Create culture

To establish a certain culture, you need to teach it, practice it, and maintain it. Culture works better than a written rule book or position paper.

Without teaching it, no one will have a clue about why you do things the way you do. Teach it with clarity, teach it with substance, and teach it with passion.

Make sure you practice what you teach. If it’s culture, you do it. If you do it, then it becomes culture. By doing it, you enjoy all the benefits of what that culture produces within your organization.

If the culture you create is good enough to teach and practice, then you’ve got to maintain it. If you are not consistently focusing on it and maintaining it, then it will “slip” out of your hands quickly. You’ve got to keep the entire team focused on that culture you’ve created, teach it, practice it, and maintain it.

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Empty talk

Sometimes we can’t help it. We’ve got to use words to express the turmoil we feel inside. For some, this is more prevalent during the younger years. But for others, this runs into the later years as well.

Elihu was probably Job’s neighbor who spoke these words: “Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge” (Job 35:16). But we know of Job as a man of wisdom and with a great reputation.

Internal turmoil certainly has an impact on our thoughts and words. The older ones may have better control of words, but if the suffering is so extreme, words may be plenty.

Yet the next step is crucial. It is vital that we hold on to God and continue to trust him. That is one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face in life: trust.

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When assumptions become fact

It seems to be some part of a group dynamic. Someone makes an observation that results in an assumption. They share it with others – often with passion and a sense of conviction. The force of this, coupled with the group dynamic causes this idea to spread.

Once it goes beyond the initial group and individual who had the assumption in the first place, it somewhat becomes “fact” in the minds of the listeners. No one knows where it started, but everyone seems to believe it. Everyone seems to accept it.

Now, don’t you dare try to change it. Because who can change facts? Who will question the age old, accepted, tried and tested “facts”?

The assumption has become “fact.”

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But I’m too impatient to wait. I am too busy to wait. I just don’t want to wait. So why should I wait?

Sometimes our lives are put on “hold” for a season. For some people, that period of time is meant for growth and learning. For others, God is developing character within. But for others, God is testing them.

Job went through such a time of testing (Job 35:13). His suffering was so extreme that we cannot imagine it. The testing was meant to reaffirm and strengthen his commitment to God. This was a painful waiting time for him.

Maybe your waiting time extends for several years. Remember: Waiting is not wasting.  God is building you in ways you may not grasp. Trust in his wisdom and faithfulness.

Even when the pain continues – wait. You may be confused – but wait. Wait on God’s plan for your life.

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Why do some church plants fail? (13)

I don’t know. But I know that those who’re in it for the long run have a better chance.

While a student in California, I had the opportunity to learn Tennis at our college. The instructor taught us about “follow through” when hitting the ball. The idea was that if you retract the racquet soon after it engages the ball, you’ll have less power and control over the ball. But if you follow through, you’ll have better aim and the ball will move more powerfully.

Some church planters start with a time limit. “I’ll try this for five years.” Others take an extension. “Ok, I’ll do two more years.”

But “follow through” implies that you continue till the goal is reached, regardless of the cost. I know, it’s easy for me to say. Yet I realize this may not be the singular reason for failure.

People have taken various steps in the process of planting. They have moved into the town they’re reaching. Some purchased a home, got a job, put the kids in school there, and some even purchased a burial plot in that community (for themselves). So, the “investment” is not small. Let’s follow through to complete what we started.

Read the entire series: Why do some church plants fail?

  1. Trail of failures
  2. Persist in the process
  3. Stick to your values
  4. Continually share the Good News
  5. Seek out training
  6. Find fellowship
  7. Become a voracious reader
  8. Ask questions
  9. Leave a trail of influences
  10. Learn from criticism
  11. Learn from your mistakes
  12. Constantly raise up leaders
  13. Be in it for the long run

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Test, taste, choose

Ideas are many, and opinions are even more diverse. But we must learn to choose what is good and right.

“For the ear tests words
as the palate tastes food.
Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves
what is good” (Job 34:2-3).

It is our responsibility to test, taste, and choose what is right and good. According to the situations of people, they will formulate opinions about God. Their pain and struggles will cause them to doubt or even reject God.

Some say that God doesn’t care. He Created the world and just let it go. We just have to figure things out as we go along. Others say God is active and concerned about all that we face.

Test what you hear, taste it like food, and choose what is right and good.

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Value in existence

Think of the billions who currently live in this world and so many who have passed on before us. Each generation comes and goes. For a small number of people, their memory continues in the history books. But for most people, their memory may only remain for a few generations of their descendants, but that also dies out.

So, what in the world is the value of your existence? After you’re gone, you’ll be completely forgotten in a few years. Your memory may only live on for one or two generations. Do you have any significance other than to live and to die?

First, you have a unique contribution to make. That contribution is initially in your immediate and extended family. Your love, care, and any other means of expression is a contribution. That contribution also extends to the community around you. Your contribution is unique and valuable.

Second, you have a unique place in the heart of God. He is the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb. His love for you began even prior to that when he thought of you before the earth was created. You have the opportunity to love him and to live in relationship to him. That’s your greatest value.

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Who can understand God?

It’s not easy. Understanding God can be a challenge. We are often plagued by our own feelings of brokenness and we see things from that perspective. It is the perspective of the broken. We see God from that skewed perspective.

“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it” (Job 33:14).

God’s ways are diverse. He speaks to us from different angles to help us understand. He wants us to understand. He has our best interest in mind. But we fail to see it.

We’ve seen plenty of dishonest, abusive people, and we somehow misunderstood God from that vantage point. We think he is like that.

Relax. Listen. God is speaking. Through each event in life, he is speaking.

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Don’t substitute ability for character

There is a lot of respect for people with a high level of ability. Those who excel in their skills much beyond others rightfully earn respect.

Even if they are lacking in character, their ability earns them respect. Shall we say ability supersedes character? Lack of character is ignored in light of great ability.

This may be due to the high value we give to performance. This may be the case for actors, athletes, politicians, doctors, and preachers. If their performance is exceptional, their lack of character is ignored.

I wonder how society would be if character was the point of entry for those who “perform” various public tasks with high visibility?

There has to be another way.

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When you’re in trouble, everyone has an opinion

Job’s friends tried their best to find fault with him. After all, they were here to help. They felt they needed to find a solution.

All three of his friends finally give up since Job held on to his stance that he was innocent. They had no more to say. They had said plenty, trying to “impose” guilt on Job because of his sufferings.

Then, a young man named Elihu speaks up and wants to put in his share of words to the whole situation. He says:

“I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion” (Job 32:17).

In all this, God remains silent and observes. He allows us to speak our share of words and wisdom. You’ll hear a lot of voices all around you. Don’t be troubled. God is yet to speak out on the matter.

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