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Standing at a Crossroads: Which Way?

Have you ever been in a situation where you came to a place in the road and you had to choose to go one way or the other? Certainly, GPS navigation systems have made this type of scenario almost a thing of the past, but they still happen from time to time as we travel the highways and byways of our communities.

But what if instead of discussing traveling in our vehicles from one destination to another, we where talking about our journey through this life and coming to a crossroads. Has there ever been a time where you came to a crossroads in a relationship and you faced making a decision that would affect others? What about coming to a crossroads with a career? Or a big purchase? Of course, all of us have faced these and many others as we found ourselves at a crossroad in life that demanded we make a decision to go one way or the other, most certainly bearing many consequences both good and bad.

Jesus tells us of two spiritual roads to describe our choice of which life we will choose, the wide easy road and the narrow hard road. All of us have to choose one or the other, for there only exists these two pathways and there is no option for indecision. To go down either road we will have to enter through one of two gates, the wide gate or the narrow gate. Listen to His words in Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

The contrast of choices here could not be any starker, the easy way leads to destruction and many people will go down this path. The hard way leads to true life and eventually to eternal life when we come to the end of that road, and few people will go down it.

Facing this choice, it would seem pretty simple, CHOOSE LIFE, but because of many factors, human nature included, it is not that easy. But the question must be asked, “What makes a person want to choose the easy road to destruction?” I think there are at least three things that will bring most people down this road.

  1. Fear. Fear is such an effective tool of the enemy. Fear will keep you from living in freedom by confining you in a cell of “what might happen if…” In this case, most people will choose to go the easy route because they fear change. They fear if they were to take the other road, the hard one, the one that leads to life, the changes that would take place to their lives would be too much to handle. And besides, one of the biggest fears the enemy used is to make people fear going a different way that the majority. Fear is a terrible thing that keeps you from life, true life.
  2. Pride. If fear keeps us scared to take the narrow road, pride makes us boldly choose the easy road, the one that eventually leads to eternal destruction. And to make matters worse, pride keeps us from admitting that we have chosen the wrong road, even keeping us on the pathway to destruction because we do not want to admit that we are wrong. The sad thing is that so many who are walking the easy road to total destruction KNOW IT but their pride is so in control that they will continue down this road just in spite of it all. Pride is a terrible cancer.
  3. Pleasure. This one is the fun one. Fear and pride are not fun, they hurt. Pleasure is a different evil altogether. The road to destruction is paved with the pleasures of this world and there is no end to what the enemy offers those who pursue pleasure. The sinister thing about doing things for pleasures sake is that (a) it never lasts long enough, (b) there is never enough (c) it never stays the same. Just when you have given away so much to get it, something else will present itself as the new and improved pleasure that you now must have, taking the contentment and lasting satisfaction out of what you have finally laid hold of. It truly is an endless journey, this pursuit of pleasure.

Are you living in fear of getting off of this road for comfort sake? Are you living out of pride, traveling headlong to destruction just in spite of God? Are you chasing one pleasure after another, telling yourself that your life will be complete once you get whatever it is that you’ve set your eyes upon?

Fear, pride, and pleasure, these are the things that will cause the many people to enter through the wide gate and travel the easy road. Regardless to the ease of this road, or the pleasures contained, eventually all will be lost for eternity.

Jesus has great hope for you but there are three things that you must do to go down the hard, narrow road that leads to life and life eternal. I’ll discuss this in the next blog post. Until then, if you want to chat about your life and what it would look like to choose the road that leads to life, contact me at josheubanks@gmail.com.

Don’t give up, Jesus is the Way.

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5 Awesome Advantages to Being a Marketplace Pastor

For the past 9 months, I have been working as an associate at Walmart. This has been a very interesting journey in my life and very different from being in vocational ministry for the past 17 years. It has not been easy but it has been very rewarding and I have learned a great deal about people, life, and how God uses His people in the marketplace.

Recently I was introduced to a new term, “Marketplace Pastor” by an article I read from Tom Rainer, former CEO of LifeWay Resources and an all around student of the church. In his article titled, Eight Characteristics of the New Bi-vocational Pastor, Rainer describes the marketplace pastor as one who is the senior pastor of a church that can afford a full-time pastor but that the church and the pastor agree for him to be in the marketplace full-time. This differs from the traditional role of the bi-vocational pastor in that the church cannot afford to support the pastor financially full-time, thereby requiring the pastor to work in the marketplace. It is a great article and well worth the read for both pastors and church members. There is also a podcast that talks about this subject and would also be well worth the time to listen on your way to work or during your exercise routine.

Having been in the marketplace vocationally these last several months, I have given much of thought to living life as a marketplace pastor. As a matter of fact, I believe this is going to be a trend for many churches in the future, not out of financial necessity, but out of a desire to reach people for Christ. For decades, international missionaries have taken this approach to gospel ministry by going on the foreign mission field in some marketplace vocation and slowly building report with their fellow man, learning their ways, being in their culture. God has used this model of ministry tremendously outside of our country.

As our own country changes socially, politically, and even religiously, it is not inconceivable that traditional churches and their ministries will become more and more irrelevant and unable to connect to the changing demographics and ideologies of those in our communities in a not so distant future. If (or when) this happens, senior pastors and even staff pastors would be wise to model a marketplace ministry in the same vein as that of our missionary counterparts.

I believe the list that Rainer gives in his article is spot on and very forward thinking. Since I have been living the last several months as a marketplace pastor (I am the interim pastor of a church near the city where I live) I wanted to give my input to the value of such a ministry endeavor. Here are six advantages to being a marketplace pastor as I have experienced it.

  • Being a marketplace pastor allows the senior pastor to live among the people of his community and develop deep relationships with those who would not normally choose to “go to church.” This is the model that Christ lived by and encouraged His followers to adopt. This is also the model of the apostles and those ministry leaders in the early church.

  • Being a marketplace pastor allows the senior pastor to be a better preacher and teacher. Jesus walked among humanity, He felt what they felt, He saw what they saw, He identified with us and out of that flowed His teachings. Jesus applied His teachings in parables of life and brought the thoughts of God to the common man because He knew them and lived in their community context. God has used my time in the marketplace to give a richness to my preaching and teaching that comes from living life with people in the marketplace.

  • Being a marketplace pastor allows the pastor to have credibility with his congregation and with younger generations. First, a senior pastor who works in the marketplace is an equal with his people. I have always had the leadership philosophy that I do not ask anything of someone that I am not willing to do myself. The elders, lay leaders, bible study leaders, committee members, etc., are asked to work in the marketplace and carry the week to week responsibilities of ministry. I believe a senior pastor who is doing the same thing will be one who will gain instant credibility with the men and women of his faith family and, in turn, that will help build trust that is so critical to healthy leadership. Second, younger generations are taking a different view of the church and how the church should function. These generations are not seeking huge buildings and large, multi-staffed churches devoted to meeting the needs of the congregation. Young adults are looking for churches that are authentic and ones that are focused on investing the resources of Christ for the betterment of society as a whole. To many young adults (and I do believe this is a trend that is only going to grow more widespread) a pastor that works in the marketplace is a pastor they can connect with and a ministry model that makes sense to them. A pastor that can speak out of the personal experience of living life in the marketplace, like his congregation, will be successful in planting the seed of the gospel personally and corporately for many years to come.

  • Being a marketplace pastor allows the senior pastor to be less of a financial burden on the congregation so that more of God’s resources can be devoted directly to helping people come to know Jesus. Let’s face it, the cost of carrying full-time staff is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down. The salaries and benefits of a church staff are a huge expense for any church, and rightly so when you consider the importance of having a great pastoral staff. However, as inflation, insurance, and the cost of living rises, many churches have struggled to keep up financially which has cause undue burden on direct ministry spending. When the senior pastor works in the marketplace, the financial burden to the church is greatly reduced. Instead of his entire income coming from the church family, the senior pastor can partner with the church financially with a salary and benefits package that supplements his marketplace income.

  • Being a marketplace pastor gives the congregation the expectation of their participation in the work of the ministry rather than just the hired staff. Ephesians 4:12 tells us that God has given servant leaders like the senior pastor/teacher to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Churches that have a paid pastoral staff often fight against the “hired hands” mentality; that is, the membership often look to the staff as the ones who are to do the ministry on behalf of the church. When their senior pastor (and/or other paid staff) are in the marketplace during the week, the congregation inherently understands that they are to help with the ministry. The healthiest churches are those that see their members take on the responsibility of ministering to one another and to those around them who are in need. When the senior pastor is a marketplace pastor, he gets to partner with his faith family in the function of ministry on a level that is in better harmony with the heart of Christ for His church as outlined in the scripture.

There are so many possibilities with this approach to pastoral ministry. I can see one day, large multi-staffed churches with a full pastoral staff of marketplace pastors. Can you imagine the impact a church can have in a community if their pastors worked in the marketplace, the church partnered with the staff to do ministry together, and the church didn’t have to bloat the budget to pay 100% of the financial cost of taking care of their staff? Just think the people out there in your community who get to have a relationship with your pastor and staff, who get to experience the love and care of a pastor as they live life? I believe it would be incredible the things that God could and would do through that church.

I wonder if there are any churches out there that would be courageous enough to buck tradition for the sake of those of their community who are not “church” people? God let their be a multitude of churches who will.

Josh is available for guest speaking, leadership training, and life coaching. For more information please email him directly at josheubanks@gmail.com.

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Being Jesus In The Marketplace

72,800.

That’s approximately how many hours a person who works a 40 hour a week job will give in 35 years of employment. Let that marinate. Thirty-five years is a lot of time to spend around the men and women we work alongside. As a follower of Christ, I believe it is extremely important that we see our vocation as an open door of service to those we spend so much of our lives with. I believe Christ calls His people to live like Him in the marketplaces of life for His glory and the benefit of our co-workers. There are three simple, yet profound steps to make this happen.

1.    Be Curious!

I think one of the most terrible byproducts of a busy life is the death of curiosity. Busyness causes us to gravitate toward and engage with the most urgent things in our day. Because our time is so cramped, we must compartmentalize things, tasks, and even time with people in order to accomplish those things that are the most “important.” Simply put, there is no time to “stop and smell the roses” so to speak, to pause and be curious about your surroundings. Think of all the people you have worked with and are working with, and the ones that are to come; each of these people have a story. Stories of victories and failures. Stories of successes and stories of deep pain. Each person, including yourself, is living and writing the chapters in a book that will not be finished for a lifetime. Being Jesus in the marketplace means being interested enough about those around you to discover what makes your co-workers unique. Are you curious enough about your co-workers to listen to the ongoing story of their journey through life? Don’t let busyness steal your curiosity.

2.    Be Concerned!

Taking the time to listen to a co-worker’s story is only the first step in being Jesus in the marketplace; you must also be concerned about what you hear. Have you ever heard of the saying, “Life Happens?” I’m sure you have and I’m sure you know that it is a quippy way to say that problems and challenges come to us all. No matter if you are the CEO of a global corporation, or a temporary worker on the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, one thing is the same for all, LIFE HAPPENS. Those who you work alongside will experience the highs of joy in graduations, births, promotions, marriages, and they will experience the deeps of sorrow from deaths, layoffs, divorces, and sicknesses. And you will too. I call these “significant life events” and whether they are good or bad, either way they are most always life altering. When you have a curiosity about the lives of your co-workers, and when you spend time listening to their story as it unfolds, you will hear and see the impact of those significant life events as they play out, moment by moment. These significant life events demand your concern. If busyness is the thief that takes our curiosity, self-centeredness is the bandit that runs away with our concern for others. Are you so consumed with self and what others can do to advance your agenda that you lack concern for those around you who are in the middle of “LIFE HAPPENING?” As followers of Christ, we need to feel concern about what our co-workers are living through.

3.    Be compassionate!

Curiosity and concern only get you the threshold of someone’s life, compassion gets you written in as a character in their story. What is compassion? How does it work? Practically defined, I believe compassion is the result of a grace and Spirit filled collision of Christ-like love and Christ-like actions. As you spend time being curious about your co-worker’s journey and as you become concerned about the significant life events that are happening in that journey, then act as if Christ were the one wearing your steel-toed boots. I love the story when Jesus saw the pain and sorrow of Lazarus’ friends and family, the scripture tells us that Jesus wept with them! If your co-worker celebrates, then celebrate with them! If they are in a time of mourning, then mourn with them. Pay attention to moments when acts of kindness will bring encouragement. Be courageously compassionate and, by faith, serve them in that significant happening of life.

Final Thoughts

I think as followers of Christ we get ahead of God’s timing because we are in a rush to get our co-workers to go to our church, or to convert to our way of thinking, or to know Christ as we know a Him. And while there is a place for those things, I have come to understand that in Christ’s providential wisdom, He just needs us to take the time and be Jesus to our co-workers, day by day, all the while trusting Him to open the door for deeper spiritual things in His timing. Be curious, be concerned, be compassionate! Go out and LIVE LIKE JESUS in your marketplace. See what you discover about following Christ and serving your co-workers.

About the Author: Josh Eubanks is a coach, mentor, leader, and strategic thinker with over 10 years of executive level leadership experience in the non-profit sector. His passion is to develop men and women to discover their life purpose and to see them thrive in the marketplaces of life. Building people and transforming the marketplace is the very heartbeat of Josh’s vision. To contact Josh for more information on corporate training, motivational speaking, mentoring, or coaching, contact him via email at josheubanks@gmail.com.

About Josh Eubanks

MY PERSONAL VISION (WHAT I WANT TO DO):

My heartbeat is to come along side God’s people to equip, inspire, and encourage them to live like Jesus in the marketplaces of life.

MY PERSONAL MISSION (HOW I WANT TO DO IT):

To exercise my spiritual gifts and strengths of preaching/teaching, strategic thinking, creativity and innovation, life coaching, writing, and collaborative leadership to be a Spirit filled shepherd that builds God’s people to confidently live as powerful witness to the greatness of Jesus Christ.

Who I am:

Josh Eubanks is a shepherd, Christian Life Coach, mentor, and speaker with over 17 years of experience in vocational ministry. He has a passion for building spiritual healthy men, pastors, and churches that will live out the embodiment of Christ. He has been married to Melissa for 20 years and together they are raising their six children to be the next generation of warriors for Christ. 

Leadership Experience:

  • Currently the Fresh Production Supervisor at Walmart in Leesville, Louisiana.
  • Served as the Senior Pastor of churches in Texas and Louisiana ranging in Sunday morning attendance from 50 to 600.
  • Over 3000+ hours of public speaking experience.
  • Led and coached large pastoral and support staffs.
  • Experienced in visioneering and strategic thinking to solve challenges and streamline people systems.

Life Coaching:

  • Pending certification as a Christian Life Coach through the Board Of Christian Life Coaching.
  • Specializing in coaching men to reach new levels in their roles as men, career, and family life.
  • Specializing in coaching pastors in leadership, ministry challenges, and preaching/speaking.
  • Specializing in helping individuals and groups discover life calling and refining that for greater confidence in life direction and career.

Interests:

  • Hanging out with family.
  • Reading.
  • Creative writing and blogging.
  • Fly fishing.
  • Kayak Fishing.
  • Golf

Josh is available for guest speaking, leadership training, and life coaching. For more information please email him directly at josheubanks@gmail.com.