Toyota and Lessons on Leadership

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Photo from Flickr
The total number of recalls for Toyota is growing and it is currently at 5.3 million cars. The recall was precipitated due to one critical error of the accelerator pedal – it was getting caught on the edge of the floormat, as well as getting stuck without due cause. It created the possibility of the car accelerating out of control.

By stopping the production and sales of 8 models, Toyota took the risk of losing billions of dollars to get it fixed. But more than the money, their reputation of having the best quality and dependability was on the line.

This is definitely bringing back memories of Johnson & Johnson Tylenol recall back in 1982.

As new information is slowly coming out, it has been discovered that Toyota has been trying to cut cost. Therefore, their suppliers have been using cheaper materials, which lead to the decrease in quality.

Now, they are scrambling to come up with a new pedal design and replacing all the models with the defective accelerator pedals.

There are some leadership lessons from this situation:

1) Cutting corners can be disastrous. So often, leaders are all about the bottom line. But we have to remember that sometimes how we get to the bottom line is just as important, if not more, than the bottom line. The steps that we take can either glorify God or glorify ourselves. At the end, we have to remind ourselves that it is not about us.

2) Yesterday success is no guarantee for future success. It is easy to sit back and think that things are going well because of all the things that we have accomplished. How tempting it is to back through the rearview mirror and forget to look ahead. Things change. God moves in different ways and it is crucial that we have the faith and obedience to follow Him on a daily basis.

3) Trust is everything. In ministry, we have a “trust account.” We are either making deposits or we are making withdrawals. The math is simple – the more withdrawals than deposits, we will go bankrupt. We have to do everything possible to make sure that we are in the black when it comes to the trust account.

4) Be willing to pay the price to make things right. A lot of things in leadership are about sacrifice. We have to set the example by giving our time, talent, and treasures. But we also have to be willing to sacrifice our pride and self-centeredness, especially when we are wrong. No matter what the price, if we are willing to take up the cost of rectifying things that are not right. Then, we will earn a greater respect from those we lead.

Intercessory Prayer

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Vision


Photo from
Prayer has been one of the foundational stones that we laid down at the start of our church in 1996. Over the years we have seen people trained up in their prayer lives, as well as people growing in their hunger for God. Prayer should always be the lifeline of the church. It helps us to connect with God and learn the important lesson of dependence (Jn 15:5).

Early on in our church, we saw the importance of prayer as we did ministry. We even started up an intercessory prayer team to pray for the different concerns in our church. But as our church and ministry started to grow, we grew less dependent on God. I have always wondered about this inverse correlation – the more successful or fruitful we are, the less we pray. It should always be in direct correlation, but our pride and human independence always cause us to go in the opposite direction.

This is why I was elated to hear that some people in our church back in Ann Arbor felt a strong burden to start up the intercessory prayer team again. It was definitely something that God was stirring in the hearts of the people. It was also a burden that the pastors were sensing from God. Therefore, when the proposal of restarting the intercessory prayer team came up, we just knew that this was from the Lord.

We have to keep in mind that this team is not a group of people just gathering together to pray because intercessory prayer is a bit different from “just praying.” They are specifically “standing in the gap” on behalf of others and asking God to intervene in a particular situation. They are called to follow in the long tradition of the Old Testament intercessors; but more particularly, they follow the example of Christ in being a priest (1 Pe 2:5, 9; Rev 1:5), who represents the people before God.

We also have to remember that every Christ-follower is called to pray; therefore we cannot relegate all the responsibility for prayers to this team. Instead, the people on this team have a specific calling to intercede on someone else’s behalf with a great level of faith, confidence and perseverance for God to intervene. Due to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, we are able to approach God with great confidence and that He will hear us and answer us according to His will.

The pastors and I are looking forward to partnering up with this ministry team. They have already set in motion a two-way line of communication where they can communicate things with us, as the Lord impresses things on their hearts; and the pastors will be able to share some of the concerns and needs that will require an extra level of intense intercession.

I cannot wait to see all the ways in which God will work throughout this year with the partnership of this team.

Education Sphere of Transformasphere

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

At HMCC, we have always believed in transformation. It always starts with a life being transformed by the Gospel message and then rippling out to various parts of the world. This is one of the reasons why we have started the Transformasphere Movement. We believe that as we engage some of the key spheres of society, then we will be able to penetrate into the society and bring positive change.

Education is one specific sphere of society that we have to engage in if we are serious about bringing transformation to the next generation. It is through education where a person develops their mind and gains the necessary tools to make a significant contribution to the world.

We want to keep on raising up people in our churches who are in the educational field. We would love to see people who are passionate about seeing the educational sphere as an avenue to bring the reality of God’s Kingdom here on earth. This means that we need to keep on developing educators in their relationship with Christ, as well as empowering them to start up new ventures. As we keep on building our coalition of teachers in all our HMCC churches, it will be exciting to see what they will be able to do in the future.

I started to think about this again because I read a Newsweek article that was written a year and a half ago. It chronicled a woman who was determined to bring reform to the worst school system at that time (Washington, D.C.). You can read the article here. It is pretty inspiring and the things that she was proposing were very innovative.

You can also watch a Charlie Rose interview with her about some of the controversy that she and her team proposed. Start at 00:25:30.

HMCC of Singapore

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Victories, Vision


God is amazing. It is interesting how God rarely gives us the full picture of our lives right away. When it comes to His will, God is usually giving us little pieces at a time. It is like a jigsaw puzzle (without the luxury of having the final picture on the box to see what it is supposed to look like). Usually, just having a couple of pieces is not very helpful in seeing the final picture.

I am learning that God gives a piece of the puzzle one at a time to see if we will be faithful with what we have, and also if we can trust Him for the other pieces. It has been a phenomenal journey for us at HMCC. For the last 13 years, God has been giving us pieces of the puzzle year after year. As we have tried to stay faithful to His vision and mission, God is now calling us to trust in Him for the next phase.

We will be venturing out to start up another church in Singapore. God has been working through some of our alumni there. In the last year and a half, they have been meeting together and now we sense that God wants to launch HMCC of Singapore. By all human logical and calculations, this might not make sense in light of everything that is going on; but we want to walk by faith and not by sight. We believe in a great God who will do great things through people who put their trust and faith in Him.

Please keep us in your prayers as we do our best to follow God’s lead.

Here is the introduction letter on our HMCC of Singapore website.

Greetings in Jesus name!

We are glad that you came to visit our website. At HMCC, it has been an incredible 13+ years of seeing lives being transformed with the Gospel. Many people have been trained and equipped to go into their spheres of influence and make a difference for Jesus Christ. It has been an incredible journey thus far. We are humbled and amazed that God has given us the privilege of participating with Him in fulfilling the Great Commission.

In September 2009, we launched our first international church in Jakarta, Indonesia, but little did we know that God had bigger plans for us. Over the years, we have seen many international students attend HMCC. Through our ministry, we have seen some of the students become Christ-followers for the first time, while others were challenged to grow in their relationship with Christ.

As many of the students returned to their home countries, we have encouraged them to carry the DNA and the vision of HMCC back with them and make an impact for Christ. One particular place where some of our alumni have been trying to bring the vision of transformation to is in Singapore.

Within the last year and a half, a handful of HMCC alumni have been gathering together to worship, study the Bible, and pray. They have also been reaching out to various people – college students and young working professionals – and experiencing biblical community similarly to what they first encountered in HMCC back in the States.

As we started to see what God was already doing in Singapore, we began to pray about the possibility of starting a church in Singapore. With some of our alumni committed to seeing an HMCC church planted in Singapore, we decided to take a step of faith and follow God’s lead. In the months to come, we will continue to pray, prepare and plan for the official launch.

We want to invite you to join us in this adventure. Please continue to pray with us, as well as spread the word about this church plant. We know that there are probably a lot of questions you have regarding this new church; therefore, we have made a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. If you have more questions, please talk to one of the pastors directly. Also, we will have more updates on this website in the near future with specific information regarding the place and times of our gatherings.

Once again, we are reminded that it is all about Him and His glory. As this church gets planted in Singapore, we are waiting in anticipation for more lives to be transformed with the Gospel. Then through transformed lives, we will ripple out and transform Singapore, S.E. Asia and beyond.

Conventional vs. Unconventional

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint


Photo by Getty Images
I think I have always had a rebellious streak in me. I am constantly asking the “why” question. The why question gets stronger when there is a situation or a person who is adamant about something. Whether it is my desire to “know” why a person believes in what they believe in or my need for people to explain their convictions, I am always trying to find out what makes people tick or why things are done the way they are.

This is why when something is done in a conventional way, I am constantly asking the “why” question. Do we do things a certain way because it has always been done that way? I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing things in a conventional way. In fact, some conventional things are good things, which have been proven to be good over a period of time. But then there are some conventional things that need to be challenged. Sometimes conventionality confines us in our potential. It can also stifle creativity or the ability to come up with new solutions to old problems. Tradition should never trump how the Spirit of God is moving at a given time.

The converse of this thought process is that sometimes God uses unconventional things to accomplish His purposes. As one of my missions professor would always say, “Missions has always been done on the margins.” People, who at times seemed a bit radical or appeared not following the expected norm are the ones that made a difference for God’s Kingdom.

One good example from missions’ history is Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China who did not stay at the port cities like everyone else but rather went into inland China to preach the Gospel. He did missions in an “unconventional” way. Instead of doing what all Western missionaries did in China, he wore the clothes that the Chinese people wore. He also ate the food that the Chinese ate. He even had his hair styled the way the Chinese men donned, which was the long braided pigtail. Through this unconventional way, Taylor won many Chinese people to Christ.

Now, when we think about this situation of contextualization, it is a no-brainer. But if you think about it back in the mid-nineteenth century, it was pretty radical and unconventional.

As we think about church and church planting, we might have to be open to unconventional ways of doing things. When I look in our specific context, I am challenged to ask myself the “why” question again. Can church planting be done in a different way from the way we are familiar with in our HMCC context?

If we want to see God work in powerful ways, then we have to be open to unconventional ways. A lot of times, we don’t like unconventional things because it is not predictable, it will challenge us, and it shows that we are not in control. But then again, aren’t those factors essential in creating the perfect condition for God to receive all the glory when anything good comes forth?

MLK 2010

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint


Photo from Raven Foundation
Whenever Martin Luther King, Jr. Day comes around, I am reminded of Dr. King’s teachings and his life. I have had the privilege of going to The King Center down in Atlanta several times. When you see all the displays, you are literally walking through history. As Martin Luther King (MLK) was fighting for civil rights, the United States was turmoil. Not only was there sharp racial divide across America, but there was a strong anti-war sentiment towards the war in Vietnam.

Dr. King’s fight to stop racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and non-violent demonstrations were embraced by many in the movement. It takes great strength to resist the desire to retaliate and get revenge.

Beyond all the awards and recognition that he received, Dr. King wanted to be remembered as a servant and someone who fought for justice. In a sermon that he gave, Dr. King rhetorically asked what he would like people to remember him by and he said,

“I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Dr. King’s drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness are still being heard today throughout the world. We need to see another MLK in our generation who will address some of the biggest issues of our time.

Church Membership

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Vision


Photo by US News
Peter L. Berger in his book, The Noise of Solemn Assemblies writes,

     “There is a continuum of values between the churches and the general community. What distinguishes the handling of these values in the churches is mainly the heavier dosage of religious vocabulary involved… Another way of putting this is to say that the churches operate with secular values while the secular institutions are permeated with religious terminology… An objective observer is hard put to tell the difference (at least in terms of values affirmed) between the church members and those who maintain an ‘unchurched’ status.
     Usually the most that can be said is that the church members hold the same values as everybody else, but with more emphatic solemnity. Thus, church membership in no way means adherence to a set of values at variance with those of the general society; rather, it means a stronger and more explicitly religious affirmation of the same values held by the community at large.”

Berger’s quote reaffirmed a thought that I have always held. If something works in the secular world, there is usually a biblical principle behind it. But to think that the church would affirm or “operate with secular values” is something to consider.

In many ways, we have seen various secular values enter into the church over the years. One in particular is the “consumer mindset.” We see this often in the churches today. Recently, I have been describing it as the “shopping mall Christianity.” In Asia, it is all about the shopping mall. People spend most of their time in these grand shopping malls. It is a place where you can eat great food, go see a movie, get your hair done, go shopping for things, and etc. The more options, the better the mall.

This is the approach to church by many people today. It has been reinforced even in our college years. On a college campus, we have so many choices of Christian ministries that we can be a part of throughout the week. Then on Sunday we have so many choices of churches that we can attend. Therefore, we pick and choose what is good for us. For most people, it is all about keeping our options open, just in case a better church or fellowship comes along. Of course, we never want to be stuck in just one place, do we?

Even single adults, when they move into a city and try to find a church, it is advised to always keep the options open, right? Why commit to just one local Body? What if that one church does not have many single people? Then the probability of getting married decreases. But it doesn’t end there. When we get married and even have kids we begin to operate with the same values. We begin to ask, “How good is their children’s ministry?”

When did church become so much about “us” rather than about God and His mission?

I am wondering if this is one of the reasons why the Church of Jesus has been weakened and lacking in power.

If the secular world demands more commitment and sacrifice from people, then we are in trouble.

Here at HMCC of Jakarta, we started a new 2-part series called, “Built to Last.” This past Sunday, we looked into two biblical metaphors that the Apostle Paul used to describe the church – the household and the body. Then next week, I am going to cover the important topic of serving within the Body of Christ. In essence, we are going over what we called back in HMCC of Ann Arbor – Experiencing Membership and Experiencing Ministry.

It is going to be a one-two punch. As I challenge people in our congregation to become officially recognized members, we are hoping to open more opportunities for service. In this way, as people are committing to the mission and vision of the church, they will be able to make the sacrifice and take ownership of the church.

This is one thing that we have to do a better job in than the secular world or we will lose our saltiness and our light will be dim.

One Desire Fast 2010

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision


Photo by HMCC Publication Team
Today is the start of the One Desire Fast. As we enter into this 2-week period of fasting and prayer, I am expecting great things from God.

It is exciting to see many churches around the world committing an extended period of time throughout this first month of 2010 to fasting and prayer. There are other networks and organizations that are bringing people together for the purpose of seeking God. God is definitely up to something.

This year, since our theme is “One Mission. One Church” we decided to unite with all the HMCC churches and fast together, as one church. The focus throughout our time of fasting is succinctly explained in the acronym FAST: 1) Faith in God; 2) Anointing for ministry; 3) Seek God’s favor; 4) Turn to God.

I have been trying to remind our members that fasting is not a bargaining chip or a hunger strike. We are not trying to “demand” God to do something for us. But simply we are aligning ourselves with God’s heart and purposes. There is something powerful about denying ourselves of basic necessities, in order to bring our wills under the submission to God’s will. Instead of telling God what to do, we are simply saying, “I am wholly available to you, Lord; please tell me what You want me to do and I will obey!”

During this period of fasting, I am praying that God will increase our faith. So often we don’t reach our full potential because of our lack of faith. As our faith increases throughout this fast, I am confident that God is going to challenge us to do some incredible and extraordinary things. He will stretch us and make us go beyond what we can imagine and do on our own.

I am also praying that there will be greater anointing for ministry. It is easy to do ministry on our own strength and wisdom. This is why we don’t see a lot of fruits and we get discouraged. But as we fast and pray, I believe that we will become vessels in which God can flow His miracles through us. We will experience more of His power.

Another thing I am praying for is God’s favor to fall on us. All throughout the Bible, when we see God’s people fasting and praying in humility, God hears them and answers with His undeserved grace. We are praying that as God pours out His favor that there will be many opportunities for us to serve and glory Him.

Lastly, as we fast and pray, I am praying that we learn the habit of repentance and dependence as to turn to God during this time. We also notice that in the Bible that when people fasted and prayed, it expressed their heart of repentance and dependence on God. God also wants us to be at this place of “turning to Him.” As we turn to Him, we will see all of God’s greatness, goodness and grace.

HMCCers, if you have not signed up yet, please do so. Click on to the Global HMCC website and pick your specific sites and go to the link on the One Desire Fast.

This is going to be an incredible journey.

I cannot wait to hear all the awesome testimonies!
Let’s believe for great things to happen because we serve a Great God.

Church on the Move

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint, Vision


Photo from Photobucket
I was recently reading a quote from Lesslie Newbigin’s book, The Household of God. Newbigin writes,

“The Church is the pilgrim people of God. It is on the move – hastening to the ends of the earth to beseech all men to be reconciled to God, and hastening to the end of time to meet its Lord, who will gather all into one. Therefore, the nature of the Church is never to be fully defined in static terms, but only in terms of that to which it is going. It cannot be understood rightly except in a perspective which is at once missionary and eschatological.”

There is something about security, safety and comfort that we all seek. It is so ingrained in us ever since we were young. A lot of times we bring this longing in the church. Now, before I continue, I will note that the longing for those things are not inherently wrong; but it is wrong when it is place above God’s Kingdom and His glory. Sometimes, living for God means that it is dangerous and uncomfortable.

I am wondering if the Church today has lost its calling according to Newbigin’s definition of what the Church is supposed to be and do.

Are we constantly on the move? Are we trying to find more ways to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Do we see ourselves on a missionary endeavor?

After doing some church plants, I am coming to the realization that churches that have been in existence for more than 7+ years start to face the temptation of getting into static mode. It is easier to settle for the status quo. It is easier to do what is more comfortable. It is easier to uphold the “institution” rather than being the church on the move.

When a church is just starting, it cannot operate with a “static” mindset or it will die. Things are constantly changing and things are constantly happening on a daily basis. We have to have the courage to follow God no matter what the cost.

But why is it that the longer a church has been established, the harder it is to fulfill its calling. We need to get back to the heart of the church as we see it from the Book of Acts. The early church was definitely on the move. It was impassioned with bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As people were getting saved, more churches were being planted.

It must have been awesome to be a part of that kind of church.

The concept of being on the move and being on a mission started with God. As God sent Jesus into this world, Jesus sends us. As Jesus said, “In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world” (Jn 17:18, MSG).

This is my prayer for all the HMCC church – that we will be a church that is on the move with God’s mission no matter what the cost!

If I Had Billions of Dollars…

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint


Photo from daveyost
I am realizing that people who are self-centered and narrow-minded really rub me the wrong way. I know that one area of character development that I need a lot of prayer for is in the area of patience with such people. Sigh.

Sometimes I have this crazy dream. I wish I had all the money in the world in order to send “self-centered and marrow-minded” people on an all expense paid vacation to a foreign country where they do not know the culture or speak the language.

Not only will it be an eye-opening experience for them, but it will help address some of the prejudices and arrogance that people have when it comes to interacting with people who are “different.”

Racism and prejudices are things that are learned, as well as perpetuated because of a lack of understanding. Without the experiences or interaction with people who are different from you, it will cause us to hold on to our prejudices.

Someone just recently forwarded a TIME magazine article to me that made me dream again about having a billion dollars. The article is titled, “Harvard’s Hoops Star Is Asian. Why’s That a Problem?”

Now, that caught my attention.

Harvard University’s Jeremy Lin is an anomaly. He is an Asian-American who plays basketball and plays it well. He is leading the Harvard team in points with 18.1 per game. He also averages 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game. In fact, this dude is so good that he has led the team to a 9-3 record, which is one of the best starts for Harvard in close to 25 years.

To put these facts into perspective, there are fewer than 0.5% of Asians who play in a NCAA Men’s Division I basketball team. Therefore to see an Asian excelling it is pretty rare.

So what is the problem?

Well, if you read the Time Magazine article, you will realized that it is still hard for people to accept that an Asian-American can beat your favorite team because he has skills.

In the article, it said that he had to face racial slurs and racial jokes all the time. He has been called anything from a “chink” to “sweet-and-sour pork.” Wait a minute. Isn’t that what non-Asian people like to eat? (being sarcastic).

But the encouraging part of this article is that Jeremy is a Christ-follower. He is even considering vocational ministry. Maybe his commitment to Christ is enabling him to stay strong in the midst of negative and derogatory comments.

All throughout history, there have been many Christ-followers who were in the minority that had to stay strong and not retaliate with hatred. It is easy to lower our standards and go down to the level of ignorance and prejudice. But Christ has called us to something greater.

God was all about teaching moments and addressing the prejudices in our hearts. But it didn’t take him billions of dollars – it cost Him his life.

HMCC of Jakarta’s 1st Retreat

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint


Photo by HMCC Publications Team
After all the prayers and fasting, the time has now arrived for our first ever HMCC of Jakarta congregational retreat. This is something that I have been looking forward to for some time now. As I reflect and look back to some of the first retreats of our other church plants, I realized how significance they were in the overall movement of the church life.

I am particularly more excited about this retreat because Pastor Andrew Jun will be coming to be our speaker. As many of you know, he will be the pastor that will take the leadership here in Indonesia once my family and I return back to the States. I believe that God will use him to be God’s voice to deliver God’s Word to us.

I have been praying for a divine connection with Pastor Andrew and our awesome members here in Jakarta. As Pastor Andrew lays down a good spiritual foundation at this retreat, I am confident that there will be stronger relationships built in the years to come.

As I gave it more thought, I realized that these first retreats are good because:

1) We start the church on a good foundation.
2) We share in the blessings together.
3) We set the culture in our church.
4) We spread God’s vision and purpose with our members.

We will be able to look back at this retreat in the years to come and give thanks to God for the incredible start of HMCC-JKT here in Indonesia. We are always standing in amazement and in wonder of who God is and what He is doing.

Why We Make Horrible Judges

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint


Photo by Getty Images
There was an incident that happened recently that just reminded me how human beings make horrible judges. According to the dictionary, the verb, “to judge” is defined as, “to infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess.”

First of all, since we are biased people, we cannot make a 100% spot-on judgment on everything. Secondly, we are finite; therefore our judgment on people and situations are not always 100% accurate. I say all this to preface what happened recently where I had to bring my whole family together and apologize.

About 2 months ago, we lost a miniature soccer ball that I bought for the kids to play around with in the house. Then after some time, the soccer ball just disappeared. We literally looked everywhere for it – we turned the house upside down trying to find it.

After our failed attempt to find the ball, we started to entertain the thought that someone might have possibility stolen the ball. As we went through a list of all the people that entered into our house, we came to the conclusion that some of the workers who came to fix things in our house were the guilty culprits.

In fact, I went on this speech about how we have to be careful with the people that we trust and how we must always be vigilant when workers come into our house.

Fast forward to Christmas Day.

Someone gave each of our children miniature soccer balls for Christmas. The kids were overjoyed that now they had a replacement for the ball that was stolen. Then one day as Karissa was playing with the soccer ball, she started yelling, “I found it! I found it!” Christina and I were in the kitchen area so we asked, “Found what?”

Then, she brought the “stolen” ball with holy reverence.

You should have seen our faces. We were all in shock and disbelief.

This is when I brought the whole family together and talked about passing judgment on others. But something inside of me felt that was not enough. Then, I proceeded to apologized to them for leading the charge in accusing the workers as the “soccer ball thief.” But the people that I needed to apologize to the most were the workers. Lord willing, if they ever come back to work on our house then that will be priority number one.

How often do we pass judgment on others and then at the end we realized that we were wrong?

When God judges, He judges perfectly and is justified in His judgments. But when we judge, we judge imperfectly and make unjustified judgments, which estrange and bring enmity with others.

Maybe this is why Jesus taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”
(Mt 7:1-2).

Thank God that He is our perfect judge!

The Testimony at Saddleback

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Photo from Salon
Right before the New Year, Pastor Rick Warren sent out an urgent letter to his congregation at Saddleback Church to consider giving to the $900,000 deficit in the church budget. The church had literally 48 hours to meet the 2009 budget.

It is interesting that within hours various news and media outlets got a hold of this and started to report on it. This incited people to question the motive of Pastor Rick and the church. In fact, if you read some of the comments that are on the various websites, you will be amazed at some of the negative remarks and even hateful things that are said.

There were speculations of mismanagement of funds and even mockery from people.

But to everyone’s surprise, by Saturday night, they raised $2.4 million and that was only through the cash and checks that people were dropping off at the church. You can read up on the story from various news outlets.

As I was reading up on this story, I was thinking about several leadership principles. In this incredible response from God’s people at Saddleback, there are four things that come to mind:

1) The display of good leadership. In order to appeal to his members to give and for the members to respond positively, it shows the character and the leadership gift of Pastor Rick. To make an appeal in a letter with only couple of days left in the year was a bold call. He must have known that there would be the possibility of criticism and questions from people, whether it is the media or from his own members. But this is what good leaders always do – they make tough calls even though it is not popular or it will draw criticism. Pastor Rick knew that they had to meet the budget; therefore it required an extra measure in getting the message across to God’s people.

2) The importance of trust in leadership. For people to respond to the appeal of one person, one thing that comes to mind is the word, “trust.” Trust is not something that we get overnight. In fact, it is something that has to be worked on and it takes years. With close to 30 years of service to Saddleback Church, we see that Pastor Rick has earned the trust of his members. The traits of consistency and integrity become the fuel for building trust in a relationship; and from the response of the people, I think we can confidently say that Pastor Rick has it with his members.

3) The generosity of the members. When you see the people at Saddleback respond like that to a need, it is just a testimony to the character and the maturity of the members. Generosity is not something that comes automatically for a person. It is something that has to be learned and developed. It is a discipline – just like prayer, fasting, or reading God’s Word – that we need to see continual growth.

4) The glory God receives when people live by faith. The shortfall in the budget was due to the increase need in the outreach ministry, as well as people not being able to fulfill their giving because they were gone for the holidays on the last Sunday of the year. With the recession, people came to Saddleback asking for assistance. Instead of turning them away, they ministered to them by providing for their needs. Instead of cutting back on various ministries that were making a legitimate impact, they decided to believe by faith that God will provide. At the end, God did and it brought glory to His name.

For me, through this story, some takeaways are:

1) Leaders need to build trust with people. Trust is the glue in relationships that enables the group to do great things. Without trust, we will bust (hey, that rhymes).

2) Learn to communicate clearly, not only the vision but also the need. There are people who are willing to give, but they just need to know what the needs are. But we have to remember that just sharing a need will not necessarily motivate people to give. They have to see how it is connected to the greater vision.

3) Lay a good foundation for generosity. I, as the pastor of HMCC, need to model, teach, develop and challenge people to a life of sacrifice. It has to be something that is valued and practiced in our church.

4) Live by faith and not by sight. There is something about living life with faith that amplifies who God is in His character. God just gets glorified big time when people display some crazy faith. May this year be a year of endeavoring in areas that will require greater faith.

5) Longing for more miracles in our ministry. We know we are just settling for the status quo when we just do enough to get by, when we calculate and control everything, and when we don’t have the courage to step out in faith to do some big things for God. If we want to see more miracles, then we have to change our perspective and approach.

6) Love people who criticize you.
Every decision you make will not always be popular, even from within the ranks. Therefore, as we move forward we have to learn how to love people who might disagree with you. We will always be criticized for something; therefore we need big hearts and thick skin.

Lesson on “Being in Someone Else’s Shoes”

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint


Photo from Stateman Photoblog
In light of the Christmas Day terror plot, the White House has been stepping up their rhetoric and actions towards addressing the issue of terrorism. As all the news outlets have been covering the story, it has been quite an interesting display of déjà vu.

Without trying to make a political statement, I find it interesting that some of the steps and statements that were made by the former administration are pretty similar to what the current administration is trying to do. In fact, the use of the taboo word, “terrorism” is now being used more often by the current administration who have touted the importance of “change.”

I remember a few years ago, when there were a lot of criticisms to President Bush’s policies and the administration’s approach to the war have been scrutinized (confession: I have been guilty of making some of the remarks).

But now, some of the same critics are taking some of the same approach to the war in Afghanistan (troop surge), as well as in the fight with Al-Qaeda (offensively taking out their operatives). You can watch the video of President Obama making a pledge that the U.S. will “hold accountable” all of the individuals involved in the terrorist attack – click here.

My observation is simply this: “It is always easy to criticize someone when we have not walked in their shoes.”

Now that President Obama and his administration have the same information and intelligence briefing that President Bush had, maybe things will not look too differently after all.

This same principle applies to other areas in life as well. We can criticize a pastor or a leader in a church, but unless you have walked in their shoes, you might not fully know everything that is involved. It is the same way with walking in the shoes of a parent, a manager of a company, a teacher, and etc. Our perspective is so limited, but we criticize and talk as if we know everything. This is the kind of pride that causes us to say things like, “If I was in that person’s position, I would do things differently!”

But how do you know unless you have all the facts and information?

And sometimes we don’t have all the facts and information, until we are in that same position. But by that time, we come to the realization that we are doing the same things as our predecessor. Maybe walking in the other person’s shoes might help us in giving us greater love and understanding, as well as humility in our hearts.

May this principle be something that we follow after, as we try to love people who are difficult to love or people who have a different view than us.