Archive for the ‘Church Leadership’ Category

My favorite quote reads:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again–because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”  —Teddy Roosevelt

I have respect:  For those in the game.  Those who give it all. Those who risk everything. Those who leave it all on the field. Those who push their chips “all in”.

I do not respect:  Those who criticize from the climate-controlled booth.  The ones who chuck popcorn from the cheap seats. The armchair quarterbacks. The backseat drivers.

I used to be one of those people. I used to criticize other church leaders. I used to cast doubt. I used to think I could do it better. I used to think I knew better. Arrogant thinking.

Now I’m the Lead Pastor of a church. As one who is “in the arena”, I have a greater appreciation for the price of leadership.  I can talk about risk when it comes to inheriting a church whose Sr. Pastor was removed for an affair.  I can talk about sacrifice when I moved my family across town, taking a huge monthly financial loss.  I can talk about perseverance, uprooting from a home we’d known for almost 9 years. I can talk about teamwork, watching three teenage daughters transplant to a new culture in a crucial stage of their social development.  I can talk about fortitude, dealing with tenants, taking a huge paycut, and watching our savings dwindle to nothing.  I can talk about resolve, when the very people we serve criticize the WAY we do it.  I can talk about loss when our style of ministry costs us friends.  I can talk about victory, seeing Jesus break addictions and restore relationships. I can talk about joy seeing one person come to faith in Christ.

Some may criticize.  Some may condemn.  Some may question.  Most can’t relate.  See the sweat and blood on my face. Walk in my shoes.  Travel this road.

In the New Testament, an ex-murderer-turned Jesus Freak wrote to his buddy Timothy at the end of his life and ministry:

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is what drives me.  This is why I left the comfort of a deskjob and stepped into church leadership. Honestly, I’d rather fail at doing this than succeed doing anything else.  May God use me and my gifts somehow through this.  I want to be known as this type of leader; this type of man.  A man who strives valiantly. A man who risks greatly. A man who lives daringly. A man who cares deeply. A man who serves boldly.

I want to be known as a man who is more consumed for heaven than concerned about earth. A man on a mission. May my place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Do you have a mission statement?  I do. I know why I get up every morning.  This is what drives me.  This is what I’ve devoted my life to:

Romans 10:13-15 (NIV) 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

I found this verse when I was in junior high, but never really took it seriously until I was in high school.

The truth is, it’s bothered me since that time. Not “bothered” like a fly you want to shoo away. Not “bothered” like the kid on the plane that makes you shift in your seat.  Not “bothered” like the hair in your mouth you find annoying.  I mean, “bothered” in a way that it haunts me.  It altered my life course.  It caused me to ACT.

First, I noticed the progression.  It starts with the result of someone being saved. But they can’t be saved unless they believe in Jesus. They can’t believe in him if they’ve never heard about him. They can’t hear unless someone preaches to them.  And if no one goes, how will they hear?  I knew early on that I wanted to be a “bringer of Good News”.  How many people fail to deliver the message?  How many people stay silent?  How many people never go?

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV) 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Second, I noticed the power.  When the good news of Jesus Christ takes root in someone’s life, the result is transformational.  It turns wimps into warriors.   It changes criminals into crusaders.  In fact, did you know that most of the Bible was written by murderers, whose lives had been transformed by God? (Abraham, David, Paul) God is in the life-changing business!  In fact, Paul (ex-murderer) put it this way when he wrote to the church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

He knew what he was talking about!  I am excited to be a part of an organization dedicated to creatively communicating the Good News!  I am proud to live it out loud as a Christ-follower.  In fact I hope that my life alone is able to speak loud enough.  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach at all times. If necessary, use words.”

A little commercial break…

Interestingly enough, the word “Gospel”, in the greek (Go-spel) means “Good News”.  That’s why the first 4 books in the New Testament are called “Gospels”. [The gospel of Matthew, Mark, etc.]  These are 4 different eyewitness reports of Jesus’ arrival, life and teachings.  Here’s how one historian Luke (a physician) starts his account:

Luke 2:8-12 (NIV) 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The angel was announcing the good news was that Jesus, the Messiah (Savior) had come.  God came to dwell among his people!  Coincidentally, the word given to describe one who shares the good news with others is the word evangelist = comes from the greek words “eu” = good; and “angel” = messenger.  Which means, when we share the good news of Jesus Christ, we are “good messengers”. We join in the same mission and carry the same message as the angels.  That rocks!

Finally, be careful when using this verse!  

a. It has radically altered my life course. I originally set out to be an English teacher and coach soccer at a high school.  Now, I pastor a small church in one of the wealthiest areas in America!  I’ve been offered management positions in corporate America from time to time, but I feel that God has me where He wants me.  Where will this verse lead you?  It’s led people out of the business world into vocational ministry. It’s led students to start a Bible study on their campus.  It’s caused a man to start an Accountability Group in hopes of reaching his whole Firehouse.  It’s caused a mom to rejoin the workforce as a nurse because she felt God calling her to reach that profession.  It’s caused an office manager to leave the US and start an orphanage in Peru with her husband.  It’s caused a mom to leave the workplace to spend more time with her kids. No matter where it leads your life, stay on course!

b. It will cause unorthodox practices.   I have two tattoos:  A Cross on my right ankle and an Icthus on my left ankle.  I’ve had these since college when I accepted God’s call to go into full-time ministry.  I know in the Christian community, there is some ‘controversy’ over the issue of tattoos, but before you’re quick to judge, I’ll tell you why I got them:  1. It reminds me of my God-given ability to excel in athletics.  I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the ability to run. I was a 3-year letter winner in track and cross-country in high school.  I won a National Championship in collegiate soccer, starting all 4 years at midfield.  I was blessed with speed and endurance. Many people are disabled, so I want to make sure I never take walking, running, playing sports for granted. I will always give Him credit for my success on and off the field.  2. It reminds me of my mission: to carry the Good News with me wherever I go.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

c. It will make your faith come alive.  Did you know that’s a guarantee from Scripture?  If you’re a Christ-follower and you’re NOT sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in some way, you are MISSING OUT.

Philemon 1:6 (NIV) 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

d. It requires a team effort.  You DON’T have to be a preacher or work on a church staff to be an EVANGELIST.  You don’t have to be outspoken to ADVANCE the GOSPEL.  God can use you just the way you are, right where you’re at to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and to share the GOOD NEWS.  Will you go?  How can they hear?

Statistics:  (according to Street Level Evangelism by Michael Parrott)

            99% agree that Jesus Christ commanded all Christians to advance the Good News.

Yet 95% of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.

And 80% of all Christians fail to live a consistent witness.

            85% of unchurched people would go to church at least once if someone they know invited them.

Yet only 2% have invited someone to church in the past year.

 

I invite you to join me in bringing the good news.  Sharing the good news.  Being the good news.


Serving is a discipline.  The other week, I really needed a project done by our worship leader and I knew it would demand a bunch of his time.  Unthinking, I asked “how can I help free you up?” Honestly, a part of me was hoping he would say “nothing, it’s a pretty light week” or something like that.  Afterall, we ask rhetorical questions all the time never thinking that someone will ACTUALLY take us up on it.  Instead, without hesitation he said “I need you to cut a huge bird out of masonite and paint it blue for me.”  Really? Of all the things!

That’s when my selfish thoughts set in:  “I’m the Lead Pastor of this church!” Paint a bird?  “Cant someone ELSE do it?”  I’m sure there’s a well-meaning volunteer who would love to do this.  I should be doing something else–anything else!  Isn’t this BELOW me?  Sometimes, there just isn’t time to get anyone else.  Sometimes, God calls you to serve–right then & there.  As I stood there by myself with sawdust and paint on my clothes, I thought,  “There HAS to be a better way for me to spend my time.”  What was I thinking?

John 13:1-5 (NIV) 1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Sadly, it isn’t the first time I’ve allowed those thoughts to creep in.  For years, I worked at a church that met in a school. We would routinely arrive hours before service to set up chairs, move furniture, get all the rooms ready, etc.  Again, I remember thinking “I’m  a PASTOR!  I went to Bible college for THIS?”  That’s when the words of this passage ring the loudest.  What was I thinking?

Jesus was the Lead Servant of all.  He took off his cloak and washed his disciples’ feet. It’s how he SHOWED them the full extent of his love.  I am called to be a servant. I am called to suppress the feelings of selfishness that encroach on my spirit.  Service is how Jesus showed love.  Serving (in any capacity) is my opportunity to communicate love.  It comes in all kinds of different forms. Sometimes it means visiting people in the hospital.  Sometimes it means setting up chairs.  Sometimes it means pouring yourself into others you know will not reciprocate.  Sometimes it means leading someone into an adventure with Christ.  Sometimes it means painting birds.