The Journey with Ron Moore

In their book, Leaders: The Strategies of Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus explain this important principle as “empowerment.”

[Leaders] empower others to translate intention into reality and sustain it. This does not mean that leaders must relinquish power, or that followers must continually challenge authority. It does mean that power must become a unit of exchange—an active, changing token in creative, productive, and communicative transactions. Effective leaders will ultimately reap the human harvest of their efforts by the simple action of power’s reciprocal: empowerment.  

The essential thing in organizational leadership is that the leader’s style pulls rather than pushes people on. A pull style of influence works by attracting and energizing people to an exciting vision of the future. It motivates by identification, rather than through rewards and punishments.[1]

For people to “translate intention into reality and sustain it,” they must fully understand the job you are asking them to do and the parameters in which they can work.

Here are six important steps in the process of delegation.

  1. Explain the vision.

Paint the big picture. Explain how the “part” you are asking a person to do fits into the “whole.” There are many mundane aspects in every task. But people are energized when they know they are involved in “an exciting vision of the future.”

  1. Define the task.

What exactly are you asking the person to do? Leaders often get frustrated when people don’t get a certain thing done. Then they find out the person had no idea what they were supposed to do. Failure to define the task results an incomplete job or a person taking on much more than you intended.

  1. Explain the goal.

What should the outcome look like? How long should it take to get it done?

  1. Establish the standards of measurement.

How will progress be measured? How will you hold those pursuing the task accountable?

  1. Set a time frame.

If you are delegating a project, work with the person to establish a time line and completion date. If you are delegating ministry, give a start and stop date.

  1. Establish “check-in” dates.

Set time to meet in order to evaluate progress and provide support. Delegation is not abdication. The leader is still involved in the process and finally responsible for the outcome.


[1] Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. Leaders: The Strategies For Taking Charge (Harper and Row: New York, 1985) 80.

Leaders know that delegation is essential to the development of their team and organization. Leaders know that empowering the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability allows for real and lasting impact. Leaders know that no one person has all the needed gifts to do effective ministry. So, why do some leaders refuse to entrust meaningful assignments to others?

I believe there are six reasons:

  1. An unhealthy need for control.

The need to have your fingerprint on everything in your ministry is one of the chief barriers in delegation. The fear of losing authority is a disease that sucks the life out of a team and organization.

  1.  Perfectionism.

Perfectionists hinder the development of all who serve with them. Perfectionists have to be involved in every task because no one can do it better than them (or so they think).  One writer well says, “[Being a perfectionist] will make you a very small leader and your leadership a very small thing.”[1]

  1. An unhealthy need for success.

Some leaders are afraid to delegate because they are afraid that someone will do a better job than them. Can you allow others to be more successful than you? A good leader will have many successful partners in ministry.

  1. Personal insecurity.

Insecure leaders strangle teams. You cannot lead out of fear.

  1. An inability to trust others.

If you cannot trust others, you will constantly be meddling in what you have assigned. This will cause frustration and discouragement. In most cases, your inability to trust will cause others to quit working with you.

  1. An unwillingness to invest the time.

How often have you heard, “It’s faster to do it myself.” Delegation requires an initial investment in order to enjoy the future return. Many find it easier to “do it myself.” It may be easier at first, but over the long haul, an unwillingness to make the time investment makes for a small leader with a small ministry.


[1] William Lawrence. D.Min class notes from The Ministry Leader.

Delegation is a leadership must. It provides empowerment and ownership to those on our team. Delegation is not passing off unwanted chores.  Rather, it takes place when a leader empowers the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability.

Here are seven benefits to delegation that I’ve learned over the years.

Benefits of Delegation

  1. Delegation opens opportunities.

No one person has all the gifts needed for effective ministry. Leaders who have to have their hands in every facet of ministry will strangle the life out of a team. Delegation gives people the opportunity to use their gifts, training, skills, and experiences in significant ways.  

  1. Delegation provides an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Having the responsibility of a significant task and the accountability of a team stretches us spiritually. When we know others are depending on us, we depend more on God.

  1. Delegation provides an opportunity to develop skills.

No person has perfectly honed skills (although many people think they do). There is always room to develop. Delegation, done right, challenges people to grow and gives them the room to do so.

  1. Delegation produces teamness throughout ministry.

After all the vision casting and inspiring speeches are over, people don’t get on board unless they have a dog in the race. Delegation turns critical spectators (yes, even those on our teams can be critical spectators) into producing players.

  1. Delegation expands the impact of ministry.

At the end of the day, the impact of ministry is dependent upon the breadth of the team. If you are a team of one (in reality or practice) your ministry will be stifled by you.

  1. Delegation expands ownership in a ministry.

An effective team does not have members; it has stakeholders. Members are like fans in the stands. Stakeholders are players on the field. They understand their attitude and production impacts the whole team and the outcome of the game.

  1. Delegation shows trust.

Trust is essential for effective delegation. When I don’t trust a person or when I feel like I have lost trust in a person, I can’t give them significant tasks. If I do, I will constantly be meddling in their work. Delegation doesn’t work unless there is mutual trust. People who know they have the leaders trust also has the freedom exceed expectations.

Delegation is one of the leader’s most important activities. It does not entail passing off unwanted chores. Neither does it involve passing off “busy work.” Delegation takes place when a leader empowers the right person to accomplish a significant task with the appropriate direction, support, and accountability. Theodore Roosevelt said it this way, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

The act and art of delegation occurs throughout Scripture, but the biblical “classic” is found in the second book of the Bible.  In Exodus, Moses served as the sole judge in the land with a backlog of cases. The people “stood around him from morning till evening” awaiting a verdict.  Finally, Moses father-in-law, Jethro, intervened with a plan:

Exodus 18:17-23  

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.  Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.  Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.  But select capable men from all the people– men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain– and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.  If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.  He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.


This passage contains seven delegation principles.

  1. It took another person’s help for Moses to see his need.

Moses was in one of those “can’t see the forest for the trees” times of life. It took his father-in-law to point out the fact that Moses was hurting himself and the people by trying to be a one-man-band. Thankfully, Moses listened to wise counsel.

  1. Ministry is “too heavy” for one person to do.

The ministry tasks that each of us must accomplish are varied. They range from pastoral to process; from teaching to technology. There is no way that one person can effectively carry out the demands of ministry. By ourselves, our ministry will be second rate and/or we will wear ourselves out.

  1. Determine your “Must Do’s”.

Each of us has our “must do’s”, “can do’s”, and “can’t do’s”. Determining our “must do’s” is a critical discovery. Like Moses, you may need some help determining what you cannot give up. Moses could not delegate the responsibility of being the people’s representative before God and teaching them the decrees and law (18:19-20). No one else could function in those two roles. Unfortunately for Moses, the strain of judging (his “can-do”) took away from his “must do” responsibilities. Serving as a judge was very important, but it was a secondary task for Moses.

  1. Find capable people.

Moses had to find capable men that met appropriate standards for carrying out the duties of a judge. They were to be “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain” (18:21). The art of delegation is finding the right people to carry out the task.

Over the years, I have caused much trouble for myself by delegating important tasks to the wrong person. Instead of lightening the load, this leadership mistake makes life miserable. Here are some things to always keep in mind when looking for the right people.

  • Spiritual Gifts. Does a person have the right gift mix for the ministry opportunity?
  • Never give people tasks they cannot do or tasks you are unsure they can do. Make certain individuals have proven faithful in “entry-level” ministries. Then you can consider opportunities that are more significant.
  • A person may have the gifts and ability but not the maturity. It will be tempting to go ahead and give the person the task. This decision, however, will come back to haunt you.
  • Gifts, abilities, and experience without commitment will result in a job poorly done…if done at all.
  1. Give appropriate authority and direction.

Moses appointed capable men as “officials” giving them the authority to carry out their job. Nothing is more frustrating than having a job to do but no authority to get it done. Moses explained to them the scope of their responsibilities. They were to serve as “judges for the people at all time.” And while not explicitly stated in the text, we can be sure that Moses carried out his “must-do” teaching responsibility to train them for the challenging work of being a judge.

  1. Give appropriate support.

The newly selected judges were to be empowered with the authority and trust to try the simple cases. But Moses did not abdicate the responsibility. The new judges were to bring difficult cases to him. Again, one can only assume that with more and more experience, these capable men handled more and more cases on their own.

  1. Refusal to delegate causes us and others to suffer.

The people coming to Moses needed a decision. Certainly, they did not enjoy standing from morning till evening and then being told, “Come back tomorrow.” When things aren’t done or are done poorly because we refuse to delegate, everyone suffers. However, when delegation takes place “you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied” (18:23).

As Christians, we are going to be faced with doubt, fear and discouragement. We live in a culture of greed. There will be those who threaten us, intimidate us and try to distract us from following hard after Christ. How do we deal with these things that try to tear us down and paralyze us? Here are five things we need to do.


  1. Understand your position in Christ.

In times of doubt, fear and discouragement the enemy will try to distance us from God. If you are a Christian, understand that you are a treasured child of the living God. That is something you need to remind yourself of constantly. Every thought that contradicts the truth of God’s love needs to be corralled and aligned with the truth in God’s Word. Heed the words of the Apostle Paul, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Doubt will come but, by God’s grace, you will not turn into a doubter. Things will come into your life that will cause fear but, through Christ, fear will not be paralyzing. As a human living on this earth, there will be times of discouragement but, by God’s grace, you will not lose your eternal perspective and will evaluate your heart to make sure discouragement has not been aided and abetted by spiritual compromise.


  1. Understand the power of prayer.

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Before he went to King Artaxerxes to ask permission to return to Jerusalem, he petitioned God (Nehemiah 1:5-11). Nehemiah continued to pray as he faced opposition from Sanballat and his men (Nehemiah 4:4-5, 9).

There are many things in our life that we cannot fix. But we can turn them over to God. Paul gave this reminder to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 4:6-7


  1. Trust God.

There are two questions that every believer must ask. The first one is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on trust. The second question is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on you. The first question is philosophical. The second is rubber on the road practical.

Fear will come. It did for David, the man after God’s own heart. But when anxiety came David made a decision. He said,

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

-Psalm 56:3-4

The prophet Isaiah made the same decision. He wrote,

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.                                                                                            -Isaiah 12:2

Fear will come. We must decide to trust.


  1. Be Prepared!

While we understand our position in Christ, prayer and trust; Nehemiah reminds us that we need to be prepared. Notice the details of Nehemiah’s preparation.

Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed

places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember

the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had

frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God

will fight for us!” So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside

Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

-Nehemiah 4:12-23


Here are some lessons we can learn from Nehemiah’s preparation.

  • They acknowledged the threat.

Acknowledge what causes your fear, doubt and/or discouragement. When we acknowledge the issue, we can begin to deal with it. Peter wrote,

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith….

-1 Peter 5:8-9

  • They stood guard.

Nehemiah’s men were ready for the battle. Whether day or night, they did not take off their clothes. Even when they went for water, each man carried his weapon with him. We must stand guard.

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

-Mark 13:22-23

  • They stood together.

There is nothing that weakens an army like division. Nehemiah and his men stayed together. And so must we!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

-Hebrews 10:24-25


  1. Read the Word of God daily.

God’s Word is the inerrant instruction manual for our life. It tells us the paths to take and the paths to avoid. It transcends culture. God’s Word is just as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet on the parchment. But Scripture is more than just a manual; it is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). Through his Word, God teaches us, encourages us, inspires us and shows us how much he loves us. The Apostle Paul says it this way,

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:16-17

If we are going to be thoroughly equipped for the voices of opposition, we must read and meditate on God’s Word daily.


Do you hear voices? Voices of fear, doubt and discouragement? Voices of greed, distraction, threats and intimidation? It’s easy to allow these voices to turn up the volume and drown out the focus, peace and confidence that God desires. But from Nehemiah we learn that God always gives us the strength to do what he calls us to do. Whether riding high in success or experiencing failure, the Heavenly Father will always be present with you. His help was not unique to Nehemiah. He is ready and able to carry you today.

Everyone hears voices … voices trapped in our mind…voices of criticism…voices of ridicule…voices aimed to hurt. The voices you hear may have come from the lips of a parent, teacher, coach, spouse, child or friend. These voices spring from our memory when we least expect them and can knock us for a loop.

Sometimes the voices are not trapped in our mind but projected from the person standing next to us. They are words that pierce like a sword, as the Proverb says, and after the attack we are left emotionally bruised and bloodied.

Sometimes the voices come from Satan himself. He loves to remind us of our past sin—How do you think you could ever be worthy of God? He loves to bring up our past failure—See how you failed in the past? Don’t you dare try anything worthwhile again, don’t take any risk. See how God let you down? You’ll fall flat on your face again. And he loves to keep us focused on our weaknesses—How could God ever use you?

Do you hear voices of opposition? If so, keep reading. Let me introduce you to a man named Nehemiah. Let’s identify some voices of opposition that he heard. Through Nehemiah’s experience we can learn to deal with our voices of opposition.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes, a privileged position in the powerful Persian Empire. He pre-tested the king’s wine (If Nehemiah clutched his throat and dropped dead the king knew not to drink it). His responsibility also included keeping things merry and lively during dinner. But as Nehemiah’s story begins, he is having a hard time wearing a smile. Nehemiah was a Jew and had just been given a discouraging report about his homeland. Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish nation and religion, was in ruins. The people were living in disgrace. And the God he loved and served was being mocked. Nehemiah desired to return to Jerusalem to bring honor and dignity to God and his people by rebuilding the city walls.

By God’s grace, King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah permission to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. But soon those working on the walls started hearing voices of opposition. Some of the voices were purposed to implant doubt, fear and discouragement in the hearts of those working on the wall. Other voices came to distract the builders from their great endeavor. Let’s consider these voices and Nehemiah’s response.

A man named Sanballat had a vested interest to keep the walls in shambles and the discouraged Jews under his thumb. Keeping the Jews down allowed him to maintain economic and political power. So, when the re-building began he pulled out all his verbal stops.

Sanballat questioned the builders’ strength—What are those feeble Jews doing? He questioned their ability—Will they restore their wall? He questioned their spiritual preparation—Will they offer sacrifices? He questioned their planning and wisdom to take on such a project—Will they finish in a day? He questioned their resources—Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble, burned as they are? Sanballat’s friend Tobiah joined in as well. He questioned the Jew’s ability to build a lasting final product—If even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!

Maybe you have a Sanballat in your life. Ignore him! If it’s a Janballat, ignore her.

Listening to voices, whether from the past or in the present, will paralyze our spiritual progress. Plug your ears to voices of doubt and keep building the wall!


Voices of Fear

Sanballat, Tobiah and their allies decided to join forces to attack Jerusalem. The fear of attack, they thought, would certainly take Nehemiah’s mind off the building project. The Jews in the area got wind of the attack and informed Nehemiah of the plans:

Also our enemies said, “Before they know it

or see us, we will be right there among them

and will kill them and put an end to the

work.” Then the Jews who lived near them

came and told us ten times over, “Wherever

you turn, they will attack us.”

-Nehemiah 4:11-12


Fear spreads, doesn’t it? Like a disease it is transferred to those around us. Moses knew this well. Once before a battle he gave the instruction, “Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too’” (Deuteronomy 20:8).

How do you handle voices of fear? Are you listening to the rumors around you or the certain voice of God?

Some time ago, I was emailed a page of “wise sayings” … Well, sort of. A first grade teacher collected them over the years. She gave her classes part of an old “proverb” and let them fill in the rest. Following are some I thought you might enjoy. Remember these are first graders.

As you shall make your bed so shall you … mess it up.

Better be safe than … punch a fifth grader.

Strike while the … bug is close.

Don’t bite the hand that looks dirty.

A miss is as good as a Mr.

You can’t teach an old dog new … math.

A penny saved is … not much.

It’s always darkest before … Daylight Savings Time.

You can lead a horse to water but how?

Children should be seen and not spanked or grounded.

If at first you don’t succeed … get new batteries.

Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and … you have to blow your nose.

As much as we enjoy the wisdom of children let me encourage you to move beyond these first grade “proverbs” to a portion of Scripture specifically designed to give godly wisdom for godly living-the Book of Proverbs. At the beginning of his writing, the author, Solomon, clearly states that the purpose of his proverbs are: for attaining wisdom and for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life … for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance … The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs I:2-7).

In this day who doesn’t need wisdom, understanding, discretion, and prudence?

Eugene Peterson well says that the Proverbs give us the skills we need “in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes towards others that make for peace. Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do.”

I encourage you to read the Proverbs. Read them privately. The thirty-one chapters make for a nice chapter-a-day reading throughout the month. Before you read ask God to open your heart to the truth of His Word. Keep a pencil and paper close by. Some of the proverbs will jump from the page and attach themselves to a particular area of your life. Read them publicly. How about reading a chapter with your husband or wife at the beginning or end of the day? Looking something to read during your family devotions? Selected (and age-appropriate) Proverbs are great for family instruction and discussion. Read Proverbs and gain God’s instruction for down-to-earth godly living.

A text from my son Garrison was the first thing I saw when I turned off the alarm on my phone. Garrison is an avid Oklahoma Sooner football fan and receives all the OU news. The press release he sent me that morning, announced that Mickey Ripley, a former OU quarterback, had died. Garrison never met the man but knew all about him. Ripley was my hero growing up and later my high school coach.

I was traveling when I got the text. I sat up in the hotel bed and reflected on the man who had passed away. Memories flooded through my mind …

“Ripley under.” “Ripley back to pass.” “Pass complete to Sears for a fifteen-yard gain.” If I heard those words once, I hear them a hundred times from the public-address announcer at Daniels Field in Perry, Oklahoma. My six-year-old self sat in the stands in awe as Ripley threw passes for long gains and touchdowns. Ripley was an amazing high school athlete. Besides being an All-State football player, he was also All-State in baseball and a State Champion wrestler. He earned thirteen letters as a Perry Maroon.

Ripley was recruited to play football at the University of Oklahoma by Head Football Coach, Jim Mackenzie. After one season Mackenzie died suddenly and was replaced by Chuck Fairbanks. With assistant coach Barry Switzer, Fairbanks instituted the wishbone offense. Ripley, a drop-back passer, didn’t see much action the rest of his career. Later he told us that he stayed at OU because he gave them his word. And, Ripley said, you keep your word even when things don’t work out the way you want them to.

You can imagine my emotions when I learned before my junior year in high school that Ripley was returning to Perry to coach football and baseball. I hadn’t played organized football since sixth grade, but one day after baseball practice that spring, Coach Ripley and a few of us went over to the football field. While I went out for long passes, Coach Ripley dropped perfect spirals right over my shoulder time after time. Mickey Ripley was throwing 50-yard passes to me!! After about an hour of catching passes, he said, “Moore, guess what you are going to do next year? You are going to play football. Wide receiver.” And I did…because Coach Ripley said so. Our field had a thick sandstone wall built around it. If Coach Ripley had asked me to run through that wall, I would have given it my best effort.

Mickey Ripley believed in me. After my senior year, I was selected second-team All-State in baseball because of Coach Ripley—his coaching and because he took time to send my stats and recommendation letters to those who chose the All-State players. I played baseball in college—a long-time dream—because of Coach Ripley. He sent letters to colleges throughout Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas telling coaches that I’d be a good fit for their squad.

Coach Ripley believed in me.

And you know what?

I never told him, “Thank you.”

That’s been bothering me since I read that early morning text from Garrison and learned that Coach Ripley had died.

Who’s your Mickey Ripley?

Write them a note. Send them an email or text. Give them a call. Don’t do what I didn’t do. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Imagine this scene. It is windy and hot with the temperature close to 100 degrees. There is the sound of horses and wagon wheels and loud voices of impatient men. The air is filled with dust and anticipation. All has been left behind for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Families in covered wagons and individuals on horseback are lined up, anxiously awaiting the sun to reach its zenith. At high noon the gun will sound and these 19th century pioneers will be off to stake their claims.

It was September 16, 1889. These pioneers were off to settle a piece of land in Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. Perry, my hometown, was packed with people, as it served as the headquarters for this Oklahoma Land Run. Each year this event is remembered with a weekend of activities known as the Cherokee Strip Celebration. After the Saturday morning parade, you can dine at the Cherokee Strip or the 89er’s Restaurant. Of course, you could go with me to our favorite, the Shady Lady. Yes, the Shady Lady is a family restaurant.

Funny thing about these pioneers that staked out the land around my hometown. They started out as pioneers leaving the past behind, and set out for unsettled territory. They endured the hot summer winds to stake new claims. But after their homes were built, they became “settlers.” Many would never move again. The very ones whose wagons bounced over the open plains became “stuck in a rut.”

In his book, Frontier, Louis L ‘Amour, describes the settler mentality.  He wrote: “Everything within you and me begs, Take it easy. Don’t rock the boat. Leave well-enough alone. Back off. Why run the risk? If you leave the familiar and venture outside your comfort zone, you’re liable to mess things up.” That’s settler talk. Safe. Secure. Predictable. Boring.

Here is some more settler talk you may have heard somewhere along the trail. “It has never been done. We’ve never done it that way. We’ve always done it that way. When you’ve been here awhile, you’ll realize … We’ve got enough on our plate. We tried that once before a few years ago. See, I told you it wouldn’t work. Change anything, but that. That’s not in your area (translated: Stay off my turf). Let’s form a committee, I’ll chair it.” Settler talk. Ineffective. Immobilizing.

In the same book, L’Amour also described the pioneer. “It is our destiny,” he wrote, “to move out, to accept the challenge, to dare the unknown. It is our destiny to achieve. If we are content to live in the past, we have no future. And today is the past.”

Our present generation is being built on the crumbling foundation of relativism. Our culture smirks at absolute truths, making up the rules as it goes. Singles are staying single longer and wondering if the church knows they exist. Single parents, trying to balance all the balls, wonder if the church cares. Teenagers, bombarded with pressure and temptation, wonder if the church understands. Children, accustomed to the electronic media, wonder if the church will ever catch up to the level of technology that communicates to them. There is no time to settle down.

It is our destiny to move out, to accept the challenge of proclaiming the unchanging message of Christ to an ever changing culture.

To attempt things for Christ that we have never attempted before. To achieve things for Christ that we have never achieved before. Today is the past. And if we are content to settle comfortably in the past, there is no future. We hold in our hearts and our hands the Good News. Let’s keep it moving through our lips and our lives.

So saddle up your horses! Grab the reins! Get ready for a wild and glorious ride. There is unsettled territory just over the hill. And once we have staked our claim, it will be time to mount up and move out again. Our destiny is to bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the past, the Supreme Court has heard arguments for and against changing the definition of marriage. Christian cannot be silent on this issue. Here are five arguments for traditional marriage from God’s Word.


  1. God’s Design of the Body

God formed the man from the dust of the ground. The word “formed” means “to shape or fashion.” It gives the picture of a potter working with clay to shape his intended product. The human body, with all its parts—inside and out—was designed and formed by God, the great Potter. The formation of flesh lay lifeless until the Creator stooped down and breathed in life. With the breath of God filling his lungs, man became a living being—body and soul.


  1. God’s Partnership Design

God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”[1] So he took from the man’s side and formed the woman. The word “helper” is a word usually used to refer to God himself. It describes one who provides what is lacking, one who completes and one who brings healing. God’s desire in creating the woman was to complete the man. Together the couple can honor, serve, and reveal God’s person in a way neither could do alone. And they are to complete each other physically as well.


  1. God’s “One-Flesh” Design

God designed the bodies of men and women with sexual parts that fit together. The act of intimacy is a vivid picture of the one flesh relationship. The emotional and physical act of sex is a deep experience of the one-flesh relationship. But the forming of a man and woman was for more than sexual pleasure or the experience of oneness. Men and women are to leave their parents, be united to each other and experience physical, emotional, spiritual, and missional oneness.[2]


  1. God’s Population Plan

God’s plan for forming the man and woman differently included the marvelous and miraculous process of reproduction. God gave man and woman the awesome privilege and responsibility to create a new being. This new person can only come to be from what man and woman provide. It takes both the male and female to “be fruitful and increase in number.”


  1. God’s Parenting Plan

It takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world. And God’s design is for a mom and dad to raise the child into adulthood. A child needs what only a mother and father can give.  Interestingly, the characteristics of both a mother and father are found in the person of God.[3] God’s command is for children to honor and respect their mother and father.[4]


Marriage between a man and woman is God’s idea and his design. We must stand strong for traditional biblical marriage.



[1] Genesis 2:18

[2] Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:7-9; Ephesians 5:31

[3] Psalm 91:4; Matthew 23:37; Exodus 15:3; Zephaniah 3:17; Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:7; et. al.

[4] Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:3; Ephesians 6:2


Do you find it difficult to pray with your spouse? If the answer is “Yes” you are not alone. It is estimated that less than 10% of all Christian couples pray with each other. It’s not surprising. Praying with your spouse is as vulnerable as it gets. You are praying with the person and to the God who both know you intimately. While you can impress others with your lofty “Christianese” prayer clichés, your spouse just rolls his or her eyes (actually, can you roll your eyes with your eyes closed? Never mind).

Vulnerability is not the only reason spouse don’t pray with each other. There are different expectations. There are different styles of prayer and preferred times of the day. And, let’s face it: prayer is spiritual warfare. Satan doesn’t want husband and wives praying together.

But…regardless of the challenges, couples must develop the habit of praying together. Here are five ways to help you get started.


  1. Make praying together a priority.

Urgent things will always crowd out the most important things. Make prayer a priority.


  1. Set a time to pray.

God is not open for prayer only between 4:00—6:00 a.m. There is no sacred time to pray. Establish a time that works for you and your schedules. God is not impressed by length but by sincerity.


  1. Begin by praying silently.

If you are not used to praying together, begin by sitting or kneeling next to each other and praying silently. When comfort and trust is built, finish the prayer time by praying aloud.


  1. Write out your prayers.

If you are not comfortable praying out loud together, write out your prayers and read them to each other. In time, your reading will turn to paraphrasing and your paraphrasing to spontaneous prayer.


  1. Start a family prayer journal.

Make a list of the things that you want to pray about. Leave some space so you can record how God answered that specific request.


Prayer is simply communicating with God. Let him know what’s on your heart individually and collectively as a couple. Pray that God will keep your marriage strong. Pray that he will give you needed wisdom in raising your children. Start praying for your children’s spouse when they are young. There is a lot we need to be praying about! And a lot we need to be praying about together.

Sex is not simply a physical act. The one-flesh relationship that God intended involves a spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical oneness. That’s why sexual tension in a marriage is much more that what is going on under the covers.

Here are ten sex issues in a marriage.


  1. Criticism: Sexual attraction and enjoyment is diminished when he/she  is regularly torn down by words.


  1. Anxiety: When sex is viewed as simply a physical act, fear of performance and acceptance is high.


  1. Guilt: Guilt may come from the view of sex in one’s background. If sex was always spoken of in a negative way at home and/or church that will have an impact. Also, sex may be a reminded of past sexual experiences.


  1. Resentment: This arises when one or both partners feel used.


  1. Communication: When communication about sexual expectations, needs, and fears are not discussed sooner or later problems will arise.


  1. Predictable Mechanical Sex: A lack of sensitivity or a too much predictability strips away romance.


  1. Lack of Sensuality: Husbands, if you show physical affection to your wife only as a lead-up to intercourse…there are going to be some problems.


  1. Lack or Loss of Trust: Mutual trust is one of the essentials of intimacy. Partners are reluctant to be vulnerable and giving to a person they can’t trust.


  1. Physical Appearance: There is a direct correlation between a negative perception of one’s body and inhibited sexual intimacy. God planned that the husband and wife are to be “naked and unashamed” before each other as part of the one-flesh relationship (Genesis 2:24-25). Husbands, tell your wife how beautiful she is. Take a page from the playbook of Solomon (Read Song of Solomon 1:8, 10, 15; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7; 6:4; 7:1, 6).


  1. Expectation: Our culture has us thinking that sex is an earth-shaking, chandelier-swinging, mind-blowing event every time. In an Time magazine article the authors made this point:


…It’s hard to imagine a culture more conducive to feelings of sexual inadequacy…Tune in to the soaps. Flip through the magazines. Listen to Oprah. Lurk in the seamier corners of cyberspace. What do you see and hear? An endless succession of [people] preparing for, recovering from or engaging in constant, relentless copulation. Sex is everywhere in America—and in the ads, films, TV shows and music videos…the impression branded on our collective subconscious is that life…is a sexual banquet to which everyone else has been invited. (Oct. 17, 1994)


That describes the way many people feel. But we have to have realistic expectations. Sometimes the kids are down the hall. Sometimes the dishes are in the sink. Sometimes parents are sick. Sometimes there are pressures and stress at work. All of life plays into every day ordinary, married sex. Sometimes it is chandelier swinging…but there is also beauty in its ordinariness.


In his book A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis describes a proper view of intimacy. He writes,

[My wife] and I feasted on love; every mode of it—solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as a thunderstorm, sometimes as comfortable and unemphatic as putting on your soft slippers. No cranny of the heart or body remained unsatisfied.


Married sex is with the person we love…the person we have fun with…the person we have committed our life to…the person who knows how weird we are and loves us anyway. Sometimes it is mind-blowing…sometimes it is need-meeting. But it is always with the one we are doing life with and in the context of commitment and invested relationship.

Miscommunication? I know…I know…no way it was your fault. The speaker—your husband or wife—messed up the message. He mumbled his words. She rambled on and on. It was his fault…it was her fault.

Not so fast, Captain of Communication! It is possible that the message got muddled somewhere between the speaker’s lips and your ears. I’m just saying…it’s possible. In fact, there are several things that could have confused the words as they were in route. Researchers call these “Listening Filters.” Here are six filters and how to deal with them.


  1. Inattention: The failure to listen closely.

Inattention may be caused by external factors, such as children playing or noise from the television. It can also be caused by internal factors, such as being tired, preoccupied with a pressing issue, or bored.

Listening requires effort. Find a time when you can focus. Turn off the television. Put the kids to bed. Don’t enter into deep communication when you are exhausted or under pressure. Plan a focused time to talk (and listen).


  1. Mood: The state of mind, feeling, or spirit.

We listen more effectively when we are in good mood. A bad or grumpy or argumentative mood turns communication south quickly.

When the listener (or speaker) is in a bad mood, communication should be put on hold for a time. It’s not going to end well.


  1. Expectation: To presume something will occur or appear.

The listener tends to hear and understand what he/she expect to hear and understand. This filter causes the listener to begin interpreting the message before it is complete.

Don’t determine what your spouse is going to say before it is said. That’s not fair. Remember, communication is the verbal delivery of the heart. Give them the respect to hear their heart.


  1. Style: The manner of mode of expression

There are different styles of communicating a message. Shocker, right? Some people are very expressive. Others are more reserved. Some speak with rapid fire. Others speak slow and deliberately. When the speaker is communicating in a style that is different from yours, you have a harder time understanding the message.

But…this is something we have to deal with. Respect the different communication style of your spouse.


  1. Self-Protection: Putting up a defense.

If you have hurt me with your words before, I am likely to put up “listening shield” to guard myself from the possible pain, discouragement, and/or disappointment. Reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18). You might have stabbed me once, but I am not going to let it happen again.

This filter has a history, and histories are hard to overcome. I will offer you a Speaker-Listener technique in a future blog that will help.


  1. Memory: Recollection of the past.

Some of the biggest arguments are about what was said (or what a person thought was said) in the past. After all, we have perfect memories, right? J

When there is confusion about past communication, four things should be done.

  • Accept the fact that neither your memory nor your partner’s memory is perfect.
  • Accept the fact that you may not have communicated clearly.
  • Accept the fact that other filters may have blurred the reception of the message.

Clear up the confusion with fresh communication and move on.

Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry is the philosophy of safe and clear communication put forth in Scripture. A method that will help turn this philosophy into practice is the Speaker-Listener Technique. It is very simple, yet very powerful. This technique will force you to speak reflectively and listen receptively.

The intentional use of this method will help your daily communication become more effective. The method should be strictly applied when issues are emotional and/or sensitive.


Rules for the Speaker-Listener Technique (From Christian PREP, Inc., 1993)


Rules for Speaker and Listener

  1. The Speaker has the floor.
  2. Share the floor.
  3. No problem solving.
  4. Stay on one subject at a time.
  5. You can stop the flow for a moment if something is not going right.


Rules for the Speaker

  1. Don’t go on and on.
  2. Talk in small chunks (a sentence or two).
  3. Stop and allow the Listener to paraphrase what has been said.
  4. Speak for yourself.
  5. You can pass the floor at any time to the listener to hear his side of the story.


Rules for the Listener

  1. Paraphrase what the Speaker is saying.
  2. You can ask for examples or explanations of something that the Speaker said.
  3. Do not offer your opinions or interpretations until you get the floor.
  4. Concentrate on what the Speaker is saying, and attempt to edit out your internal responses.


Two things:

  1. When I teach this material, I give a magnetic “floor” to use as a physical reminder of who has the floor.
  2. Remember: When you need to use this technique the most, you will want to use it the least.

I confess that sometimes prayers for my children become wooden and repetitive. “And Lord, help our children to have a great day at school,” and “Lord, help them to do well on their math test,” while sincere are hardly specific.  Here are some requests from Ephesians 1:15-23 that asks for some serious spiritual stuff.

Here are nine things to pray every day for our children and grandchildren.

Thanksgiving: Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Thank God for his gracious blessing. Thank him for the privilege of parenting.

Wisdom:  Ask God to give your children spiritual wisdom to make godly decisions.

Know him better: Ask God to grow your children deep in knowledge and love for Christ.

Future Hope:  Pray that sons and daughters live today with eternity in mind.

Glorious Inheritance: Thank God for the eternal inheritance he has in store for our kids. Pray for eternity together.

Great power: Ask God to give your children power from the Holy Spirit to live obediently.

Strength: Ask the Holy Spirit to provide strength for your kids to resist temptation.

Established in love: Pray that each child demonstrates a 1 Corinthians 13 love.

Grasp the love of Christ: Pray that your children know and live in the freedom of the unconditional love of Jesus.

These are meaningful requests and provide a powerful prayer for parents. You might even want to pray these things for yourself … just a thought.

So…we want our children to grow up with the virtue of respect embedded in their hearts. How do we make that happen? How do we plow the ground for respect to grow? How do we mentor, model, and monitor respect?

My friend, Dr. Robert Freado, has served as a teacher, coach, and principal at all levels of the school system. I have the privilege of teaching a parenting class with Dr. Freado at our church. Here are six ways he gives to mentor respect. I have added some personal comments.


Six Ways to Mentor Respect


  1. Use positive talk to promote respect. 

Sounds simple, but negative and cutting language tears a child down. Not only does it hurt them, but it teaches them that negative language is acceptable in communicating to others.


  1. Emphasize the importance of manners and common courtesies.

I will never forget walking into Exchange Bank in Perry, Oklahoma one afternoon and learning a lasting lesson of respect from my dad. I watched him hold the door open and let others walk in before us. He didn’t make a big deal of it, but that made a lasting impression on me. That small act demonstrated respect.


  1. Be the parent. 

It seems too many parents would rather be their child’s friend than a mom or dad. Too many parents give into peer pressure and allow their children to participate in unhealthy activities or situations. If we are going to teach and model respect, sometimes we will have to tell our kids “no” regardless of the peer pressure they are receiving, or the peer pressure we may be receiving from other parents.


  1. Speak respectfully about teacher, community members, neighbors, and coaches. 

As a parent, you will not always agree with the grade your child receives from a teaching. You will not always agree with how much playing time a coach gives your son or daughter. But speaking disrespectfully about these authority figures will erode the healthy and proper respect your child should have for them. I am not saying the teacher or coach is always right. But their actions may be the life experience that God provides to teach your child respect for others.


  1. Teach respect through the power of kindness and compassion.

For years, I took our children out of school around Christmas to serve at a Salvation Army Food and toy give-away. I wanted our kids to know that people down the road from us were going through a tough stretch in their life. And I wanted our children to serve them. Teaching involves life experience. Find a place to serve with your children.


  1. Demonstrate the importance of respect by how you respond to situations.

Once I was promised my phone plan could be renewed and upgraded on a certain date. I waited for the date and took my phone in expecting to get the upgrade. But the salesperson informed me that the plan had changed. What had been promised could not be delivered. I am saddened to say, I didn’t handle the news well (that’s putting it mildly). And unfortunately, two of my kids were with me. As a dad (and a preacher), they have heard me say many words that they’ve forgotten. But they will not forget that experience, and every once in a while, jokingly remind me of how poorly I handled the situation.



Parenting is modeling and mentoring…show and tell. Our actions must match up with our words. Let me know what you think of these six ways to mentor respect. What are ones that you would add?

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians (2:11-12), the Apostle Paul likens his dealing with believers to a father’s interaction with his children. From this passage we learn from three things that parents should be doing every day.


  1. The Greek work for “encourage” is parakaleo. It means “to call to one’s side,” “to summon,” “to invite.” The purpose of the invitation is to build confidence and courage into the heart. Parents, we need to be building up our children every day!


  1. “Comfort” means “to console.” It is used in John 11 when Lazarus died. Many friends came to “console” Mary and Martha. Our children don’t always need yet another “life lesson” or another story from our childhood about “walking uphill both ways in the snow.” Our children need a daily compassionate hug and a reminder of our unconditional love.


  1. This word means “to insist” or “implore.” You are the parent! There are some things that you need to be firm about. Leaders lead. And our leadership must have this goal: “to live lives worthy of God.” God calls us to be deliberate about building into our children the framework of spiritual urgency that will allow them to make an impact with their lives in their world.


Parenting is intentional work. Let’s pray that God gives us the strength and courage to lead our children well.

Father, give us a passion to be parents you desire us to be. May we encourage, comfort, and urge our children on to be those who have a burning desire to follow hard after you. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Parenting is not for sissies! Raising children is hard work. Parents who desire to be popular with their children and their children’s friends will live to regret the compromises it takes to make that happen. But parents who love their children enough to lead them will have to make some tough and unpopular decisions.

There are three essential ingredients to effective love. Just like baking a cake, leave out any one of these ingredients and you’ll be disappointed with the results.


Love’s Three Ingredients

  1. Emotive: Creates an affinity or affection with a person.

Sure we “love” our children. For most people that’s a given. But the emotive part of love develops when we spend time with them, laugh and cry with them, hear their heart. Parenting is more than having children. It involves purposeful presence.

  1. Motive: Drives us to action.

Love is demonstrative. Just as God demonstrated his love to us by sending Jesus, so love for our children must be demonstrated. Love is not shown by purchasing everything our children want, trips to Disney World, and paying for their college education. Motive love is found in 1 Corinthians 13. Take the time to read it and apply it to your parenting.

  1. Expulsive: Expels foreign or dangerous interests. 

Love gets rid of things that are foreign to the interests it seeks to promote. Many times our children will not see these things are foreign or dangerous. But a parent cares more about protection than popularity.


Several months ago, I was speaking at an event when a girl, her boyfriend, and her parents came in a sat on the front row. The young girl was wearing a tight and short dress—inappropriate by most standards. Her legs were crossed exposing more than anyone needed to see. On one side sat her boyfriend with his hand liberally on her leg. On the other side sat her parents.

As I was speaking, these two thoughts came to mind:

  • If that is what I am seeing in public, then there is little doubt what is going on in private.
  • Parents, what in the world are you thinking! That boy represents a foreign and dangerous interest, and you are not willing to expel him.

That the parents let their daughter leave the house in the dress (or lack thereof) is one issue. But for them to sit passively by is inexcusable. Where was there “emotive” love? When you love someone deeply do you allow that type of thing to happen? Where was there “motive” love? How could they be so passive? Where was their “expulsive” love? This young man represented danger. They should have talked to the young man’s parents and let them know that he was no longer allowed near their daughter until he learned to respect her.

Parenting isn’t for sissies. Parenting isn’t about being popular. It’s about mentoring and modeling. Thank God there are parents out there who really love their children with an emotive, motive, and expulsive love!

Check out these startling statistics about children and money:

  • Advertisers spend $15 billion a year on child-focused advertising.
  • The average American child sees 40,000 commercials a year.
  • Children recognize brands by 18 months and by two years ask for them by name.
  • American kids get an average of 70 new toys a year.
  • Children spend over $30 billion of their “own” money
  • Children influence some $650 billion of parental purchases from snacks to SUV’s.[1]

Our culture is talking to our children about money and possessions. Parents cannot be silent. Here are five things we can do.

  1. Teach biblical stewardship.

We need to teach our children the biblical principles of money. God owns all things (Psalm 24:1; 50:10-12). All things we receive are a gift from him (Romans 11:35-36; James 1:17). All things we received must be used for him (Luke 12:48b; 1 Corinthians 4:2).


  1. Model biblical stewardship.

Words are important and we must demonstrate that we believe what we say by our actions. Parents must model a lifestyle of biblical stewardship. Show your children that you believe you will stand before God and answer for the way you handled all of his gifts to you. This does not mean living in poverty. It does mean living within your means and giving generously to God’s work.


  1. Replace the word “sacrifice” with “privilege.”

I hear too many people talk about the sacrifices they are making for Christ, the things they could have if they didn’t tithe.  This can convey the perception (reality?) that we give grudgingly. If our giving is out of a dreaded duty or legalism, our children will see that. Following Jesus is not a sacrifice; it’s a great privilege! Our kids need to see our willing enthusiasm and excitement. Now…if you are not excited about following Jesus, that’s a spiritual issue you need to address.


  1. Model and Mentor a responsible work ethic.

Modeling a work ethic for young children has to take place in and around the home. We model a work ethic when we mow the grass, rake the leaves, clean the house, fix meals, and do laundry. Children need to be included in this responsibilities age appropriately. An allowance should be given for assignments done well. This sense of accomplishment produces confidence, self-esteem, and allows them to manage their money with responsibility and generosity.


  1. Model and Mentor money management.

Teach your children that importance of saving and prudent spending. Teach them the danger of credit cards. Show them the enabling and enslaving aspects of debt. And remind them often that everything they have is from God and should be used to honor him.


The world is teaching your children about money. Don’t confirm what the world is teaching. Teach your children the biblical management of money. And remember…back up your words with your actions.


[1] Katy Kelly & Linda Kulman, “Kid Power,” (9.13.04).

A godly parent is a teacher, model and an unconditional friend. These responsibilities are like a three-legged stool. If one “leg” is missing, our effectiveness becomes minimal at best. Each “leg” is supported and held together by the Lord.

A Teacher

Our role as a teacher means that we must impart knowledge in a way that each of our children can understand – at every stage of his/her life. While others may be primary teachers in academic disciplines, only the parent can teach the bedrock “subjects” of spiritual values and character.

One has well said, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” Therefore, as godly parents we must be in the process of spiritual development.

A Model

Our role as a model demands that our life must not be full of contradictions. Our words must not contradict our actions. The way we act in public must not contradict the way we act at home. Inconsistency destroys the message.

However, perfection is not a possibility either. We must be willing to say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” In God’s grace, even our failures provide an opportunity for modeling.

Every important relationship (God, Husband-Wife, and Parent-Child) is modeled (and learned) at home. We live our lives following the good or bad models; or working hard to break out of the negative “model mold.” Remember, if Christianity does not “work” in the home, it does not “work.”

An Unconditional Friend

The world is a competitive and conditional place. Most of what we do is based on performance. The home must be a place where you are accepted and loved unconditionally. And the parent must be an unconditional friend (not a buddy, but a true friend).

A true friend is able to separate the person from the performance (“I love and accept you for who you are, not because of what you do”). A true friend is able to “push” without pushing away (“I know you can do better. Let me help you.” – instead of – “Get with it, or else”). A true friend is able to motivate without manipulation (“We loved to watch your older brother play football” – interpreted – “You better do what he did if you really want to please us.”) A true friend is able to encourage without destroying (“God has given you unique gifts. Let me help you develop them” – instead of – “You will never amount to anything.”) A true friend is able to encourage unique gifts regardless of personal preferences (“I love watching you develop in your musical gifts” even when you have always had a passion for sports.)

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times…


Do you need prayer?