Monday, September 8, 2008

Pastor; Let Your Family Know Where They Stand

One of the hardest parts about the pastoral gig is the always on mentality and the pressure to balance ministry and family.

But the last thing a busy pastor needs is more pressure, so ... here are some helpful hints for letting family know they rank last on the priority scale so you can really start cranking and get somewhere in ministry! Who knows - once freed from the deadweight of framily-time and obligations, you'll have amazing time to spend with God, stuff at church will be handled the way you actually want it handled (because you'll finally have time to do it all) ... you may even get a book deal out of it! Think how productive you'll be!

1. Ministry is a boundary-less vocation, by definition - so, by all means avoid setting any. You'll only be frustrated when important ministry stuff that could be done occurs to you in the middle of just hanging out with your kids.

2. Meditate on how important ministry is. Do it. Right now! I mean, this is work with "eternal significance" right? Your spouse and kids will always be there, but that crisis over at the Jones' (today) and that problem with the Smiths (tomorrow) and the important meeting of the Finance Committee (the day after) and all the rest ... you only have one shot to get that right, right? Let the family know that on Saturday from 9:15am until the Church softball game at 11:30am, you are all theirs! Then go do some real ministry.

3. Your spouse knew what they were signing on for when they married someone going into ministry, right? Don't let the complaints get to you.

What other helpful hints do you all have for minimizing the distractions of family and focusing on what really matters?

[from PastorHacks by bob hyatt]

Ex-Pastor Gets Prison

A former church pastor has been sentenced to six years in prison for having more than 1,000 still pictures and videos of child pornography.

Elie Quinonez, 35, of Pueblo has also been ordered by U.S. District Judge Walker D. Miller to register as a sex offender.

Quinonez was caught in a sting by the police in Waterford, Ohio, in which Quinonez was led to believe that the adult he was communicating with online had a 14-year-old daughter.

According to federal investigators, Quinonez asked for pornographic images of the 14-year-old from the man, who turned out to be an undercover officer.

The screen name of the person requesting the illegal photos was identified and both the Greeley and the Pueblo police departments were asked to help identify the instant messages. Investigators found that Quinonez, who had also been a correctional officer in Weld County, was the person using the screen name.

Quinonez's computer and numerous storage units were seized. On them, the FBI found the pornographic pictures and more than 500 e-mail messages Quinonez had sent or received that contained child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said that Quinonez betrayed the trust of those who believed in him.
"People looked up to Mr. Quinonez, but he let the community down," said Eid. "Behind those Internet images are real children. They're victimized again and again, and they deserved better."

Miller ordered that once Quinonez completes his sentence, he serve an additional five years of supervised release.

Quinonez had been pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy in Pueblo. He was removed from that job after the raid and then moved to Texas.

[By Howard Pankratz -- The Denver Post]

Sarah Palin's Pentecostal Roots

Sarah Palin often identifies herself simply as Christian. Yet John McCain's running mate has deep roots in Pentecostalism, a spirit-filled Christian tradition that is one of the fastest growing in the world. It's often derided by outsiders and Bible-believers alike.

Palin was baptized Roman Catholic as a newborn. She was then baptized in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church as a teen and attended that church until six years ago, when she and her family adopted a different home church, an independent evangelical church.

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, has said Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.

Details of Palin's religious background and its influence on her public policy are still emerging. As Alaska governor, she signed a proclamation as Alaska's governor honoring Christian Heritage Week and said creationism shouldn't be barred from classroom discussions.

She used traditional evangelical language in praying that a natural gas pipeline be built in Alaska and that the U.S. mission in Iraq was a "task that is from God." Yet she's also said she would not force her views on others.

Palin identifies herself only as Christian in her biography on the National Governors' Association Web site. In an Aug. 14 interview with Time magazine, she once again described herself as Christian. When pressed, she said she attended a "nondenominational Bible church."

"I was baptized Catholic as a newborn and then my family started going to nondenominational churches throughout our life," she said. She did not mention her longtime association with the Assemblies of God, which claims nearly 3 million members and is one of the biggest Pentecostal groups in the U.S.

Grant Wacker, an expert in Pentecostalism at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., said he can understand why. He said the McCain campaign likely doesn't want Palin associated with the best-known Pentecostal to ever hold public office, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, an active member of the Assemblies of God.

"Though Pentecostals are diverse and rapidly mainstreaming themselves, the public still perceives them as sectarian and uncompromising, and those traits will not help Palin's image," Wacker said.

Palin was baptized as a teenager in Alaska at the Wasilla Assembly of God, which she and her family attended until 2002.

"The fact is she has grown up and has associated with one of our Assemblies of God churches, which is a Pentecostal church, for years," said the Rev. Bill Welch, superintendent of the denomination's Alaska District. "Pentecostalism is bound to have some kind of impact and influence on her."

Pentecostals are conservative in their reading of the Bible and, often, culture.

The Rev. Ed Kalnins, senior pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God since 1999, once questioned in a sermon whether people who voted for Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election would get into heaven.

Unlike most other Christians — including most evangelicals — Pentecostals believe in "baptism in the Holy Spirit." That can manifest itself through speaking in tongues, modern-day prophesy and faith healing.

The Assemblies of God teaches that spirit baptism must be accompanied by speaking in tongues. Still, some churchgoers never have the experience.

Before running for Alaska governor, Palin also frequented Wasilla's Church on the Rock, an independent Pentecostal church, senior pastor David Pepper said in a statement.

About six years ago, the Palins began attending their current church home, Wasilla Bible Church, an independent evangelical congregation of truck drivers, executives and teachers, pastor Larry Kroon said.

It's a "simple community church," Kroon said, that is not Pentecostal. Still, Palin has remained close to the Pentecostal community.

Her pastor for most of her time at Wasilla Assembly of God, Paul Riley, said he gave the invocation at Palin's inauguration. As governor, she renamed the church's street "Riley Avenue" for him.

She sometimes worships at Juneau Christian Center, another Assemblies of God church, said Brad Kesler of the Alaska District of the Assemblies of God.

Palin used mostly traditional evangelical language when she spoke at a June ceremony for future mission workers at the Wasilla Assembly of God. A video of her talk was posted on the church Web site, then turned up elsewhere on the Internet.

Noting that her oldest son, Track, an Army private, is being sent to Iraq this month, Palin asked the audience to pray for military men and women. She also asked for prayer "that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God."

"That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for — that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan," she said.

She spoke about her responsibilities as governor, including job creation, and said she was trying to win support for a multibillion-dollar pipeline that would bring natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 states.

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built," she said. "So pray for that."

Still, she said the state needed more than just economic development.

"Really, all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God," she said. "Your job is going to be to be out there reaching the people — hurting people — throughout Alaska and we can work together to make sure God's will be done here."

Her current church, Wasilla Bible Church, stresses the inerrancy of Scripture.

Last Sunday's church bulletin advertised an upcoming Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage. The conferences promise to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome."

Palin opposes abortion and gay marriage. But in December 2006, she told The Associated Press that her stances on certain lightning-rod issues would not necessarily translate into public policy.

"I've honestly answered the questions on what my personal views are on things like abortion and a lot of controversial issues," she said. "I won't hesitate to answer those questions about what my personal views are, but I am not one to be out there preaching and forcing my views on anyone else."

[Associated Press]

Finding Your Passions and Dreams

I have found several clear purpose-driven principles that have kept me on track most of my life. Several questions are always running through my mind as I make decisions and set goals for myself and my family.

1. Is there anyone in my life bigger than myself? Here's another way to pose this question: Do I answer to anyone else about the choices I make and the goals I have for my life? Actually, the biggest person you need in your life is God. We all require someone to be accountable to and someone whom we know is wiser than us. Because I know God is such a major part of my life, I often ask myself, "Will this direction I am taking be pleasing to God? Are my choices in harmony with the desires He has for my life in being a person of character, moral integrity and showing kindness to others?"

2. Am I here on this earth to serve others? If I'm attempting to find my purpose, why would I need to serve others? This is exactly why people have such a difficult time finding their purpose in life. We keep thinking our significance lies in self fulfillment when all that we are designed for is to put others ahead of ourselves and to use our gifts and talents for them.

Purpose is not about finding rewards in the next life; it's about finding the satisfaction of helping someone else in this life.

3. Do I know what gifts and talents I possess? Finding the abilities God has given you must become your lifetime goal above and beyond everything else you do. If you are in a 9 to 5 job where you feel your talents are going to waste, then use at least one hour a night and 4-5 hours over the weekend doing something you really enjoy - writing, painting, playing an instrument, researching college extension courses to further your education or learning from people who are in a career you'd love to break into.

4. Where do others tell me my talents lie? Quiz people who know you, "Where do you think I am most talented?" In addition, hang out people who will pick you up when you become discouraged.

A friend who is an accomplished speaker shared with me how he got started, "The last thing I ever wanted to do was give a speech in front of real people. So I worked up the guts to take a speech class in high school to overcome my fears. I signed up for more public speaking classes in college until I finally felt comfortable. Now I love to speak in front of crowds both in small venues and places where the audience is jammed packed. My secret? I kept working on my passion to share my ideas in front of an audience until I started to enjoy the experience."

5. Am I willing to do anything to take risks? If you want to discover your significance in life, but you refuse to take any risks, you're going to have a dull old time. Do you want to teach? Volunteer at a church or a school group to teach a class. Are you a musician? Join a band and practice like mad so you sound like you know what you're doing. Send in an article to local newspapers and magazines if you feel your talent is writing. Get involved in a small theatre group since you detect acting is your forte. Become a familiar face in the very location where you would love to spend your career.

[By John Tesh. Email John:]

Top 10 Qualities of a Successful Leader

Many writers have penned essays on the characteristics, behaviors, values and attitudes that spell success for the entrepreneurial leader. My top 10 list goes further -- blending the theoretical, practical and the common sense based on 25 years I've spent in the field assessing, coaching and consulting leaders.

1. The successful leader has a vision: Think things through and know where you want to go and how you want to get there. Work with others to ensure a vision is followed through. Direct the actions and resources toward making it a reality.

2. The successful leader communicates well: Articulate a vision clearly to others. Encourage two-way communication between managers and non-managers and always be available to others. Strive to be succinct and specific about directions and instructions. Above all, a good leader avoids generalizations and ambiguities that can lead to misunderstanding, conflict and poor performance.

3. The successful leader supports and guides the employees: Start by helping others clarify and achieve goals by identifying and removing any obstacles. Provide the resources -- time, money, people, information and equipment -- needed to complete the task. Don't reprimand others who make mistakes when taking a well-calculated risk. Instead, critique and analyze what went wrong and what went right. Next, work with the employee to correct the error. Decide whether another attempt at a previous goal is necessary, and offer encouragement if it is. During the entire process, provide appropriate feedback to ensure positive attitudes and actions. Serve as a model of good attitude and use approaches that others can emulate.

4. The successful leader believes in his/herself: A good leader possesses a strong sense of confidence, built upon years of learning, experimenting and at times failing -- but always growing. Be aware of personal strengths and limitations, and demonstrate those skills and talents without boasting. Assume responsibility for faults and personal errors without hiding them or blaming others -- and know that if a mistake occurs, it does not equate to inadequacy. A successful leader believes that he or she can turn around a negative situation by re-examining the variables and other circumstances -- with input from others, when necessary.

5. The successful leader creates the atmosphere that encourages others to grow and thrive: Know that no one individual possesses all of the answers. By appreciating the role that motivational techniques can play in improving employee performance, you can work with others to increase organizational productivity and improve individual job satisfaction.

Here are some tips on how to create a motivational atmosphere:

- Ask people their opinion rather than telling them yours.
- When people ask you for solutions, have them come up with answers or options rather than telling them the best way to resolve a situation. Discuss the merits of their views and how to make them successful.
- Provide positive feedback when employees voice their opinions. Offer suggestions or try to resolve challenges. Reinforcing behavior on your part will encourage more spontaneity, thinking and innovation on their part.
- Ask questions -- even when you don't know the answer. Ask employees challenging questions that encourage them to think, plan and react. Above all, encourage employees to challenge themselves.
- Encourage employees to take appropriate risks. Support them when they do and also when the outcome of risk-taking isn't positive. In those cases, evaluate what went wrong and encourage other, more appropriate risks.

6. The successful leader manages by walking around: By getting out of the office and walking around the department, plant or building to interact with other employees, you get an opportunity to see people on the line doing daily tasks. Create an opportunity to informally chat with employees and learn something more about their work challenges and lives.

7. The successful leader acts and reacts in an honest manner: Authors and creators of The Leadership Challenge program Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner report that honesty is the No. 1 characteristic of superior leaders. Honest leaders easily build trust and confidence. Their employees are more apt to work harder, ask questions and respect leaders who come across as honest. Employees will also accept critiques, whether positive or negative, from leaders they trust and believe.

8. The successful leader creates and fosters a learning environment: Recognize that increased knowledge, more job experience and challenging different mind-sets increases worker satisfaction, motivation and productivity. Frequently encourage others to think outside-the-box and see issues from alternate perspectives.

9. The successful leader perseveres: Don't deflect from achieving goals simply because obstacles exist or no answer is readily available. Continue in your pursuit of excellence despite barriers and criticism, and encourage the same attitude in others.

10. The successful leader shares successes: Know that positive outcomes are rarely the result of only one person's attempts or input. A self-confident entrepreneur shares the limelight and accolades with others who contributed to the final product or service.

[Written by David Javitch of]