All posts tagged "Leadership"

5 Myths About Poverty


CNN Belief Blog has a good post by Mark Lutz of Opportunity International which challenges popular misconceptions about the poor: Myth 1: People are poor because they are lazy or stupid. Poor people work incredibly hard, under harsh conditions, frequently seven days a week. With no welfare programs and no social networks, if they don’t work, they don’t eat. That’s reality. My work in microfinance has taken me to some 50 countries. I’ve watched men making bricks in equatorial sun from morning till night in exchange for $10; women hauling five-gallon containers on their heads and in each hand every morning to water their garden-size farm; children rifling through trash for recyclables to exchange for a meal. Despite their efforts, these hard-working people cannot get off their economic treadmills; they pass their generational poverty onto their children and grandchildren. Getting to know them as sisters and brothers, I can vouch that they are anything but lazy or stupid. The only reason for their life of misery and mine of relative luxury is where we were born. Myth 2: Poor people want handouts. We assume that a hungry person wants us to give them something to eat. Sure, if a mother’s children are hungry she’ll gladly accept a free meal. But what that person would much rather have is the opportunity to work and feed her family. Each time she accepts a handout she exchanges a portion of her dignity. In the Bible, God instructs farmers not to harvest the corner of their crops, but to leave it for the poor. God didn’t tell them to reap it and give the money to the poor, but to leave it for the poor to pick and eat. They need food, but they also need and want an opportunity to work. Every day some 25,000 people die from starvation. Disturbing as that may be, the real tragedy is that for 90 percent of them, there is no food shortage. They just can’t afford to buy available food. The appropriate response is not relief but development, including opportunities to work. Myth 3: Our foremost responsibility is America’s poor. The number one objection I hear to our work in the developing world is that we must first solve the problems in our own country. Yet half of humanity barely survives on $2 per day. And they don’t live here. We live in a generous country where last year more than $300 billion was given to charity from voluntary donations. As grand as that is, less than five percent goes to international work, leaving 95 percent in our own country for our churches, university endowments and symphonies. These are worthy causes, but charities that serve the wealthiest nation. I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant when in Matthew 25 he told his followers to serve “the least of these.” Myth 4: Jesus said we will always have extreme poverty. What Jesus said in Mark 14:7 was: “The poor you will always have with you.” Jesus recognized that some will always have less than others. But the kind of abject poverty that over one billion people endure—those living on $1 per day—wouldn’t be tolerated by Jesus and should not exist today. I honestly believe we can eradicate extreme poverty. And if we can, then we must. Myth 5: Jesus was concerned primarily about spiritual poverty. I grew up in South Africa, surrounded by missionaries. There was a subtle message that eternity is a lot longer than life. If someone is saved and bound for heaven, it doesn’t much matter how hungry their children are. But when Jesus began his public ministry, he read his mission statement: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor… To set free the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18). Though we must read on to understand the full gospel, if we seek to follow his example and teaching, we must bring good news to the poor and set free the oppressed. More than 2,000 verses in the Bible deal with the poor. Jesus had special solidarity with the poor and told us that if we love him, we will show it by caring for them. Mark has also authored UnPoverty:  Rich Lessons from the Working Poor which has this description: The poorest people in the world do not just survive–they thrive lavishly. They enjoy rich family relationships, build vibrant communities and exude deep faith. They have much to teach us about life and inspire us with their ingenuity, persistence, generosity and self-reliance… When we hear about the billions of people living on a few dollars a day, do we visualize what that means? These stories put individual faces on unimaginable statistics and bring their reality to life. You may even see yourself in them… Their poverty has more to do with latitude and longitude than with laziness or lack of intelligence. Through no fault of their own they are poor monetarily, but rich in areas many of us are bankrupt. The next time we pray for the poor, it may help to remember God’s definition of the term.


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Music/worship director as entrepreneur


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Jeff Stibel in the Harvard Business Review sees it “more of a personality trait”  and even calls it “a disease” – Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Here are some questions to see if you have it: Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good) Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better) Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great) Do you pause for a second, and then decide–what the hell–and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown) Sounds like some pastors and and church music directors I know.


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Farewell to experience-oriented faith


Mark Galli says it’s the end of Christianity as we know it. And, says he, good riddance. Here’s part of his post: The Christian faith is, at its core, not about ethics or religious experience, but a message about a God who has gone to extraordinary lengths to be and remain on our side, to become the-God-with-a-name, Emmanuel, “God with us.” Christians are not primarily mystics (those who experience God in a special way) or activists (those who live the way of Jesus). We are mostly witnesses of who God is and what he has done and what he will do in Jesus Christ, the God who in Christ has “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10). This is not to deny that our faith must be expressed in deeds and empowered by a genuine experience of God. Faith without works, or a genuine encounter with God, is not Christian faith. But after promising the disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told them what their main mission was: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are shortchanging our people when we make worship mostly about experience or a pep rally to motivate people to good deeds. We practice religious neglect when we fail to witness to them the saving story of God in Christ and train them to be fellow witnesses of that story, so that they might share that story with a world that does not know its left hand from its right. A world which does not know God as Emmanuel, but merely as “Something.” A world that knows transcendence but does not have eyes to see God with us even to the end of the age. A world that senses “attunement with other people,” but does not recognize the One who holds everyone and everything together by his love. Mark Galli, The End of Christianity as We Know It, CT April 2010


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Limitations


Every leader of corporate worship will be limited at different times. It might be your drummer always rushes the fills. It might be you have to use someone else’s econo-guitar. It could be that the high school auditorium you’re meeting in has been overtaken by the set for “Man of La Mancha.” It could be your pastor wants you to play something out of your comfort zone. Whatever limitations you face when you lead, see them as opportunities for God to do something better than what you would have done on your own. If nothing else, limitations imposed on us by others are occasions to trust God more intently and “look not only to our own interests, but also the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4) – Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters


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Leading worship during trials


Bob Kauflin of Covenant Life Church discovered his 2-year-old grandson had leukemia prior to Sunday services. Here’s some of what he says from the experience: I guess I could have struggled with the apparent dichotomy between my circumstances and the songs we were singing. Or ignored what my family was going through altogether and pretended that nothing was wrong. Or complained  about how hard life is sometimes. By God’s grace, I actually drew great comfort from God through the truths we sang. So after the first song, which is based on Psalm 150, I shared a few thoughts not only for the church, but for my own soul. The conclusion: We don’t lead others out of a vacuum or a sanitized form of Christianity that bears no resemblance to normal life. It’s important that we take time to grieve, acknowledge pain, and confess our struggles. But when, not if,  you find yourself leading out of weakness, challenges, and trials, don’t minimize what’s going on or succumb in despair to your burdens. Lift your eyes, even as you lift the eyes of others, to the Father whose compassions never fail and to the Savior whose mercies are new every morning. Whether God changes our trials, or more importantly, changes usthrough our trials, we praise him now in joyful anticipation of the day he will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). The whole post here.


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1000 true fans


…is all you need, according to Kevin Kelley: A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans. The hard part: The key challenge is that you have to maintain direct contact with your 1,000 True Fans. They are giving you their support directly. Maybe they come to your house concerts, or they are buying your DVDs from your website, or they order your prints from Pictopia. As much as possible you retain the full amount of their support. You also benefit from the direct feedback and love. Author/marketer Seth Godwin calls 1000 fans “a breakthrough opportunity” for artists and songwriters. Consider: What would it take for you to acquire 1000 ‘true fans’? What are you doing now to make that happen?


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