Friday, May 23, 2014

The Fear of Failure

How many people can honestly say that they love to fail? No one in their right mind!

Yet a paradox of life is that we usually learn so much more through our failures than through our successes. So why are we so afraid of going to a place that may mean that we don't see the results we want or expect to see (in other words, 'failure')?

The life of faith is a call to walk to places in a way that very possibly takes us where we don't want to go, don't expect to go, or requiring change that we don't want to do. And this call may very well be a call to 'fail' (at least by our usual definition of failure).

Yet the Apostle Paul reminds us,

"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. For God did not give us a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."                    (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Instead of worrying about the 'what-ifs', we are to stir up the fire of Jesus. What counts as 'success' is your passion for Jesus--not a new program, a strategy, or busyness. If we are smack dab in the middle of God's will, we have nothing to fear--including the fear of failure!  The only thing that can quench this fire is sin or self-sufficiency.

I was meeting with our church leadership team last night and we were discussing an opportunity that God seemed to be orchestrating for our church to get involved in. A few of us (including myself) shared how this undertaking would be easier to handle if we only had a few more resources.  In other words--WE MIGHT FAIL!

How easy it is to slip into that self-sufficiency mind-set--quenching the spirit of God--and inviting in a spirit of fear.  'Heart check' time!

Paul reminds us that it is about heart position--not "results." Walking in obedience to God is always a 'win' in His eyes. And that is all that really counts in the end!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at


Friday, May 2, 2014

Shepherding vs. Discipleship

Over the past three months, I've been involved with both the church I pastor here in Elko, NV and with another church in W. Wendover, NV in understanding what it means to disciple. As part of this process, I've discovered that people often confuse shepherding a flock versus discipling a flock. In fact, at one of our sessions in W. Wendover, we spent a part of one evening discussing this difference.

Even though I don't remember all of the specifics of the discussion, I thought it would be helpful to bring forth a few of the highlights. Since this part of the country has a heritage that includes sheep herding (Basque) as well as ranching, many individuals could speak intelligently to this subject. I asked the group to list some of the responsibilities that a sheep herder or rancher has. Some of their responses:

- Protect the flock/herd from predators
- Ensure that they are fed and watered
- Inoculate from diseases
- Lead them to adequate pastures
- Keep track of the total number and look for those that are missing
- For shepherds, they usually live with their flock
- For shepherds, discipline immature sheep (lambs) that keep wandering off (i.e., 'break their leg' with the staff and carry them on one's shoulder)
- Eat them!  OK, this one probably doesn't belong in this list.

These responsibilities correspond with how Jesus spoke about how we are to protect and provide for those entrusted to our care.  Scripture is replete with references to sheep and shepherds and clearly teaches that the above responsibilities are for anyone brought into the fold.  Some are even called into this special responsibility of a shepherd.

However, discipleship is different.  All of us are called to be disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). But not all are willing. What is a disciple? Very simply, from Matthew 4:19:

(Jesus) "Come and follow Me..." - a person who makes a decision of the will to know and follow Christ.
"...and I will make you..." - a person who is being transformed and changed on a daily basis to become more like Christ.
"...fishers of men." - a person who is committed to the mission of Christ.
A person has to choose to become obedient to the mission of Christ. Disciples are called to grow in Christ and lead other disciples who will grow in Christ who lead other disciples who will grow in Christ who will...well, you get the picture.

We shepherd everyone. We disciple those willing to be discipled (i.e., those that are available, faithful, and teachable).  Are you only a sheep or a sheep who is a disciple?

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at