Disaster Relief: Help, Hope and Healing

“Help, Hope and Healing” is the motto for the SBC Disaster Relief ministry.  Under the leadership of Artie Horn, Joe Dayringer, David Davis, Doug Hager and others, our associational Disaster Relief team is made up of a great group of volunteers with a servant’s heart who have faithfully gone out to show and share the love of Jesus both locally and nationally.  This Saturday, September 18, a chainsaw team will be headed south to Mandeville, Louisiana to help property owners affected by Hurricane Ida. Please join me in prayer as they travel and work in difficult circumstances to help these people, and that God would use their service to make the gospel known in this area.  Other ways you can help is by donating to the cause, and you can do so online at:  

https://mobaptist.org/disaster-relief-donation/  

Also, you can be trained in Disaster Relief in order to be prepared to go and serve yourself.  There is a DR training coming soon in our area you can take advantage of.  It is October 8-9 at FBC Blue Springs, MO.  It is a Friday evening and Saturday training event.  The cost is $40 for first time trainees.  There are several types of teams to train for (chainsaw, mass feeding, childcare, mud out, etc.) and you can get more information and register online at: 

https://mobaptist.org/dr/dr-training/  

 I am so thankful for our volunteers and the work they have done and will do.  May the Lord truly provide help, hope and healing as they go and serve people in need. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Your Work is Important

With Labor Day coming up I thought I would say a word about how important your work as a pastor is.  While our government leaders have been slow to consider churches “essential business” we know that our work is not only essential, it is eternal as well.  I am so thankful for our pastors and staff who faithfully fulfil their charge to look after God’s flock.  Week after week and day by day they are studying, interpreting and preaching God’s Word and teaching sound doctrine.  They are pouring out their energy and time to care for their people, counsel the broken and hurting, oversee and lead teams of people to carry out the mission of the church, and communicate the gospel to their congregation and community.  They work hard at building relationships, discerning and casting vision, developing leaders, and keeping the church focused on the Great Commission. They work as under shepherds charged to watch over the souls they have been entrusted with and will give an account for to the Chief Shepherd (Heb. 13:17).  While their reward on earth may be humble, they are promised the unfading crown of glory from Jesus who called them into this essential and eternal work (1 Pet. 5:1-4).  Your hard work and faithful labor are of utmost importance.  Thank you for what you do!
– Dr. Gary Mathes

What is on Your Scoreboard?

It is that time of year where football at all levels – high school, college, and professional – is ramping up and the games will soon begin.  I have always enjoyed the game and spent plenty of time watching them in person or on the television.  One of the things sports fans are watching is the scoreboard, especially as the game is winding down, and they’re looking at the score, number of time outs and the time left on the clock.  A good question that we as church leaders often need to ask is, what is on our scoreboard?  How do we know if we are being victorious or not?  Typically, we look at attendance, baptisms and giving.  These are important measures, but they don’t tell the whole story. Some other things we may want to measure are things such as, “Are more people being reached for Christ?”  “Are more in our congregation being transformed by the gospel and becoming more like Jesus?”  “Is the love, unity, and mutual service growing in our fellowship?” “Are the ministries we offer meeting real needs with gospel solutions?” “Is everything we do done for the glory of God?”  It is important to look beyond the numbers and go a little deeper in our evaluation.  I heard it said often, what gets done in our congregation is what gets celebrated.  So, what is on your scoreboard? – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Joyful Enthusiastic Encourager

As I conclude this series of sharing traits of an effective leader, this week I focus on how leaders are to be joyful enthusiastic encouragers.  I had a friend who is a pilot tell me that one of the instruments planes have is an “attitude indicator.”  It simply lets the pilot know if the nose of the plane is above or below the horizon, if it is climbing in altitude or diving.  I thought of how this is a great illustration for leadership.  Our attitude determines our altitude. One of the attitudes we as Christians are called to demonstrate is joy.  Paul gives the imperative, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4).  In John 15, Jesus commanded us to remain in his love and keep his commands, he explained, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (v.11).  The source of our joy is in our relationship with Jesus.  He is the fountainhead that springs forth living water that produces joy within our hearts. It is also one of the characteristics named as the fruit of the Spirit.  As leaders it is important for us to express this kind of joy.  Our churches need joyful pastors.  But let’s face it, this is not easy.  Ministry is often difficult, demanding, and can deplete the joy we need to demonstrate. However, we need to battle for joy. Jesus says we have an enemy who want to steal, kill and destroy, but he has come that we might have life and have it in abundance (Jn. 10:10). Our Good shepherd protects and provides for us and has laid down his life so we could have and enjoy this abundant life.  That is something worth rejoicing over.  As leaders and proclaimers of this life, Jesus is not calling us to be cheerleaders trying to rally a crowd rooting for a losing team, rather he wants us to live in the joy of knowing that our names are written in heaven as one on the winning team, and that in Him we are more than conquerors.  The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is one that we can spread to others.  Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Prov. 15:15). Therefore, let us passionately pursue and find our joy in Jesus, and then let us “leak” that joy to those we serve and lead.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Develops Leaders and Builds Teams

As I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, this week I focus on how leaders are proactive in developing leaders and building teams.   The truth is that no one person can accomplish the mission Jesus gave us alone.  Jesus modeled how important it is to multiply yourself.  The people he picked to advance his gospel and build his kingdom were not superstars but undrafted underdogs, yet he turned them into world-changers.  He also made it clear in Luke 10:2 that the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few, therefore we should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more.  Paul pointed out that one of the major tasks of a “pastor and teacher” is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).  The challenge I have seen for some leaders is that they do a decent job raising up workers but not other leaders.  Raising up other leaders can make a major impact on the growth and effectiveness of a church or ministry team.  The difficulty some leaders have is overcoming a scarcity mindset that believes only a few people on their team are competent.  Therefore, they themselves have to do the majority of leadership load.  However, those who have an abundance mindset believes that with the right training, coaching, and resources most people can rise up to the task of becoming a leader.  It has been shown that those who hold to a scarcity mindset underutilize the talent latent within their team, create tense environments and get only half the potential of those they lead.  Conversely, those with an abundant mindset believe in their team members, provide both the environment and opportunity for growth and get twice the potential of their members.  May we aspire to not just recruit workers but build leaders. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Loves People

This week as I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, I focus on the need for leaders to work hard at building relationships with the people they lead. As a task-oriented person, I have had to learn how important it is to be people oriented as well. I remember a pastor I served under would often tell his staff, “The most important thing in leading people is relationship, relationship, relationship. As a leader you will sometimes need to spend relational capital so make sure you have capital to spend.” The work of creating and sharing a vision, planning programs, leading teams, administrating the work of the church, and facilitating organizational change is important work. But none of these things happen without healthy, trusting and loving relationships with those you serve the Lord with. An oft spoken piece of wisdom is that people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care for them. As a leader it is important to build trust and good will by demonstrating humility, integrity, kindness, patience, gratitude, and genuine concern for those you are called to serve and lead. The last night that Jesus would spend with his disciples before his crucifixion, he shared an important admonition, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The greatest attribute we can aspire to as followers of Jesus and leaders in His church is how we love others. It is worth our best effort. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Are Lifetime Learners, Zealous for the Truth

This week as I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, I focus on the need for leaders to be lifelong learners always pursuing the truth.  Leaders do well to read broadly and expose themselves to great thinkers. There is always great value in learning from others who have gone before and to glean from the things that they learned.  As it has been said many times, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Continually expanding our mind is vital mental renewal. It is good to be curious, always asking questions, expanding your education, seeking good ideas, and developing new skills.  It is analogous to sharpening a saw.  One who does so works more efficiently and accomplishes more.  Today we are living in the Information Age, a time where we have instant access to more information than ever before in human history. But not all information is relevant and not all information provided is truth. Therefore, it is important for us to filter what we learn with the timeless truth of God’s Word.  Jesus said his purpose in coming to the world was to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). That those who continue in his word would know the truth and the truth would set them free (John 8:32).  So as we do the valuable work of learning, let us be wise in not merely pursuing knowledge, but in also pursuing truth. – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Leans into Conflict

This week as I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, I focus on another difficult but important trait of a leader – handling and mitigating conflict.  I have heard it said that conflict is not necessarily good or bad but managed or mismanaged.  As a leader it is important to understand not only the issues that bring conflict into a church, but how to navigate through it so that substantive matters can be addressed in a way that brings suitable resolution and maintains healthy relationship among those involved. When conflict occurs, typical responses include fight or flight, attack or escape, assault or denial, which never resolve but only exacerbate the tension.  Leaders lean into the conflict, even when it is awkward or arduous.  As gospel centered servants we know Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemaker for they shall be called children of God.” Leaders point people to address disagreements in a way that brings glory to God.  They help people account for their attitude and actions so that they can overcome obstacles that prevent reconciliation. They remind people how God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). It is only when we discover the great cost and sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf leading to our forgiveness and reconciliation with God that we can find the strength, wisdom and courage to resolve the matters that may divide us.  Peacemaking is not easy, but we can be encouraged by the words of James, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (3:18).   – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Willing to Take Risks and Lead Change

As I continue sharing traits of an effective leader, this week I focus on the attributes of risk taking and courage.  These are aspects of leadership that are easier to define and discuss than to practice, simply because it can be costly.  I have heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear but the determination to do the right thing in spite of the fear.  Leaders are often in situations where what they believe to be the right thing to do is not agreed upon by all they lead.  Thus, there is an element of risk to move ahead and do the right things, the right way, in order to bring about the best results for all involved.  Sometimes the risk is in stretching people to a place where faith is required; attempting things that necessitates a complete trust in the Lord. I believe we lead best when there is a spirit of collaboration, good communication, and time to prayerfully consider the Lord’s will and the best course of action.  I am not suggesting being a take charge and plow over others kind of leader.  That may show courage but also a lack wisdom or humility.  What I am suggesting is being a leader who does their due diligence to fully research a challenging situation, pray persistently for wisdom, reasonably and collaboratively think through best solutions, and carefully and amply communicate what you believe is the best course of action, and implement it.  Simply doing these things can be seen as a risk, but one worth taking if it means that the Lord is honored, and His mission is faithfully accomplished. Like Joshua, the Lord encourages us to “be strong and courageous” as we keep our eyes on Him and lead His people with both humility and boldness to accomplish His will.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Traits – Leads with a Focused Vision

This week I focus on an important but sometimes difficult trait of a leader – vision.  What makes this difficult is not so much its definition but its formation.  I’ve read a lot of definitions, but the one I like best is from Aubrey Malphurs: “A vision is a clear, compelling picture of God’s future for your church as you believe it can and must be.”  While mission answers, “What are we to do?” Vision answers, “Where are we going?“  Vision is visual, it is a picture of a preferred future.  Leaders should work to form a clear idea of what the future should be for their organization. It begins with a prayerful dependence on the Lord to give clarity and wisdom to see what can and must be.  In includes having a solid conviction of our mission – the Great Commission, a good grasp of the culture and capacity of our congregation, and a firm contextual understanding of our community.  Based on these three areas of understanding, a leader can begin to form a plan for the future and describe what it should look like when you arrive there.  Constructed on the bedrock of reality it launches us into the future of great potential.  Ultimately our future is in the hands of a sovereign God (Prov. 16:9), but as we look to examples such as Abraham, Moses, David, Nehemiah and many others, we see that the Lord inspires his leaders with vision.  Planning is not prohibited by the Lord, but a proactive stewardship of what he has given us as leaders.  Therefore, we must prayerfully, humbly, and actively seek the Lord’s vision for our congregation’s future and boldly lead them there. – Dr. Gary Mathes