Monday, October 25, 2010

enemy tactics

Well, I've completed the first course of classes in pursuit of a Master of Arts degree in spiritual formation from the Hargrove School in partnership with Eastview and Lincoln...and it's been great - I've read (a lot!) and had a chance to read and reflect. It's been good...highly recommend it next time through. This leads me to my thought for today. Its from J.K. Jone's lecture notes on the final night of class. He named four tactics our enemy (Satan) uses to keep us from growing in Jesus. Here they are with brief commentary:
1. Satan causes suffering to become self-pity. We all will suffer at some point and to some degree; but Satan wants to turn our pain into bitterness and self-pity. God wants us to turn to Him for healing and peace.
2. Satan causes socializing to become sexualizing. This really describes our society. Every day we encounter tons of people and our culture says they are sexual beings (and they are of course, but they are so much more). We were created to socialize with others, but Satan likes to lead it down a wrong path.
3. Satan causes possessions to become possessors. Again, this one is American culture 101 - we spend out lives accumulating stuff and then we become enslaved to it. Wow. Think about this in your own context.
4. Satan causes privilege to become power. Many of us find ourselves in positions (because of God's grace) that we get the privilege to lead, or be in charge (could be from raising kids to leading a corporation)...and then Satan convinces us that we love the power and we becoem power hungry...and then it's a mess.

Which one of these four do you resonate with most and why?

Monday, October 18, 2010

managing tensions

Our executive pastor Mark Warren shared with me a couple of weeks ago a leadership principle he had heard from a recent seminar he went to. It really resonates for my leadership in a church setting. Here's the reality, some issues that come up in church leadership are not meant to be resolved - the best you can do with some things is just embrace the tensions that exist and try to manage them by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

Never was this reality more apparent than when we got the results of our recent church survey. First let me say that I'm blessed and proud that so many of you took the time to respond. According to the people doing the survey; our church participated more than any mega-church they had ever worked with - over 1,000 responses! Really awesome. Now remember there were about 15-20 literally thousands of responses to all the questions.

I can tell you that overall - the people of Eastview love Eastview. Of course, there was that question "what could Eastview improve on?" Well, I read all 700+ responses (some didn't respond) and here's where managing tensions come in! Let me reiterate - the responses were super positive. But some of the responses were exact opposite - the music is the best in the whole world vs. the music should ___________ OR Mike is the best preacher vs. Mike should preach deeper like ___________. So what to do? How can we have the perfect music, decibel level, sermon, youth program, etc.... In a word, how can we make EVERYONE happy?

The answer is don't try to figure this out...just take the input from all sides..get up everyday and ask God to use you and use the gifts He has given to do it. Respond to all input with love and grace and TRUTH and just kinda manage the fact that some will like it and some won't. Don't try to fix it all, just manage these tensions that have more to do with people being different than really being a problem at all.

Now to be sure, there are some things that you need to resolve. There are some things we can fix like OUR WEB SITE (or the glare on Mike's head on the big screen - true response!) - which we are in a major way. But for some of it...we just manage it in the grace of our Lord. What in your life is a tension that just needs to be managed?

Monday, October 11, 2010


I preach all the time to my staff that they need to take control of their calendar or it will take control of them. I constantly struggle with this balance...and I don't think I'm alone. Here's the problem: we believe that if there is an open day, hour, or minute in our schedule, we can (or even should) fill it.

Some fill their schedule because they feel guilty for saying "no". Someone asks us to do something (on a day that is supposed to be a day off, or the last open evening of the week) that seems like a "serving" thing to do; and we instinctively say "yes".

Some fill their schedule because they feel like everyone needs them. We are actually flattered to be asked and that ego builder makes us say "yes" to yet another thing on the schedule.

Some fill their schedule because they don't like sitting still. We are addicted to activity, and so the more we can pile into our social and activity life is an absolute no brainer.

The problem is that we are exhausted, late, burned out, tired, grouchy, ineffective, and frankly unspiritual. Why you and I should say "no" to events and stuff on our calendar than "yes".

Saying "no" to the stuff other people think we should do allows us to say "yes" to the stuff we have discovered God made us to do.

Saying "no" to helping everyone and being a mini-savior allows us to be content to say "yes" to stuff that only God can do through us. (ie. there is only one savior and he wants to use us for his kingdom, but he doesn't need us to do everything).

Saying "no" to constant activity allows us to slow down and say "yes" to spending time with God.

Monday, October 4, 2010

intricacies of leadership

Okay...back to this topic because its one that I'm constantly analyzing...both in myself and in others.

1. Let's begin the church leadership is completely in God's hands. I've said before I get to lead at Eastview because God has allowed it. This means that all leaders are leaders by God's permission and as such answer ultimately to Him. This is hard to understand for someone who may not be in a leadership position because....well it seems manipulative that a leader would say, God put me here! But in fact, that is the burden/privilege that every true leader feels down deep inside. Believe me when I tell you that this Eastview job is not something you sign up for in Bible College. After 25 years of pastoring, I can begin to see how God directed my life circumstances to bring me to this leadership position...but I can't really tell you how it happened, I can only tell you that I believe it to be true. A leader for God has some significant choices to make concerning location and usage of his leadership gift, but ultimately he can't take credit for being where He is because God has place him there.

2. Of course, he can't be boastful about having the leadership gift, because this is not something the leader has chosen either. The Holy Spirit chooses who gets what gift according to his desires. Again, I've talked to many who wish they had the leadership gift (and many more who are convinced they do!) and I always say, you either have the leadership gift or you don't. It's not up to you or me, but a design of the Spirit.

3. This means that sometimes a Christian leader makes decisions that he can't explain or really receive input into because he is literally being led by the Holy Spirit. I'm not talking about decisions like should we spend this much money on missions, or lights, or kids supplies, or new Bibles, have a new staff structure, etc... There are FEW decisions (but there are some) that simply have to grab the heart of the leader and when the heart is grabbed - the true leader will go there. In this instance, there are many who will say, "this guy wont' listen to others and thinks he's in charge of everything, blah, blah, blah." But in reality, this is what a leader does. The leader often excitedly goes before a bunch of people who don't see clearly the spiritual direction that the leader sees. This is called spiritual leadership and it is way different than being in charge, or being the boss, or having authority. It's about getting others to go where he knows the Spirit is going. This is leadership and its hard to explain because its Holy Spirit stuff, but its biblical and its necessary to accomplish what God will for his kingdom.

4. God doesnt' need leaders. Anything he wants he can accomplish all on his own. Why do we place such high priority on leadership. Well, leadership is not more important than any other spiritual gift, but God does use leaders to influence all of the spiritually gifted. Yes, it's true, God doesn't need leaders, but biblically and historically He always chooses to use them. This is a great mystery, but God has chosen to place and gift fallible people to lead.

5. I don't know where this serious blog came from...I'm way too tired at the end of this long day to write something like this. So take it with a grain of salt. On the other hand, I am a maybe by the Spirit's power there are some nuggets of wisdom in there.