Monthly Archives: April 2020

Monday Motivator – April 27

True or false? If you do not grow personally, your organization or ministry will not grow.

There are three basic principles I have come to understand about growth: One. You must first grow yourself. It is difficult to lead people where you have not been. Two. You have to grow your people by creating an atmosphere for growth, and giving them a chance to exercise their leadership and gift(s) in order to grow. Three. If # 1 and 2 take place, you have set a foundation for organizational growth. The yellow caution flag is raised here in order to help you realize that the order of #1-3 cannot be reversed. If you try, growth will not occur.

Read Mark 4:1-20.

Jesus identified four types of people who grow. Let’s examine why and how they grow.

The first are those who grow for the moment. The reality is that they have no depth. Pushback from the circumstances they encounter ultimately kill their growth potential. The second are those who grow to the level of their emotions. The reality is they do not have the discipline to handle their potential growth and it stymies their advancement.

The third are those who grow to their circumstances. The reality is they do not have the commitment yet to gain the stability that Jesus promises. They are initially interested in getting out of their circumstances, as if they are looking for a silver bullet. The fourth is the person who grows by taking in the Word. They have the diligence referred to in Psalm 1.

Jesus demands that each citizen in His Kingdom is growing in faith, character, and conduct. Regardless if you are a leader or not, Jesus has given us everything we need for life and growth. He expects us to receive and nurture a growing nature.

Here are five lessons for growth:

First, growth is slow and messy, it appears unorganized at times, and hope is not as strategy.

Second, you grow daily through daily practices, not in spurts. The evidence of growth may be seasonal, but your daily habits foster regular growth. That means you must work hard on growth when it may not be the season for growth (and when it may not be easy to grow).

Third, most people set goals for their work life (which is fine), but do not set personal goals (which is bad). Moving up the corporate ladder will lead to momentary satisfaction. Personal and work growth is a great combination for larger fulfillment. Most people fail because they only have one type of growth (usually organizational).

Fourth, many people only grow to the level of their problems instead of their potential. If some people did not have problems, they would not be growing. What is your motivation?

Fifth, growth is personal, not environmental. You can grow anywhere, anytime, or in any setting if you choose to. The desire of your heart to grow will overcome many obstacles.

Walk wisely. A ministry or organization will outgrow people who are not growing. Avoid being a person who wants more from life than they are willing to grow to handle. You have to decide which of the four kinds of people that Jesus described is the kind of person you want to become. Read 2 Peter 1:1-12 and 3:18. What you feed grows.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 20

How effective are you in facilitating spiritual conversations, especially based on Scripture?

In Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, we have learned at least four things about small group dynamics. The first is to follow the example of Jesus by asking a lot of questions. The second is that a good leader doesn’t teach the Bible per se, but facilitates a reading, studying, and a conversation about Scripture. The third is that an effective leader helps the members of their small group discover biblical truths for themselves in a discussion context. The fourth thing we have learned is that how small group leaders ask questions significantly affects the learning process and small group dynamics of everyone involved.

Asking good questions prevents the leader from dominating the conversation by “succumbing to the pull to teach the Word” (which is not a bad thing, generally, but not a skill to best use in a discussion format. It also gets the small group participants actively involved in an actual conversation about the Bible. It causes the members to think and wrestle with well-asked questions. As stated above, it allows group members to discover spiritual truths for themselves. Last, it prevents the leader from becoming authoritative and a know-it-all.

There are three types of questions we teach student small group leaders to ask:

First are launching (or observation) questions. The aim is to get the members to read and draw out (or discover) general info from the text of Scripture you are reading. Sample Q’s: What is the text describing? Who are the characters mentioned? What seems to be the reason why it was written? What seems to be happening? What did you learn about _____? What did you discover in the passage about _____? In the verse(s), what impressed you?

Second are guiding (or interpretation) questions. The aim is to keep the discussion moving and discover the key thoughts and/or ideas in the passage of Scripture you are reading. The aim is to determine the author’s intent and what the original hearers heard the first time they received the message. Sample Q’s: What does this passage seem to be describing? What is the author trying to communicate? What seems to be the main point? Who else would like to comment on that? What else do you see in the passage? If a question is asked that seems to veer off from the point of Scripture, you can say: What we’re discussing is interesting, but we seem to have left our topic. Can we discuss this more at a different time?

Third are application questions. We started out in step two to determine the author’s intent (i.e., what he meant for them…the original hearers…then). Now our aim is to determine what it could mean for us today. Application needs to be specific. Sample Q’s: What difference could this text make in our lives today? What can you do this week to put the idea(s) in the passage in practice? How can you honor God by living out what this passage teaches?

A few tips for facilitating a small group discussion: Prayerfully prepare your questions ahead of time. Make sure they are clear, succinct, and open-ended. Avoid asking yes/no questions. Be sensitive to the comfort level of the members to speak. Start by asking history giving type questions as you progress through the three kinds of questions listed above. When you ask a question, allow time for people to think. Silence, as members contemplate an answer, is ok. Summarize the group discussion, emphasizing the points that were helpful to the discussion.

Live communally. Helping people learn to how to handle Scripture is a life-long journey, but it needs to be a transferable skill. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Asking good questions is a huge step in equipping men and women learn how to read, study, and obey the teachings of God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 13

I was switching TV channels and a show caught my attention. It was about people hoarding stuff and their homes were incredibly messy. I was momentarily transfixed by the unclean conditions I saw and the apparent lack of discipline needed to maintain a clean household.

I spent a few minutes this morning, making my bed, putting away the laundry in the basket from the night before, hanging my pants on a hanger, and tidying up the messy bathroom.

Yet the TV show I watched revealed someone living in conditions way beyond messy. This place was disgusting. No one had thrown out the accumulated trash. Piles of dishes in the sink. Mop the floor. But sweep the floor first. Every room I saw needed significant attention.

Indeed, the man on the TV show requested help because he had grown weary of the terrible conditions he had allowed to develop around him and he was literally up-to-his-neck in dirt, grime, and smell. His situation had spiraled out of control and he was finally willing to admit it. He confessed it. Now he reached out for help.

The second half of the show was remarkable. With the help of a cleaning crew, the place underwent a cleanliness transformation. Garbage out in bags and bags. The floors were now viewable, clean, swept, and mopped. The kitchen was sparkling with wiped down countertops, piled up pizza boxes taken to the trash, dishes done and put away, fresh flowers on the table and another clean floor.

The same cleaners tackled the living room with the same results. Junk taken out (which now meant normal space between furniture), carpets cleaned, everything dusted (including the window blinds), and the windows now uncovered and open, letting natural light in, along with a spring day breeze coming in through the screens (also replaced after being torn for years). The cleaning also spread to bathrooms, bedrooms, and a room made into an office.

The show and its positive results got me thinking. We periodically have encounters with God, some of which turn out to be fairly extensive cleanup jobs of our heart, soul, and mind. They fill us with an awareness of His grace and mercy, and even His unmatched forgiveness. It might happen in a Chi Alpha meeting, Bible study, church service, or personal quiet time in the dorm. We often do not want to leave such helpful experiences, out of fear that our return to normal life will wreck everything going forward. The reality is it probably will, but Scripture says we have a way to deal with it.

Read Nehemiah 9:32-38.

After seventy years in captivity, Israel had a lot of crummy and even filthy stuff to address. Chapter nine of Nehemiah describes one gathering that led to a focused and intense period of repentance and cleansing. But what happened after that? Probably what happens to most of us. We return to old patterns, even sin, followed by discouragement and the sloppy status.

Nehemiah shows us that we can praise God and lean on His grace and faithfulness. For our benefit, He forgives us again and again, even when we trash the cleanup effort He unleashed in our lives. What kind of cleanup do you need to do in your life today, with God’s help?

Think theologically. If you need God to sweep some sin out of your life, do it. Do not be embarrassed to ask Him. He wants to forgive you. Practice the steps to daily cleansing.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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Monday Motivator – April 6

Are you afraid of the quiet?

Silence can be unsettling. It can even lead to a sense of apprehension. I remember taking walks in the woods near our home as a kid and finding myself marveling at the lack of noise beyond the sounds my feet made stepping on grass and pushing through branches on the paths. I also remember when I stopped moving and waited a few minutes how I felt. Alone in the woods with no one around. Even the crickets and wildlife were quiet. Then I focused on the sound of the rushing brook or the gentle breezes gliding across the tree tops. It was still really quiet. I felt alone and was not sure what to do with the quiet.

We live in a noisy and frantic society with a move it or lose it pace. Our mobile phones jar us from sleep to get out of our beds. We stumble into the bathroom to get cleaned up for the day and may click on a remote to activate some music or a podcast. Breakfast, if we have it at all, is shared with the TV on, and a quick review of a favorite few web sites to get the news of the day. Heading to work, the first thing we do is plug in our ear buds, and/or turn on the car radio for some wake-me-up tunes.

The constant barrage of sound may be as lethal to our spiritual well-being as if being next to a construction site as the demolition of a building was taking place. Yet truth be told, many of us seem to fear the quiet more than anything. It is not a new problem. Three thousand years ago, a young and relatively unknown poet and musician used some violent imagery to capture and highlight our desperate need for silence and solitude. For peace and quiet.

Read Psalm 46.

The writer addressed a common fear that still sounds applicable today. Many people are concerned that the mountains may “fall into the heart of the sea, amidst the swirling surge of foaming waters” (verse 2-3). Is the planet in danger of a virtual collapse where continents separate? Is there a concern that California will fall into the Pacific Ocean after the next series of fault line disasters like in the movie, “San Andreas Fault?”

When David, the author of Psalm 46, adds that mountains will “quake with their surging,” “of nations being in an uproar,” and “of kingdoms falling,” (verse 6), it is easy to be fearful.

Yet David’s confidence in God gave him an assurance to not lose hope, but hold steady. He wrote about the One True Rock, God Himself, who is the Source of all calm and hope. In verse 10, David wrote to “Be still, and know that He is God.”

How much background noise do you consume? How many social media opinions do you need in order to help you be an informed citizen? How do you sift through a chaotic 24 hours news cycle and determine when and where to step off of the merry-go-round to slow down and sit still long enough to find peace and calm from the Shepherd of your soul?

The overwhelming current of information and entertainment that we claim to need and enjoy is strangling the quiet we really need to be whole and healthy. I believe we instinctively realize we need to do more than pay lip service to God and how He designed us.

Grow devotionally. Like the psalmist David articulated a long time ago, we need to be still. We need to be still in order to KNOW that He is God. There is no reason to be afraid of the quiet. You will find God there and His presence will settle you down so you can rest.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

©2020 by Mike Olejarz

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