Leader Letter 12/15/2011
December 15th, 2011
From your partners in men’s ministry ––
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
December 15, 2011
Light and Good Tidings
By Gil Hanke
This week I have seen the intersection of two scriptures: Matthew 5:16 and Isaiah 40:9. These verses tell me to be a light and to declare good tidings. In some of my recent travels, I have driven on dark and rainy roads –– that kind of misty rain that makes seeing difficult and distorts perceptions. What was needed was more light.
In some of my travels I have been in meetings where participants wanted to center our work and attention on things that were wrong, broken, and dysfunctional. What these meetings needed was good tidings.
This is a season of both light and good tidings.
Advent and Christmas mark their passing by degrees of light. Each week there are more candles lit on the Advent wreath. Some in our neighborhood had lights up the Friday after Thanksgiving, and as Christmas draws closer the lights are being added to nearly every house.
In my job, I get to bring light to local congregations, districts and conferences about our ministries within GCUMM and the many ministries where we partner with other agencies and other entities inside and outside the UMC. In so many cases, folks comment, “I never knew the church was involved in that,” or “I didn’t know those resources were available,” or “I can get that training just by going to your website?” I have also been able to share some light about how Jesus has transformed mission teams and men’s small groups, and have been able to lift up His words of action which we are to do with intention.
In the midst of decline in many areas, there are also good tidings:
- Stories of growth and new ministries––of healing and wholeness––and new ministries that bring men and their families to a closer walk with Jesus, the Christ.
- Men who have lost their jobs, but found a new life.
- Young adults who are creating a new entrepreneurial ministry which will form leaders within all aspects of the church.
Within this agency we have seen new life, healing, and growth in unexpected areas. With a year of a troubled economy and some unexpected expenses we are finishing in the black.
God is so good!
I will not let the news of the world or of Washington diminish the light or the good news of our work together. I will look to next year with excitement and anticipation––not fear and worry. When we are obedient to His call, there is always light, and always good news!
Stay in touch; let me know how we can accelerate you in your ministry.
Striving to be His servant
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Santa can't get that for you
By John Dowell
Christmas is only a few days away, so I believe this would be an appropriate subject for our time together. Often determining the subject of these letters is the most difficult hurdle to overcome. While pondering this, a personal experience in 1983 came to mind.
I was not attending a church, and I was single.
Occasionally I would stop by a little pub. This particular year, Christmas Eve was on a Saturday, and I stopped by the pub on the Wednesday before to have a little Christmas cheer with a few of my friends.
The owner of the pub told us he was going have a Christmas Eve party and he needed someone to play Santa Claus, would any of us do it? Everyone was quiet, so I volunteered.
Remember, we were in a pub; there wouldn't be any little kids coming up to sit on Santa's lap –– only young women.
This was going to be fun.
Saturday evening came. I dressed up in my Santa Claus suit, beard and all. I was given a bag of little wrapped gifts the owner had provided for anyone who wanted to talk to Old Santa. I walked out through the back door saying, "Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas everyone." I went to my chair, and said, “Come up and tell old Santa what you want for Christmas.” Young ladies lined up and the fun began.
I got crazy requests like “I'd like a Mercedes Benz.”
I responded, “If old Santa gets you Mercedes Benz, could you afford the insurance?”
She said, “You get me one and I'll get the insurance.”
We all laughed. This went on for over an hour. As the line shortened, a young lady came up and set on my lap. I said, "Merry Christmas, what would you want old Santa to get you for Christmas?"
When I looked into her eyes I could see she was dead serious and she said, “Santa, I just want my little boy back.”
I, too, got serious. Fun and frolicking was over. I said, "Old Santa can't get that for you." Then in a moment of divine inspiration I said, “But I know someone who can.” I fell back on my childhood faith and said, “His name is Jesus.”
I asked her if we could pray; she said, “OK,” and we did.
I don't remember exactly what I prayed in that night. The jukebox was playing loud music and people were dancing. I quietly said in her ear something like, “Jesus, you can help this young lady. Her little boy needs to be home with his mother. This is really your special night and we all are doing wrong, but Jesus if you would do this, it would really be a special time for her. Amen.”
That was that. She got up, thanked me, and left.
Playing Santa Claus wasn't fun anymore, so I too got up, went to a back room and changed clothes.
I tried to find the woman, but she wasn't around. I didn't feel like partying anymore, so I quietly left and went home.
For the next few days, I thought about that young mother and then the memory of that night slowly begin to fade.
Several months later, I stopped by the pub and was sitting alone with my thoughts when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Santa, I just wanted to stop by to tell you I got my little boy back.”
I didn't know what to say, but then I said, “Honey, Santa didn't have anything to do with that.”
She said, “I know.”
Then she left. I never saw her again. I don't even know her name.
I have no idea where she is today; her son is grown man by now. But I do know this, one Christmas Eve long ago, God used a non-believer playing the fool as Santa Claus at a pub in Tampa, Fla., to touch the lives of a young mother, her son, and the one playing Santa.
What happening to me that night is what John Wesley calls “prevenient grace,” grace that goes before us.
The following June 2, 1984, I gave my life to Christ, and a second "little boy" found his way back home. My life has never been the same.
This special day this year is almost upon us, I thank God for all of you and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men
By Larry Coppock
Scout Sunday can be a memorable day for troops and groups sponsored by and meeting in your church (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, Big Brother Big Sisters).
Feb. 12 may also be a special day of recognition for parents, some of whom will be members of your church and some of whom are searching for a faith community.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other youth may be invited to lead various parts of the service; Scouts can serve as greeters and ushers, and time can be set aside for various awards.
Also, the Scout leader or youth director may nominate scouts or United Methodists between the ages of 6 to 30 for Good Samaritan Awards. The awards are designed to honor those who demonstrate the attributes of the Good Samaritan described in Luke 10:25–37.
Pastors may also use Scout Sunday to present Cross and Flame Awards to honor adults who lead the scouting program. It would also be an appropriate Sunday to present a Shepherd Church Award to recognize your congregation as a faith community that employs scouting as a ministry.
Facts about Scouting Ministry
1) Scout Sunday in the UMC is celebrated the second Sunday in February for BSA and the second Sunday in March for GSUSA; the first Sunday of each month is reserved for the celebration of Holy Communion. (Scout Sunday may be any Sunday the church selects).
2) Scouting Ministries includes four youth-serving agencies that we promote as outreach ministries to local churches: Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire USA and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
3) Over 550,000 youth meet in over 6,700 UM churches each year as members of one of these youth organizations. Surveys show that 50 percent come from unchurched families, providing a significant evangelistic opportunity.
We want to hear about your Scouting Ministry Sunday. Please send us a brief article and an action photo for potential publication in Scouting News.
The plans you make today will make your Scouting Ministry Sunday a meaningful one.
For more information about scouting ministries please visit our web site: www.umscouting.org.
Larry W. Coppock
Director, Scouting Ministries
General Commission on United Methodist Men
By Mark Lubbock
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
One major distinction of those churches that enjoy a vibrant and growing men’s ministry is that they PLAN! With a plan and goals in place, accompanied by firm dates and times, these churches make significant progress each year.
Over 2011, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with leaders of men’s groups around the globe. As these leaders share their stories, I discerned that we have a number of very dedicated folks with a heart to advance the Kingdom through making disciples for Jesus. So how do we capitalize on this pool of eager leaders and equip them to have an effective 2012?
1. Start now to set goals for 2012.
a. Limit yourself to three to five goals.
b. Set reasonable time frames for each goal.
2. List the resources needed to achieve each goal.
a. GCUMM is a rich resource –– take full advantage.
3. Develop a step-by-step plan for each goal. Start with the end result and work your way backwards.
4. Assign individuals the responsibility for executing the interim steps.
d. Survey participants to learn how to improve.
5. Leadership must meet regularly to keep the process moving and to adjust to inevitable challenges along the way.
The scripture in Luke points to the need to start with a plan and assessment in order to avoid an incomplete job. Look at the entire year rather than settling for single un-connected events. Your plan should be progressive where each event or component builds upon the previous –– all headed in a specific, measurable direction with a fixed goal at the endpoint.
We have both great opportunities and great challenges before us in 2012, but scripture assures us of help. Philippians 4:3 tells us, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
The God of “Big” Ideas
By Mark Dehority
In a recent conference call with some men’s ministry leaders, we discussed the overwhelming nature of God’s assignments. Some of the tasks seemed so large. Often we feel so overwhelmed. We don’t feel equipped or ready.
When a man feels challenged to help the men’s structure in an entire state and feels alone, it can be pretty overwhelming. How can I get this all accomplished? Who is going to help me? When will I find the time and energy? Is this really my calling? Will I really make a difference? Does anyone else really even care?
Sometimes I identify with Moses––not his greatness, but his weakness. God called Moses when he was eighty, an age when he probably felt the rest of his life was outlined for him. He could take care of the sheep, play with the grandkids, meet the other seniors for coffee every morning and stuff like that. Then God comes up with this plan and gives Moses this little task, “Go To Egypt, and bring my people home.”
Moses answers, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh, and lead the children of Israel, out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
God’s responds, “I’ll be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)
Then Moses gives his next four objections:
- “Suppose I go to the people of Israel and I tell them, ‘the God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ What do I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13)
- “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘God appeared to him? Hardly.’” (Exodus 4:1)
- “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before or after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.” (Exodus 4:10
- “O, Master, please send somebody else.” (Exodus 4:13)
God explained things to Moses after each objection and finally gets angry with Moses (Exodus 4:14-17). Talk about irritating the boss. Most of us are not brave enough to give five straight excuses to our spouses. So God basically put the staff in Moses hand and says, “Let’s go.” (Exodus 4:17)
I can’t find any examples in the Bible when God is refused and says, “OK, I’ll get someone else.”
When I have questions about the Bible, my pastor advises me to check what Jesus says or does. In one of his most human moments, Christ is in the garden preparing for his death and he ask God, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want” (Mathew 26:39). Jesus questions God and in the same sentence knows and submits to His will.
This is the example I recommend we follow. It is not by accident that this passage is in the Bible.
We have a big God. We live in a big world, with big challenges. Our big God has some really big ideas, like; disciple the world, feed the poor and change your own heart. Throughout the Bible unlikely people receive big challenges. These challenges can only be accomplished by Him working through us. If we trust in ourselves the moral of this story would be “suck it up.” If we rely on God, the moral is trust the Lord, as He says, “I’ll be with you” (Exodus 3:12).
Mark Dehority, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Living a Little Closer to the Edge
By Greg Arnold
One of the casualties of ministering to men comes from how close we sometimes must get to the edge in order to help our brothers. When we lose one, a piece of us dies.
It's not an accident that Christ surrounded himself with a circle of men with whom he felt the closest. Even the savior of the world recognized the challenges of a man's body, a man's emotions, and a man's struggles.
In my ministry life, I recently had the pleasure of working with a young man who was finding a new hope in Christ after escaping addiction to drugs.
One day after teaching a class at the local Addiction Recovery Program, he pulled me aside and began asking about laying up treasures in Heaven versus working for earthly treasure in our lifetime.
We pulled out the Bible and began to discuss God's word as the Holy Spirit directed the conversation. We left the conversation with joy and satisfaction and a certain peace about next steps. He continued to study and learn.
I interacted with the young man in following weeks and we would talk about our time together, checking in with each other about our treasures. He graduated from the recovery program and died four weeks later in the grip of an overdose.
One young man, with a life cut short, salvaged by Christ –– and now dead. I hope he's enjoying his treasure, but it doesn't make the sorrow accompanying the loss any easier.
What about the other men, women, and children who are struggling with life without the knowledge of Christ's peace?
Ministry is hard work. It demands time; it requires tenacity, and it takes commitment. When we agree to accept the yoke of Christ around our neck and follow His teachings, the decisions we make must be influenced by a heart like God's.
Looking across our great church, surveying the leaders and the organization, and listening to the heartbeat of men from every corner of the world, I hear God's heartbeat. The challenge we must accept when stepping into the role of "leader" is that we are willing to do the hard things. We are willing to commit. We are willing to give the time. We are willing to go to the edge with an outstretched hand so our brothers can climb out of despair, back into safety.
As we embark on our mission to make disciples for Christ, we must find accountability and we must surround ourselves with a core circle of guys who will hang on to us as we lean over the edge in hopes of rescuing one more man. We can't allow ourselves to walk quietly past our struggling brothers for fear of getting too close to the edge.
Christ went to the edge... and so should we.
If each of us will agree to pull in our inner circle, and each agree to disciple one man to a closer relationship with Christ, we'll see radical change in the lives of our churches.
Pause this Christmas to thank almighty God for sending us the gift of salvation through His son. Use this season to reflect on how far Christ went to rescue you and me. Then let's set our eyes on 2012 and do the hard things that make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Commit to do the hard things and live a little closer to the edge.
Greg Arnold deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Let’s lead like Jesus in 2012
By Jim Boesch
Jesus called the disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20: 25-28
The manner in which Jesus Christ influenced and developed His disciples provides us with the perfect model of servant leadership.
- He gave his followers a vision of something greater than themselves.
- He consistently reminded them of the long-term effects of their work.
- He allowed those around Him to fail, but he held them accountable.
- He redirected them.
- He forgave them
- He inspired the best
How are we being leading and being led 2000 years later?
Our work, home and churches are mired with self-serving or ineffective leaders. Many are so afraid of failing that they don’t try to lead.
Our world needs servant leaders, not self-serving leaders
For 2012, let’s set a Kingdom-building goal to partner together to become servant leaders in our work, homes and churches.
As we take this servant-leadership equipping journey, we will need to travel through two internal domains (our hearts and heads) and two external domains (our hands and habits). When these domains are trained and aligned, extraordinary levels of loyalty, trust, and productivity will result.
Jesus provides us with a practical and effective leadership model for all organizations, for all people and for all situations. He is the one to follow as we seek to lead others.
“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Matthew 23: 11-12
Stay tuned and be ready to take this journey. More details about the “Lead Like Jesus” servant-leadership training will be provided in early 2012. These training experiences are offered through a ministry founded by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men