Tag Archives: Christianity: Leaders and Leadership

Recognizing mentors

Just completed a quick trip to the Berkshires to celebrate the ministries of two of my college professors. Drs. Carl Ehle and Oral Collins of New England School of Theology/Berkshire Christian College/Berkshire Institute of Christian Studies taught both my parents and myself Old and New Testament. Both (along with their families) sacrificed much to teach us the bible.

I credit Dr. Ehle for giving me a love for learning, pushing me towards graduate studies at Westminster Seminary. I’m pretty sure he pulled strings to help me get to Israel just as Berkshire was closing down in 1986. He taught OT courses and Greek. He pushed us to learn but with a healthy dose of humor.

The evening festivities were long but a great reminder that many others feel the same way about these two men. They instilled a love for God and a ministry mindset in several generations. A bonus was hearing several stories about how Dr. Ehle and several others embraced a fellow student, Michael Haynes, in the 40s. There weren’t many Christian educational organizations that allowed African Americans in as students. Dr. Haynes went on to a distinguished career as senior pastor of 12 Baptist Church of Roxbury. He was there last night too and full of stories.

Rarely do we take the time to tell people about their impact on our lives. So, I challenge you to think about those who had a significant influence on your maturation process, on your development into the person you are today. Once you have a couple of names in your head, go find them and let them know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity

How to fail after hitting it big

Had an interesting talk with my boys about how money and fame does not protect from one’s sins being found out–whether in this life or the next. We were talking about faithfulness and keeping promises and how it feels when someone violates that covenant, and how much more it hurts when that violation goes public.

Right after that, my friend Doug forwarded me a Christianity Today article on the recipe for failing. It is written by Gordon McDonald and is directed at church leaders, especially those who lead big churches. But, you could apply it to your own life. Read the story here, but in short, here is recipe:

1. “Hubris, born of success.” It is interesting how we allow success to lead to pride. Moses told the Israelites that when they got into the promised land and received houses and gardens they didn’t build, they should not become arrogant and say, “look at what I have” and thus forget the Lord.

2. “Undisciplined pursuit of more.” Whether we have little or lots, we always want more. And we find all sorts of creative ways to make our pursuit right and good.

3. “Denial of risk and peril.” The more we succeed the more temptation to give in to brazenness.

4. “Grasping for salvation.” I think this works for successful people as well as those who feel desperate to succeed (after all, you can never rest on your laurels). We look for the silver bullet, the hail Mary, the lotto ticket to the next level of fame.

5. “Capitulation to irrelevance or death.” Once you go too far, you know you can’t recover so you just keep going. Why is it that we find it so hard to repent, to admit, to acknowledge our sins? Because we cannot give up our pride. We sometimes choose character death rather than admit, to stop. I think this is also why people commit hid and runs. We know we will get caught but we keep trying to run because admitting seems like death (when it often contains redemption possibilities).

Notice that the real recipe needs only one ingredient–deception of self and other.

Lord, save us from our prideful, self-deceiving selves.

1 Comment

Filed under adultery, Christianity, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, church and culture, deception, Repentance, self-deception

Pastoral epistles as letter???

In talking to pastors, I’ve been taking the angle that we should look again to the pastoral epistles to see how a senior mentor talks to a junior pastor. What is important? What are the dangers? What kind of encouragement is given to these folk who labor in difficult venues?

I am afraid we have used these letters to create doctrinal positions (e.g., who should lead the church, the nature of Scripture, etc.) but have forgotten the pastoral flavor of these little books.

Take a look at 1 Timothy. Here’s my brief summation of Paul’s letter to Timothy:

1. Remember. (ch. 1) Keep at your work in loving prideful and misguided people (who probably all think they should be the leader). Remember our humble origins and calling (v. 12). The goal here? Don’t shipwreck your faith.

2. Act (ch. 2-3) Your first act? Pray for everyone and pray for peace. Your second act? Live a holy life in keeping with the position. Out of this instruct your congregation to…

3. Be Wary (ch. 4-6) Deception is happening to other teachers. It can happen to you. So, live in truth and focus on godliness. There are 2 deceptions (financial gain (and fame) and knowledge). Some see both as a path to godliness but they are not. There is an antidote: Contentment! Seek only the glory of God and not your own.


You might ask yourself (and your pastor) these two questions.

1. If Paul were writing to you, what would he put in your letter for you to remember, act, and be wary of?

2. Who knows you and your situation well enough to write this kind of letter to you? If no one exists, why not? And what should you do about it?

Okay, that was more than 2 questions…go ask your pastor!


Filed under Biblical Reflection, Christianity, Doctrine/Theology, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring, self-deception