What I look for in an elder

Our church is going through an elder search process. I honestly didn’t think much about it all until a few weeks ago when I decided that I really needed to start thinking about who I would like to see serve as an elder in our church.

But before I could do that, before I could come up with any names, I found that I needed to take a step back and really think about what I thought were the characteristics of an elder for me.  What kind of person would I throw my support behind?  What kind of person would I trust and feel like I could go to when I needed help?  What kind of person would I really trust to shepherd myself and my family?

I am a list-maker, so I decided I would make a list and see what happened.  So, on the way to work in my van (where I do all of my great thinking), I started my list.  I’d love to hear what you would add to the list.

  • Notice people
  • Interested in the lives of others
  • Pray for others
  • Approachable
  • Keep confidentiality
  • Ask others how they are doing
  • Listen – REALLY listen
  • Open about their lives
  • Honest
  • Appreciative
  • Open heart
  • Generous
  • Encouraging – Uplifts others (positive thinker)

This is not an extensive list, and others probably disagree with my list.  But for me, these are the things that I looked for in an elder. And after I created my list, choosing names was easy and fun. 

What is on your list?

Generosity in giving praise

At work, at school, at church, and sometimes even at home.  Do you ever feel like the only time you hear from people is when you have done something wrong?  Or when others think you should be doing better, more, etc.?

We live in a world where kind words and genuine praise are out of the norm.

I have been on a quest to learn more about generosity this year.  Chris and I have thought a lot about how we can be on the look-out for ways to be generous in our daily lives.  This includes giving money to church and others, but also in how we can generously serve others with our time, talents and other resources.

This morning, it hit me!  We should also be generous with our praise for others.

Last weekend, I went to a Mini-Photography Camp for kids at our church.  It was absolutely wonderful!  The next day (Sunday morning) at church, a man who had attended the event was grabbing people in the church lobby to tell them how awesome the event was!  I immediately texted my friend that led the event to let him know this man was spreading the word at how great it was!  I told Chris about it on the way home, and we both thought it was awesome!  We should be doing more of this!  Recognizing and praising others for good things…and telling other people what we’ve seen our friends do!

Yesterday, someone did something really nice for me.  I sent this person an email saying how much I appreciated what he did and that I thought he was wonderful.  It was a quick, simple, short email.  When I got an email back from him, the first word he wrote was “Wow!”

And this morning, I thought “That’s it!  We should be so generous with our praise for others that they are shocked!  We should make them stop, think and say WOW!”

Hebrews 10:24 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Praising someone for something good or great that they have done is encouraging!  It makes them want to do more of that!

One of my friends posted this article today where a high school boy posted pictures anonymously of kids from his school for a whole year and said nice things about them.  It talked about how blown away the kids were at the nice things said about them.  It’s a good read!

What if we gave praise generously?

What if we were known for our kind words?

What if we went around surprising the people around us by praise and appreciation of them?

What if all Christians did this?

It could change lives.

It could make things better.

It could slowly but surely change the world.

Who’s in?

On getting schooled by your 8-year-old on generosity

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I’ve read 4 books about generosity this year.

I meet with a team to discuss and plan for generosity.

I talk about generosity a lot in my work.

But you know who has taught me the most about generosity lately?  My 8-year-old son.

Last week, we were up at his school for open house.  We were standing in the hall as he showed me his work posted on the wall outside his classroom.  I was supposed to answer questions to see if I was smarter than a third grader.  (I’m happy to announce that I got my question right!  Whew!)

And then one of his friends walked by and I noticed it.  He had something on that was obviously Caleb’s.  I looked at Caleb.  Caleb looked at me.  I asked him about it.  He said he had let his friend borrow it.

It was something that I kind of have sentimental feelings about.  This item is something kind of special.

This kind of thing has happened before.

Years ago, Caleb was dying for some little toys that kids at school were getting through a fundraiser.  We were not doing the fundraiser, so he was not getting them.  Then one day much later, I was walking through Target and saw a box of them.  I don’t buy my kids toys very often, but I knew how much Caleb had been wanting them.  A wave of love for him flooded over me in the aisle, and I decided to buy them for him.  To surprise him with these small toys that he had been wanting for so long.

He took these toys with him everywhere.  He carried them in a little bag.  One night, we went to dinner with family and he left them at the restaurant.  On the way home, he realized he had left them and was freaking out.  I called the restaurant, but they said they didn’t see them.  I even left our phone number to call us back if they did turn up.

Months later, I found more of these small toys and bought them for Caleb.  They came in a pack of 12.  That same day, two of his friends came over to the house and he proceeded to give most of the toys away.

I’ll be honest.  I was hurt.  Buying him those toys had been a big deal to me.  It was an act of love.  It was something special that I wanted to do for him.  But he gave them away.

And I’ll be honest again.  Last week, standing in the hall at his school, I had him ask for this other special item back.

Later that night, I told Caleb how proud I was of him that he is so willing to give anything he has away.  No matter how special it is.  I really am proud of him.

But that night has haunted me ever since.

I don’t really know what I should have done.  Maybe I should have let the other kid keep the item that was special to me.  Or maybe I did the right thing to try to teach my son that sometimes things are just special and you need to think of what they mean to others also.

I really don’t know.

But I can tell you that I learned just how generous my son is.  And I should strive to be more like him.  I know for a fact he gives things away all the time.  If someone needs something or wants something, he wants to give anything he can.  And I know that because of his generosity, he is on the receiving end all the time too.  He comes home with things that kids from school gave him all the time.

These kids know how to give!

Over the last week, I’ve been wrestling with things.  I want to be someone who is extravagantly generous with all that I have.  I don’t want material things to have a hold on me.  I know everything that I have belongs to God.  I should be willing to give everything!

I want to be part of a church that is known for its extravagant giving.  A church that boldly gives money and things away to those that need them because it knows that God is not a God of scarcity…He is a God of enough.

I want to test God when He says, “Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

To do that, I need to be more like my 8-year-old son.

Reading the Bible

I grew up in a Baptist church full of wonderful people. (I almost literally grew up there. We were there every time the doors were open and many times when they weren’t.)

My family now attends a Church of Christ church.

Both traditions love the Bible. They encourage their members to read and study the Bible so they really know and understand it and in turn know and understand God. They are both beautiful in their love for God’s Word.

Growing up, I thought that if I wasn’t reading the Bible from end to end in a year, I was sinning. So I read it like crazy. Really, it would take me about 18-months to read it most of the time. It’s a long book! 😀

As an adult, I have still felt like if I wasn’t reading 2-5 chapters a day, I was a Christian failure!

But recently, a friend helped me out. She encouraged me to just pick one verse to think about for awhile. And any time that I feel the need to read scripture, I go back to this verse.

Right now my verse is:

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

It’s been freeing to just think about, reflect on and sit with this one verse.

I don’t know how long I’ll be on this verse, but it’s been a good thing for me. I’m thankful for the chance to constantly learn different ways of interacting with God and his Word. And I’m thankful that it is living, breathing and impactful any way you read it!

Where do you see Jesus in your day?

Recently, a friend suggested that I take time at the end of my day to ask myself “Where did I see Jesus today?”

At night, I climb in my bed, snuggle under the covers and let myself think back over my day. (On the nights that I remember. No guilt is allowed if I forget!) 🙂

Most nights at least one thing pops into my mind almost immediately.

I don’t write these down. I just reflect on how I saw Jesus and silently celebrate His presence.

There have been a few times where the thing that popped into my mind included something that happened with someone else. And when I’ve taken the time to share with the other person that I saw Jesus through something they said or did, it has been very special.  Who doesn’t like hearing that Jesus was seen in them?

I’ve always known God was working in my life and in others’ too. I just haven’t been that great at looking for it on a daily basis.

But now that I’m starting to look for it more, I am learning to expect it.  I’ve realized over the last week that I have begun noticing His presence more during my day.  I still reflect on it at night, but I’m getting better at noticing Him in the middle of my day.

Most of the time, it comes in the smallest things.

I see Jesus in conversations with friends.

I see Jesus in my husband dancing silly. Really any time I see him happy.

I see Jesus when I laugh so hard I cry.

I see Jesus when my kids play nice together. 🙂

God is with us. There is evidence of his presence in our lives everywhere.

We…I just have to look for it.

Where do you see Jesus in your day?

Waiting

Lately, I feel like my life is a series of periods of waiting on God. Waiting for an answer. Waiting for clarity. Waiting and listening. Gut wrenching, soul-searching, waiting.

Anybody with me on this?

Saturday morning, my mom sent me the Bible verse “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Ps. 27:14

I wrote about this not long ago.

Below is an excerpt from an email that I replied back to my mom:

“It seems like life is a series of times of waiting on God. Seems like we’re always waiting on something. Constantly waiting to hear what he wants us to do next. At least that’s how I feel. It’s nice to know he’s in control because I don’t feel like I’m in control of anything. So I wait. But the thing is, he is faithful and good in the bad times, in the good times and in the waiting.”

I’m not sure I’ll ever really like waiting. In fact, I know I won’t.  I’m a girl who likes action.  I like to have a plan in place.  I like answers and certainty.  But now, after being given so many chances to wait, it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I have learned that God is truly with me. He’s always been there with me. I trust him.  And things may not go how I want them to go. (They already haven’t time and time again.) But I know that no matter what, I will have God’s love and presence. And that makes the waiting more bearable.

I have also learned that there is beauty in the waiting.  There is beauty in not having all the answers.  Beauty in giving up control and realizing you have to rely on someone else.

There is a whole heck of a lot of beauty in the moments of stillness.  In the quiet emptiness (however long it is) before God answers.

There is beauty in the searching.  In the asking.  In the pleading.

I believe God thinks times of waiting are beautiful too.  They are some of the times that mold, shape and transform us the most in life.  They are the times that I have clung to God and been close to him.  They aren’t fun, but they are precious times.

Our church is about to start an Advent class, and I’m excited. The waiting of Advent gives me a renewed sense of hope.  I’m excited to wait in anticipation. Wait with hope. With longing for the Son of God. That tiny baby who loves and saves us all.

Just wait.

Leadership: Understanding our role as followers first

Two years ago, a friend at my annual Church Administrator’s conference showed me the video above.  I thought it was pretty good, so I showed it to our church staff in a staff meeting devo.  I still like this video.  It’s kind of funny, but it proves a great point:

Leaders are first (and foremost) followers.

We are called to first follow Christ.  To obey God’s commands and follow in his footsteps.  If we really love God, we will want to obey his commands in order to be like him and show him love and respect.

And if we’re truly followers of Christ and acting out of our love and respect for him, we will become servants.  Christ was the ultimate servant!  The best leaders are servants.  Not ones seeking position and authority but those earnestly seeking to follow Christ.  People who love and serve others.  People who aren’t looking out for themselves, but the interests of the larger group.

Who wouldn’t want to follow someone like that?