Newsletter Articles

Growing as a Bible-based Leader in 2012

January 2012

As Christian leaders, we want to be thoroughly biblical in our lives and ministries.  Yet with the busy demands of ministry, it is easy to reduce our interaction with Scripture to on-the-run devotional nuggets or preparation for teaching others, and miss the life transforming insight and power the Lord makes available to us through his word. How will you grow in your understanding of the Bible, obedience to the Bible, and impact with the Bible this year?  Here are three suggestions for growing as a biblically-based leader.

1) Let the Bible get hold of you

Don’t just read the Bible this year, or even study it.  Ask God to speak to you from the Bible.  Take it as God’s living message to you each day.  Let it shape your thinking and mold your character.  “What do you want to say to me, Lord?”  Open your eyes and ears and mind and heart, and ask how you need to change, what you need to do to act on what you read.  Be open and available, and take the Bible personally – it is meant for you, and it is meant to change you.

2) You get hold of the Bible

Take a step further when God speaks to you through the Bible.  Commit significant verses to memory.  Study words and characters and concepts in other passages of Scripture to see how they complement the first passage you were reading.  Study the broader context of the passage to discern why that passage is in there, and what was the main point of the section and whole book you are reading.  Come away with not just a thought, but expand that out to gain a stronger grasp on the message of whole books – the train of thought, argument, use of words and themes.

3) Let the Bible get hold of others through you

The Bible is our most powerful and accessible ministry tool! Go beyond sharing or teaching the Bible this year – testify it and prophesy it!  Share what God has said to you through the Bible.  Talk about it, blog it, post it as your status, add it to your email signature.  When you converse with people, ask the Lord to remind you of passages that might encourage them or direct them.   Then it will become living and active in other peoples’ lives.  And this only happens after the Bible has got hold of you, and happens best when you have got hold of the Bible.

Father, thank you for giving your word to sanctify us.  Please mold our thoughts and affections and actions through your truth in the Bible this year, and lead us to more powerfully pass on those lessons to build up your Body and glorify you in the world, in Jesus’ name, amen!

Join the CRMS Discussion

“Let the Bible get hold of you. You get hold of the Bible. Let the Bible get hold of othersthrough you.

Join CRMS on Facebook and post an encouragement to others about how the Bible has impacted your life and ministry this past year. How will you grow as a Bible-Based leader in 2012?

Pray for the World

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For three decades, the book Operation World has been the definitive guide to the spiritual status of the world country-by-country, with detailed guidance on how to pray for spiritual breakthroughs. Over 1 million copies have been sold in the previous six editions.

The latest revision came out three months ago, and is available onlinein pdf and other versions.  It is also available in DVD format with 10,000 education tools such as power point presentations included.

You can also sign up online for a free daily prayer email to be sent to you with prayer points for a country of the world.  Today I received statistics on Costa Rica, with a link to detailed prayer requests.

How about dedicating yourself to praying for a country of the world every day this year?

 

5 Sources of Conflict

November 2012

Every leader knows about conflict.  Most of us don’t like it, but we know it.  It can be a tremendous drain on a leader’s – and an organization’s – energy and focus.  But it is also a chance for a leader to step up and exercise wisdom which can bring character growth in peoples’ lives, and can clarify the values and the vision of an organization.

There are many steps to dealing with conflict, but if we do not properly diagnose the cause of the conflict in the first place, we may never get to a clear resolution.  Here are 5 questions to help identify where conflict is coming from.

1. WHO is hurt?  Often the source is misunderstandings, disappointments, insecurities, personality clashes – and many times this happens unintentionally. This is a chance to help people understand each other better and grow in emotional intelligence, and to help the leader grow in exhibiting care.

2. WHAT is my style?  Your way of doing things as a leader may be the source of discontent.  “Our pastor is too strong…not strong enough…needs to relax…needs to give more direction…etc.”  Ask what you have contributed to the problem and whether the Lord wants to grow you, if it does not violate your convictions or gifting/calling.  This is a chance for self-evaluation and new leadership skill growth.

3. WHERE is the sin?  The most fundamental cause of conflict is selfishness (James 4:2-4).  As spiritual leaders, we need to discern the ungodly attitudes and speak the truth in love about how people need to grow.  Conflict can surface character immaturity and be a chance for people to respond with humility and servant attitudes, with a leader’s help.

4. WHY are we making this change?  Change always challenges people!  Some will be excited, but others will be grumpy or even angry.  Visionary leadership will cause conflict because it challenges the vested interests of almost everybody.  This is a chance for the leader to paint a compelling picture of what the preferred future looks like, both growing as a communicator and growing the organization in commitment to vision and values.

5. HOW will we implement change?  Sometimes the source of conflict is not the fact that we are changing things, but how we are changing them.  It is important to gauge the feelings of people and be able to make adjustments  There may be even better outcomes as a result, if we listen to helpful feedback (and not just the complainers), as the apostles did in Acts 6:1-7.

Father, you have asked us to be both leaders and shepherds – to both move people and to care for them.  Please give us wisdom and grace to be able to lead your people to greater growth and to greater service, for your name’s sake.

Book Review: SACRED PATHWAYS

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Gary Thomas in his book, Sacred Pathways mentions nine sacred pathways in which some of us experience or love God. We do not often know how best to describe our different spiritual temperaments. This book will unfold their traits, strengths, and pitfalls as well as enabling us to take some inventories for self evaluation showing our spiritual paths inclination.

They overlapped to certain degree. There is no rigid application of anyone in particular. The key lies in the heart (that is hunger for God, brokenness and a predisposition of obedience) so that the practises and experiences we have will also enable us to appreciate each other different spiritual temperament.”

– Rev Charles Tan                                                                             Hinghwa Methodist Church

Interview with Rev Fredric Lee

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In 2009, Rev Fredric Lee of Yishun Christian Church (Lutheran) joined a Focusing Leaders Network.  We asked him to share some of his thoughts about the experience.

CRMS: Why did you join Focusing Leaders?
FL: I was drawn to the course program which seemed to be helpful for personal growth, and to be more directed in pastoral ministry.

CRMS: What did you feel was the greatest benefit for you?
FL: Through coaching and personal mentoring, the program has effectively provided personal guidance, motivated my personal growth, and offered mutual encouragement and support in the small group learning sessions.

CRMS: What difference has it made in your life and ministry?
FL: Although I’ve gone through many years of formal and informal learning, still I find that Focusing Leaders offers an excellent biblical learning which has excited me in my leadership capacity.  It has strengthened my commitment to God’s calling for me and motivated me in my discipleship ministry. Even my wife and children have been blessed by the impact Focusing Leaders has had in my life.

CRMS: Why would you recommend it to others?
FL: It is a course that is specially designed for the participants to respond with delight to God’s call for their lives and then help each person move in a clear and purposeful way toward a fulfilling mission.  And that kind of personal growth is priceless.

 

THE POWER OF BLESSING

October 2011

There are all kinds of habits – some good, some bad.  People tend to get more and more characterized by the habits they adopt. One very good habit we can adopt is the power of blessing.  Our world is filled with people who have adopted the habit of cursing, which has a terrible negative impact on their souls and the world around them.  We can choose to adopt the habit of blessing, and experience the power that it releases to transform our lives and the lives of others.
Here are four quick ways you can choose to incorporate this practice into your daily life, and let it become a habit.

1. Think It.  We can train our minds to think positively or negatively.  For example, we can train ourselves to be thankful by adopting the habit of giving thanks to God in prayer before we eat meals.  Our actions affect our attitudes.  One way I have trained myself to think blessing is to add it to my interaction with people when I say goodbye.  I say “God bless you” when I finish a phone conversation or part ways with people.  It is a conscious choice to think blessing, and it has become a habit by linking it with everyday activities that happen many times a day for me.

2. Speak it.  Vocalizing our thoughts makes them tangible.  When we speak blessing, it proclaims God’s character and God’s intentions.  It declares our reliance on God and our recognition of his power and his goodness.  It reminds us, and reminds the people we are with, how to look at things from a godly perspective. Years ago I decided that when I heard something positive, I wanted to glorify God by saying “praise the Lord!”  So this has become a habit, and it brings the reality of God’s presence and purpose into our conversations.

3. Write itText itTweet itPost it. Most of us can recall a time or times in our lives when a person we looked up to affirmed how they saw God working in our lives. Perhaps they recognized something in us that God had blessed us with or could use for his glory. If it was in a written note, it became even more precious. Thanks to technology, we can be intentional about speaking these kinds of blessing over others in many ways!  I have made it a habit, when people write an email requesting prayer, to email back with a written prayer instead of saying I will pray for them.

4. Pray it.  If you are thinking and saying “God bless you” and “praise the Lord” and similar blessings through the day, it constantly reminds your mind and heart that the Lord is present and active and that his intentions are good.  That can become much more than a rote habit, it can become an attitude of prayer that permeates your thoughts and conversations.  When you habitually think and speak blessing, your heart can join in and offer them up as prayersto God as well as giving encouragement to others.

May you see the Lord’s blessing flow through you to others as you put these actions into practice, and may they become godly habits that will usher in a greater evidence of God’s presence in your life and ministry.

Spiritual Authority Seminar Information

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Leading from Spiritual Authority                                          

People are looking for leaders to believe in.  There are varied reasons followers admire and listen to leaders – expertise, status, position, and others – but Christian leaders want to increasingly rely on spiritual authority to influence followers.

Where does spiritual authority come from, and are you increasing in it?  Our half-day seminar on 20 Oct 2011 will give you a basic framework for understanding it and action steps for growing in it.

Venue:       Acts Baptist Church                                                                                                              Blk 203 Henderson Road                                                                                                    #12-14 (Wing A)                                                                                                                Singapore 159546

Facilitator:  Rev James Creasman                                                                                     (Rev James was a pastor in Los Angeles for 13 years, missionary in Asia for 16 years, founder & president of CRMS. His areas of specialization include lifelong development, missions, and mentoring.)

Recommended Resource: ROSE BIBLE CHARTS

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Charts, tables, and maps are great tools for giving an overview of a subject.  Rose Publishing has become a premier distributor of Bible charts and maps, and every week they give away a free sample chart download.  Some recent examples include: Spiritual Gifts, Free Will vs Predestination, Apostles Peter & John, and How to Study the Bible.

Sign up for their newsletter here, and receive notifications of each week’s current free download.

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Staff Profile: Rae Chen

When everyone meets Rae Chen, CRMS intern from Zhejiang province, China, she is instantly a delight and encouragement. With such radiance of the light of Jesus in her, we are glad to have her assistance this year, and hope you get the chance to meet her! But we are most eager to see where God leads her after this year being mentored with us.

I received Jesus through a classmate when I was in college, where I realizing life is totally hopeless without a merciful and faithful God. The desire God place in me is to see the unity of China and young generation love the Lord with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. During the Olympic time I was helping with outreaches, Pastor Andy Lim introduced me to CRMS and Pastor James Creasman. I hope to learn how to mentor and encourage others in the body of Christ.

While in Singapore I want to connect with leaders, lift them up before God constantly in prayer. I long to see his will be done in leader’s lives, led by and obedient to Jesus. I especially want to connect with the Chinese Churches, and learn from spiritual leaders who are also from mainland China. I want God to use me in introducing Focusing Leaders Networks to those who are needing mentoring and guidance at this time in their leadership journey.

Singapore is such a fast paced country. I want to encourage people to spend sufficient time listening to God and being with God so that we can respond His Love with all our heart, all our soul and mind, which is the greatest commandment of Jesus! CRM materials and staff help come along side to keep our eyes fixed on Him.

Upcoming Events

Growing in Spiritual Authority

Thu, 20 Oct / 9am – 1pm / $50 / Reg deadline Tue, 18 Oct

There are many power bases available for leaders – positional, relational, expertise, etc. – butspiritual leaders increasingly rely on spiritual authority to mature their followers and move them towards God’s purpose.

This seminar will help you discern and develop the use of spiritual authority in your life:

  • Understand six power bases
  • Assess your own base of authority
  • Identify where spiritual authority comes from
  • Learn to discern the exercise of spiritual authority
  • Develop a plan for growing in spiritual authority

Group Mentoring Inroductory Lunch

Tue, 1 Nov / 12nn – 2pm / Free simple packet lunch / Reg deadline Fri, 28 Oct

Over lunch (FOC), you will be able to find out more about:

  •  Focused Living Seminars
  • Focusing Leaders Networks
  • Mentoring Curricula on Time Line/Calling/Mentoring

There will be a CRM Facilitator to answer your questions on our materials, seminars & mentoring groups (networks).

Facilitator-Coach Training

Thu-Sat, 3-5 Nov / 9am – 6pm / $300 / Fri, 28 Oct

For those who have completed the Focusing Leaders Network and would like to use the material as a mentoring tool with others, this training offers an advanced Focusing Leaders course.

  • The first day goes deeper into the lessons and theology of Focusing Leaders.
  • The second day covers group facilitation principles and practices.
  • The third day covers personal coaching principles and practices.

Coaching for Life Workshop

Sat, 5 Nov / 9am – 4:30pm / $100 / Reg deadline Thu, 3 Nov

Completing the “Coaching for Life” workshop will help you to more effectively support others to reach their potential in all areas of life and to take action to find and fulfill God’s purpose for them. Using coaching skills, you will be able to support people to:

  • Gain focus
  • Move from vision to action
  • Achieve goals faster
  • Make better decisions
  • Broaden perspectives for innovative solutions
  • Learn new skills to take the next step

For registration or inquiries: Contact Regina at regina@crms.org.sg or call 6256 CRMS (2767)

 

Recently the Straits Times ran an opinion article on the differences between the First and Third Generation leaders in Singapore. While the current generation may be described as “Consensus” Leaders, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says leaders need to be driven by “Conviction.” The Times went on to contrast the two approaches.Is Christian Leadership Consensus or Conviction Based?

Conviction leadership is appealing because it builds on the strengths of the leader – someone who sees farther and plans more wisely than the rest of us. All of us would like to follow a leader like that, whom we can trust and admire! And we would like to think we can be like that through the gifting and filling of the Holy Spirit. However, more often than not, the people who rise to leadership are not better than everyone else, neither in their skills and wisdom, nor in their motivations. This model is susceptible to the abuse of power, and it also creates weaker followers who learn to become dependent on the leader rather than thinking and acting for themselves. Consequently, they do not have a deep sense of ownership for their own contribution.

Consensus leadership is certainly attractive in today’s world where people are better educated, and have constant access to the same data and resources as leaders do. We all have our own opinions and like to share them. Consensus leaders can build upon the wisdom and talent of the whole group, and arrive at better decisions and create more group ownership. However, the group can devolve into polarization and indecisiveness if members want to get their own way and will not yield to the decisions of the leader(s). Also, very skilled leaders can manipulate the consensus style to still end up at the conviction outcome – getting the leader’s way – but perhaps with more buy-in.

The New Testament approach actually blends aspects of both these styles. I call it Consecrated Leadership. Jesus said church leaders are to serve, not to control, their followers. Paul said church leaders are given spiritual authority to build up, not to tear down, their followers.

Consecrated Leaders wait on the Lord to impart vision and values for their ministry. They take responsibility to steward, not to control, the gifts of their followers. They want followers to become mature and hear from God themselves, not become dependent on the leader.

Consecrated followers honor their leaders and engage in the mission, and take responsibility for their own growth and contribution. They are able to give constructive suggestions to the leader, since everyone is concerned about doing the Lord’s will and doing it the best they can, not concerned with getting their own way.

To become a more Consecrated Leader, I suggest:

1. Taking more time alone with God to let him give you vision for what he wants to accomplish through you and your followers. Perhaps one day of prayer a month, and longer periodic retreats.

2. Find a mentor and/or a group of peer mentors who can give you honest feedback about your own leadership style and shortcomings, and ways to grow.

3. Make the development of your followers your primary aim over the accomplishment of the task you have for them. Find ways to give them training and incremental increases in responsibility, so that they grow through doing ministry.

Then you will be in the company of the best leaders in history, the ones who said “Follow my example.”

[By James Creasman]

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February 2011

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5 HABITS OF AN EFFECTIVE LEADER

For some people, the beginning of a new year is a time to reflect and assess their lives, and to make goals for the coming year.  (Here is a helpful tool for “Reflections and Resolutions” which my wife uses, and may be helpful to you.)  Regardless of when you do it, all of us benefit from periodic evaluation of our growth and our direction in life.  When you do it, what are the criteria you use for judging where you are at and where you are going?

I’d like to suggest the following five areas for setting goals for your own growth this year.  In his study of more than 4,000 Biblical, historical, and contemporary Christian leaders, Dr. J. Robert Clinton found common areas that led to leaders continuing to grow and finishing well, or plateauing/failing and finishing poorly.  Here are the five common areas that led to leaders finishing well:

1. Effective believers maintain a learning posture throughout their entire lives.They never stop learning. Whether informally (reading, personal growth, projects, personal research), non-formally (workshops, seminars, conferences) or sometimes through formal training (continuing education, degree programs).

2. Effective leaders experience repeated times of renewal. Effective, godly servants develop intimacy with God which, in turn, overflows into all of their life and ministry.

3. Effective leaders have a dynamic statement of personal calling. They allow God to continually shape their unique and ultimate contribution. A believer’s calling typically emerges in late 30s and the ability to articulate it the 40s and 50s.

4.  Effective leaders increasingly perceive their life in terms of a big-picture, lifetime perspective. They manifest a growing awareness of their sense of destiny.

5. Effective leaders recognize mentoring as a priority. They are committed to being mentored and mentoring others whom God brings their way.

Why not take a few minutes and do a simple self-evaluation of how you are doing in these five areas? In which area are you strongest (and could help others), and in which do you most want to grow? What are some specific actions you could take to grow in that habit?  When and where could you put those into practice? (for example, the last Monday of each month spend a day of prayer in Botanical Garden.)

These “Five Habits of Effectiveness” form the core of our mentoring curricula.  If you would like to join others in working on your growth in these areas, check out our mentoring networks , or materials, or events this year.  God bless you with a great year of fruitfulness and effectiveness for God’s Kingdom!

-James Creasman


AN INTERVIEW WITH AARON LEE, A PARTICIPANT OF FOCUSED LIVING

 

1. Which program did you attend and how did you enjoy the experience?

In August 2010, at the invitation of our friends James and Kimberly Creasman, my wife Namiko and I commenced fortnightly “Focused Living” (FL) meetings with the Creasmans (our FL facilitators and mentors) and 2 other couples (all in our 30s). Our FL journey gave us the framework to be involved in one another’s lives and to discover what God has in store for us, individually and as families. At each meet-up we study and discuss the FL resources, but we quickly found that it is not just a “programme”. It has come to be a relationship combining the best parts of friendship, community, accountability and learning.

2. Was the program up to your expectations and which part did you like best?

It was timely how it brought us both to a conviction (and assurance) that He has a plan for us,individually and as a family. We only realised it later, but our coming together was so timely that it could only have been the Lord behind it. It was the high point of 2010 for us. The FL resource gave me specific tools to discover, part by part, God’s unfolding plan for me and how He shapes me using the agency of people and circumstances. It is rapidly opening up my imagination for the future, creating excitement and renewing a sense of purpose towards my relationships, work and ministry. I can testify that it has been a tremendous help to us as we navigated through some major life decisions in 2010.

3. Do you think others can also benefit from this program and why?

Absolutely, yes! Everyone can benefit from having a wise and caring mentor walk with you for a season, not necessarily (and not only) to teach you. FL equips you with the tools to reflect on what is happening to you here and now. It helps you hear His call to intimacy and intentional living, and then you get a renewed awakening in your spirit to follow that call. Be warned– this journey can change your life!

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Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels

Great leaders are masterful at identifying and articulating their values (as well as their vision).  Bill Hybels is without a doubt one of the most influential Christian leaders of the past 30 years, championing the “seeker-sensitive” model of church.  In these 76 short chapters, he brilliantly describes the values that drive him and his ministry.  Reading this book will prompt you to identify what values guide you and will challenge you to learn how to communicate them in a compelling way.