Church Leadership

You Asked For It

We didn’t have time to answer all of the questions during the experience on Sunday, but to make sure nobody gets left our we decided to follow up and answer the rest of the questions here. 
How much attention is too much attention, for your significant other? (i.e. can you make an idol out of your partner?)
We briefly talked about this on Sunday. Every relationship is different and every person has different quotas to satisfy their need for quality time. However, the line we have to avoid is when the relationships shifts to NEED. When you need the other person to feel worth or value or contentment with yourself then it’s gotten to a point where it is unhealthy.
What is the best way to say “no” to a toxic person?
Saying no is hard for a lot of us. It’s never easy to feel like you are disappointing people or letting them down. BUT, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have those hard conversations with people at times. If you’re not heading in the same direction or have the same values you will inevitably have to say no. You don’t have to make it personal or about them. Always find a way to be gracious, but firm.
If you’ve had sex can you go back to living a pure life in your next relationship and follow what God wants or is it too late?
Even if you have you restrain yourself outwardly, how bad is it if you’re lusting internally?
“What if you come from totally different religions?
Relationships are hard enough without compounding the situation with different beliefs and values. Paul talks about being equally yoked, which is a simple analogy for making sure our relationships are heading in the same direction at the same pace. It’s vitally important to have a shared faith- “missionary dating” rarely works.
Is it ok to be in a relationship with someone who is a single parent?
Are ideologies potential dealbreakers? Views on same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.
Potential deal breakers? Yes. It really all depends on the level of dogmatism involved. If it’s something their extremely passionate about and you strongly disagree then you’ll likely end up a constant state of “heated discussion”. We are all different and have different upbringings that form our beliefs, but you shouldn’t have to change what you believe to make a relationship work. It really comes back to the idea of being equally yoked. Relationships work better when they’re headed the same direction.

Velleity

I saw a word the other day that really bugged me. I think it’s because I see how it could creep into our culture as a church.

Velleity- a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action

One of my greatest fears is that we allow velleity to be at play in our volunteer culture. I think it’s an easy road to get on. It’s easy to enjoy what we do, but not allow that to compel us to action.
I think we could easily morph into a country club culture. We love coming and hanging out with our friends. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THE CHURCH IS! We are the medium God has chosen to use to influence the world for His sake. Sure we love each other and enjoy the company, but that is only a by-product.
Let me give you some real life examples of velleity: 
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to show up on time.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to contribute.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to go out of my way to help somebody else.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to give my hard earned money to it.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to invite anybody.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people I don’t know.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to be engaged in the experience.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not doing anything I don’t want to do.
  • I love the church BUT I’m not going to put in extra effort. That’s the pastors job.
I honestly believe we will never reach our full potential unless passion that leads to action is the dominant mentality of the majority. There is a term called critical mass. It basically means that once a significant portion of a group is on the same page then momentum, change and velocity is achievable.
You’ve got the right (ryyyee-eee-iii-eee-ite) to say no… to velleity.

Unpleasantly Surprised

I remember in elementary the teachers used to harp on us about staying in line. “No cutting!”, they would say. Apparently as adults we forget this timeless principle- especially at Starbucks.

I rarely get cut off, but when I do… It’s at Starbucks. Folks are just a little antsy before they get there first cup of joe, I suppose. This morning a lady cut me off to get in the drive thru for her Venti Triple Soy Latte with Extra Whip Cream. Of course, I was frustrated. I started making judgments as to what type of person she was. Selfish, rude, prima donna, you know, the usual.

After being in line behind her for a few minutes, I finally made it to the window to pay for my drink. To my surprise, and chagrin, the evil lady in front of me had already paid for my drink. While I don’t think you can cover up being rude by bribing me with coffee (although it’s a pretty good start), I was impressed that she was willing to, in a way, admit her wrong and try to make amends with a complete stranger.

I think the moral to the story is clear. We all make mistakes. All we can do is try to make it right in some way. Go buy somebody a cup of coffee, just try not to cut them off first.

An Enthusiasm Unknown To Mankind

I am a football junkie. I absolutely love watching it, playing it, and talking about it. I suppose one of the things I love the most is the passion that exudes from so many of the participants.

One of my favorite coaches in the NFL is Jim Harbaugh. He rubs some people the wrong way because he is a little over the top at times. He’s known to pound on his quarterback’s chest, rant incessantly at officials and even give extremely aggressive handshake/ backslaps to opposing coaches.

He’s been cited saying they do things with, “An enthusiasm unknown to mankind!” I absolutely love that phrase.

I believe that we would do well to live our lives like this, especially as followers of Jesus. When you think about it, we have so much to be enthusiastic about. We’ve been given so much, so many opportunities to reflect the God we love in the world we live in. If Jim Harbaugh can be that excited about A GAME, then how much more passionate should we be about the grace-filled lives we get to live?

There is an amazing verse that gives us some insight into this. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That is our motivation. We get to be enthusiastic about everything we do because we are doing it for the God who has done so much for us.

It’s time to get enthusiastic!

Happy Happy Happy

I ran across some research the other day that offers up some really powerful insight as to how to attain happiness. It seems like it was copied straight from the Bible, but, interestingly enough, it was from a “secular” source. In no particular order, here are the 4 things we have to do to be happy and my brief description:

1) Thankfulness- Thankful people are happy people. Being able to find the good in everything, living contently, and appreciation of who and what you have leads you to have a brighter outlook on life. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to, “give thanks in all circumstances…”

2) Helping Others- Remember the old adage, “it’s better to give than to receive”? Seems that it is true, although you couldn’t convince me of that when I was a kid. Helping others has many benefits, but one of the most obvious is it gets our attention off of our problems and helps us realize that others have problems that make ours look miniscule.

3) Community- Doing life together not only gives you people to have Pinterest parties with, but it apparently contributes to your overall happiness. Logically, we can see how having a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, and wisdom and advice from loved ones can create a better, happier life.

4) Spirituality- According to the research, having some kind of spirituality makes people happier. While I certainly agree with that, I also believe that specifically having a relationship with Jesus, who is the source of all hope, is the pinnacle of happiness. It really is a freeing experience when you come to grips with the notion that you aren’t in complete control, and there is a greater power at work on your behalf.

There you have it! The only thing left to do know is sing… “Don’t worry, be happy…” 

Wronglandia

Being wrong stinks. I would know, as I spend much time in Wronglandia. The same goes for coming up short, failing or goofing up. Many names, but you get the idea.

One of my favorite basketball players gives me some insight as to how to respond to being wrong. When you mess up, come up short, or just plain blow it the greatest step in moving past the ordeal is to admit your fault and own it. Easy to say, right?

The aforementioned basketball player (I’ll leave him nameless to avoid endless disputes about who is the greatest of all time, this generation, etc) recently had a game in which he was significantly deficient. He made some bad plays that could have cost his team the game. Fortunately, for me anyways, the team pulled together and squeaked out the victory. In his post-game interview the first thing he did was admit his wrongs. I like that.

I know I can learn something from his humility. Rather than throwing other people under the bus, even if they deserve it, I can own my part of the problem. Instead of playing it off as if it isn’t that big of a deal I could confront it so that all the people involved can truly move on from the situation.

Just my two cents. However, I suspect that I’m not the only frequent visitor to Wronglandia, and the best mode of transportation out seems to be laying down your pride, licking your wounds and getting over it.

Recomputing…

I know we have all likely had the pleasure, if that’s what you want to call it, of being griped at by our GPS for missing a turn or taking a wrong one. That obnoxious, “I’m smarter than you” voice makes me cringe sometimes.

On a much lighter note… the GPS has two basic ways of guiding you to your destination. You can listen to the British butler tell you where to go, or you can follow the signs and arrows that pop up on the screen, or a combination of the two.

It got me to thinking about how many of the people I know are always trying to figure out God’s plan for their life. Wouldn’t life just be easier if He gave us an audible, “Turn left ahead.”? But, as far as I can tell, that isn’t how it works for most people. At least not for me. I hear voices, but I’m pretty sure they’re not God’s. That is another topic for another blog.

The point is this. We still have another way of getting to the destination and purposes that He has for us. Just like the GPS, our life has signs and arrows that will lead us down the right path if we are attentive. Most of the time that comes in the form of a person, a conversation, or some unexplainable “coincidence”. Keep following those directional signs and you will get to where you are supposed to be. No need to recompute.

I’m Weak… And That’s OK

So it never fails that when I think that I do a terrible job preaching on Sunday, I get more compliments and “I needed thats” than any other time. Conversely, when I think I do pretty good (you never think you do THAT good if you have an ounce of honesty in your body) people never really say anything.

Maybe they recognize the struggle and are just being cordial? Maybe they are just throwin’ me a bone? But I have a suspicion there is more going on. I think about 2 Corinthians 12:9 where it says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”I believe that even in what I perceive as a failure or poor “performance”, God sees as an opportunity to remind me that it’s not about me. This is His deal, His church and we are His people.

Though our circumstances may differ, the principle remains the same. Whatever areas that you feel deficient in are areas for God to show His gracious strength in and through you. After all, just like the church is not mine, our lives are not our own. They are His, and He can and does choose to use our weakness and foolishness to show His strength and wisdom.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m weak… and I suppose that’s a good thing.

Don’t Be a Dog

Philippians 2 says to “watch out for dogs”. I was thinking about this in my oversimplified cranium and had a thought.

We’ve all had the unfortunate privilege of experiencing dogs do some unusual things. One of those things is sniffing each other rear ends. This nasty display got me to thinking about Paul’s warning in Philippians.

This is my strange thought: Don’t go sniffing people looking for something that stinks. Any yahoo can find faults in other people. Rather than sniffing out their flaws we should find the good in each other to celebrate.

Watch out for the people that are always critical and cynical. Set the tenor of your relationships by having a proper, God-centered approach. We are all God’s creation so there is without question something that you can celebrate about every person.

Don’t be a dog!  

Whippersnappers!

So I am coming upon my 30th birthday. In a little over a month, I will have successfully survived three decades in spite of my accident-prone self.

Every time that I tell someone that I am a pastor (of what I consider the greatest church in the world) I get funny looks. I understand. I used to think that you had to be at least 40 to be a “real” pastor. But that’s just not how God wrote the script for me.

I think about the scripture in 1 Timothy 4:12 that says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Sure, there are people that are older than I am that may be more qualified than I am. They may have more life experience than I do. Maybe they have been there and done that, and since history tends to repeat itself they would know what to do the next time. That doesn’t mean that I sit on the sideline and defer my responsibility and calling to somebody else.

This isn’t really limited to “youth”. I think the tendency of older people is to want to defer to someone who is younger and has more energy. With this system of everybody deferring and nobody doing, the world will be robbed of all that God has created you to offer.

Great things can be accomplished in your life regardless of your age. Abraham became the father of a new, great nation in his nineties. The bulk of the disciples were teenagers. Jesus began his public ministry at 30. Saul became king of Israel at 30. Even more impressive, he enlisted his teenage son Jonathan to lead one of his armies. A teenager leading an army! Scary, but spectacular.

The bottom line is this: Don’t let your age, young or “distinguished”, distract you from the work that God has given you to do.