The Olympics in London are over. Billions of people watched the events with great excitement and cheered loudly at their favorite events. Celebrations were in full swing across the globe as favorites and underdogs rose to the occasion to win a medal during the 30th Olympiad.
Some communities were featured for physically transforming to help athletes train and prepare. During the competition, we saw success like Usain Bolt of Jamaica who became the first man to successfully defend both 100 and 200 sprint titles in an Olympic Games. We also saw disappointments such as Lolo Jones who didn't medal in the women's 100-meter hurdles. Years of dreams were either realized or dashed during the seconds or minutes of one event.
Scenes most memorable are of competitors congratulating and embracing the gold medal-winning athlete. There are many emotions - celebration, encouragement, disappointment.
During those moments, I thought about my Christian life and the ministry of thousands of others with whom I've had the privilege to work over the years. And I wondered about our churches and their ministries. Something disturbed my soul.
There sometimes seems to be a spirit of competition among churches and church leaders, where discouraging things are said or done. I wonder why it is so difficult to compliment each other on the efforts to touch lives and bring transformation to communities.
What would happen if we spent our energies encouraging each other instead of analyzing one's every move to find fault? I believe we would see a flood of encouragement and progress in transforming lives for Christ.
I often joke about being California Southern Baptists' CEO - chief encouraging officer. As the leader of our network of churches, I believe part of my responsibility is to encourage churches and their leaders to be and do their best in reaching California for Christ.
Though the Apostle Paul was not afraid to voice what was on his mind to churches and leaders, he always encouraged them to live godly lives and make a difference by winning people to Jesus. Perhaps his greatest encouragement was to minister because of the hope in Christ's return. In that respect, churches and leaders of the 21st century are no different.
So, as we enter the fall season of ministry, I encourage you to be a voice of celebration and encouragement as daily you seek to "let your light shine before men ... "