Making Extraordinary Use of Ordinary Time

Posted by Brady Boyd

For those who lead the local church, summer has finally arrived, bringing with it some challenges and opportunities. The traditional church calendar calls this Ordinary Time, the period between Easter and Christmas when the church is breathing in after an intense season of observing the birth and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. This is the time when churches normally experience waning attendance and marginal enthusiasm. It can be a discouraging time for pastors who fear losing all the momentum gained during the holier seasons of church life.

These warm months don’t have to be dispiriting, though. Summer can actually give us an opportunity to do three critical things we tend to ignore during the frenetic moments of Lent or Advent.

1. Go on a real vacation.

Pastors are notorious for not taking all their vacation days or taking just a few days between Sundays that really do not allow for rest. I think every pastor needs to take consecutive Sundays off to restore themselves. Even if you have a small church with mostly volunteer staff, you can trust them to speak for you on Sundays in July. Unplug yourself and get out of town. Do not look at your emails and assign a trusted person to let you know if there are “real” emergencies that require your attention. Do something fun. Go on long walks. Sleep late on some mornings. Go see a brainless summer movie with your family or just come to Colorado. We know how to do summer here.


2. Read for fun.

Pastors who want to lead well must read well. That means we need to read for fun and not just for sermon prep. Pick up a great novel or some poetry for the summer. Do not read theology texts, unless you read that for fun, which means no one but Dr. Phil can help you at this point. The main thing is to infuse some new life into our cerebrums, restoring our prophetic imaginations and triggering some holy creativity along the way.


3. Plan ahead

The biggest mistake we make as pastors during the sleepy months of summer is not planning for the forthcoming acceleration of the fall. School will start in August, followed by fall retreats, Thanksgiving outreaches, and Christmas Eve services. The crazy spin-cycle of church activity can feel like a tsunami if we do no spend time now planning how we’ll use our time and resources. Pray, plan, discuss, write down goals, create budgets now, during ordinary time, so the busy times can be extraordinary.


The Price We Pay for Exciting

Posted by Brady Boyd

Have you ever sat and watched an entire baseball game on TV? I mean, from the first pitch to the last out?


Baseball on TV is boring. There, I said it. I mean it, too. I will not apologize.

I love baseball. I played baseball. I was the third baseman for my high school team that won the state championship.

The Grand Old Game limps along when viewed through lenses because it was meant to be watched in a stadium or park while eating hot dogs, sitting on bleachers in the middle of the summer. Baseball is rhythmic and filled with strategic moves by managers and players. Each pitch can be scrutinized and every at-bat has subtle nuances. There is a plenitude of secret signs and pregnant pauses. But, it’s still boring to watch on TV.

That’s why I wait for the highlights on TV each night. The miracle of sport’s television allows a three-hour pastime to be condensed into 30-seconds of the best parts. I see all the home runs, the key strikeouts, the controversial plays at the plate without having to watch the entire game. If all we studied were the highlights, we would think baseball is the wonder of all sports, certainly made for live TV. It was not.

Church was not created for TV, either. The activity of discipling people from spiritual infancy to maturity is rarely exciting. In fact, it can be quite mundane. Somehow, we’ve come to believe that church should be exciting, made for TV, full of buzz and emotional fervor. There are certainly zenith moments like baptisms, weddings, baby dedications and encountering the Holy Spirit through prayer and worship. Stirring stuff, for sure. Other things like fasting, lingering intercession, hospital visits, unhurried conversations with grieving widows, and bringing food to a sick family are not as electric.

Jesus called us sheep, not lions, bears or race horses.  Have you ever watched a shepherd with his flock in a field? It does not qualify as thrilling cinema. Sure, there may be predators that sometimes need to be thwarted and occasionally, the shepherd will have to hurry his flock into a shelter when a storm surprises them.  Most days, though, the sheep eat grass, drink water, and nap while the shepherd stands in the shade nearby.

In my vocation as pastor, most of my work would miss the cut for the 30-seconds of late-night highlights. I doubt most shepherds see their work as scintillating, but it is indeed proficient. In fact, skilled shepherds tend to avoid rushing their sheep to distant pastures or exciting the flock with loud noises. Sheep do best in stable, secure environs. There is a steep price to pay for constant excitement.

Recently, I was speaking at a leader’s conference in the Los Angeles area. My message was about sustainable rhythms for healthy ministry, taken from lessons I have learned the hard way. As soon as I finished, a young woman approached me with tears in her eyes. Her pastor had told her and the team that he was going to have an exciting, growing church, which meant everyone had to give 110%. He told them if they could not keep up with him, they could all be easily replaced.

She wanted to be a part of the weekly highlight reels, so she tried to maintain the insane pace. Predictably, she failed and was left in the ditch of ministry with many others. She was hurt because church life was not about the sheep flourishing anymore, it was about creating a false sense of excitement that simply was not sustainable. Her ambitious Senior Pastor is now out of ministry altogether, burned out for trying to run too fast for too long.

I prayed for the young leader, then reminded her that what we do is a sacred calling that should be taken seriously. We do get to be a part of some incredible highlights as God transforms people in front of us. That’s exciting stuff and should be celebrated. I also reminded her that when Jesus called his disciples, he did not tell them, “Come follow me, and keep up if you can.” He promised them hard work, sleepless nights, criticism and persecution. He also said he would be with them always, like a faithful shepherd on a long, obedient journey that would sometimes be exciting, but would always be leading people home.




Leaders Who are Easy to Follow

Posted by Brady Boyd

I want to be a leader who is easy to follow, so I’ve been paying attention lately to those who seem to model this really well.  We should not have an unhealthy desire to please everyone, but we should make it as easy as possible for others to follow us.  There are some outstanding leaders I’ve recently bumped into who are doing just that.  I’m certain there’s more at play in their lives than the five things on my list, but these traits seem to be consistent and common.

1. They are fun

Honestly, fun people are more fun to be around. Leaders who laugh have better meetings, tend to build camaraderie and vanquish the inevitable relational stresses that come from any organization that involves two or more people. All of us love laughter and it is good medicine.

2. They are predictable

Impulsive, unpredictable leaders may seem edgy and cool at first glance, but they are not easy to follow. I heard the story once of a leader bursting into the office one morning announcing to his team that they were all going to the beach for a day of fun. Of course, that sounds like the hero leader, but the team still had to meet their deadlines and get their work done. The day at the beach actually caused more stress to the team because it happened during a really busy time for them. Leaders who are easy to follow are not prone to whims or fancied by fads. They are not boring (See #1) but they are steady.

3. They are fair

Not everyone can be treated the same, but everyone can be treated fairly. Leaders who are easy to follow have established clear boundaries and are consistent when measuring results and performance. Really good leaders can overlook bias and make unprejudiced decisions based on the merits of their team members. If you do good work for this leader, you will get noticed and rewarded.

4. They are active listeners

Most people have to “weigh in” before they will “buy in”, and most of us feel respected when we’ve been heard. Leaders who are easy to follow know how to ask good questions that get the best answers. They are genuinely interested in you and know how to make eye contact during conversations. They tend to linger with their team in unhurried conversations and seldom make people feel rushed or pushed aside.

5. They are kind

Leaders who are easy to follow manage their emotions and control their words. They are not easily angered and are much quicker with compliments than complaints. They praise in public and correct in private. Leaders who are easy to follow inspire and never embarrass. All of us know the sting of being motivated by shame, guilt or fear, but the leaders who are easy to follow have chosen a better way.



The times, they are a-changin’ …

Posted by Brady Boyd

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’.




The Mountain is Moving and Our City is Healing

Posted by Brady Boyd

Over seven years ago, New Life Church was $26 million in debt and had not even started the process of opening any  Dream Centers. We knew something had to change because there were so many needs in our city that were not being met. We had limited funds to help, but our congregation was willing.  We needed a miracle.

In 2008 and 2009, our local economy was paralyzed by a recession, but we still believed that somehow our finances could be liberated so we could help bring healing to our city. By faith we begin to meet with city leaders, community activists, chaplains from the military branches and local business leaders. We asked each of them how we could serve. We made our plans, hoping one day to help our city with more resources. Then, more than three years ago, the elders and I began challenging our congregation to Move the Mountain!! By God’s grace and miraculous provision, people responded and begin to give.

By the end of February, our debt will be down to $13.9 million, plus the Dream Centers are marching forward with the opening of Mary’s Home slated in just a few months. I am so grateful we did not wait on the sidelines and allow the overwhelming cloud of debt to suffocate God’s plan for us in the city. Instead, a big family of New Lifers made commitments to begin giving regularly, over and above their normal giving, so that our congregation could be untangled from huge monthly payments. Along the way, a passage from Proverbs has been a constant source of encouragement for us:

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” – Proverbs 19:17

The moment we got serious about caring for those in our city who had been marginalized by poverty, we began to see our debt dissolve. We have witnessed record numbers of people engage in local mission by serving at our free women’s medical clinic, building and renovating Mary’s Home, serving our neighborhoods with food through our monthly Adopt-A-Block , and serving alongside existing ministries in our city like Springs Rescue Mission.

Thanks to everyone who believed with us that the mountain could be moved and our city could begin to be healed. We are thankful for the stories we hear every week from people who are being served and we are thankful for the changes we have witnessed in our own lives as we minister to those who need hope.



Parenting and Other Things I Hope to Get Right

Posted by Brady Boyd

Being a parent is like jumping out of an airplane. You only get one chance to get it right. The thrill of beginning the journey is replaced by a hope that everything lands on target. Pam and I today are out of the plane, the rip cord has been pulled and we are drifting slowly down to the target zone, parents of two normal and somewhat amazing teenagers. We are not parenting experts, but we are experienced.

Not long ago, I was asked to consider writing a parenting book. I told them no one should write a book on parenting until all their kids were out of the house and successfully launched into adulthood. In fact, the toughest part of parenting may be the time your kids leave the house until they are married or launched. We still have that part of the journey ahead of us.

Looking back on the toddler and elementary years, Pam and I made a lot of mistakes, but got a few things right. Here are a few insights that I hope are helpful.

1. Be predictable when they are young. Most bad behaviors with little ones happen at 2pm in a Wal-Mart or at 9pm in a restaurant. That’s because they should be napping and sleeping at those times, not in aisle 3 or at a Red Robin. Stay on your schedule and you will have less tantrums. That is good for all of us.

2. Get control of bad manners as soon as they recognize the Queen’s English. It’s a lot easier to wrestle their rebellion to the ground when they are in onesy’s  than when they are wanting to borrow your car. We demand Abram and Callie say “yes m’am” and “no m’am”, “please” and “thank you” with no exceptions. Old school, maybe, but I don’t like brats, especially in my house. Plus, we are from the Deep South and we practically invented manners. And cornbread.

3. Both our kids are taught to respond immediately to us when we call their name. Ignoring mom and dad is not an option. When they are older, I hope they will respond as quickly when God whispers to them.

4. Our kids are required to greet us when we come home. We also greet them when they come home. If they ignore my entrance, whatever TV show or game that is distracting them, gets turned off.

5. We laugh a lot at our house. Make sure you enter their world, learn their jokes, and giggle with them, even if it’s over really silly stuff.

6. Learn their love language. Read Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages” to learn how your child primarily gives and receives love. It will change your relationship for the better, I promise.

7. Model a passionate lifestyle of following Jesus.  Our kids are paying a lot more attention to what we do and say than we think. Passionate parents most often produce passionate children. Live it in front of them, pray with them and they will catch it.

8. One on one time is super important. They must know that they are individuals with immense importance to you. Spend time with them, even when they beg to be left alone. They will remember your persistence and thank you later.

9. Give them responsibilities that have rewards for being obedient and consequences for missing the mark. I have these same responsibilities as an adult. It’s called a job.

10. Slow down the pace and savor their innocence. I know your kid is probably going to write the next great concerto, but that insane schedule you have them on every week is not fun for you or them. Let them be kids with a lot of space to breathe and play. Let them have a sabbath, too. The 10 commandments are for everyone.

If you are really serious about finding a better rhythm for family living, I wrote a book that may be helpful.

What have you learned along the way?



15 Things for 2015

Posted by Brady Boyd

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

As we begin 2015, we are focusing our attention at New Life to pray boldly for our city, our state, our nation and our world during Pray 168. Here are some of things I am praying for in the coming year.

1. For more helpful conversations that lead to better relationships and racial restoration in our country. (Psalm 133)

2. For moms and their kids to find hope and healing at Mary’s Home, scheduled for grand opening in early 2015. (James 1:27)

3. For the mountain to keep moving at New Life so more resources can be released for ministry in our city and world.

4. For the safety of our military as they serve in the most dangerous places on earth.

5. For more families to say yes to adoption of kids from our state foster system.

6. For more people to support those who have said yes to adoption.

7. For discernment, wisdom and protection for those who serve as our police and first responders.

8. For the peace of Jerusalem and the entire Middle East. (Psalm 122:6)

9. For the persecuted church around the world.  (Matthew 5:44)

10 For new believers to receive the Holy Spirit and be strengthened. (Acts 8:15)

11. For all believers around the world to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.  (Ephesians 6:19)

12. For those who are suffering to be healed. (James 5:15)

13. For the continued blessing on our Women’s Clinic as we serve the most vulnerable in our city with hopeful healthcare.

14. For the faithful and courageous church planters around the globe.

15. For the Lombardi Trophy to return to Denver after a Bronco’s Super Bowl win. (Ok, this is not quite as serious as the others, but still …)



Trust and the Words We Speak in Protest

Posted by Brady Boyd

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18

It seems every week, there is a global or national crisis that demands my outrage. I am often asked why I do not “speak out” on all the ills plaguing our generation, why I am not lending my song more often to the choir of bloggers. I do pay attention and I do care deeply about racial discord, injustice, the immigrant crisis, violence and the need for better systems and laws to protect the marginalized. I pray. I have conversations with serious thinkers. I meet with local and state leaders who can make a legislative difference. I invest my time and money into local solutions like our Dream Centers.

Godly dissent and petition in the public square has its place and role in the pastoral vocation, but I want my published and pronounced words to be wise and helpful. Trust is merited by measured responses, not angry rants. I will not be silent when prophetic protest is needed, but trust is earned and it is fragile.

When we speak, let’s have something to say that is based on facts and scripture and not just emotion and rhetoric. Social media is a powerful tool to communicate quickly to large crowds, but it is a cheap way to build sincere relationships that lead to difficult, but needed change. It is much easier to hide behind a keyboard than to meet face to face with those who oppose you and to find common ground. I would rather my words heal, restore and conciliate than simply go viral.

For those of us who have been given the sacred assignment to pastor people, our vocation requires us to talk about difficult issues with broken people and presumably, permission has been granted for us to speak candidly. That permission is based on trust that has been earned, not given.

Trust is bestowed because we are considered worthy of trust. Our integrity has been measured, scrutinized and witnessed. We are trustworthy. People give us access to vulnerable spaces in their lives which means they are taking a great risk and a lot is at stake.

Trust is earned in deliberate drops and lost in downpours, so we should not take any of it for granted and guard our reputations as sacred. What we say, how we say it, and when we say it matters. Silence is sometimes the voice of wisdom.



A Q&A for Busy People

Posted by Brady Boyd

Recently, I answered some questions given to me about my new book, Addicted to Busy. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

1) I think most people who are too busy realize this, but wonder if there is a way out of it, given the crushing demands of life. What do you say to them?

I certainly understand that most people have a tremendous amount of stress because of seemingly unending responsibilities. The truth is, though, we all have wasted space in our lives. At some point, we have to stop and evaluate what is really important and make hard choices to stop things that are simply not fruitful. Even the healthiest, holiest people have some rhythms that don’t serve them well.

Maybe you need to be needed and chronically sign up for more than what your soul’s capacity will allow. Maybe you consistently neglect to carve out time to spend with God each day, or you “come down” from a work week in a less-than-stellar way. Think about your own life-your own daily ebbs and flows. What rhythms aren’t serving you well? Which could stand to be adjusted or altogether removed? On a sheet of paper or in your journal, jot down the unhealthy rhythms that come to mind.

Next, beside each rhythm you’ve noted, record the toll each one is taking on your life. For example, if you don’t spend daily time reading the Scriptures or praying, you may feel your days lack purpose or that a pervasive spirit of anxiety hovers over you like a cloud. Or, if you tend to relax after a long work week by drinking too much or neglecting quality time with your family, you may feel disconnected from those you love most. If you struggle to count the cost for each unhealthy rhythm you jotted down, try asking the question, “What would be working better in my life if I could shift this rhythm from unhealthy to healthy?” The answer to that question just might reveal to you what it is you presently lack.


2) I wonder if the two are related, in some way. Does the lack of self-care for pastors, the inability to create margin, create fertile soil for sin?

Every problem I see in every person I know ultimately is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life. And I see a lot of problems.

Sex and money problems in marriage come back to the issue of speed. (How eager for intimacy are you, when you’re exhausted at the end of yet another grueling work day?) Negligence in business practices comes back to the issue of speed.

Friendships that aren’t quite clicking can usually point to the culprit of speed.

Speed is the single greatest threat to a healthy life, and it is also our greatest defense. We think if we can keep going, keep moving, keep plowing ahead, our conscience won’t have time to catch us because—ha, ha!—we’ll already be long gone.

And the reality is, this approach actually works. But only for a time. We must be able to live in an easy rhythm between give and take. If we cannot learn to live and breathe in this rhythm, we will place ourselves in grave danger. Maybe even the literal grave.

3) Some pastors might read this interview and think, “That’s great. A mega-church pastor has resources to create margin, what about the busy, small-church pastor or bi-vocational pastor?” Does your book scale to them?

I am the pastor of a megachurch, but I have also served as the pastor of a 100-year church of 50 people in a small West Texas farming town. I was just as busy in Hereford, TX as I am now, seriously. Recently, a long time friend, who pastors a small congregation said to me, “I cannot imagine how busy you are!” I told him he was just as busy as me.

In my small church, I was the staff. I did all the weddings, all the funerals, all the hospital visits, went to all the committee meetings and preached most of the sermons. If there was ever a group of people who need to read my book, it is the pastors in rural and urban America.

4) Sometimes the problem with busyness isn’t so much an unwillingness on the part of a pastor or church leader but the people he serves who won’t allow him to find rest and peace. What do you recommend to this kind of leader?

Sabbaticals are different than vacations. I believe vacations are for fun, retreats are for reflection, Sabbath days are for rest, but sabbaticals are for renewal.

Rest has to be a part of the culture of any healthy congregation. As I am writing this, I just completed a 3-month sabbatical that my elders gave me and my family after seven years of service to the church. Every full-time employee at New Life gets a sabbatical of varying lengths, depending on their scope of responsibility, every seven years. There were some elders who have never been a pastor who were hesitant to endorse this idea in the beginning, because they felt the church was already generous with vacation time to its employees. Sabbaticals are different than vacations. I believe vacations are for fun, retreats are for reflection, Sabbath days are for rest, but sabbaticals are for renewal.

Today, our elders have seen the fruit of giving this added time to our team. We have high morale at New Life, very little turnover, and a high level of healthy innovation and creativity. I would suggest pastors get a copy of Addicted to Busy for every member of their boards and let this book start some healthy dialogue about the culture of rhythm and rest at their church. We believe each of our staff should have the resources and training to fulfill their job descriptions in less than 50 hours per week and not be away from home and their families more than three nights a week, on average. This is a healthy rhythm that starts from the senior pastor and is affirmed by the church leadership.

Vocational ministry is unique in its demands because we are on the spiritual front lines for the souls of people. That is gloriously difficult work that requires seasons of rest.

If the current leadership does not understand or is not supportive, I can predict what is next—frustration, burnout, and ultimately a new pastor and staff every 3-5 years. Vocational ministry is unique in its demands because we are on the spiritual front lines for the souls of people. That is gloriously difficult work that requires seasons of rest.


Three Things I Wished Someone Had Told Me

Posted by Brady Boyd

I’ve been a pastor for two decades now, and while most every profession requires a little on-the-job training, there are a few things I wish somebody would have told me before I got started so that I didn’t have to learn them the hard way.

Such as: I’ll always be tempted to measure my success by my church’s attendance numbers. Or, the best thing I can do for my congregation is to quit comparing myself to other pastors and simply be me. Or, I will only be given as much spiritual authority as the amount of spiritual authority I’m willing to submit to. Or, my brain will always feel like scrambled eggs on Sunday afternoon. Or, while it’s true that sheep bites can’t kill me, the general congregational gnawing every pastor is made to withstand will make life miserable a few (very long) days each year.

As it relates to being a person governed not by busyness but by healthy rhythms, not by chaos but by an inner sense of calm, here are three things I also wish I would have known.

1. Rest is opposed

During the early days of my marriage, when I was running too fast and pushing too hard, I found it difficult to “come down.” I feared the loneliness and boredom I knew rest would usher in, so I kept upping my RPMs, with fingers crossed I’d avoid a crash. But we can’t stay up forever; we always have to come down. And because I refused to slow myself in a healthy manner, I was forced to walk a treacherous path. Mine was paved with Internet porn. From a place of deep humility, I’ve shared with my congregation how challenging it was to untangle myself from the grip of pornography across the span of several years in my twenties, but by God’s grace, I did get free.

For years, I looked back on that stretch of sinfulness with disbelief; how could I stoop to that level? I was in ministry. I was supposedly living for God. I adored and admired my wife. And yet, still, I’d find myself sitting in front of a computer screen, long after Pam had gone to bed, staring at stuff I had no business staring at, regretting the minutes even as they ticked by.

Things make more sense to me now. When we don’t say yes to God’s form of rest, we will say yes to a fraudulence instead — porn or gin, drugs or gambling, idle chatter or extravagant spending — all in the name of “unwinding.” It’s all proof that real rest is opposed, and that rest without God is anything but restful in the end.

2. Ruthlessness is required

Living rhythmically may sound like a breezy proposition, but to execute it well, we have to stand our ground. About 18 months ago, I called together the senior-most leaders of New Life Church. These are the men and women who report directly to me, the ones who oversee every ministry within our church. Typically I’m a big fan of delegation, of giving away all the control I don’t actually need. But for more than three years’ time, I’d asked to be part of decisions I normally wouldn’t need to weigh in on; a founding-pastor scandal, a fatal shooting on campus, and a fast and furious financial downturn demanded that I did.

When that three-year period came to a close the stress level let up, which would have been terrific news, except that I missed the cue that we had clawed our way out of the woods. My senior staff kept bringing me what I now instinctively knew were junior-level questions, and my frustration level rose by the day. Unwittingly, I’d neglected to inform them that we had shifted from “crisis mode” to “normal, everyday mode,” and all of us were suffering mightily as a result. They were trying to include me in their minutia, and I was expending precious energy fending off their incessant requests. A guy could die from being needed this much! I called a meeting for the purpose of informing them that if they preferred a pastor who was alive, then they would resume handling their own affairs. To which they said, “Um, all due respect, Pastor Brady, but you created this madness you now despise.”

They were right, and all of us knew it. We shared a good laugh, re-upped our commitment to saner processes, and moved forward toward brighter days. But not before the lesson lodged in my heart: yes, crises often causes temporary chaos, but we’ll kill ourselves from perpetual crisis mode. Every day can’t be a fire drill. We’ve got to fight to keep life sweet and sane.

3. The reward is the presence of God

Once I began taking rest and rhythm seriously in my life, I think I expected a marching band to materialize, blowing horns and celebrating my great success. “Way to go, Pastor Brady, for being a Sabbath-keeper! You’re officially holy and righteous and good!” I never would have admitted it publicly, but privately I hoped for some shiny angel to appear, to deliver the divine prize package I’d so dutifully earned.

The shiny angel never showed up.

What did show up was intimacy with God. Still today, the more I practice restfulness of mind and spirit, the more I experience the presence of God.

We observe the sacrament of communion nearly every weekend at New Life Church, and one thing I always notice is that it’s hard to hustle through the wine and the bread. It’s nearly impossible to still the soul when the body is still rushing around. And that’s a very good thing. We need to stop. We need to savor. We need to consider God’s presence with us there. That presence is the reward for rest, and it’s better than any marching band. In his presence is his power, and in his power is victory in the end — over all that tries to entangle us, over life’s chaos and madness and pain.

For more reading on this topic, consider my newest book, Addicted to Busy.


Hit Counter provided by orange county property management