Category: New Life Church (page 1 of 10)

The Essential Church Podcast

We’re really excited to announce the launch of what we’re calling the “Essential Church Podcast.” For years now I’ve been wanting to create a platform to talk regularly and openly about all of the massive, important issues that local church ministry leaders face on a daily basis—things like worship, preaching, creating a discipleship culture, ministry to our communities, and much more.

Well, now we’ve got one: The Essential Church Podcast. Each week we’ll be sitting down with ministry leaders both inside and outside of New Life to talk about what we’re learning about church life and leadership. We’re doing this NOT as “experts”, but as fellow practitioners in the ongoing kingdom effort that is the local church. Our desire is that your own ministries will be helped and strengthened through it.

We hope you’ll listen in each week. You can follow us on Twitter (@essentialchurch) and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (look up “Essential Church Podcast”). You can also go to our website: www.TheEssential.church where we’ll post episodes, show notes, and all kinds of other cool resources.

If you find any of our conversations helpful, please share them around the web and/or leave a good review for us on iTunes. It will help more leaders just like you find our podcast.

And of course, if you have any suggestions about topics you’d like for us to cover or people you’d like for us to interview, please let us know!

Can’t wait to share this with you.

Share this:

Loving People Not Like Us

If you’ve ever jumped from the high dive at a public pool, then you probably remember the courage you had to muster, to take that very first plunge. You remember splashing around in the shallow end, laughing with friends and family and relishing the comfort of that pool floor under your feet. You remember eyeing the diving board each time another brave soul leaped from its heights, curious about whether you could be that brave too. You remember making the decision—“Enough already. I’m going to do it.”

You remember climbing the ladder that felt like it stretched to heaven, it was so tall, and taking those six or seven steps all the way to the end of the board, the swimming pool now seeming much smaller than it had when you were down below. And then there was the leap—the brief, uncontrollable sensation of flying; the crashing through the water’s surface; the reemergence to breathable air; the wild awareness that nothing was under your feet, reassuring you, holding you up. You remember the exhilaration of having taken the risk and enjoyed it. Who knew the deep end was so exciting and fun?

Same sunny day. Same pool. Same water. And yet upon choosing that deep-end experience, everything was different now.

 

The Opportunity that Awaits Us

When it comes to our relational world, a similar dynamic shows up. Sure, we can stay in the shallow end with “our people”—those who know us, love us, support us, forgive us, and extend quick grace toward us whenever we screw up. But there’s a deep-end encounter awaiting us, if we’ll have the guts to just dive in.

If there are two groups of people today who are hopeful that you and I will take that plunge, they are the undocumented members of the Hispanic population who now make their home in the United States, and anyone who has immigrated here from the Middle East. By and large, we are told to fear and/or despise these people—What if they’re terrorists? What if they’re criminals? What if they take all of our jobs?

Having no real answers to these questions and more, we cave to the suggested suspicions and move through daily life casting an uneasy eye toward anyone cleaning a hotel room or wearing a hijab. What a tragic choice this is.

For the vast majority of the Central or South American and Middle Eastern immigrants who have shown up on U.S. soil, the sole reason they have come here is to escape violence and pain. Life in their homeland had deteriorated to the point that the only way to remain a resident there was to sell one’s children into slavery, participate in the trafficking of illicit drugs, and to pledge allegiance to rampant corruption—options they were unwilling to entertain.

And so they showed up here, in the U.S., products of terror and abuse. They didn’t come in order to harm anyone, which would simply be furthering the thing they escaped. They came to rebuild their lives. To find safety and a way to thrive.

 

Practicing Then, Now

“But what about the law?” you might say. “I get why they want to be here, but shouldn’t they have to follow the rules?”

The political issues surrounding this country’s ability to “welcome the stranger” effectively are myriad, multifaceted, and momentous, insofar as our choices today will affect how truly “melted” our melting-pot land will continue to be, for generations to come. But two realities seem clear: First, immigrants would not be able to hold down jobs in this country if this country weren’t offering them jobs. In other words: perhaps our Chambers of Commerce are just as flawed and broken as our border-protection system has proven to be. Our business leaders have grown accustomed to hiring immigrant labor, and so those laborers are lining up in droves. The jobs that our own citizens in many cases don’t wish to do are an absolute lifeline to the women and men settling here.

Second, if our primary residence is in God’s kingdom, meaning that our citizenship in heaven ultimately will eclipse our citizenship here on earth, then we ought to count it our absolute joy to practice heavenly principles here and now, even before we inhabit that future domain.

In heaven, there will be no borders. In heaven, there will be no segregation. In heaven, there will be no lines of division, no disparity, no left-out ones. Why on earth would we prize such things, when their tenure is so short-lived? Yes, there is wisdom in valuing borders in our present reality, insomuch as a country that allows anyone entrance anytime, under any circumstances, without properly vetting those newcomers opens itself up to senseless security risks that do nobody any good. But for the people who are already here, working hard, learning the language, supporting our Constitution, and obeying the law, our posture ought to be one marked by grace.

The vast majority of Hispanic workers living here illegally are not an issue, a problem, a drain—not spiritually speaking, anyway. They are invaluable souls created in the image of God, and as such deserve our love. Most refugees fleeing Middle East trauma and taking up shelter here are not a headline, a crisis, a threat. They are men, women, and children who’ve been indwelt with the very stuff of God. And as such, they warrant our compassion, our kindness, and our respect. God says, “To them, and to everyone, I’m asking you to show love.”

As followers of Jesus, we are called to invest in the hearts and lives of all people, including our world’s most marginalized. And today, there are no more marginalized groups than undocumented workers and immigrants. But how do we make that investment? What is the most natural way to begin?

 

A Simple Starting Point

Isaiah 35 offers some help here. “Strengthen the feeble hands,” verse 3 begins, “steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you” (vv. 3-4).

From there, a whole series of cascading benefits unfolds in the hearers of those words: The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will hear, those who could not walk will leap like a deer, those who could not speak will shout for joy (see vv. 5-6). Help will come to the helpless. Hope will come to the hopeless. Light will shine in the darkness. A path will make itself known, where there have existed only dead ends. “Gladness and joy will overtake them,” the end of the chapter declares, “and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (v. 10).

But none of these things will occur unless we who say we love Jesus have the courage to first speak up. “Say to those with fearful hearts,” the passage leads off, which seems to indicate that the first act in loving anyone is simply to open our mouth and speak.

Instead of fearing, judging, disparaging, ostracizing, or condemning those who are different from us, we can approach them. Welcome them. Engage them in conversation, if they’re open to that. We can say, “I love to travel, and I love languages, but I can’t place your accent. Can you tell me about where you grew up?”

Eyeing the name on their name badge, if they’re wearing one, we can say, “What an interesting name. Is there a story behind it?”

Noticing a Muslim woman’s hijab, we can ask about the significance the practice of wearing a headscarf carries for her. Noticing an Hispanic man doing his job with diligence, we can ask how he came by a work ethic that’s so strong. We can comment on a cheerful countenance. We can acknowledge a sparkle in someone’s eyes. We can offer up a simple, “Hello,” and then linger in their presence for a few beats. We can start with whatever’s before us, commenting on anything we happen to observe, and then see where God happens to lead us, once we’ve leaped off that high-dive board.

When we as Christ followers set aside stereotypes in favor of collecting as many stories as we can … preferably from those wholly unlike us as well, we begin to realize that we have much in common with those with whom we’re splashing around in this pool called life. We all crave security. We all long for love. We all want to protect our children. We all want to live a life that’s truly life. Each time we focus on the soulish things that unite us instead of on the superficialities that keep us apart, we see with increased clarity that the deep dive we’ve chosen to take wasn’t so risky after all.

If you want to read more about the power of our words, check out my latest book, Speak Life.

Share this:

Hearing God Despite the Distractions

My new book, Speak Life, releases this September. Here is a brief excerpt about distractions that hinder our ability to hear God.

At last check, you and I are receiving upwards of five thousand marketing messages a day, which promote everything from online gambling to new cars to the mammoth fast-food cheeseburger that somehow relates to the scantily clad blonde bombshell being used to promote it. “It’s a non-stop blitz of advertising messages,” says Jay Walker-Smith, who runs a London-based marketing firm. Marketers now plaster corporate logos and taglines on everything from escalator handrails to jetliner fuselages to the sides of buildings to big-city sidewalks. There was even talk at one point of using Major League Baseball bases to promote upcoming movies! According to Walker-Smith, “It’s all an assault on the senses.”

He’s absolutely right.

I was in New York City a few weeks ago to help celebrate the fourteenth anniversary of the church some friends planted just months after 9/11. I was in town to encourage them and their congregation, but when I discovered I had a four-hour block of unassigned time on Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t resist the chance to take in a few Manhattan sights. I eventually wound up in Central Park, thinking I’d find a quiet corner where I could sit, think, and maybe pray for a few minutes. At least I could simply reflect on the season of life I’m in.

I wandered around the massive tangle of plots and trails for probably thirty minutes before I realized there is no such thing as a “quiet corner” in Central Park. That night when I reconvened with my friends, I told them about my afternoon and then asked, “Where do you guys find silence in this town? The streets are loud, the inside of my hotel room is loud, and even Central Park, for all its beauty, is, I’m convinced, one of the loudest places on Earth.”

They chuckled and said, “Brady, we’ve learned to thrive in the chaos. You would too if you lived here.”

It’s the mantra of an entire society now, this idea that we can actually thrive amid chaos, even as we’re not really thriving at all. Most of us are a restless people, incapable of stilling ourselves—mind, body, or soul. I asked my congregation to sit in perfect silence one Sunday to prove to them how uncomfortable we’ve become when the noise dies down, the lights quit blinding us, and we’re left with the company of our own thoughts. It was only fifteen seconds, but I could sense the jitters by the end.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We’re busier than we’re meant to be. We’re letting our senses get assaulted by what we see and what we hear, the net effect of which is our inability to detect the voice of God. We don’t see him in the world around us. We don’t hear him over the unceasing roar of our lives. Then we come away thinking that he’s the problem, that he’s abandoned us to ourselves. The hard pill to swallow is that our addiction to chaos is what’s keeping us from God—or one of the top things, anyway. If we’re serious about encountering him, we’ll get serious about quieting our souls.

If you grew up in certain circles, you’re familiar with the phrase quiet time. In the Pentecostal church of my youth, everybody was big on having a daily quiet time, which was the twenty or thirty minutes you were to spend reading your Bible, praying, and getting yourself centered for the day ahead. It may sound antiquated, but now more than ever I think we’d benefit from setting aside a daily quiet time, if for no other reason than to actually practice being quiet.

My advice to you if you’re struggling and straining to hear the voice of God: be quiet. Schedule a quiet time and just sit there in a chair, with nothing in your hands and no earbuds in your ears. Just get quiet before God and see what unfolds. Start small. Start microscopically if you have to. Just start.

 

Share this:

Motion vs. Momentum

As a pastor, there is no busier weekend than the one we just completed, a weekend filled to the brim with Good Friday and multiple Sunday gatherings to celebrate the resurrection. There was a lot of motion and activity around special songs, added sermons, and preparations for new guests.

For most pastors, this weekend was the high attendance mark for the year. There were more guests than any other Sunday, and for some, this meant more services than normal. If Easter weekend went well, everyone who served is feeling a bit tired today, depleted from all the responsibilities.

There. Was. A. Lot. Of. Motion.

What we need is an appetite for momentum, which can look a lot like motion unless you peer deeper. Motion is busyness. Momentum is miraculous. Momentum feels like cycling downhill with equal forces of mass and velocity working in your favor. Motion is energy spent, but not always with dividends paid.

Holy Week has always been the means to awaken the saints, to encourage the weak, to confound the cynics and to welcome home the prodigal. The darkness of the cross, joined with the ephemeral hours in the shadows of death, followed by the joyous actualities of the empty tomb is a story that awakens hearts and pulls us toward the deep.

Momentum is a gift from God to us, the extra push to get us off our spiritual training wheels. Momentum is Spirit working with the frailties of our will to engineer a better blueprint for living. Momentum is a cold breeze that makes us more alert, a warm sun on our face pointing us toward vigor. Momentum is a force grueling in its genesis but near unstoppable at its apex.

Motion is our attempt at getting systems right, to make the path easier by preparing diligently. There is nothing wrong with these things as long as the goal is clear. Let us not be so busy doing good things in good seasons that we forget to plant and water the spiritual seeds that bring us real life.

On this Monday, post-Easter, my prayer is for the millions who heard the narrative of Jesus last week to find themselves in a bigger story than any they could have written on their own. My prayer is for all the planned motion to point us toward real momentum, following the Way with renewed passion and strength. May the truth of the resurrection story cause us not to live busier lives with more motion, but to live resurrected lives with legitimate momentum.

Share this:

Four Ways to Build Trust on Your Team

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:6-7

For the past few weeks, I’ve undergone two separate heart procedures to correct some issues which are common for congenital heart patients like myself. The procedures have gone well and my prognosis is great, but I’ve been absent for many of my normal responsibilities as pastor at New Life.  When I realized I would be absent from leading and preaching, I had two choices – worry about the church or trust the team God has sent us.

This is not the first time I’ve taken a leave of absence. Two years ago, I took a much needed sabbatical and in 2011, I was gone for several weeks after major heart surgery. Each time, I had the same two choices and each time, the team proved trustworthy. How did that happen? It seems more teams implode than trust and grow. How does a team build this kind of trust? How does a group of independent people coalesce into family?

1. Surround yourself with really good people.

Obviously, no one intentionally builds a team of renegades. However, no one haphazardly builds a stellar team, either. We believe character, chemistry and competency are all equally important at New Life. If you fail to evaluate the first two because there is a pressing need for talent or expertise, you may well end up with a team you do not like or who cannot play nice together when you are away. Really good people have high character, robust emotional health and are constantly improving their skills and craft. Trust is earned in drops which means the calendar is your friend. Over time, character is revealed, chemistry is forged and competency is developed.

2. Allow for some messes

Even when there’s an all-star team, there will be some fumbles. If your team is afraid of failing, they will stop experimenting. When they stop being experimental, they stop innovating. The light bulb was not perfected on the first try. The Wright brothers crashed a lot before they flew and Columbus was probably lost when he discovered America. Create a culture of learning where mistakes are evaluated, lessons are learned and your team is encouraged to continue their discoveries.

3. Let them drive the car

There is only one way to really prove trust – leave it to the team and go away. Trust them in your absence. Right now, both of my teenagers are learning to drive. So far, all the lessons have been with me in the car. My prayer life has never been better. One day soon, I will have to give them the keys and allow them to drive solo. I am terrified at the thought, but I know I must let them grow up. Each time I have left New Life, I tell my team to have fun driving the car, keep the scratches to a minimum and keep it out of the ditch. Then I go away and trust them.

4. Give them the credit when it goes well.

Shared responsibilities should equal shared rewards. The surest way to keep good people around you is to constantly shine the spotlight on them when they succeed. Praise them in public, brag on them to your friends, and celebrate their ingenious ideas, especially when those concepts are better than yours. Take the lid off your team and they will rise. Secure leaders have discovered the greatest reward for leading well is having others soar past you.

Share this:

Some Thoughts on Politicians and the Elections

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

This is a big election year in our country and politics will be the center of most discussions for the next few weeks, like it or not. I appreciate the sincere people who feel called to the political arena, whether it is a local school board election, representing their neighborhood on the city council or finding the courage to run for a statewide or national election. Politics are important and so are the politicians who inevitably win these contests.

Politicians are primarily representative voices, elected because they best reflect the opinions of the majority. Once elected, they can lead through skillful collaboration and consensus, but personal convictions often have to be compromised to line up with the plurality of voters. That is the very essence of democracy.

The most successful politicians seem to be marketing geniuses, able to harness public opinions into empowered coalitions who keep them in political power. Again, I am not disparaging this call into the public arena, but I suspect many of us have over-estimated the abilities of our political leaders to lead, when they are more prone to react.

That is why we should pray for those who choose to run, and more importantly, for those who are elected. We should ask God to give them wise counselors who will keep them centered on sacred truths. We should pray for politicians to have private, personal convictions that are anchored in Scripture and those beliefs would not be be compromised when they are faced with the inevitable pressures of their office.

We should pray for these men and women to not forget they are called to serve the common good and not their personal ambitions. We should pray for all politicians to know when it is time to graciously exit the public arena. We should pray for their hearts to remain at peace even when they are falsely accused or being lured into contentious and factious arguments that lead to partisan divide, instead of wise solutions.

We should be prophetic voices to all leaders in all parties. The church has always defended the weak in the face of tyranny and stood up for those who deserve justice, especially those who have been silenced by racism or discrimination. Remember, many voters have witnessed and lived in a different America than us. They have valid political views that may not line with up with ours. This is a time for conversations, for listening and not for bullying or intimidating people who disagree with us.

We have the right and privilege of voting. We should never sit on the sidelines and not participate. We can be a faithful witness with our vote if we pray, discern and humbly voice our opinions through the ballot box. Our eschatology compels us to act right now and not sit still, waiting on a rescue. We are active participants, and trusted ambassadors, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, we are commanded to pray for those in authority, even those who did not get our vote. Keep a Christlike attitude before, during and after the election. Let’s be civil in our dialogue and gracious with our opinions. Politics are important, but not fundamental for our hope.

 

 

 

Share this:

Some Truths about Sermons, Preaching and Preachers

You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. Acts 20:20

Since Christianity started, there have been men and women commissioned with the responsibility to preach the Scriptures to their congregations. Some have rode horseback through dangerous frontiers and others have left the comfort and familiarity of their hometowns to take the good news to distant lands. Many of us studied long years and practiced our craft wherever and whenever the opportunity to preach was presented. No matter how we arrived in the pulpits we now steward, preaching is energizing, frustrating, and exhilarating, sometimes all at once.

What does your pastor want you to know about them? How can we build up those called to speak? What should a congregation know about the sermon that takes up a portion of our weekend?

 

1. Pastors are really invested in the message.

Preaching is a serious matter to most pastors. Hours have been spent studying the texts, praying for the meetings, and thinking about innovative ways to engage people in a story that started thousands of years ago. When the weekend arrives, we are invested emotionally and spiritually in a 30-minute message that has the potential to change the destinies of those listening.

Or, it can be awful. Even then, the Holy Spirit can take the scraps of human effort and make something beautiful. This is a pastor’s work –  to teach truths that will probably offend, to encourage the discouraged saints, to compel the cynic to reconsider and to awaken the spiritual sleepers. Because we have poured ourselves into this moment of speaking and exhorting, we may need some space after the service to just be with people in prayer and conversation. Preachers feel really emptied after a sermon, which leads me to the second truth.

 

2. Preaching is exhausting work.

If you are not tired after preaching, you are not doing it right. When a sermon has ended, our adrenaline glands are depleted and the emotional energy that has been expended is not easily replenished. It’s when we feel the most vulnerable, even if everything went great. For many, we have to regroup and deliver the same message again in less than an hour to another weekend gathering.  Afterwards, we just need a good nap, a long walk and some sunshine to begin feeling human again. That usually happens by Tuesday morning. Seriously.

 

3. Preaching should be more substance than style

In the Western world, our culture is saturated by entertainment and celebrities. Our personal time is entertainment time, therefore the culture shouts to pastors,”If I give my personal time to church, you need to entertain me!” That is a dangerous trap for many pastors. Sermons certainly need to be engaging, which means it is ok to have some fun and to laugh, but our messages are not a spiritual stand-up act. The moment style is prioritized over the weighty substance of Scripture, we and our churches are in trouble.

 

4. Preaching only starts the conversation.

People have huge expectations from pastors and their sermons. Almost everyone has pet ministry projects, social issues, the latest headline outrage or spiritual gift they wish the pastor would spend more time on each week. Neither preachers nor their sermons were  designed to answer all our questions. In fact, the best sermons teach us to ask better questions and then point us along the path for truthful answers. The most powerful sermons jump start our disciple-shaping journey, compelling us to study more, to lean into mature relationships and jar us free from apathy or deception.

 

Share this:

The times, they are a-changin’ …

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan

I just spent the week with some great pastors and leaders in the UK and somehow the trip across the pond helped me see more clearly what is happening here in my own backyard. We live in times of great change in the local church, but every generation has said the same about its places of worship. The church was built on the witness of a resurrected Christ, the trustworthy scriptures and the sacraments we gather around to celebrate in community. This has always been sacred space for Christ followers, but everything else is a-changin’.

Like the UK and most of Europe, our country has also moved toward a more secular view of life, distancing itself from traditional churches and the established religious orders. The trends are troubling and challenging for us leading congregations outside the Bible Belt, where churches still seem to hold some traditional influences. If we pay attention, though, we can see the waves of change coming to all of our shores in several key areas.

1. There is a low trust of church leaders

The local church will always be led by imperfect people who have been given delegated authority from God. This authority is maintained only by humble, servant leaders who put the needs of others first.  When this is absent, the office of pastor becomes abhorrent to a cynical culture that is curious about Jesus, but distrustful of authoritarian church polity that resembles the world’s system of corruption. Now, more than ever, ecclesiastical leaders have to be above reproof, completely transparent and accountable or we risk losing the one thing we cannot easily regain – the trust of others.

2. Personal morality has replaced biblical morality

For generations, people seemed to know they needed help to find their way home. Now, we have a generation who have embraced moral relativism, the idea that no one really knows right and wrong, therefore we should tolerate and validate the individual’s moral choices. Today, the teachings of Jesus are sometimes respected but seldom revered. What Jesus gave us is still powerful and life-changing, but we cannot assume the culture will immediately believe the Way is immediately better than their own. We must show them the beauty of a life surrendered to Jesus and not just argue with them about moral conventions. In the beginning and until the end, we must pray the Holy Spirit get involved because that is how we found the narrow path home.

3. We are becoming the minority

The men and women I met this week were mostly encouraged, despite the trends I just described. They spoke of baptisms, helping the poor in their villages and cities, the hope that new churches were soon to be planted and the pure worship that was emerging from their congregations. Leaders were encouraged that new partnerships are emerging promising new strength through cooperation. They did not despise being the minority working the margins of their culture, spending their time with those who had been tossed aside and forgotten.  They found Jesus there, just as their fathers and mothers had found him in generations past.  He was among them, being a faithful God to his faithful community, the maker of heaven and earth, building his kingdom that has no end in a land that was a-changin’.

 

 

Share this:

Working Well

The discussions that have surfaced since the release of my new book, Addicted to Busy, have spanned from encouragement to some confusion. Most people understand after reading the book that I was not calling for a cessation of our labors. In fact, I have emphatically preached the opposite. We are not forsaking our responsibilities when we rest, it is for the sake of our responsibilities that we rest. Nowhere in the book was I advocating for less productivity. What I’m discovering in this journey is that for every person that does not know how to rest, just as many have never been taught a strong work ethic.

How do we work well and rest well simultaneously? The book covers the “rest well” part, so let’s discuss what it means to be industrious, to sweat, to grind and stand out at the place of our employment.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer, or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Proverbs 6

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

 

1. Show up on time

One of the most respectful things we can do is honor people’s time. It is rude to be habitually late. “On time” means arriving, ready to work, five minutes early, by the way.

 

2. Suggest solutions rather than point to problems

Every healthy boss I know wants people around them who are problem solvers. Promotions always chase these people down and favor follows them wherever they go. Leaders lead people toward solutions. Leaders are proactive, anticipating problems and solving them long before they surface and scar the organization.

 

3. Be positive

I call these EBI people. This could be “even better, if …”.  These are people who believe the best, speak the best and end up being the best. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our attitudes. People who are full of faith and hope for the future usually get what they expect.

 

4. Play nice 

“His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart.” Psalm 55:21

People who build bridges go further than those who blow up relationships.  People of peace are blessed but those who are always looking for trouble will find it. The Holy Spirit does his best work in unity among people who choose to forgive and encourage one another. Playing nice means we use our words to heal others, not shame others. Life and death is in the power of our tongue, and people of peace measure what they say, never reckless with language.

 

 5. Promote others 

It has been my goal the past 20 years to work myself out of every job I have been given. I want to raise up my replacement, equip them to run past me and then cheer them on when they do. This is the Jesus way of leading. He spent three years with a group of leaders and saw potential in them that no one else could imagine. He left them with huge responsibilities and all the resources they would need to succeed and they did!

 

What have you learned about work that has served you well as an adult? If you lead people, what qualities do you look for when promotions and raises are being awarded?

 

 

Share this:

The Gift of a Sabbatical

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

This is one of my favorite Scriptures describing the leadership rhythms of Jesus. In the middle of a busy and hectic season of healing the sick, preaching to the multitudes and mentoring his core leaders, Jesus would simply disappear. His followers would frantically search for him, only to find him alone, praying, and restoring his own soul. He was putting on his own oxygen mask before attempting to help others.

It’s important we pay careful attention to the lifestyle Jesus modeled, and that is why sabbaticals are a part of our ethos here at New Life. Every full-time employee receives this gift every seven years and we encourage them to take advantage. We believe these times are critical for the health of our team and for our congregation.

This Summer, it’s my turn for a much needed sabbatical. I will be gone for several weeks, but the congregation will be led during my time away by the strong team God has given us. I truly believe this will be the most fruitful Summer in our church’s history.

The elders and I have been planning for this extended time away for months now, with three primary goals.

1. Rest

I’m grateful that I am not wrestling with burnout as I enter this sabbatical. In fact, I am more energized and encouraged than ever. My family and I have strived to follow the principles of rest, solitude, and Sabbath for many years now. In fact, I talk about these life-giving principles in my new book, Addicted to Busy, which releases when I return later this Summer. However, I’m sure I have underestimated the physical, emotional and mental toll these past seven years have taken on my family. I know I need to rest, and so I will.

2. Reflect

A lot has happened in the past seven years, both in the church and within my family. I do not want to miss anything God is showing me, so I need to pause, reflect, and journal all my thoughts from these amazing and challenging years. I want to have unhurried conversations with Pam, my wife of almost 25 years, and with my two teenagers, who are racing toward adulthood. I will also spend some much needed time with our church Overseers, mentors and close friends to get their wise perspectives.

3. Recharge

The last goal is to simply recharge my batteries for the days, years and decades ahead. New Life is growing and healthy. Our team is amazing and the best days for our congregation are still in front of us. I want to be re-energized to serve alongside all of you with a renewed spiritual vitality. I want to sharpen my spiritual disciplines, lose some middle-aged weight, eat better and exercise regularly so I can finish this race as strong as I started.

Thank you for giving me this gift of a sabbatical and I promise to steward this time well. You are a great tribe of people and we love you very much. Have a blessed Summer and may God be present in your rest, too.

 

Share this:
Older posts

© 2019

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑