A bi-monthly e-letter by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
It’s how we play the game that counts
By Bishop James Swanson
Leadership appears to shine, and it is a position coveted by many.
However, few people understand that leadership shines because of the tragedies, disappointments, heartaches, gut-wrenching decisions, and difficulties that have polished the leadership positions with which they have been blessed.
It is the shining that beckons men and women to pursue leadership positions and sometimes blinds them to the cost they will be required to pay in order to meet the demands that the position places upon them.
In the midst of COVID-19 ––at a time calling for racial healing ––during an era when, governments fail to find moral footing ––and when the church is wounded by disagreement and the inability to heal itself ––we find ourselves in desperate need of leadership.
“John Kotter, former professor at the Harvard Business School, contrasts management with leadership.
He says management is simply maintaining the status quo. It is only concerned with winning the game by throwing the darts as close to the bull's eye as possible.
In contrast, leadership is knowing which game we should be playing and why; only then do leaders use their talents and strengths to play well.
Are we seeking to win the game,
or have we even stopped long enough to even discuss knowing which game we’re playing and why?
If we’re really Christian leaders, how we play the game says more about us than winning the game. As Wesleyan Christians it’s not about winning, it’s about going on to perfection in love.
Men are notorious for desiring to win at all cost. If anyone needs to change the orientation from winning to modeling Christ, it is men.
Bishop James Swanson, president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
They’re just words––or are they?
By Bishop Gary Mueller
It seems that almost every United Methodist meeting I attend these days includes the following words: “liminal,” “asynchronous,” “actionable,” “emotional intelligence,” nimble,” “new normal,” “transparent,” and “adaptive.”
I even use these words myself.
While they can be helpful in describing the world in which the church finds itself, I am convinced we also need to employ the language of faith.
The reason is simple: How we talk about something goes a long way in determining what we do about it.
It is time for those of us who love Jesus as Savior and Lord, and those who seek to live as his disciples, and who long for God’s will to be just as real on earth as it already is in heaven to inject the language of faith into our lives far more intentionally.
I realize this is a challenge for many of us because we tend to shy away from using faith language, often as a reaction against its frequent misuse.
But, if we don’t use the language of faith, we will soon discover our lives are being shaped primarily by things other than faith. That’s because faith impacts every single part of our lives all day long.
How often we talk about Jesus as Lord and Savior ––how often we mention the Kingdom of God, ––how frequently we speak about the fullness of grace ––how regularly we share our commitment to living out that discipleship ––speaks volumes.
If these things are an important part to us, they should be expressed in the words we use. Even more importantly, they help us live more fully into our true identity of whose we are.
May we choose words that remind us and others of what we believe about life––both now and for eternity to come
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president
General Commission on UM Men
Words on the Wall
By Gil Hanke
I have a piece of paper taped to the edge of a shelf in my office containing several short sentences from various sources.
The same sentences are saved in my computer as “Words on the Wall.”
None of the phrases has ever been removed; each one comforts, challenges, or inspires me.
I added a new sentence today. It is taken from an entry in the May 12, 2021 Upper Room Disciplines written by Denise W. Mack: “Do we live in a way that shows Christ in us?”
I was in a small group for a while with a very talented, spirit-filled guy who was very active in another denomination. When we talked about how we relate to other people, he explained, “I want to see the Christ in them, and I want them to see the Christ in me.”
I am sure there are many times people see or hear me react to something, and to their ears and eyes, nothing is Christlike. And I know wonderful friends who have a secure faith in Christ who, at times, may not seem very Christlike.
But, what a goal to see Christ in every situation––in joyful celebration––before an important meeting––in a painful circumstance––listening to friend in need of hope––or connecting with a friend from years ago.
I can picture in my mind situations where I should have told the person joining me in laughter or coming to my aid, “I see Christ in you.”
Whether in joy or pain, each was a friend who showed me Christ––words were optional.
What can we do today to reveal the Christ in us to all we meet?
Gil Hanke, chief executive officer
General Commission on UM Men
Keep it simple
By Dr. Rick Vance
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
–– Philippians 4:8
Speaking to the church in Philippi, Paul says the process of discipleship is as simple as focusing on that which is lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
The most common questions I am asked is, “Will you give me a plan that will make men’s ministry work in my church?”
I tell them to:
Develop relationships with the men in your church.
Get men involved in small accountable groups.
Listen to the men to determine their needs, interests, and hopes.
Encourage these men to invite other men to join them.
Even though these are simple steps, most men go out and develop a complex multi-step process that requires more time than they have, to implement.
In an article, The Complexity Bias, Becky Kane sarcastically asks, “Why choose a simple explanation when a complex one will do?”
She describes complexity bias as “our tendency to prefer complicated explanations and solutions over simple ones.”
It seems to me that we men always want to make a better mouse trap. When faced with a simple solution, we work hard to add more steps to make the solution seem better.
As men called to “coach men to THRIVE through Christ . . .” we need to get back to the basics. The solution to engaging men is to develop relationships, form small accountable groups, listen, and encourage men to invite their friends.
Kane suggests the following steps to cure our complexity bias.
Develop a bias for action over research.
Choose a system you can stick with.
Apply Occam’s Razor––“When faced with two possible explanations for the same evidence, the one that requires the fewest assumptions is most likely to be true.”
The Center for Man’s Ministries has a variety of resources that can help you in your endeavor to coach men.
Give us a call and we can talk.
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Another perspective on ministry
By Steven Scheid
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
––Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)
The stated mission of The United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Often the message loses its balance. Some see the need for “the transformation of the world” without the transformer (Christ). Some see the need “to make disciples of Jesus Christ” without the doing the work of transformation.
We need both.
We need to not only read the scriptures we need our lives to become living scriptures. The way we live into our relationship with God may be the only scripture others see.
This is the calling of all followers of Christ.
In his letter to the members of the church in Ephesus, Paul says God calls people into different roles. Some are called to theological roles and some to administrative functions. Some are called for evangelism, teaching, preaching, or . . .
The body has many parts, but they all need to work together to form a whole person.
In Scouting ministries, we not only need people to engage in different roles, we need the same person to assume different roles at different times.
Sometimes we need to be teachers and sometimes learners. Sometimes we will preach the Word and sometimes we will be listeners to the Word.
As Scout leaders, we need to be prepared to address the needs of others as situations arise. We need to be, make, and do.
We will not all serve in the same roles at the same time, but we are the body. When we do it well, we become the living body. People of our communities will want to become part of that body.
Are you prepared to fulfill the roles required of you as a member of this faith community?
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministry
General Commission on UM Men
Are you using your gifts wisely?
By Herman Lightsey
There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all people.
––1 Corinthians 12: 4-6
I had hip replacement surgery two weeks ago. It went well and I seem to be progressing as I should. This was my first major surgery and my first night in a hospital.
The skills of the doctors, nurses, and staff are amazing. God gave them gifts that they utilize to help others.
Each caregiver made me feel like I was their only patient. The doctors and nurses had prayers with my wife and me before surgery.
A few hours later I was up and walking.
This experience reminds me that God has given each of us unique gifts. Are we using them to serve God or ourselves?
If you are unsure of your spiritual gifts, consider taking a spiritual assessment provided by Discipleship Ministries here.
Knowing your spiritual gifts can help you determine your role within your local church and United Methodist Men.
Let me suggest two misuses of your spiritual gifts.
To believe your gifts are more important than the gifts given to others.
To excuse yourself from basic Christian responsibilities. You may not have the gift of healing, but you still need to show compassion and care for others.
What is God calling you to do in this ministry to men and their families?
Grace and peace,
Herman Lightsey, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Funding the UM Men Foundation makes a difference
By Steve Nailor
Our world is living through a disruptive and impactful time.
The UM Men Foundation (UMMF) has found we can still work toward making a difference for others.
As I sit down to write this newsletter, I give God thanks for your support of our UMMF. The ministries supported by the UMMF reach deeply into the world and change lives.
In its report, the Society of St. Andrews (SoSA) indicates that as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, 32 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table. Just last week, 30 million people missed meals because they did not have access to quality food for themselves and their families.
One hundred percent of the monies given to the foundation go toward funding ministries that support ministries of:
Feeding and food insecurities
Center for Men’s Ministry
Center for Scouting
These are some of the program ministries and ways the UMMF provides support. You can make a major difference in your foundation through Legacy and direct gifts. It is extremely important that we continue to grow the foundation so we can do more ministries.
SoSA efforts to feed hungry families are supplemented by thousands of Scout troops engaged in “Scouting for Food,” a national effort by Boy Scouts of America to provide canned goods to food distribution centers.
Meanwhile thousands of units of UM Men provide financial support to food pantries, volunteer with SoSA and other agencies, and deliver free meals to hungry families.
Your gift to the UM Men Foundation supports scouting and men’s ministries and their efforts to reduce food insecurity across the nation.
Visit our website for details.
Steve Nailor, president
UM Men Foundation
Change your focus
By Mark Lubbock
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
–– Matthew 6:22-23
There is an optical illusion where you may see an old woman, but if you change your focus you will see a lovely young lady with her head turned to the side.
Our world may be viewed in a similar way. If you listen to social media and the news, you may see darkness, despair, and hopelessness. If you spend time reading your Bible, meditating on it, and praying, you will see the world in a very different manner.
Astronomers place filters on their telescopes to limit what they seek. The filter blocks out hundreds of distractions enabling them to focus on a single light source.
Using the filter of God’s personal word to us enables us to see Him in the middle of everything.
John Wesley built the church around daily disciplines that empower the “God filter” to function.
Meditation: Think about what God’s Word means and what you should do.
Prayer: Speak and listen to God.
Fasting: Discipline the body in order to enhance spiritual discernment.
Study: Dig deeply into the Word.
Service: Do the work of the church to benefit others.
Worship: Set time for spiritual renewal.
Simplicity: Step away from distractions.
Consider making changes that will enable you to view the world as Jesus saw it. He asked those living under a cruel Roman occupation to change their focus and to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.
Don’t focus on conflicts and difficulties, focus on God’s possibilities, especially His promises!
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men
‘Go, therefore, and make disciples’
By Jim Boesch
This was Jesus’ post-training directive to the 11 disciples before he returned to His Father.
While the command is simple, it is also the biggest challenge we face as wanna-be disciples and disciple-makers.
Few of us find ourselves with a lot of extra time. We claim to be busy men and we don’t get any arguments from equally busy friends and colleagues.
One of the main reasons we struggle in effectively pursuing our discipling life purposes is we simply run out of time. Our days are filled with more to do than we can possibly tackle.
We are defeated before we begin.
Depending on our life season, we are consumed with responsibilities related to work, kids, wife, and hundreds of unexpected demands. It’s difficult to keep our heads above the proverbial water flooding our lives.
How in the world can we ever become a disciple much less make one?
To meet this challenge, I suggest we recast the word “therefore” to “as you go along.”
Since we can’t find tons of free time to work on becoming a disciple and much less a disciple-maker, let’s commit to having these spiritual-growth opportunities invade every aspect of our busy lives as we go along.
Whenever possible have “Christian conversations” where your on-growing relationship with God is at the center for all to experience.
Rather than try to change the busyness that now consumes your day, just embrace your time-management choices, and add moments that may become transforming discipling or disciple-making opportunities as you go along.
Add an “I-care-about-you” moment to daily interactions and add a spiritual insight to a stressful situation. Eat lunch with someone and be open to God’s lead to a discipling relationship as you go along.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men