Monday, May 27, 2013

Follow the Leader

Recently I was remembering how much I enjoyed playing follow the leader as a child. I remember waiting for my turn to be the leader – it meant I could go wherever I wanted to go and everyone else had to follow.

How times have changed!

As a follower of Jesus Christ I look at leadership in a whole new way. When Jesus washed the feet of the Disciples in that tiny room in Jerusalem, he provided us with one of the most notable “show and tell” moments in history. Jesus exemplified Servanthood and revolutionized Leadership.

The job of every Christian is to reflect Jesus Christ to the world. He told us he “came not to be served but to serve others.”  The focus is on others -- Servant Leadership. We lead best by serving.

As I've taken leadership roles in the church and other areas of my life, I've learned that the opportunity to lead is a gift and should be exercised with much care, noble purpose and humility. As a Servant Leader it is so important to seek to live a life of integrity and compassion, always treating others with respect, dignity and kindness.

I've also learned that the key to successful servant leadership always involves two dynamics - the task and the relationship. Attention to the task is important to success, but success could never be accomplished without relationships.

Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect, kindness, active listening, accountability, positive attitude, appreciation  and  encouragement. We are reminded in Hebrews 3:13 “encourage one another every day.”

I am a firm believer that all of us together are much wiser than any of us alone.

I no longer think about my turn at Follow the Leader. I am following Christ to where I want to go. I am  asking  God  daily  to make me a better servant and I am looking forward to every opportunity to Follow The Leader.

-- Dianne Traynham,North GA Ann Conf.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Even Greater Works?"

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the father. 
John 14:12 

I can only imagine the surprise of the disciples when they heard Jesus utter these words on the eve of his betrayal and crucifixion. The incarnate "Word" of God was preparing to exit stage left. And in his famously long exit interview with the disciples he made sure to tell them that they would do even greater things than he did among them.

It was the last week of August 2005 and there was a hurricane churning in the Gulf of Mexico like no other and it was making a bee line for New Orleans.  Before it's arrival it was anticipated to be the "Big One", a category 5 storm.

Many people of the New Orleans area and greater gulf coast headed for higher ground. Hundreds of thousands of them headed for North Georgia and the metro Atlanta area. They arrived, in most cases, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. In the immediate wake of the storm's devastation they had no choice but to stay in the region.

At the Action Ministries office we had discussions about what our response should be. Our primary programs were not disaster related, and our mission stated that we only served a certain geographic area.  However, we did agree that these evacuees were our neighbors.  Therefore, we decided that we would respond to their immediate hunger need.  We sent out an all points bulletin to the churches that we needed nonperishable food.  As the churches received the word, they passed it along to their members.  People responded with what they could do.

Food came in overwhelming amounts and a generous and steady supply of volunteers gave it out where the evacuees were gathered daily in enormous parking lots all around metro Atlanta. As we gave it out, we counted. This went on for 40 days before the immediate crisis morphed into mid and long term recovery.

As we began to catch our breath, I asked for a report of the number of meals that we provided. The number came back—200,000 meals, all provided by people of faith who each did what they could. A simple calculation told me that we served an average of 5,000 each day for 40 days in a row.

And then it dawned on me. Jesus told his disciples, "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the father." John 14:12.

I imagine those words must have fallen originally on deaf ears. But in time, all Jesus' disciples who hear the cry of the needy and respond with generosity are caught up in what God is doing. We may each find ourselves doing "even greater works."

-- John Moeller, President and CEO of Action Ministries, North Georgia Ann Conf. Photo is of volunteers from Action Ministries Rome.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Am Blessed, Despite My Surroundings

“Even in these tough economic times, I feel truly blessed. I may not have as much disposable income as I have had in the past, but I am finding that some of the things I spent my money on did not give me lasting contentment.   I am eating out less, but the food I am eating is healthier and better prepared.  As a bonus, I am spending less on gas to go places where I will spend more money on things that I do not need.  I admit that I am lucky – I have a job with income and benefits.   I may wish for more money, but I am not suffering.  And yet I know that there is a lot of suffering throughout the world.

The following passage is from 2 Corinthians 9:11-13:

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. Your ministry of this service to God’s people isn’t only fully meeting their needs but it is also multiplying in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. They will give honor to God for your obedience to your confession of Christ’s gospel. They will do this because this service provides evidence of your obedience, and because of your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone.     (Common English Bible)

This passage reminds us that we are called by God to give to others less fortunate than ourselves.   Because we are part of the United Methodist Church, we promise faithfully to participate in its ministries through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.”

-- Susan Hutchings, Finance Chair, Trinity UMC in Montello, Wisconsin Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, May 6, 2013

Giving Means Thinking Positively

Make the most of every chance you get.   These are desperate times.”  
(Ephesians 5:16 The Message)

As we begin the month of May in our church, we’re making the transition from spring to summer.   We’re moving from a busy, busy time to a little bit slower schedule over the summer with generally lower attendance (unless you live in a vacation area!).   The “snowbirds” return from the south and others are missing due to vacations and other activities.

What is God calling you to give this summer – of your time, your talents and your treasures?  Do you have time to help clean and paint some Sunday School rooms?  Do you have a talent to offer during Vacation Bible School – even if your own children are grown?  Perhaps you can try giving your regular tithes and offerings electronically through your bank over the next three months, especially if you have lots of weekends when you’re out-of-town.

Here are some thoughts to share as you move through this summer:

1.    Be positive when inviting members and friends of the church to give.  Your church does good work and you are inviting others to invest in that ministry.
2.    Giving to God is not a transaction.  Anytime you give anyone a gift it is a reflection of your relationship.  Your commitment to the church should be a reflection of your relationship with God in Christ and the Church.
3.    People give to change lives.
4.    Money is never an end in itself in the church.  Money is a tool for ministry.  A bank account that is bursting at the seams but not used for ministry is like having a sanctuary no one is ever allowed to enter.
5.    Churches that have regular stewardship campaigns receive more money from their members than those that do not.  You get what you ask for, not what you wish for.

-- Wisconsin Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer