Inspiration seems harder to come by in the second decade of the 21st Century. Social media’s ascendancy increases our skepticism and makes us more susceptible to snap judgements. We have lower expectations of our leaders. Our millennial generation, with iPhones and smart phones omnipresent, sees fewer and fewer examples of greatness.
That’s what makes Pastor Rick Duncan so special. He’s been proclaiming the Good News at one place, Cuyahoga Valley Church, for more than 30 years. Pastor Rick (as the congregation there knows him) turned the leader reins over to Chad Allen several years ago, but he still regularly takes to the stage and delivers uplifting and yes – even inspirational – messages on Sundays.
Yesterday was such an occasion. Usually those attending church at Christmastime expect versions of the Christmas story. Those at Cuyahoga Valley Church have been treated to a great delight this Advent season, a series of sermons titled “Tis the Season” focusing on how we can be better people year-round. Last Sunday (Dec. 10) newly-ordained Josh Stone gave the congregation an advice-filled message about patience this time of year.
Pastor Rick’s message title was “Tis the Season to be Hopeful,” but his message was aimed more at how we should be more effective as leaders. Beginning with a personal example (a less-than-great manager he had during his time in minor league baseball), Duncan presented five characteristics which great leaders “bring” to their relationships with others. Those characteristics are:
- Light not darkness
- Insight, not ignorance.
- Strength, not weakness.
- Constancy, not unpredictability, and
- Peace, not strife.
Clothed with words from the prophet Isaiah 9: 2-7, Duncan cited Jesus Christ as the model of great leadership. Here’s one of his examples: When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with a woman “caught in the act” of adultery and opined that Mosaic Law demanded her stoning, Christ used the situation as an opportunity to shine light, not darkness. He challenged all the Pharisees, asking any of them who lived without sin to cast the first stone at the woman. One by one, each accuser turned and walked away. Then, rather than judging the accused woman, Jesus told her to “I do not condemn you either. Go, from now on sin no more. (NASV)” The whole story is in John, Chapter 8.
Duncan concluded his sermon with simple advice to those who are leaders or who are aspiring to leadership positions. He said we should lift up this prayer: “Jesus, be my leader. Help me lead like you.”
Great advice, the type that’s timeless and always applicable in any situation. Thank you Pastor Rick for your leadership lesson. Here’s a link to a video cast of Duncan’s message on December 17.
Also, here’s a link to Pastor Rick’s blog: http://cuyahogavalleychurch.blogspot.com/
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I’ve been so blessed with many caring and loving family members. My sister Denise Rooks left her cancer-ridden body on Friday evening. My brother-in-law Chuck, who needed surgery himself just the day before, made it to Hospice of Medina County earlier in the day and was able to spend some last moments together with his wife of 39 years. In a future post I will say more about my sweet sister Denise. But right now the pain her passing renders me too weak and feeble for the terrific words which her life requires.
For those who knew and loved Denise, calling hours and funeral mass information are on the link below:
FINALLY, for more than a dozen years now I’ve been privileged to serve as part of the “Pause For Prayer” team at Moody Radio Cleveland, WCRF (103.3 FM). This coming week I move from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box, delivering a two-minute prayer on the station a few times each day. Here’s a link to the radio station’s website, from where you can also find a live stream.