Recently I asked a group of congregational leaders about their biggest concerns and challenges. Their responses didn’t surprise me.
- How can we teach on controversial topics without stepping on too many toes? What really matters and which topics can be safely avoided?
- How do we handle false doctrines and the general craziness that people pick up on the Internet?
- How should we handle conflicts and troublesome members?
- What do we do when we’re accused of wrongdoing? What do we do when we are actually in the wrong?
- How can we promote a spirit of gratitude and faith in our people?
- How do we manage expectations and integrate people with different levels of faith and relationship with God? How do we find a place for everyone who wants to serve?
Every congregation faces these questions (and many more) at some point. If you’re doing God’s work on earth, you can’t expect the enemy to ignore you. He will take notice and start probing for weak points he can use to attack you and undermine your ministry.
As Messianic and Hebrew Roots congregations multiply and grow, we are facing more crises of leadership than most other believers. We are treading “new” ground–at least in today’s culture–of the old paths. Our people are struggling with the bitterness of realizing they have inherited lies, and they often lash out at their fellow heirs rather than at the original father of those lies.
“If you feel any anger or bitterness toward Christians, understand this: Chances are, you were not deliberately lied to. Chances are, your former pastors and teachers were good men who loved the Lord and sincerely believed the erroneous doctrines that they taught you. Chances are, they were simply misinformed by the misinformed leaders who taught them, and those misinformed leaders had been misinformed by the previous generation of leaders. So put away any anger and bitterness you have toward Christians. Direct your anger toward the Devil, the deceiver who persuaded them to believe the misinformation.”Daniel Botkin, A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work
Our tendency to blame our fellow victims rather than our mutual enemy, leads many of us to reject authority, to reject all teachers and scholars, to strike out on our own as lone theological wolves. But we aren’t supposed to be wolves, whether lone or in a pack. We are a flock, and like every flock that wants to survive, we need shepherds, and we need each other.
I first met Daniel Botkin at a conference of Torah observant believers in Dallas, Texas. I attended his lecture on leadership in the congregation, and–the first chance I could get–found him in the merchant hall and bought his book, A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work.
As I began to read it over the next week, it immediately struck me as a vitally important work in the community of Torah observant followers of Yeshua. Botkin has more knowledge of the Scriptures and more experience in congregational leadership than the vast majority of us will ever have, and we need to take full advantage of the wisdom he has to offer.
I believe that what we are doing in this Torah movement is right. We are shedding centuries of lies and rediscovering the biblical roots of our faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the way back is treacherous. The Enemy doesn’t want us to make it, and he will do everything in his power to keep us distracted, divided, and off course. We need help to stay out of the ditches and swamps that lie on every side. We need common sense guidance on spiritual leadership, and I believe Botkin’s book is an important part of that guidance.
So I offered to narrate it and make it available as an audiobook. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. I’m not a voice actor or professional narrator. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in a professional studio. (I recorded in my bedroom closet with a usb microphone and a cheap laptop!) I’m sure the task could have been done better by professionals, but the professionals just weren’t going to do it, and this book needs to be available from as many retailers and in as many formats as possible.
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t do all this work for free, but I’m not making a bunch of money from it, either. My share will probably come out to around $1 per audiobook sold. The bulk of the revenue goes to pay for the servers and bandwidth at the various audiobook retailers, and most of the rest will go to support Daniel Botkin’s ministry.
If you are as tired of the bickering and controversy as I am, consider buying either the paperback or the audiobook. Botkin’s website (GatesOfEden.Online) has links to purchase the paperback of A Heart to Pray and A Mind to Work as well as others of his books. I’ll post links below to various audiobook retailers as they add it to their catalogues over the next few weeks.