June 2010 Leader Letter
June 15th, 2010
From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
Finding Your Center
By Bishop James King
Hello Men of God!
Have you ever felt as if you do not know what to do next, and have you asked yourself questions such as, “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “How long can I continue to go on not being me?” “Who can I believe?”
Sometimes when everything seems to be topsy turvy, do you ask yourself, what do I believe?
Not long ago, I just wanted to get a cup of coffee. In matter of minutes, I found myself standing beside someone who was full of similar questions. The person was single and trying to raise two boys. Although the person appeared very pleasant, I could detect anger and hurt. As our chatting continued after paying for our coffee, it became painfully clear that this person was going in several directions trying to find his center and purpose.
Where is your center? How do you maintain balance in your life? How do you keep a sense of perspective when you are standing in the middle of what feels like a storm?
Here are some suggestions I have found to be helpful:
- Call time out! Just stop and exhale. Find a place for solitude. You may still hear several voices, but they are more internal than external as you sort things out.
- Talk with a friend. You may be blessed to have someone in your life with whom you can talk things over without having to rehearse words or emotions.
- Exercise –– stress has got to go somewhere. Why not put it under your feet as they hit pavement for a good walk or run.
- Go back to the beginning. During your childhood, you probably received a picture, an image or an experience that framed your passion.
- Get in touch with what you really like to do that is fun and exciting. Go back there and you will probably find some wonderful clues to help you get back on track.
- Check your diet. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that help you settle down rather than foods that are high in sugar that set you up for a big letdown. Are you getting the proper nutrients to help your brain do its work?
- See a professional. If you find that your history is an unending saga and you have tried everything and everyone you know with no success, you may want to see a counselor who can help you see different perspectives and possibilities.
- Pray. A life of prayer should be your first action to staying grounded. In the midst of an emotional whirlwind, we can forget the obvious. Talk to God about your problems. God is available 24/ 7 and comes with a miraculous supply of love and patience. Stress goes away, worry goes out of your mind; peace fills your heart like fuel flowing into an empty tank, and you know that somehow, some way, everything is going be all right if you just keep faith in the one who can provide for all your needs.
If you find yourself off center and experience difficulty, you may try Dorothy’s method of clicking your heels. If that does not work I hope you will consider some of the suggestions that I listed to help you find your way back to the center.
Well, until next time remember, God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest.
Bishop James King, president
General Commission on UM Men
Moves, memories and moving forward…
By Gil Hanke
As you know, I began this position February 1st. So, for the last few months I have lived in a simple studio apartment here in Nashville. My wife, Sher, has been in Texas as we have been trying to sell the house we have shared for 23 years. I am pleased to report that on May 21, we closed on the sale of that house, and on May 24, we closed on our new Tennessee home.
Living in the same house for 23 years, there is a lot of stuff. Sorting through all that was frustrating (why did I keep this?) and inspiring. Tucked in the back of closets, drawers and crannies were letters, photos and mementos. Many were “master pieces” produced by our son going back to preschool. There were boxes of craft materials from former VBS activities, notes from former students, and tons of family pictures.
In the back of my closet were multiple bags from multiple Emmaus Walks and Chrysalis Flights, where I had worked as a member of the team. Within that pile was the one small set of envelopes I wanted to revisit and keep –– letters given to me during East Texas Emmaus Walk #1, where I was a participant/pilgrim. There were letters from friends, and from my brothers, and in particular, a letter from my dad. My dad did not often write letters to his sons; maybe a note at the end of Mom’s letters, or a comment on a card.
Letters I received from Dad usually were sparked by poor grades on my part or other needs I had for course corrections. But this letter was different; Mom had died, and now Dad struggled in a beautiful way to show support for and pride in his youngest son. That was written in 1992, and in the years after, Dad did write more supportive notes. That “walk” was a new beginning in many ways. It has changed forever my view of family letters.
In the past month or so, I, with other staff, have visited with leaders of many of our ministry partners. In every case, we are moving forward and expanding our work together. I have also been to the Council of Bishops’ meeting where I was warmly welcomed.
This is the season of annual conference meetings; I will be attending four. During the next few months, your conference will be letting you know how elections for General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegates will be conducted next spring. It is imperative that we have UM Men members at General Conference in 2012. There are many groups studying the structures within the UMC, and many want to see a reduction or elimination of at least some general agencies. Your support of men’s ministry and scouting ministry is vital to the growth and revival of the UMC.
One last thought –– when I first got involved with NACP, I was given a book, Through the Back Door of the Church. It was a book of stories of men who had come into a relationship with a church, and Jesus Christ through their relationship with UM Men. I want you to send me stories of men you know, who have been transformed by men’s ministry or scouting ministry. Those will be reviewed and edited to create a new book.. We are not sure of the format, but we welcome your stories of transformation.
I am here to serve Christ and your local church; please stay in touch.
Gilbert C. Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Laboring with the Lord
By John Dowell
Some time ago this story caught my attention, and I wish to share it with you. It goes right to the heart of what we do as we labor with the Lord in the ministry to men.
One day when Christopher Wren, the English architect, was directing the construction of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, he asked one of the laborers at the construction site, “What do you do?”
Not realizing he was talking to the great architect, the man, who was a cement mixer answered, “Sir, can't you see? I'm building a great cathedral.”
Isn't that great? Here is man who is able to see past the limits of his job description to the grand scheme and claim it as his own. He wasn't just mixing cement, he was building a beautiful cathedral. It was more than a job –– more than of a way of making a living. It was an opportunity to be part of something great and he had the vision to know it.
Such a perspective gives dignity to the most common work. It makes us laborers with the Lord. We, as men, are working with Him to feed, clothe and shelter His human family. We share His dream for a world where poverty, disease, injustice and unrighteousness have been eliminated. God is the eternal architect; we are just the cement mixers. There is, however, something grand about working with Him. It gives our life’s work meaning and eternal value.
We need to be reminded, if we make the accumulation of wealth, or the pursuit of happiness, or any other personal benefit, the goal of our labors, we will find only futility. If, on the other hand, we give ourselves selflessly in service to God and others, the Lord will give us the desires of our hearts. Fulfillment is not a goal. It is the consequence of a life lived in service to God and others.
We, as UM Men are building a ministry greater than any cathedral. It is a ministry that can and will impact men and families for generations to come –– a movement that will stand the test of time, even greater than a beautiful cathedral.
Grace and peace,
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Nearing the end of a long run
By Larry Malone
It is with careful reflection and mixed emotions that I have decided to retire from the staff of GCUMM, effective December 31, 2010.
I have high confidence in GCUMM leadership, and our top-notch staff. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve the Lord with such a team. I am proud of the UM Men legacy and future of men’s ministry of the UMC.
It has been a long and good run since October 1, 1997. I have seen the birth of new things and the progressive impact of men’s ministry upon our denomination.
I applaud the UMC. We are rare among denominations as we have maintained a focused effort to reach men with a dedicated men’s agency and staff.
Little could have been accomplished without thousands of UM Men charter units and UM Men leaders at the local church, district and conference levels. You are the bones, muscle and blood of our existence, and the strength from which our future will rise.
The keys to the future of men’s ministry will depend on three kinds of leaders working together under the cross of Christ. Shoulder to shoulder, men gifted in administration, ministry, and prayer will model servant ministry for the world to see.
UM Men leaders, men’s- and scouting-ministry specialists, and spiritual leaders will comprise three cords that are not easily broken.
I will continue to be a passionate advocate for men’s ministry as a means of UMC renewal as I press on toward the mark God leads me.
May God bless each of you, the GCUMM, and the ministry of Jesus Christ through men of the UMC.
Your brother in Christ,
Larry Malone, director of men’s ministries
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Nashville flood tests mettle
By Larry Coppock
Never in my wildest dreams have I witnessed so much rain in what is being called the “1,000 Year Flood,” May 1-2. Nor did I think we would spend the weekend dipping it out of my basement trying to protect our son’s bedroom and storage areas.
My wife, Diane, a local pastor, and I, were expecting some rain. However, we ended up laboring like beavers digging trenches to re-direct water away from the garage that had already been broached with what I would call silent, sudden seepage. The lay leader (me) advised her to call off church due to the rising creeks and streams that members must cross to get there. Plus, we were needed at home.
While I was digging trenches, Diane was using towels to keep the basement dry. When we would take a break, she would discover a new place for us to direct our energies to stop the flow of water. Ben, our youngest son, was rigging tarps to angle water away from a leaking gutter. This went on and off for two days, testing our physical and psychological limits, but not our spiritual.
Faith in our abilities –– in one another –– but most importantly –– in God, renewed our will to do our best to limit the damage. I had a serendipitous moment at some point, thinking about the movie Forest Gump. It was the scene where he describes the various types of rain while in Vietnam: “sideways rain,” “upside-down rain,” “fat rain” . . . you get the picture. I guess it helps to think of something humorous when it seems like things are falling apart around you.
What else did I learn? Keep plugging away. And, praise God for my family and the way we responded as one when events challenged our collective mettle.
Larry Coppock, national director
Scouting Ministries and director, Strength for Service Publication Fund
General Commission on UM Men
Every Man Counts
By Bari Eason
As many of you know, I am spending a great deal of time traveling. This month I have spent time in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and North Carolina. I anticipate upcoming trips to Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois and Louisiana. Each time, I am either speaking at churches or meeting with donor prospects to share the vision of UM Men. The beauty of these experiences is that I always come home educated, inspired and hopeful. The UMC is a beautiful place of broken people who want to serve God and serve the world. So while some may see the future of the church as a “cup half empty,” I see it as a “cup half full.”
With that in mind, I would like to share one story that I was told along the way this month. I was visiting with a men’s leadership team at a large UM church. One men’s ministry leader shared that a 23-year-old man showed up in the parking lot of this church. He approached someone and explained that he needed help in learning how to be a good husband and father. He was guided into the church by the church member, and the men’s ministry group had a wonderful opportunity to minister to this man.
As I flew home from that trip, I thought about that 23-year-old in the parking lot of this huge church in an affluent community. How desperate he must have been for help. How brave he was to express a need for help. How privileged the church was to help him.
Then I thought about my office, the headquarters for UM Men. Isn’t this story a beautiful example of exactly what we want to do? Isn’t it important for local churches to understand the resources and training that UM Men can provide to help them carry out their specific ministry? Our mission is to “help men grow in Christ, so others may know Christ.” I was reminded that no matter how many miles our team must travel or how weary we get at times, the mission is ALWAYS worth it.
Director of marketing and development
General Commission on UM Men