Category Archives: For Leaders

Caught, Not Taught


A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”1 


Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. (Proverbs 4:23-24


I was in a small church on a Sunday evening and one of the youth said to me, “Do you know why they ask the youth to take up the offering on Sunday nights?” 

“What do you mean?” I replied.

She answered, “It’s because none of the deacons are here.”

As I looked around I realized there was a great amount of truth in what she said. Only two out of ten or more deacons were present that night. 

It’s amazing how students can pick up on just about everything we say or do. They know when we’re in worship service and when we’re not and if we’re absent they wonder why. They watch from a distance and soak in all that happens with us. They listen as we talk with other adults and many of them are watching to see if what we have is “real.” Consider the best teachers you ever had: What do you remember about them? Probably not a single lesson they taught, but you remember their passion, how they treated you, your relationship with them, how you felt important when you approached them with a question, etc. Life’s best lessons are not taught—They are caught. 

What are your students catching from you? What do you want them to catch from you? 

Your thoughts?


You are a living testimony to those around you—Make sure yours is a life worth catching. 

Love for the Unlovely

Ten Qualities of a Great Leader

During the next ten weeks we will examine ten qualities of a great leader. As you read this section, spend time examining your heart to see what the Lord desires to do in you and through you. 

David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). 

When I’m “searching” for something, it’s never a quick process. Searching takes time. Take time also to sit quietly and let the Lord search your heart. Listen and then search His Word and let Him minister to you during this next season of your ministry. 



John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. 

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Hollis Maynell. 

With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. 

Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. 

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting—7:00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” 

So at 7:00 p.m. he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen. 

I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: 

“A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. ‘Going my way, sailor?’ she murmured. 

“Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. 

“She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. 

“And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible; her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My finger gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. 

“I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. ‘I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?’ 

“The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. ‘I don’t know what this is about, son,’ she answered, ‘but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!’” 

It’s not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell’s wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. “Tell me whom you love,” Houssaye wrote, “and I will tell you who you are.” 

In the last sermon recorded by Matthew (Matt. 25:31-46), Jesus told the story about the sheep and the goats and sets a spiritual thermometer through which to gauge a heart by a person’s concern for the undesirable. 

Jesus has called us to love the least lovely as well as the lovely and to love those whom no one else will love. 

You might say it is a test. A test to measure the depth of our character. The same kind of test Hollis Maynell used with John Blanchard. The rejected of the world wear the roses. Sometimes we, like John Blanchard, have to adjust our expectations. Sometimes we have to re-examine our motives. Had he turned his back on the unattractive, he would have missed the love of his life. If we turn our backs, we will miss even more.


It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:17


In the story one has to admire how Ms. Maynell put him to the test to see what his heart was really like. We face similar tests every day. For example, who are you drawn to—even in your classroom? Well-behaved kids? Or those whose actions are more difficult and yet present you with greater opportunities to minister to them because of it? Who are drawn to in life? People who are like you? People who are attractive? People who will give you a kind word and a loving touch? Or, are you drawn to those who need a loving touch, a gentle hug, and a kind word? Consider the people to which Jesus was drawn. 

Your thoughts?


“The true nature of the heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. Show me who you love and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Yes, Lord


When Dr. Wayland Hoyt was pastor in Brooklyn, he was engaged in special meetings. Among those who evinced some interest was a gentleman for whom he had often prayed. He noticed his attendance one weeknight and thought he ought to speak to him about his soul, but through fear restrained. 

Another night when he had returned to his home late, finding himself too nervous to sleep, he was reading in his study. As he read, something seemed to whisper in his ear, Go and see that man tonight. But the preacher mentally replied, It is after twelve o’clock, and he is asleep with everyone in bed. He read on. But the impression remained and grew. He argued. It is snowing, and I am tired! and finally, I have been working hard all day, and I don’t want to go! But all excuses to the contrary, the Spirit persisted, and at last he yielded and went. 

As he touched the man’s doorbell, he thought, “What a fool I am to be ringing a man’s bell at one o’clock in the morning. He will think I am insane”. But instantly the door opened, and the man stood there fully clothed and said, “Come in; and God bless you. You are the man I have been waiting for all night. My wife and children are all asleep, but I could not sleep; I felt that I must find Jesus tonight.” 

And the preacher testified, “It was no trouble to show that man the way, for the Spirit who had guided me had also gone before me.”1 


To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22


Would you have found it difficult to be obedient to God in the above story? God created you to worship Him, but one cannot have true worship without full surrender and surrender implies that you are not your own—you belong to another. Hence, there can be no answer to Christ’s call other than “Yes, Lord.” Is there any area of your life where you are saying no to God? Have you said, “Yes, Lord” to all that He want you to do (everything from teaching to tithing to the small details in your daily life that He wants you to surrender to Him)? Is your life characterized by complete and total obedience to Christ? Why or why not? 

Your thoughts?


“Surrender is not only the best way to live; it’s the only way to live. Nothing else works.” —Rick Warren 2

Relying on God


Bristol, England. Tuesday, February 8, 1842 

Enough food remained in George Mueller’s orphan houses for that day’s meals, but that was it. There was no money to buy bread or milk for the following morning. And two of the orphan houses needed coal. 

Mueller believed that if God sent nothing before nine o’clock on Wednesday morning, “His name would be dishonored.” Tuesday afternoon nine plum cakes arrived from a kindly sister. But the situation was still grim, as Mueller noted in his diary: “Truly, we are poorer than ever; but, through grace, my eyes look not at empty stores and the empty purse, but to the riches of the Lord only.” 

Any other man responsible for the continual care and feeding of scores of children would have been climbing the walls. But Mueller believed in a God who is eternally faithful. He had, in fact, bet his entire career on the proposition that such a God could be relied upon implicitly and exclusively. 

Mueller would not be disappointed. Wednesday morning just after seven he walked confidently to the orphan house on Wilson Street to find out how his Lord was going to provide food for that day. Mueller discovered that the need had already been met. A Christian businessman walking to work early that morning 

had suddenly wondered whether “Mueller’s children” might need funds. He decided to take something by the homes that evening. But, he later said, “I could not go any further and felt constrained to go back.” The man delivered three sovereigns just in time to make purchases for the orphan’s breakfast. 

Timely provisions like this came in to Mueller’s homes countless times in his more than six decades of work. Never once did the orphans lack for food or clothing. There was always enough, sometimes just enough, but the children never knew a moment’s anxiety. 

Mueller’s work was entirely supported by donations. During his 63-year career nearly 1,500,000 pounds was given, enough to care for some ten thousand children and to build several orphanages. It was quite an undertaking: two thousand children to be fed each day, their clothes washed and repaired, five large buildings to be kept up, matrons, overseers, nurses, and teachers to be paid. 

And, according to Mueller, over these six decades God never missed a step. No child ever went without a meal; no baker or milkman ever settled for an IOU. 

But now we come to the real catch: George Mueller accomplished all this without ever once asking a soul for a penny and without ever making any needs known. This man had embarked on his enterprise as a grand experiment. He wanted “something that would act as a visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful God as ever he was…to all who put their trust in Him.” So this devout believer decided to demonstrate that the Almighty “had not in the least changed” by the fact that “the orphans under my care are provided, with all they need, only by prayer and faith, without anyone being asked by me or my fellow-labourers, whereby it may be seen, that God is faithful still, and hears prayer still.”1 


For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6


God will never lead you to a task that He will not equip you with all you need to accomplish that task. God always provides what we need to serve Him effectively, but sometimes (like Abraham who was promised an heir) we get impatient and try to work out God’s purposes in our own strength, resources, and timing. How are you relying on God’s strength to accomplish the ministry to which He has called you? How has God provided you with the resources you need to be effective in serving Him? (God built some of these resources into you before you were born!) What are you trusting God to do in and through your life? 

Your thoughts?


Many believers expect too little from a God who can do all things. What are you trusting God for in your life and ministry that no man could accomplish apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit? 

An In-Love Relationship


A missionary on the foreign field employed a native to help him translate the New Testament into the native language. The missionary would read the verses; then the heathen would translate and write them down. Finally they came to the first Epistle of John. The missionary read, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” The man translated and wrote down the words. The missionary read on, “that we should be called the sons of God.” Then the native bowed his head and wept. “What’s the matter?” asked the missionary. The man replied, “Teacher, don’t make me put it that way. I know our people. That’s too good for them. Put it this way, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we may be allowed to kiss His feet!”1 


But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
(John 1:12


True discipleship is born out of an in-love relationship with a Great God of Love. When people “fall in love” with someone, they want to talk to the person, think about them, talk about them, look at their picture, figure out how they can make them happy, and so forth. When a person falls in love with Jesus Christ, that believer wants to talk to Him (prayer), be with Him (daily devotions), talk about what He’s doing (testimonies), be around others who love Him (church), obey Him and show Him off to the world (witnessing). Then since true discipleship is an overflow of one’s love relationship with the Lord, your desire to grow also becomes a measure of the depth of your love for Him. How much do you desire a deeper walk with Christ? What is the depth of your love for Christ (i.e., Do you want to spend time with Him? Do you want to show Him off to the world? Do you obey Him?) On a scale of 1 to 10, how deeply are you in love with Jesus? Why do you feel this way? 

Your thoughts? 


“We become what we are committed to.”2 

God’s Love in Fellowship


In the late 1800s D. L. Moody began a Sunday school on Illinois Street in Chicago. One child who attended would walk each week from halfway across the city, which was a large city even in those days. He would pass church after church until he reached the Illinois Street Sunday School. 

One day a superintendent of one of the Sunday Schools he passed asked him, “Why do you go all the way out there? Why don’t you come here? It is right next door to you.” 

Looking up at the superintendent, the lad said, “I go where they love a fellow.”1 


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35


God created us for fellowship and at the heart of true fellowship is the expression of God’s type of love. This is also a need in the lives of each of your students. How can you express God’s type of love to the children in your ministry this week? To their parents? To others with whom you minister? 

Your thoughts?


“Real fellowship happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives.”2 

1Hyman Appelman, “Paralyzed People,” [July 1946], Hudson, Curtis, ed. Great Preaching on Soul Winning. (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1989), p. 121. 

2Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishers, 2002), p. 140. 



When Gypsy Smith was converted as a boy, he became interested in his Uncle Rodney’s salvation and began to pray for him. In those days it was not considered proper for a child to speak to his elders unless he was spoken to, especially about spiritual matters. So the boy prayed and waited for his opportunity. 

One day the uncle asked, “Laddie, why are your trousers almost worn out at the knees?” 

The boy answered, “Uncle Rodney, they have been worn out through praying for you. I want so much for God to make you a Christian.” 

The uncle put his arms around the boy, and a few minutes later fell upon his knees and cried out to God for salvation.


“And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 22:30-31


Gypsy Smith was burdened for the salvation of his uncle. For whose salvation are you burdened? For whom do you find yourself praying, longing that God will move in their life? A student in your class? A friend or a neighbor? A work associate? Or does this burden and passion for lost souls seem to be absent from your life? Many believers lack a passion for the salvation of lost people because they live too much in this world—they are not eternally-minded, storing up treasure in heaven and living in the reality that everyone they meet will either spend eternity in heaven with Jesus or in hell, separated from God forever to pay the price for their own sins. 

Your thoughts? 


“I still, from my armchair, preach in great revivals. I still vision hundreds walking the aisles to accept Christ. I still feel hot tears for the lost . . . . I want no Christmas without a burden for lost souls, a message for sinners, a heart to bring in the lost. May food be tasteless, music a discord, Christmas a farce if I forget the dying millions; if this fire in my bones does not still flame. Not till I die or not till Jesus comes will I ever be eased from this burden, these tears, this toil to save souls.” 

John R. Rice, age 85

(Part of a 1980 Christmas letter dictated a few days before his death) 2 



On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game, a man named Roy Riggles recovered a fumble for UCLA. Somehow Riggles became confused and started running 65 yards in the wrong direction. One of his own teammates finally outdistanced him and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team. When UCLA attempted to punt, Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, which was the ultimate margin of victory. 

That strange play came in the first half, and everyone watching the game was asking the same question, “What will the coach do with Riggles in the second half?” The players filed off the field and went into the locker room and sat down on the benches and the floor—all but Riggles. He put a towel around his shoulders, sat down and put his face in his hands. 

A coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime, but that day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riggles. Then the timekeeper came in and announced that there were only three minutes left till playtime. Price looked at the team and said simply, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.” 

The players got up and started out—all but Riggles. He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him again. Still he didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riggles sat and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.” Then Riggles looked up and said, “Coach, I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.” 

The Coach said, “Riggles, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.” And Roy Riggles went back, and those Georgia Tech players will tell you that they never saw a man play football like Roy Riggles played in that second half.1 


Worry is a heavy load, but a kind word cheers you. (Proverbs 12:25 NCV) 

Ephesians 4:11-12—“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” 

“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” 2 


Empowering students for ministry opportunities many times begins with smiles and simple words of encouragement (i.e., You’re special; God has great plans for your life; God made you for a special reason, etc.) How have you encouraged your
students this past week? How has the Lord encouraged you? In what areas of your life do you feel you need encouragement? 

Your thoughts?



One of the most significant battles in the world history was between the forces of the Duke of Wellington and the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. The people of Great Britain were waiting with baited breath to find out who won the battle of Waterloo, because whoever won the battle would decide the future of Europe. They did not have telegraph or telephone or radio or television in those days. The news of the battle came to England by sailing vessel to the south coast and then was delivered over land by semaphore. Semaphore was a system for signaling by using flags or arms in various positions, flashed from town to town until it reached the top of Winchester Cathedral and on to London. 

The populace eagerly waited as the semaphore signals spelled out the words, “Wellington Defeated.” Just then a dense fog settled down over the harbor as this incomplete message was waved on to London. Discouragement settled over the land. Streets were barricaded. Women and the elderly prepared to defend their country in the streets and fields. 

Finally the fog lifted and the signals came through again to complete the message, “Wellington Defeated the Enemy.” Can you imagine the wild delirium of joy that spread like fire throughout all of London? Just like the fog covered up the incomplete message we, as teachers, get fogged in occasionally and are robbed of a complete message.1 


Proverbs 13:17— “An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing.” (NLT) 

Hebrews 10:24—“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” 


The purpose of a “coach” is to move a person from where they are to where they want to be. That was the purpose of a “stagecoach” in the old days. That’s why some people fly in “coach” today. That’s also the reason sports teams hire a coach—To move them to where they want and need to go. As you “coach” the students in your ministry, be careful that your message doesn’t get fogged. Always be clear with your love, your message, and the way you live your life. Has anything been “fogging up” your message to the children in your class? Has anything come into your life that has fogged up your own communication with God? 

Your thoughts?

1W. Herschel Ford, Sermons You Can Preach on John, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958).



In the early 2000s, on a cold February day, a limousine traveling down the New Jersey expressway got a flat tire. The limo driver got out to change the tire only to discover that the spare was flat. Before he could summons road service, a man in a pickup truck stopped and offered to help. Among the equipment on his truck was an air tank.

As the man and the driver finished up, the car window slid down and the man was shocked to see a wealthy, well-known businessman sitting inside. “This was very nice of you to stop and help,” he said. “What can I do to thank you?”

The man thought for a moment and then said, “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. My wife would really get a kick out of receiving a dozen roses from you.” The man agreed and drove off.

The next day, a messenger arrived with a box. Inside were two dozen roses and a note: “Happy Valentine’s Day from a friend of your husband. (signed by the businessman.) P.S. Thanks for helping us out. By the way, I paid off your mortgage.”*


A little time invested in the story above came with a great reward. The same is true in working with children. The rewards you get far outweigh the time and energy you give. Our culture often focuses on instant gain and gratification but our reward in investing in others comes not only in this life but forever in eternity. The impact you will make with your kids will far outlast our lives on earth.

Also, the value in the story above is not that the car was fixed or that someone received roses. The real value is that someone went well above and beyond to say thanks, to encourage, to bless, to honor and, to put it plainly, to show unreasonable kindness. How has God shown you unreasonable kindness this past week. How can you invest that same kind of kindness in others?

Your thoughts?


Ephesians 3:20—“Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine” (GWT).

Philippians 2:4—“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”


“One thing for sure, if you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had help getting there.” (Original source unknown)

Let us invest our lives in others and share the love of Christ. Only in Heaven will we truly understand the impact of it all.

*A Children’ s Leader Devotion, (Lake Forest, CA: Saddleback Church), Week 30.