Can God Not Also Prune?

We are often quick to give God the credit when we are successful and when our projects, ministries and organizations grow. But can God not also prune? Maybe the seasons of challenge and decline are also a part of His work. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that growth is from the hand of God and decline or death is a sign of Satanic oppression.

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” – Job 1:21 (ESV)

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Did God Call You Here?

Did God call you here? 

If He did: Are you leading and serving, confident in that calling?

If He did at one point, but you’re thinking about leaving: Did He call you away? (Don’t make a move until you’re clear.)

If He didn’t: Start paying attention to what He tells you. Do what you can to redeem the situation, or follow His leading elsewhere.

(This wise question from a new friend kept me at Denver Seminary when I wanted to transfer because I was homesick. And that new friend eventually became my husband.)

What Makes You Unique?

Can your organization confidently answer that question?

We have been making college visits with our older son over the last few weeks. It’s been interesting to hear each school share what makes them unique. One is located in a large city and promotes the ability to live, work and study in a vibrant, diverse urban environment. One was originally founded as a teacher’s college and maintains a commitment to excellent teaching by full-time faculty in every undergraduate class. Another is a private school with a highly esteemed, integrative liberal arts curriculum.

In my son’s area of interest (performing arts), some schools have a strong emphasis on Shakespeare, others on offering a first-rate music theatre program, others on the study of world theatre. Whether or not any of these schools will be a good fit for our son, we at least know their distinctives.

One school, however, stood out because they couldn’t tell us what made it unique. As we toured the performing arts department, I asked our guide what made her school’s program unique. She looked at me like she had never thought of it before and finally conceded, “The people. We all get along here.” Her response was encouraging but definitely not compelling, especially since we had already made great connections with “the people” at several other schools.

It’s good to be solid, but it’s also good to know what makes yourself special. Do you know what makes your organization unique? Can you communicate these distinctives clearly and compellingly?

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The Winchester Ministry

Have you heard of the Winchester House? Billed as “the world’s strangest home,” the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA is an architectural oddity that includes 160 and hallways that lead nowhere, staircases that descend seven steps and rise eleven, and stairs that are 2″ high.

The house was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of gun magnate William Winchester and heiress to his fortune. Deeply superstitious, Ms. Winchester believed she was guided by spirits that told her to build the house, and instructed her on its continuous construction. First begun in 1884, constructed continued until her death in 1922.

It didn’t matter whether the house “made sense” or not. The point was that construction must never stop. Even if a particular doorway, stairway or room was useful at the time, subsequent development resulted in pockets of unused or unusable space.

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I’ve seen too many churches and ministry organizations that are “Winchester ministries.” Over the years, they have continued to add parts and programs. Where some of these might have made sense for a previous era, now the organization is just a mishmash of unrelated components. Committees meet just to meet, even though their original purpose is forgotten or defunct; there are programs that overlap to the point of redundancy; or there are isolated ministries, programs and groups, with no coherent connection to each other or to the organization’s overall mission.

The challenges for a leader in a Winchester ministry are to determine the original functions of each part, decide which ones need to be demolished or overhauled, and figure out how to do this renovation without causing overall structural collapse in the form of lost trust or organizational effectiveness.

What are some examples that you have seen of Winchester ministries or organizations?