Month: June 2010

Stuff I am Praying for Right Now

I have a list of stuff that I am praying for on a regular basis.  Some of these are personal and some affect all of us.  I am making these things public because I think there is tremendous strength when believers pray in unity.

  • I am praying for my kiddos to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to discover how they were created to serve God on the earth.
  • I am praying for Pam to be strong and courageous because I sense God is about to use her voice to ignite thousands toward serving disenfranchised children across the planet.
  • I am praying for New Life to embrace the mission of serving the poor in our city so the Gospel can be proclaimed.
  • I am praying for miracles and healing to become common among us as it was in the early church.
  • I am praying for those who don’t know Jesus to find Him.
  • I am praying for those who are crippled by fear and anxiety to be filled with strength and courage.
  • I am praying for marriages to be strong and healthy.
  • I am praying for our troops who are in harm’s way and for their families who are home waiting for them to return.
  • I am praying for open doors for those who are without work right now.

There’s a lot more on my list, but these are things that seem to surface most when I have conversations with God.  Let me encourage you to pray earnestly, without ceasing and with bold faith. Don’t lose heart. God hears our prayers and works all things for our good if only we will believe and obey.

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The Three Leaders Every Team Needs

Every great team has three types of leaders. This is true for churches or companies of any size. If any of the three types are missing, there will be stagnation, chaos and ultimately, failure. If a team has the right balance of the three, there will be growth and productivity.

Visionaries are people who see the future and dream about all the possibilities.

Strategists are people with the ability to take a dream and create a clear, tactical plan that can be followed by others.

Administrators are people who can manage all the details of the plan and provide accurate data to the team.

All three types of people are leaders for sure and all three groups need to be on your team.  If you are missing visionaries, you become stagnant and lose your innovative edge. If you are missing strategists, nothing is ever planned well and often there is poor execution of the big ideas that are discussed in your meetings. If administrators are missing, there is never any accurate data to determine if you are indeed hitting the mark.

What is your team missing? What type of leader needs to be added to your team so you can hit the mark and move forward?

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Where’s the Preacher?

I just took three Sundays in a row off from the pulpit at New Life Church and it may have saved my life. That may be a bit dramatic, but let me explain why I am not the speaker at New Life every Sunday.

Sermons on the weekends are not just 30-minute talks. A 30-minute message drains as much emotional energy as the average 8-hour workday. If a pastor has to speak more than once each weekend, the emotional drain is multiplied and if there is not a break from speaking, significant emotional and physical health is often compromised.

The elders at New Life are a group of guys who not only oversee the spiritual health of our fellowship, but also help me maintain a healthy balance between ministry to the local church and personal health. We have agreed that I should speak at New Life at least 36 weekends each calendar year. That’s an average of 3 out 4 weekends each month. The remaining weekends, I have staff, some members of the fellowship and some pastors from other churches teach.

I am not whining about my job, but I am being candid. Pastors who speak more than 40 weekends a year, with multiple weekend services are headed for burnout. There may be a handful of Superman pastors who can do this long-term, but there is a long list of those who have tried and have ended up losing their families, their health, or worse, their own spiritual vitality. I do not want to be on that list.

I miss New Life when I am gone, but I have to trust that I am not the only person who can teach Scripture.  I believe in the power of team and I believe the church is strongest when a multitude of voices are heard on Sundays.

I will be back at New Life this Sunday and I am fired up to talk about Ephesians for the next several weeks, but I will miss some Sundays and I do not apologize for my absence. I am running a marathon and want to be an old pastor who finishes the race well rather than a young foolish one who is convinced his preaching is all that a church needs.

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Are We Distracted?

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25 NIV

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

Have you noticed how easy it is for our kids to get distracted? At my house, television, video games and even the computer easily distract my two kids. Pam and I seem to be always repeating ourselves and getting them re-focused on the chore at hand, like getting ready for school, brushing their teeth or eating dinner at the table.

Sadly, adults are not much better at staying focused. We seem to always be drifting away from our primary mission and God has to snap his fingers and regain our attention. We seem to get caught up in the temporal and forget the eternal.  We forget our primary assignments in order to chase after things that once caught, dissolve like sand in our hands.

For me to stay focused and not get distracted, I try to remember my primary assignment which is to love God, love Pam, be a dad to Abram and Callie and lead New Life.  There’s not much time or bandwidth left for anything else. The moment I try to add something to this list, one of the primary assignments has to take a secondary role and that is never good long-term.

Next, I try to anticipate distractions because they are as certain as death and taxes. I know something is a distraction because it deflects my attention away from my primary assignments.  Once I realize that an event or situation is consuming my time and energies, I have to determine if it is a distraction or an emergency.

Emergencies are different than distractions. Emergencies are something that can be solved with the right amount of attention and care. Distractions are like mirages. The closer you get to it, the further it moves away.  Distractions are something that cannot be solved by any amount of attention or care.  Distractions are perpetual time wasters and drains on your emotional batteries.

My charge to you today is to make a list of your primary assignments. Next, make a list of things that are distracting you from these assignments.  Are they emergencies that can be solved or distractions that will only drain your batteries? Let’s fix our eyes straight ahead, refuse to be distracted and remember that eternity is something that deserves our primary focus and energy.

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