Archive - March, 2011

Everything Rises or Falls on Leadership :: Leadership Matters

Just thinking a lot lately about the value of leadership. John Maxwell once said, “Everything rises or falls on leadership”. This tells me leadership matters! So, I’m reposting something I wrote last year on this subject. Here you go…

Paul said in Romans 12:8 if we have the gift of leadership then we should use it and take the responsibility seriously!

if it is leadership, let him govern diligently (NIV)

If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously (NLT)

I am constantly aware of this verse as I, along with our staff and Executive Team, provide leadership for Cornerstone. Leading other people is serious business. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Really, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, leading other people is a high calling.

Jack Fisher our Administrator sent out this article from Forbes.com entitled “Rising above your job description“. I liked this author’s take on leadership,

“The first step toward real leadership is understanding that it isn’t about title or hierarchy. It’s about attitude, specifically having an attitude that puts people above all infrastructure and process, considering them the center of all activities, not part of the periphery. To a real leader, people are not the means but the end. Under that leader they do their jobs not because they should or must but because they want to and are passionate about it.”

While that’s true in the corporate world, in the church it holds special significance because we are leading people, in the eternal sense, to know and serve Jesus. So, God needs people in these important roles who have died to power, worldly significance, prestige, self-glory and “serve me” mentality. He is looking for true servants who have clothed themselves in humility and love, who can point the way toward the redemption that God offers through Christ. Before leaders in the church ask others to bow the knee to Christ, they need to have performed that act themselves. Our outward attitudes should convey clearly our inward convictions.

Please pray for our Executive Team and staff as we discern our next step as a church. There are some very exciting ideas brewing in the heart of this team. They have committed themselves to passionately advancing our mission under the guidance of God’s Spirit. They will need the support of the whole body as they lead us into the future.

See you under the ball!
Rusty

I AM The Gate, Lenten Reader Day 15

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:7-9

My family and I spend a lot of time down at “the farm” in Dale county just outside of Ozark. In order to get to certain parts of the property you have deal with a gate. The gate is actually two gates that swing together and have a chain wrapped around them with a lock on it. So in order to get into that particular part of the property you have to open the lock, take off the chain, swing open the gates and then drive through. Once on the other side you have to close the gates, put the chain back on, and close the lock. Sometimes it’s a hassle when you’re running late to get in the deer stand or setting up on a turkey! But there’s no other way to get where you want to go than by going through that gate.

In this passage in John chapter 10 Jesus is telling us something very profound about gates, sheep and sheep pens. He said that we are like sheep who need a sheep pen. We need to be in a place that is different from everything outside the sheep pen. In fact, we need to be rescued from everything outside the sheep pen. Inside the pen is security, community, hope, joy, rest, peace and salvation. Outside the pen is loneliness, fear, insecurity, hopelessness, anxiety, worry and death.

Everyone wants what’s in the pen! But, not everyone accepts the responsibility that comes with “pen Life”. In some form or fashion, I wonder if we all haven’t done this. We want to have all the benefits from having Christ in our life (grace, salvation, joy, peace, etc.) but don’t want to do the work of faith. Things like genuinely offering unconditional love to other people; forgiving people (with words AND actions) who have hurt you or undermined you; sharing your faith with others; not compromising when we are tempted to do the wrong thing; caring for others when it invades our comfort or limited time and on and on! The gate of Jesus is one that requires something of us when we walk through Him. If we only take the benefits of salvation and not the responsibility, we cheapen the precious grace that cost God His only son.

I pray that your life reflects the glory of the shepherd who has laid down His life for us. I pray that you are living the FULL life that he has for you.

And so I’ll leave with these questions I asked on Sunday at the close of my message…

  • Do you need to confess and repent of anything today?
  • How about your walk with Christ, is it all it should be right now?
  • Have you given up, compromised, settled or been listening to other voices that have led you away from Jesus?

Are you ready to make a change?? Ready to give your whole heart to the One who gave it all for you?? He is waiting for you with unmerited grace and deep love.

I AM The Bread of Life, Lenten Reader Day 8

For those of you not tracking with us in our “I Am” message series, let me clue you in. This post is related to the sermon from this past Sunday on Jesus declaration “I am the bread of life”. If you are participating in this series with us then you were directed here by our Lenten Reader on day 8.

So here are some questions for reflection:

Jesus told the crowds that followed him across the lake, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give you”. What was he telling the crowd with this statement? What is he telling you this statement? How might this statement change how you live?

The crowds made a reference to the manna that miraculously came down from heaven when Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. What did Jesus say was the difference between the manna and the bread of life? Is there any possibility that you are still choosing manna over the bread of life?

“The bread of life is the antidote to having eaten the forbidden fruit” – with this quote in mind, how can you be a part of sharing this bread with others? Is there someone you know who needs this antidote? Write their name down in your Lenten Reader and starting praying that their heart will be open when you share Jesus with them soon.

Thanks for participating in this series together. I’m praying that God will continue to mold and shape you into the person he needs you to be.

Who’s Preaching This Week?

Wow, Allen Whittaker did a phenomenal job this past Sunday preaching on the Trinity. He nailed it! That’s a tough subject to handle especially when you’ve only been at a church for a few months. I’m glad to have him and all of our other guys who share the Word on Sundays.

In light of that here’s some thoughts on the preaching rotation for 2011. Now that we have several gifted preacher/teachers on board I’ve become more aware of the need to be intentional about giving up the platform every now and again. So, throughout the year you may be hearing from me, or any one of these guys: Josh Agerton, Brian Johnson, Lee Cadden or Allen Whittaker. I expect you’ll be hearing from me about 35 of the 52 Sundays.

While I love to preach and would do it every Sunday, I also know that if I preach three services, every single Sunday of the year, my burnout meter will be pegging by Christmas! That’s 156 sermons a year, plus other speaking engagements. In fact, many preachers today are realizing the same things I’ve realized about this matter.

Things like, preaching every week can be a drain. It can actually be a deterrent to creativity and passion. It’s good just to be away for a few Sundays to recharge. Also, I’m not the only one who can offer the word of God. It’s good for all of us to hear the Word preached through other pastor’s experiences and views.

I believe in each one of these Godly men! They have been called to minister and teach scripture. I hope you’ll encourage them and pray for them when it’s their turn on the platform.

An Example of Living out the Mission of the Church

Our Pastor of Connections, Josh Agerton, recently posted a great story on his blog called Living the Mission. I thought it really needs to be retold as much as possible. It’s about making Jesus real to people. So, here you go…

Living the Mission

So last night Leslie told me that Ms. Mary, the custodian where she works – Wrights Mill Road Elementary – came to her and said, “I need to talk to you about your church – Cornerstone.” Leslie’s first thought – “Oh no – what’s going on? What happened”. A little later in the day Ms. Mary came to Leslie and began to tell her story. Tears streamed from her eyes as she said, “Some people from your church came to my house last Saturday to help me.” She went on to explain how they stepped into her life simply to offer some help around her home on North Gay Street. They put on a new front porch, cleaned up the overgrown yard and told her they would be back in two weeks to keep their work going. She was completely blown away by this act of love and told Leslie how “I’ve never had anyone do anything like this for me before in my life.”

So after talking to a few more people I pieced together more of the story. Turns out it was a Small Group from Cornerstone that showed up at Ms. Mary’s house. They had been talking in their group about how they could go beyond themselves and serve the community in some way – specifically desiring to do something nobody else was doing. A few calls and connections were made that led them to meeting Ms. Mary – a hard working woman accustomed to helping others but doing little for herself. They asked her what her wish list was for her home and began to prioritize some projects starting with the front porch that was falling apart.

Amazing story here isn’t it. But what I love about this was the initiative that was taken on their own. It wasn’t directed by a church program or blessed by a staff person. It was just a normal expression of people following Jesus and giving their lives away for the sake of another. You could say that these people are living out the mission of Cornerstone – Leading People to Know and Serve Jesus.

I wonder what could happen in this community and our world if this kind of stuff became the new normal for small groups at Cornerstone? It’s definitely a picture of the church at its best and I pray that we see more of this among us in the future.