Month: July 2010

Are you a workaholic?

Workaholics have damaged and destroyed more families than alcoholics, especially among leaders in the local church.  I meet pastors all the time who work incessantly at building God’s house while ignoring their own. All the while they justify their long hours with phrases like “this is just a season and will not always be like this” or “God has given me a big assignment”.  Meanwhile, back home, their spouses and children get what is left over at the end of the day.

How do you know if you have become addicted to work and performance? What are the signs that you may be out of balance? Here’s a few to consider.

•1. You have not taken a full day off from ministry in more than a month.  When was the last time you turned off your phone and refused to check work emails for an entire 24-hour cycle?

•2. You have not taken more than five days of vacation in a long time. Five days is what it takes for me to detox from the demands of ministry. I cannot even rest and regenerate until the sixth day. If all you have taken are a few days here and there, your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tanks will eventually run dry.

•3. You feel guilty for not attending every event at the church.  When was the last time something significant happened at your church and you stayed home instead of attending? I know this will be shocking news to you, but your team is capable of doing stuff well without you looking over their shoulders.

•4. You have a high turnover on your team. Workaholics demand the same performance from those around them as they do of themselves. Typically, workaholics hang around each other, like alcoholics, and enable each other to continue their destructive behaviors. All those who cannot keep up with the frenetic pace are quickly discarded.

•5. You are constantly frustrated that you are not growing fast enough. Workaholics are obsessed with numerical measurements of growth. Even when attendance is growing, it is never fast enough for workaholics. Their identity is wrapped up in performance and results, instead of the internal spiritual maturity that is most important to God.

I was once a workaholic and it almost cost me everything. I am guilty of all five symptoms listed above, but I have been restored to a balanced life that allows me to work hard at the church I love while not sacrificing my family on the altar of ministry.  Be diligent at your job, using your time wisely, but remember to rest well, stop feeling guilty for the occasional nap, and spend time alone with God. Talk to Him about stuff in your heart instead of what is happening at the church building. It works, believe me.

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Dream Center Update

There is a lot of excitement at New Life about the Dream Center and that leads to a lot of questions. I will try to answer the most common ones today and will try to keep everyone updated as things progress.

Right now, we are praying for a building or buildings in the downtown area or south of the city, near Fort Carson. These are the two areas where the needs are most intense. We need the buildings to be donated and we need space for medical clinics, counseling and residential treatment. We have looked at several buildings and have had preliminary discussions with some key groups about getting donated space.

We have also spent a lot of time meeting with community leaders and the chaplains at the local military bases to evaluate what needs are not being met right now in our city. We do not want to replicate services. We want to support the ministries and agencies that are doing a great job, while providing services that are most needed.

Once the buildings are acquired, we will need hundreds of volunteers and the partnership of other local churches and ministries to operate the Dream Center. We suspect the operating costs to be as much as $100,000 per month, but it could be much less if we open the center in phases.

Keep praying with me and get ready to help pastor our city. The needs are great but our God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine

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Praying for Big Stuff Again

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine …” – Ephesians 3:20

I have a pretty big imagination and I have some friends who are crazy creative, but I wonder if any of us are asking for the big stuff like we did when we were younger and less cynical. This passage in Ephesians says God is able to do a lot more than we can ask or even dream up on a sunny day.

What happened to our fierce faith and bold determination? Have we surrendered our idealism and settled for pragmatism? I believe in common sense living and making decisions based upon facts, but the Kingdom of Heaven requires us to live by faith, which means we have to take risks and rely on things that are not seen. It actually pleases God for us to live like this.

Life tends to drain us of this tenacious faith. The economy tanks and we run for the foxholes to wait it out. The pressures of paying a mortgage cause us to think in 30-day cycles instead of looking further toward the horizon and imagining all the possibilities that may exist. We ditch our five-year vision plans and strategically survive instead.

Recently, God has challenged me to pray for some big stuff. I am asking Him for a donated Dream Center building that is bigger than we think is needed and better than we deserve so we can pastor our city. We don’t have the money or the staff to even operate a Dream Center, but we do have the vision and the courage to ask for a miracle.

What big prayers should you be praying right now? Have you settled for foxhole living or have you started dreaming big again? My prayer is that all of us will regain our fierce faith and live with bold determination because God is able to do immeasurably more than we are asking or imagining.

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