LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Let's Give Away $1 Million

When Faith and I first were married, we spent a lot of time talking about goals for our life together. One of our seemingly outlandish goals was to give $1 million away for the work of the kingdom and the Church. "Wouldn't that be cool?" we said. Now...get the picture: Together we were making $17,000 a year. We had one car that had been given to us. We had purchased a bed (pretty important for a newly married couple), and had been given a couch and couple of chairs. That's all we owned. We lived in a small apartment and paid $250 a month for rent. Oh, and we had $20,000 in college debt.

But, in our dreamy euphoria of love-induced passion and idealistic Christian values--we said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could give $1 million away?" I thought about that for a few days, then talked with Faith again and said, "We can do it...we can give $1 million away." I knew it wouldn't be that day or that year, but if we methodically ordered our finances and honored him--in our married life together we could give $1 million away. And that's what we set out to do.

I just checked...we still have about $783,000 left to go (yes, I'm keeping track). But I still think we're going to make it.

I say this not to brag. I just think far too many people talk about their dreams and never set out to making them happen. When it comes to giving, I've heard many people talk about how much they are going to give when they have more money. When they strike it rich, they'll give so much away.

  • When the business deal comes through...
  • When we win the lottery...
  • When we retire...
  • When our kids are out of the house and we don't have as many expenses...
  • When we get the bonus...

My advice? Stop talking and start giving. God blesses a cheerful giver, but I think the giving comes before the cheer. At first it hurts, because we are selfish and it is hard to let go of what we have. We look at it as ours, not a blessing from God. We hold tightly, like a child hangs on to a toy, not realizing that the giver of life has blessed us with all that we have. But over time, He softens our hearts and giving becomes something that brings joy.

Generosity is counter-intuitive, especially when you are struggling. We logically think, "If I give some of my money away, I will have less money." I know that is logical. But that hasn't proven true in my life. God rewards generosity in ways you can't imagine. Generosity does something to your heart--and I believe it also touches the heart of God.

"It Made Me Ashamed To Be A Christian..."

There is something powerful about the vulnerability of a leader. When a pastor or church leaders stands up and says, "Sometimes I doubt too" or "Christians drive me crazy" -- it connects them to just about everyone listening. Because we've had those thoughts, and sometimes we wonder if it is okay.

As we continue our weekend series "Don't Call Me a Christian" -- several of our pastors and leaders told stories about times when they were ashamed of how Christians acted toward them or others.

This video is worth 6 minutes of your time...

Hey Parents...Environments Matter

If your kids are older, it's probably too late. You either did this right or you did it another way. But if you have little kids at home, listen up...

Faith and I have four children, ages 13, (almost) 17, 19 and (almost) 21. I'd love to share parenting stories from our failures and successes, but one that comes up over and over is how important environments are.

I think everyone would admit that there is a point in a teen's life when the influence of his/her parents becomes less, and the influence of his/her friends becomes greater. I've talked to tons of parents, and through my less-than-scientific findings, it seems the age at which the parents' influence drops dramatically happens somewhere around 13 to 15-years old.

Parental Influence On a Child.jpg

When my oldest turned 15-years old, I put together this chart to symbolize my thoughts about parental influence on a child. I still think it's pretty accurate, although perhaps the extremes at 16+ years old are varied based on the personality of the child. 

As a parent, the awareness of loss of influence can be alarming if you didn't see it coming. So be warned young parents, I have just given you a glimpse of the future.

Here is the key learning: Environments matter. Who my daughter is influenced by as a 15-year old is dependent greatly on the environments that my wife and I placed her in as a 10 and 12 and 14-year old.

As a parent who has LOVED having teenagers, and who has not yet experienced teen rebellion (although we can't celebrate yet as we are barely past half-time), here is the advice I would give parents of pre-teens...

  • Get involved in a great church with strong youth leaders.
  • As they start middle school, don't give them the option to stay home from the youth program. I can't stress this enough. They will have no desire to be involved as a high school student if you gave them the option when they were younger.
  • Find a school that has strong values and where there is good chance they will be able to find solid friends. That might mean paying for private school or moving to a better school district.
  • Get them in situations where they are hanging with young adults who are following God. That's why we had college-age students live in our home for two years.
  • Teach them the joy of serving when they are very young.
  • Let them participate in events where there is a good chance they might take a step spiritually, like summer camp, missions trips, or weekend retreats.

Oh, and one last word of advice for those with teenagers---stop lecturing and start listening. Stop giving direction and start asking questions.

It's your turn now...what would you add (or ask) about environments and parenting?

This is What We Think of All The Churches Around Us

There are hundreds of churches in the area around Granger Community Church, including Clay United Methodist, River Valley, Harvest Bible Chapel and St. Pius

Here is what we think of them...