Characteristics of Godly Leaders- Drunkeness

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Something that I have learned over the years is that when it comes to policies regarding drinking alcohol different denominations, regions, Pastors, and even congregants have strong & differing opinions on the subject.  There are some who believe there should be total abstention, others who believe the opposite, and then there the many opinions that fall between.  Occasionally.  Regularly, in moderation.  Certain types are ok, others are not.  It’s a pretty wide cavern to cross.

Today, instead of getting into the debate of if and when, let’s talk about why this matters.

Why Does Avoiding Drunkenness Matter?

Something worth noting is that drunkenness can directly affect all of the characteristics of godly leadership we’ve already covered, and the ones still to come.   If you are drunk, how can you be above reproach… if you can’t remember the events of the evening?  How many times have we heard of an affair or one night stand blamed on a night of heavy drinking?  What about losing our temper or losing self control due to being drunk?  How can we teach a good example or a lesson when were are intoxicated?  Domestic abuse has plenty of connection to being drunk, argumentativeness too.  Money has been wasted on a night out drinking, or keeping the cabinet stocked full.  A drunk is not respected by others, including their spouse and children.  A drunk will often have a bad reputation and may fall into disgrace often, blaming alcohol for their poor judgement.

In other words, if you are intoxicated to the point of drunkenness… how can you meet these standards of leadership?  Whether you stand the side of absolute abstinence or will allow for occasional or moderated consumption, we should all be able to agree that drunkenness isn’t good for anyone.  Leaders being held to higher standards, as we set the bar and expectation, even more so should avoid drunkenness.

Some will assert that the best way to avoid being drunk is to avoid consuming alcohol entirely, “lest we be tempted”.   Yet, Scripture will point to wine being consumed regularly and at special events/occasions.  Jesus made wine from water.  The Bible says that we simply shouldn’t drink too much, right?  The argument can go in circles.  However there are some things you need to consider, as a leader.

What Does Your Denomination/Church Say on the Topic?

If you are a leader in a denomination or church which believes in total abstinence, as a leader you are expected to adhere to that rule.  When you agree to step into leadership at a particular church, you are also agreeing to abide by their rules for leaders.  Some churches will have stricter rules than others.  It is important to know these rules for yourself, your team, and your events.

If the church policy is total abstinence of drinking, have you ensured that your team members understand this policy?  If the church is fine with your consumption of alcohol in your own home, but not in public spaces… perhaps a ladies trip to the local vineyard for a wine tour is not appropriate.   We can’t claim ignorance on the topic, it is our responsibility to ask the church leadership what is and isn’t acceptable. 

I remember sitting in on a meeting where it was shared that a group of women had brought a bottle of wine to share in their hotel room while at a weekend long retreat.  This was new territory because the women’s ministry leadership team had never even considered that anyone would bring a bottle of wine to a church function.  The debate ensued between it being in the privacy of their own room, they were not drunk, and only a limited number of people knew about it.  On the other side of the equation was the question of would allowing it encourage others to do it, could it become a larger problem?   This resulted in a decision to make sure that in all future events of this nature, it was clearly stated in the “what to pack and what not to pack” information that alcoholic beverages were not to be brought.

If it wasn’t allowed, then everyone in attendance’s behavior was beyond reproach.  The church was represented well, and it’s reputation was not potentially tarnished.  Now, as I coach ministry leaders, I bring this up when we discuss event planning.  We must as a ministry stand in agreement with our church policies, and the leadership sets the tone.  If it is something you disagree with, you must ask if you can accept their terms or not.  When we are acting under the umbrella of our church, we become the face of our church.  Whatever our actions reflect about us, as a person, are also cast onto our church.

* Take the time to read the scriptures and ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth on this topic.

* Speak to your Pastor(s) and Staff/Leadership to ensure your ministry policies reflect the views of the church.

 

 

Characteristics of Godly Leadership: ABLE TO TEACH

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We’ve been examining the characteristics of an overseer listed by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:2 and applying them to spiritual leadership. Because I’m a Bible teacher, this next quality is especially dear to my heart: “able to teach.”

But even as many aspire to teach, the Bible gives us a stern warning. James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV).

Why would teachers incur a stricter judgment? Throughout His Word, God expressed His anger at false teachers and corrupt shepherds who led His people astray. He is protective of His people, and will judge those who leave His people hungry and unprotected.

Being a teacher, especially as a spiritual leader, means we have the ability and the opportunity to influence others for good or for bad. And when we teach in the name of Jesus, we must be careful that what we teach is consistent with the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So, in light of this warning, what does “able to teach” require? Let’s look at three areas:

Teachable

Before we consider Bible knowledge or relational skills, the spiritual leader who is able to teach must first be teachable.

A teachable teacher has a humble heart instead of an arrogant attitude.

Even though we’re 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ earthly ministry, she sits at His feet by spending time in His Word and being aware of the prompting of His Spirit.

She tackles her topic with a desire to learn before she prepares to teach the content.

Bible Knowledge

A spiritual leader isn’t a know-it-all about the Bible. But she is a student of God’s Word. She is “a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15 NIV).

She is a teacher who does not hijack a verse out of context. Instead, one who is able to teach studies the context of what she is teaching. What verses come before it? After it? Who was the original audience of that particular book of the Bible? Why did the writer write it?

One who is able to teach limits her teaching of the Bible to exegesis (drawing the meaning from the text and its context), and refuses to be drawn into eisegesis (teaching what she wants the passage to say rather than what it actually says).

A godly teacher will ensure that, as much as possible, she seeks to use the Bible to interpret itself. What she interprets a verse to mean in one place will never contradict what the Bible says elsewhere, for the Bible never contradicts itself.

Relational

One who is able to teach also treats her audience with respect. She doesn’t approach them as someone who has it all together or who has “arrived.” Rather, her perspective is that of a person traveling the same journey as those she is teaching.

A godly teacher knows her audience. Her vocabulary and illustrations will be consistent with the background of her listeners. The apostle Paul was a master of this. He said of himself, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Corinthians 9:22 NIV).

These are only a few of the characteristics of a godly spiritual leader who is “able to teach.” But they provide a good place to start!

Ava Pennington is an author, teacher, and speaker from the Treasure Coast of Florida.  You can read more of her work on her site: http://www.AvaWrites.com 

If you are looking for a great gift this season, consider Ava’s book:

Daily

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: RESPECTABLE

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Character

We are called to be different from the world, to develop and display Christ like attributes.  We choose to be common, or we choose to be holy.  Just as the articles in the temple were consecrated and set apart as holy, we too must be holy and not allow ourselves to be used for common purposes.  Both our speech and our actions should reflect the character of Christ. If we do not lead by example, we are no better than the religious leaders in Christ’s day whose actions did not match their words.

Respectable

Paul calls godly leaders to be respectable in 1 Timothy 3:2.  The Greek word used is kosmios, which means orderly, modest, and virtuous.  This is where Latinized form of the word cosmos originated, with which we are more familiar.  We use cosmos to refer to the universe, but it also means to order, arrange, equip, adorn, and dress.  God put the universe in perfect order and dressed it in an array of light and color that mankind could never imagine, and is just beginning to discover.  He was deliberate and intentional in His creation. 

To be orderly is to adorn ourselves with purposeful and intentional speech, dress, and behavior.  What we say and do should always point to our savior and not to ourselves.  This means we should not be attention seekers.  Attention seeking takes on various forms, such as coarse language, suggestive dress, or unseemly actions, the opposite of which would be modesty.

Speech

Obscenity is used today by many for its shock value. It is also used by people who wish to be perceived as intimidating, and/or to sound common and fit in with what is considered the norm.  Paul says we should not use obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4).  This extends beyond using the Lord’s name in vain, for how does it glorify God when we use obscenity in our everyday speech or when we are angry? Likewise, we do not need to use obscenity to persuade unbelievers.  The Holy Spirit will appeal to unbelievers. We are to deliver the message in the manner prescribed by God and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. 

Actions

Leaders should not engage in activities that bring disorder into their lives.  Examples would include the use of mind altering substances (legal or otherwise), such as marijuana.  Don’t allow the enemy to tear your testimony apart by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and be very mindful of the effects of prescription medications.  We need to avoid being drawn into arguments, gossip, or negative talk.  When we enter a room, leave the desire to be noticed behind.  Avoid “showing off”.  

God gave mankind the gift of free will.  He does not order us to make the right choices.  We also need to understand that we cannot control others.  We need to step back and allow those around us to make their own choices, good or bad.  This includes husbands, we are to trust God to work with them and not engage in telling them what to do.  Asking and accepting their answer is keeping God in control.  A leader should be a good example of godly humility and trust, especially in our home.

Lastly, suggestive dress should always be avoided.  The enemy uses this as a snare and it will not lead to anything God honoring.  Immodest dress creates ungodly chatter among women, and lustful desires among men.

Always be mindful that as leaders we are being observed and often emulated.  What we do and say can be used by God for His glory, or by the enemy as entrapment.

 

Rest & Retreat Event, Part 2

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There is a difference between Rest and Retreat.  Both are valuable, both help us to feel refueled, and both will bring peace.  Equally important, but for different reasons and purposes.

Resting is when we shed the world, quiet our bodies, and allow them to be still.  Whether it’s sitting in our favorite chair, reading a good book, or sliding into the comfort of our bed for a night of sleep; rest is something our bodies need.  God, spent six days on His creation… not missing a single detail, on the seventh day He rested.  Then in His wisdom, He called His people to rest on the seventh day, remembering the Sabbath and keeping it Holy.  He knew that His people needed rest.

Rest is good for our bodies, it is where our bodies repair and our minds find reprieve.  If I am going too hard, too fast, I can’t find moments to be still in God.  When I fail to create margin in my life, I become stressed and overwhelmed.  All of which affect our bodies, minds, and emotions negatively.  We burn out.  This is why Moses’ Father-in-Law came to him and advises him to find men who could help him with the little things, otherwise leading the nation would be too much.  We were never mean to carry our burdens alone.

As ministry leaders, rest is something we need to factor into our schedule.  It isn’t wise to jam pack the year full of one big activity after another.  You will burn out yourself, your team, and even the women you serve.  Follow larger events with something more simple, plan rest.  We also want to make sure we are not stacking up highly emotional events on top of one another.  We need to allow our women time to recuperate their minds and hearts.  When we plan women’s retreats and conference trips, we need to make sure that we schedule in times of rest where the women can breathe and process what they have been learning.  Not planning events into the late evening and then expecting the women to be up bright and early the next day.  Rest is important, and we need to include it in our plan.

Rest is very passive, you are moving from action to stillness.  Retreating is different because it is active… when we retreat we are moving from one thing to another.  In it’s base definition, retreating is leaving danger for safety.  The Scriptures refer to God as our rock, refuge, shelter, fortress, and protector.  We retreat from the fallen world into the safety of God.

We may retreat into God daily through reading the Bible, praying, or doing studies.  It could be stepping away from the hustle and bustle of your day, and popping by the beach or going for a hike to connect with God’s in a slower pace.  Retreat is something that is reactive.  When we feel pressure, or the world closing in on us, our natural response is to flee from it.  But, retreat is also something that can be purposeful.

getawayWe can plan retreat time into our day, by carving out a set time that we connect with God directly and intentionally.  Or, it can be particular day set aside each month where you chose to immerse yourself in Him.  For some of us, we could accomplish this in our homes.  However, that isn’t always possible (depending on your home circumstances) and you may find it is better to actually plan a day or weekend away.  In Letitia Suk’s book, Getaways with God, she shares her own experiences of Personal Retreats and outlines various options for planning your own personal retreat.

I’ve never taken a personal retreat for myself.  This past year, I was arriving to a conference a day early and trying to determine what to do with my time.  Shortly before the trip, I had read Getaways with God, and decided this was a perfect opportunity to have a mini personal retreat.  Once pulled away from my normal life, distraction free, I was able to really take a look at myself and life.  During this time God revealed things that I was ignoring and needed to address.  I was able to unload a lot of things, as I journaled and prayed.  I was emptied of all the junk I had been carrying around, and that left me ready to receive and filled back up by the speakers at the conference.     ~Gena McCown

As Ministry Leaders, we need to encourage our women to retreat into God on a regular basis.  When planning Women’s Retreats for your church, find the balance between giving her time to rest but also intentionally retreating into God.  Something to consider:

  • Set the Standard:  Model for the women in your church the importance of scheduling both rest and retreat into your life.  Share how this benefits you, and encourage these habits in others.
  • Schedule in Rest:  When planning events, make sure to give your team and women rest after.  When heading off to large conferences, consider adding an extra day before or after to allow the women to rest.  When planning your own Women’s Retreat, be sure to not overschedule the women.  Give them opportunities to have a good night of sleep and downtime throughout the weekend to rest, or pull away and spend one on one time with God.
  • Team Retreats:  When planning your ministry year, considering pulling away and retreating together into God.  A Team Retreat that pulls our focus off the world and into the Kingdom, can help us build a ministry calendar that reflects God’s heart and vision for the ministry direction over our own or influenced by others.  

The holidays are always full of activities and our schedules are jam packed with things to do.  In the spirit of Rest & Retreat, and in thanks to Kregel Publications, we reserved one copy of Letitia Suk’s book for an online giveaway!  Couldn’t we all use some alone time with God?  Maybe we are not sure what that looks like?  Getaways with God includes samples schedules for retreats, ideas on what to pack, and more.

To Enter:

  • Comment on this article, our Facebook page, or mention us on Social Media
  • Use the Hashtags:  #GetawaysWithGod and #WoMinCouncil
  • One entry per comment, you have unlimited opportunities to enter!
  • All comments/entries must be made by 11:59pm EST on 12/4/2017
  • One random entry will win a copy of Letitia Suk’s book Getaways with God, 2018 Calendar, and Journal.
  • Winner announced 10am EST on 12/5/2017

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: REPROACH

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What does it mean to be above reproach?  For the longest time, I thought that it meant that leaders were in an untouchable space.  To be a leader meant that you were not to be criticized at all.  I interpreted the wording akin to “above the law”.  People who think they are above the law do not believe they are held accountable for their actions and decisions.

Over the years, I have learned that I was not alone in that interpretation.  In fact, quite a few people understand it to mean the same.

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to take a college class on Christian leadership that broke down these requirements, in 1 Timothy 3, for the Office of the Overseer.  The way it was explained to me was that being above reproach was not suggesting that we as leaders were part of an untouchable group.  Instead, it meant that our behavior should be such that there would be no need for reproach.  In other words, that our integrity and reputation should hold weight against any accusations thrown our way.  So that, anyone who hears them would dismiss them immediately.

We all know that is impossible for even the best leaders to live perfectly, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  But when our character’s good attributes weigh so heavy, our mistakes are accepted as such versus a character flaw.

If you are a person who always keeps your promises, and you slip up and forget once… you are going to receive grace over that mistake because it is the exception and not the norm.

In an ideal world, being above reproach should be enough.  But not always.  The key here is that if you are accused by one person, the majority of people will disregard it because they know you to be a leader of integrity.  Part of that integrity is owning up to your mistakes before you need to be called out on them, and making them right before you are asked to.

If you have made an error that requires rebuke or correction, if you have behaved in a way that is met with disapproval, or speak in a manner that is disappointing… and you deal with it head on, accepting responsibility, correcting your course, or making amends; you are behaving in a manner that is above reproach.  Rarely are people disappointed and disapproving of a leader who admits when they are wrong, and moves forward in a spirit of reconciliation or correction.  In fact, it often adds to your character.

To be above reproach means that you take your role seriously, and you understand the gravity of the position you have been trusted with.  You lead with integrity and honesty.

 

What in the Word does it say about Friendships? {Sheila Thomas}

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Friendships. Are you satisfied with yours? It has been my experience while working in women’s ministries, that a lot of women seem very unhappy in their friendships.

If I asked you with whom do you like to hang out, what would be your answer? Who are your best friends? What do you like to do with them? What do you like about that person? What does your friendship with that person do for YOU? Or better yet, what is the friendship doing for HER? Are you benefiting from each other?

Do you have friends to hang out with and just be yourself? Can you just laugh and speak your mind? Or are you guarded, appearing shallow and afraid to share your thoughts?

Do you shy away from large groups of women? Or do you like to “hide” in a large group of women because you’re afraid to be in a one-on-one friendship? Are you afraid of being real? Do you think that if your friends really know you, they won’t want to be friends with you?

Do you long to have better friendships? Are your friendships real or are they shallow and “surface-y”? (Hmmmm…That IS a word, right?! Oh well. You’ll have to understand that I’m good at making up my own words. Ha!)

How can we have good friendships with other women? Does the Word of God talk about this?

When thinking about what to write for my next article, I began to feel directed to the topic of friendships among women.

Friendships are a very important part of our life. Some are casual, some close, and still others more intimate. We all long to have at least one friend with whom we can be real.

George Eliot wrote:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

I love that quote. Mr. Eliot knew what he was talking about.

First let me tell you a little about myself. Growing up, I had close friends for seasons in my life. My father was a preacher, so I lived in four different towns growing up. I would develop good friendships with a few girls in most of those places, but then after moving away, most of those friendships would dwindle away and new ones would develop.

Then in High School I became friends with a girl who has remained my best friend for all these years. We have had a special relationship that has developed more and more special.

We both had three children each, who were close in age to each other. For many years, we lived in the same town and went to the same church. We shared so much together. For years, we had one day a week in which we would go shopping, take craft classes together, and go to lunch. We made this a priority – we made sure that unless our children were sick or our husband off work, we did it.

We no longer live close to each other, but we still make the effort to be together as often as possible. We schedule visits to each others homes. We schedule long phone chats. We text back and forth. We are really and truly more like sisters. She is the sister I never had. I thank God for her!

Because of this relationship, people have asked us how did it happen, saying how unusual it is and how blessed we are. It began to sink in to both of us how truly rare it is. It gave me pause for thought. Hmmm…how DID it happen?

So let me share with you a little of what I know about good friendships, how to acquire and maintain them and be a great friend yourself.

Some women have said that they can’t seem to get a friendship like that. They say that women aren’t that friendly to them. Or if they thought they were getting a close friend, invariably the friend would suddenly distance themselves, or break a trust, or shut them out of the “circle”, or move away.

Some women have been so hurt by their friends, that they argue repeatedly with this little voice that says, “Don’t build new friendships – life has a demolition crew around every corner!”

But we can’t be that way. We have to be brave, vulnerable and trust again. Real friendship is resilient, being made strong by commitment, creativity, caring and sharing.

I believe that in order to have a friend, we have to make ourselves friendly. We can’t sit over on the sidelines watching and hoping that someone will come over and become our best friend. Why would anyone want to establish a relationship with someone who looks dejected, bored, and having a major “pity party”? We have to make the first step.

Then we have to realize that not everyone we try to establish a friendship with is going to “click”. So we must remember to not take things personally and get our feelings hurt, but get up and move on to another one. Certainly life’s experiences, chemistry, etc., go into making close friendships. And usually close friendships are not developed over night. They grow in time.

In order for this to happen, you must choose to spend time together. Go shopping, take a craft class, or go out to eat together. Find out what interests you have in common.

In getting to know this person better, most likely there will come a time in which you may become irritated or hurt by something they say or do. In this, you must be forgiving. See their heart. Think the best of them. Learn to let go of hurts. Be powerful, not pitiful.

There are 7 things from Proverbs 3 and 4 I believe will make us the friend we need to be. If we attain these 7 things, then we will attract great friends.

For illustration purposes, I’m going to call them by name as if they were friends. Let me introduce you to them.

  1. Lady Love – She shows love to all her other lady friends, always thinking of them, not always thinking of herself and what someone did to her.

  1. Lady Loyalty –She is always loyal to others, never breaking their trust. She keeps a closed mouth when told things in confidence! This is a “biggy”!

  1. & 4. Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight – They go hand in hand together. Proverbs 3 says that friendship with them is worth far more than money in the bank, better than a big salary, and nothing you could wish for holds a candle to them. They offer long life, their manner is beautiful, their lives wonderfully complete. Who wouldn’t want them for a friend?

  1. Madame Understanding – Of course, we get this from God. In Proverbs 4, it says that understanding will make our life glorious, she will garland our life with grace, make our days beautiful, and add years to our life. Who would not want to be friends with her?

  1. & 7. Lady Clear Thinking and Madame Common Sense – They also go hand in hand. Proverbs 3 also says that they will keep your soul (mind, will and emotions) alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive, you’ll have safety, sleep well at night, have no need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you if these ladies are with you!

One added bit of advice from Proverbs 4:23 – 24: “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.”

Ultimately, God is the best friend we can have and best example of a friend. He is always there for us, never fails us, always loves us, and always does good things for us. Earthly friends may fail us, but He never does!

If we concentrate on being the kind of friend we wish we had, then we’ll attract those kinds of friendships. And when life brings on changes in those friends’ lives, we need to “go with the flow” and be understanding. If we will refrain from concentrating on “our hurt”, whining about how they are treating us, be kind and loving and overlook their faults, be there for them when they want us and need us, the friendship will thrive!

Take the risk! Get out of your comfort zone. Open up with other women. Also be a good listener. Friendships go both ways. Remember to not make the friendship only about yourself. Take down the walls. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s worth it.

The Miracle of Friendship

(Author Unknown)

There’s a miracle called friendship

That dwells within the heart,

And you don’t know how it happens

Or how it gets its start…

But the happiness it brings you

Always gives a special lift,

And you realize that friendship

Is God’s most precious gift!

.

Leading Well Starts With My Character

Screenshot-2017-11-6 InstagramWhat does it mean to be a leader?  If leadership is directly related to our character, then we can begin to dig through the Word and learn what God has to say about leadership characteristics.

We are going to begin to explore those characteristics over the rest of 2017.  That seems HUGE but remember, 2017 is almost over.  Plus, we will still have our regular contributors Jenny Andrews and Aimee Nelson providing leadership devotionals.  Sheila Thomas and Trish Jones will also continue to contribute to our teaching from the Word.  Make sure to like our page on Facebook so that you can keep track of new posts.