We love to criticize anyone who disagrees with our opinions and to call them “heretics” for their different view. For the sake of clarification and distinctions made in the NT, this blog will describe four categories of different viewpoints. These categories are (1) Unintended Error; (2) Wrong Teachings; (3) False Teachings; (4) Intentional Heresy.
I coach golf. One of the first things I tell a student is that I will tell them to do things that may feel uncomfortable, awkward or seem ineffective. They must make a decision to trust what I tell them or never improve.
If they only partially, or not at all, believe that I know what I am talking about, then inevitably they will not pay attention to what I tell them. However, after I demonstrate how to do it and they want to be able to do it as well, then they gain more confidence.
Are you working on a sermon or message on missions? Quotations from missionary leaders like William Carey and Hudson Taylor have served as battle cries for the Christian missions movement. World evangelism has advanced with inspiration provided by missionary slogans like these. Slogans often keep our hearts on fire for the world.
“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply” — Hudson Taylor
As a professor I wish we could focus on some specific skills that future missionaries will need to know. Experienced missionaries have a set of skills that we should pass on to our students (if we could and if we would).
Our problem is that professors are boxed into an academic environment that does not give credit for some of these essential skills. I do not mean to devalue the academic, but rather I think we could add to the theoretical some practical skills and understanding, but it probably will need to be extracurricular. The need to understand religions, cultures, cross-cultural communication skills and how to contextualize the gospel and Bible teaching will always be necessary.
The reception went well after preaching and teaching in the AM and PM church services in Minneapolis of one of our supporting churches. Jan and I had been married ten years and completed our first 4-year term as missionaries in Colombia. A man from the church came to my side, put his arm around my shoulder and spoke in my ear, “Don, I perceive that you and your wife are struggling. Would you allow me to help you in your marriage?”
I turned to him seeing the sincerity in his eyes and said, “Yes, we would.” That encounter began a process that changed our marriage and opened to us an even broader ministry with other struggling couples.
How would the world be different if we practiced these commands?
- Stop passing judgment on one another Romans 14:13
- If you keep on biting and devouring each other… Galatians 5:15
- you will be destroyed by each other
- Let us not become conceited, Galatians 5:26
- provoking and envying each other
- Do not lie to each other Colossians 3:9
- Do not slander one another James 4:11
- Don’t grumble against each other James 5:9
In a Christian ministry, a godly man was trained for several years to succeed the founder when he retired. This protégé seemed to be a perfect successor. Once he was installed into the position he quickly won the hearts of many followers by his kind demeanor with other people in the organization.
This leader could fire a person when necessary, but he did it in a way that respected the individual and did not destroy him.
However, the board of this organization did not like this new style of leadership, believing that the necessary element of leadership was an authority that generates fear in its underlings, especially fear of being treated harshly or fired at any moment without explanation or defense. It is believed that without this harshness, the authority of the leader will never be respected and chaos will ensue. In spite of being the top authority in that ministry, the board removed him from his position effective immediately with the explanation that he was not harsh enough to be a good leader.
A professor I met said he is sick of hearing about “servant-leaders” because they always mean, “You are the servant, and I am the leader.” He wondered if anyone read what the Bible said about servant-leaders.
Specifically he was referring to Jesus’ statement to his disciples, who all selfishly wanted to be next to the highest authority in the Messianic world kingdom (Mark 10:37). Then Jesus described the basic secular leadership philosophy, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them [katakurieuo “bring one under power, to subdue, master, hold in subjection or be the master of”] , and their great ones exercise authority over them” [katexousiazo, “wield power,” “become master, gain dominion over,” or “tyrannize, domineer”] (Mark 10:42).
On a recent trip to Colombia in discussions with missionaries I kept asking what was the most significant lesson that they wished new missionaries would have learned before coming to the field. One topic kept surfacing: how to do strategic planning.
Every ministry or field of ministry should have a strategy statement that expresses its long and short-range plans. Without this clarity of thinking everyone is in a fog of ideas about what to do next. The home board, field director, supporters and the missionary himself has no idea what to do or if what he is doing is in line with the goal of the mission or not.