- Genesis 8:15 (NKJV) Then God spoke to Noah, saying…
Unless you are an itinerant speaker that can come in and preach or teach and then move on, one of the most important skills required for you if you hope to be an effective communicator is what is often referred to as, “people skills”. In the well-known words of John Maxwell: “People do not care how much you know unto they know how much you care.”
However, if you have been serving people long you understand that trying to minister to the needs of your people can be overwhelming. People at best are needy and often have unrealistic expectations. Throw in those that are “black holes” of emotional needs and you have a recipe for disaster. You will find yourself living an out-of-balance life, neglecting your own spiritual, emotional and physical well-being and neglecting other important responsibilities like family.
Over the next three blogs I am going to share three diagnostic questions that I have developed over the years that have helped me to work smart and also to pace myself. I have found that they help me to balance the reality that I must be a caring shepherd first if I hope to be an effective preacher but also staying aware that I am a limited resource and must not allow the overwhelming needs of my people to completely drain me of life and vitality.
Over the next three days (excluding Sunday) I am going to give you these diagnostic questions for your use with the hopes that they (are your version of them) will help you also keep that balance—becoming a better shepherd and preacher/teacher while also being able to pace yourself for the long haul.
First diagnostic question for an effective shepherd and preacher/teacher to use when interacting with their people:
1) What is God saying (or doing) in your life? (Discipleship diagnostic question)
- This question immediately takes your conversation from the mindless, shallow conversation of a “buddy” to the spiritual realm of a spiritual leader.
- Remember, you are called first and foremost to make disciples. Talking with someone about the play-offs or the weather or the big sale at the mall is not being a spiritual leader and it is not making a pastoral call. Leave that shallow stuff to their buddies at work, you cut to the chase and question them about what really matters.
- When you ask this questions and the person looks back at you like a deer in headlights or stumbles around with a vague general answer then you have a diagnosis: They are not growing in their discipleship. I can almost guarantee that they do not really have a serious devotional and prayer life. People with a current relationship with God will have an answer–a good one.
- Whatever their answer, you have determined the laser sharp entry point as to where your conversation needs to go as their pastor/teacher.
- And by the way, if you do this regularly they will come to expect it and that accountability will help propel them to be prepared—thus helping them grow in the faith. (Also, you’d better be prepared to give a good answer also!)
- One more thing…I have found this to be a great “witnessing question”. Ask someone, “What is God doing in your life?” (Don’t ask, “What is God saying…”). God is probably not saying anything to a spiritually dead person (and they’re think you’re crazy for asking). But the bible clearly teaches that God has revealed himself enough that people are without excuse (Ps. 19:1, 97:6; Ro. 1:19,20). Therefore, most people will at least have some sort of answer.
- It is amazing the answers you get, but their answer gives you a great diagnosis of their spiritual condition and often opens the door for a meaningful conversation.
- Preachers: A Sermon Gut-Check (jsparkblog.com)