Friday, November 14, 2008

Never a Discouraging Word

Perhaps you noticed on your own, but yesterday I neglected to highlight a new blog link. Randy Stumpfhauser, Woodward Park's very own BMX champion, is now blogging here. His blog has some great stories, beautiful family pictures, and a very apropos tribute to "the ultimate role model on the BMX Racing Circuit." Randy's friendship is a blessing in my life and I know his blog will become a blessing to yours.


It's Football Friday, but what's to be excited about this weekend? A disappointing home season ends tomorrow at the corner of Cedar and Barstow when the Dogs host the Farmers of New Mexico State. This game shapes up to be the poster-child for mediocrity. Fresno State hasn't lived up to expectations, but hey, you only get to attend five games a year. We'll be there, with tempered expectations.

As predicted, Nevada gashed the Dogs run defense last week. I called 41-31. The Dogs were a field goal short of fulfilling the call (41-28). As bad as the Dogs have played, the Farmers have been worse. The scoreboard lights up in a defense-less shootout.

Dogs -- 45
Farmers -- 41


How much slack are you willing to give to your ministers/elders?

This week has been like an epidemic. A wave of phone calls have poured in to me from friends and colleagues throughout the country struggling under the weight of criticism. Most of it is couched as "constructive criticism," but it is criticism nonetheless. The critic often never understands the depth of the wound inflicted on the man of God wholly devoted to the ministry.

When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to your spiritual mentors? When was the last time you told your minister you appreciate him? When was the last time you took an elder and his wife to lunch as an expression of appreciation for their spiritual work?

The words of Chuck Swindoll are ideal for this circumstance: "Be tolerant with your (shepherd). A better word is patient. Try your best not to be too demanding or set your expectations too high. Multiply your own requests by however many there are in your church, and you'll have some idea of what the shepherd of the flock must live with. Be very understanding...Pray for him! Encourage him! When you do, you'll find him all the more willing to serve the Lord among you" (Hope Again, p. 226).

Is your minister not your ideal guy? Cut him some slack. Are your elders stuck in neutral? Try encouragement rather than criticism. As we Fresnans can attest, lofty expectations can be an ideal setup for great disappointment. Rather than cutting critique, why not try a compliment or two? As one who's blessed by a congregation with an unusual measure of encouragement to me, I can testify that it does a minister of the Word wonders.

Give it a try with your leaders beginning this Sunday!