Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thermometer or Thermostat?

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

In our staff meeting Tuesday morning, I asked our staff if they were a THERMOMETER or a THERMOSTAT. Using some material that I read from Dr. Tim Elmore (Habitudes), we discussed the difference between the two.

Down through the years I have heard people say things like, "Well, our church just isn't friendly" or "Our church is dead" or "Our church just isn't very progressive", "Our church doesn't have a vision." My question is always, "Well...what are YOU doing about it?"

You see, we are the church. If my church isn't very friendly, then I must work on doing something about it. If all I do is sit back and COMPLAIN about what is wrong with the church and the people that attend, then I am nothing more than a THERMOMETER. I just tell everyone how COLD or HOT things are. One of the problem's in today's church is that we have too many THERMOMETERS and not enough THERMOSTATS.

Do you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer? Both have something to do with temperature but they are fundamentally different. Inside the house, a thermostat is something we set that dictates the temperature in a room. A thermometer simply tells us what the room temperature is. People are either thermostats or thermometers. You either gauge the temperature (thermometer) and gripe about the temperature, or you do something about it (thermostat).

Most people are like thermometers. They tend to reflect the culture around them. They buy things that others buy, say things that others say, wear things that others wear, and value things that others value. Most people don’t set the “climate for the world they live in; they just mirror back that climate, and then complain about it. Christlike leaders need to be thermostats. Leaders set the climate for the world around them. We need to set the social climate, the spiritual climate, and the attitude climate for the world we live in, and the church we attend. Leaders that are thermostats have developed values and principles they live by. God calls us to be authentic! Thermometers NEVER change the climate, they only gauge it...and COMPLAIN about it.

This image of leadership is profound and poignant. It reminds us that at the root of being a leader we must truly be authentic by living out our own God given core beliefs. Being a genuine leader doesn't come from status or position, it come from authenticity. If we fail to live by values and principles we will most assuredly become mere thermometers of the world around us. If we are thermometers we are not changing the climate of the world around us! We are then missing out on God's greatest calling for our lives...to change the world with His love.

God is calling us to be Thermostats in our world and in our local church. Christ wants us to live in such a way that our lives would set the tone in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our neighborhoods. Thermostats influence others for good and positively impact the social climate in which they are placed.

Two thousand years ago, a guy named Paul traveled around the Mediterranean being a Thermostat where ever he went. In Ephesians 4:1-4, he challenged the church, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Every one of us can live two ways. We can simply complain about our situation, or we can set the tone relationally in how we are going to act. Even if you are the only one, I urge you to live a Thermostat life. Live a life that reflects Christlike humility, gentleness, patience, and love in every single relationship.

Christians are called to be thermostats. All people, including non-Christians respect other people who are values-driven and principle-centered. When they see authentic Christians who value God’s Word and live life God’s way, they will be influenced. Christians should be the pacesetters. We should influence rather than be influenced. We should be thermostats instead of thermometers.

Years ago, a boy grew up in a Jewish home, watching everything his father did. Evidently, his dad didn’t realize the influence he had. They attended a synagogue nearby. Dad decided to just switch religious beliefs. He admitted it was only a way of meeting business contacts anyway. This father’s failure to live by values outside of his own benefit led his son to question morality, ethics and his faith. As the boy grew, he believed that religion was a “crutch” for the masses. He wrote that money was behind anything meaningful in the world. The boy’s name is Karl Marx, and he led millions of people into a destructive belief system during the 20th century.

The problem was simple. Karl Marx’s father had created a set of values by default not by design. He didn’t think through what was best for his family or his community. He did what was best for himself. Young Karl was a thermometer, reflecting what his dad had modeled. Unfortunately, Karl Marx was successful at making people believe he could be a trusted thermostat.

Regrettably, many leaders share this story today. We influence others, but we don’t have a compass that influences us. It’s the inside that counts.

We should allow God to set our thermostats – for the good of others and for the glory of God. So I ask you today, "Are you a THERMOSTAT or a THERMOMETER?" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


Anonymous said...

This is awesome.Thank you so much.These words really challenge me. I really appreciate the time you take to post your blogs everyday.
Kay D.