurant at all…

It seems that I am learning there are a few commonalities of those who are successful, and some commonalities of those who are unsuccessful. Some of the things that I have noticed that will keep your children in church and loving the Lord is don’t use the Bible to tell your kids only how bad they are. It’s like using God as just the disciplinarian (goodcop/bad cop scenario) in their life.

I have also noticed that you do not need to talk church business in front of your children especially when it is of a negative manner about the things that take place in church. In my case, I am a veteran as well as a pastor so I tend to lean more towards the strict conservative personality type. BUT here is the thing, you can be as disciplined with your children as you want to be, (within reason) but you also have to balance that out with loving them and having great family time and lots of 1 on 1 FUN moments with them. Let them know you can enjoy life and be a believer. I have learned that you have to be just as much fun as you are strict…. also, let your house be the fun house for all of your children’s friends. I always rather my kids and their friends to hang out at our house because I know the morals of our home. (And I am not saying everyone else has loose morals, I’m just saying I can be certain at my home what will be going on……)

Again, what I am sharing is definitely not a written law somewhere, but these are just things that I have noticed.

Jentezen Franklin once asked Tommy Barnett how he was so successful in raising Godly children who became Godly adults, and his response was, “I live it just a little higher than I want them to live it”….. The reasoning he gave was each generation will take it down just a notch. In other words, if you want your children to live at a certain level, you need to “model” just a little higher than that level.

I have also found that when you let your children help you with ministry within the church, even from a young age, it helps them take ownership and realize that they can make a difference. Your children want to feel connected and needed in the body of Christ…

And lastly, be completely honest with your children. They are way more aware of what’s going on than you think. So be truthful. Don’t go overboard with details they do not need to know, but sit down with them and talk it out. If you make a mistake, simply apologize and let them know that no one is perfect.

I pray continually for my children, the ones that are grown and the ones that think they’re grown! (Hadley) And as Randall Lowery always tells me, you are either going to lose your children or win your children from the 13 to 16 years range. You can absolutely raise Godly children to become Godly adults, even in the world we live…..

Joshua 24:15