3 truths to learning contentment

It’s difficult to thrive in a season we’re currently in, faced with a global pandemic that doesn’t seem to show signs of slowing. Besides the fact that the virus exists, the measure our society has taken to curtail its spread has upended most of our lives. Especially our rhythms.

Rhythms are so important in life. With the right rhythm, movement becomes beautiful, artistic dance. Something worth marveling at and replicating. With the wrong rhythm, movement becomes awkward, stilted, and, painful to watch.

In a season like we’re all in, it’s tough to find your footing. And we can easily find ourselves turning to lots of different things to satisfy us. From our vice of choice to our jobs, from binging the latest on TV to obsessing over our outdated kitchens that we’re forced to stare at all day every day, discontentment hangs on to our shoulders like a wet blanket. It drips water on everything we touch. It jades our responses, emotions, and resolve. And it’s like trying to quench our thirst by drinking sand. The more you drink, the thirstier you get.

This feels like the kind of season that the Apostle Paul would lean in and give us encouragement during. Because it’s encouragement, hope, and perseverance we need right now. In Philippians 4, Paul says this:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

You’ve heard that last sentence above, likely quoted on a motivational poster of a marathon runner telling you that you can sprint a marathon. Out of context, that interpretation seems valid. Within context, though, it takes on a much deeper meaning. Paul can “do all things” because he has learned contentment. Meaning he’s walked through different seasons of life, and God’s driven him to a deep, abiding satisfaction despite his circumstances.

I bet Paul, if he were writing today, would say something like: “I have learned to be content…while being quarantined, while not knowing the future of our culture, while not being able to go to gyms or restaurants…”

A global pandemic makes it hard to find contentment. But it’s the perfect soil for exploring. My grandpa has a farm with a creek bed that’s perfect for exploring. In it you’ll find rocks, bugs, shells, crawdaddys, and Native American money. I was able to show our kids the wonders and joys of it while we were there this summer. The more you stare at the creek bed, the more you see. At first glance, you just see a bunch of random rocks. But as your eyes adjust, you see layers and layers of treasure.

So what does it mean to learn contentment like Paul mentions? How do we explore it in this season?

3 truths to learning contentment

1. It’s a process.

This process oftentimes involves pain before it produces fruit. Look at Paul’s life: he learned contentment through some pretty painful experiences. And contrast that with Jesus’ words that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and you’ve got the extremes covered. The process involves you walking through these only to realize that you’re not in control. And that circumstances don’t determine contentedness.

2. It takes time.

Every time you walk through a new, previously unknown season, you’ve got the chance to walk through becoming more content in who God has created you to be and what He’s created you to do. When my wife and I went through premarital counseling, our pastor said something that has stuck with me: don’t get married to someone you haven’t experienced all 4 seasons with. The principle was this: you can’t know you love someone until you see them in multiple scenarios. The same is true with contendedness: you can’t know if you’re content until you’ve experienced life.

3. It takes trust.

Ultimately, contendness involves you trusting. Trusting that He will make your paths straight, that His plan is better than yours, and taking a risk on His ways.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

You can’t delight in someone you do not trust. And as you delight, your desires change. And as your desires change, you become more content.

Trust in God –> delight in God –> contentment in all things

Keep your eyes on Jesus. He’s the author and the perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) And the one that offers true contentment.

 

Carpe Opportunity: Stepping toward our fears

If you’re a leader, you no doubt have built it as a habit to recruit other leaders around you. 

In the business world, that’s called talent acquisition. In the church world, it’s called volunteer recruitment. In sports, it’s called tryouts. In parenting, it’s called, “Help!

In my role as a pastor, I’m constantly looking for others I can bring on to my team. Some times, I have a role I’m trying to fill. Other times, I’m trying to find a role for a rockstar with amazing potential. 

This time for me, the couple I was talking to fit both bills. I was calling them to join our team or writers that creates our weekly sermon discussion guides. Every week we build a discussion experience for individuals and groups to access, to help take the sermon further than Sunday mornings. This couple and I had a great discussion. I vacillated between vision-casting, logistics, sharing my heart for theology and life change, and “next steps” for the future of where this is going.

And I realized that this is an opportunity that is a no-brainer for them. It’s something they have both had extensive training for, both professional and practical. They can step in to this role and do it in their sleep. What will take them 2-3 hours to complete at an A+ level would take others 10-15 hours. To get a C+. They’re going to step on to this team and make a big impact.
As our conversation wrapped up, I off-handedly mentioned the two of them potentially stepping in to lead a small group in the future.

They froze.

I thought it was just our internet connection.

This opportunity wasn’t on their radar, nor was it in their comfort zone. They instantly began thinking through the barriers and resistors to this opportunity, and the reasons why now isn’t the right time and why they’re not the right people. You’ve done the same thing.

Jesus came to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” – Finley Peter Dunne

When it comes to opportunities God has put in front of you, don’t just pursue the ones you can do in your sleep. Pursue the ones that cause you to lose sleep. [TWEET THAT]

Those are the ones that are outside of your comfort zones, and the ones you have to depend on God and others more than ever. If you, in your own strength, wisdom, experience, and power can do the work in front of you, it takes no faith. And with no faith, there is no growth.

If God called His own Son to remain with something that was uncomfortable (Mark 14:35-36), because He had a greater redemptive plan, shouldn’t we expect that same?

So step out towards that thing that makes you afraid. That causes you to lose sleep. Seize the opportunity that’s in front of you, not so you can tout your accomplishment. Seize it BECAUSE it makes you fearful, BECAUSE you have to trust God anew, and so that you can brag on the God who redeems all things.

 

Exploring uncertainty

We are in unprecedented times. In the midst of a global pandemic, Church hasn’t changed, but the way we do it has.

Recently, I’ve been asked what our plans for the upcoming season look like. Will we launch new groups in the same way we have before? Will we offer connection events? Will people want to enter a group leader’s home (that they don’t know) to interact with relative strangers?

Will chips and salsa ever make their return to small group life?

In times past, I have trained leaders to not stress over a perfectly clean house. Instead, I’ve encouraged them to invite people in to their lives, piles of old mail and all. This was a push for authenticity and vulnerability: don’t stuff the piles of mail or your struggles under the bed.

But now, where masks are becoming the norm, hand sanitizers expected, and cleanliness not just a value for some but a necessity for most, we find ourselves as groups pastors in unprecedented times.

So what do we do?

I’d love to give you the neat and easy steps to ensuring a group’s success, or the hard-and-fast “you must do this to launch new groups in your context” kind of post. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. And whether you’re a small business owner, a public school teacher, a nurse, a stay-at-home-dad, or a pastor, you know this to be true. And anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying to you or trying to sell you something.

As always, I’ve found the Scriptures to be an amazing guide. They don’t always tell us every single step to take. But they show us the path, and teach us how to walk on it. Check this out:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

I’ve read this thousands of times. But in light of our current season, I find a renewed hope here. What’s the best next step for you to take?

Trust in the Lord. With all of your heart. We’re prone to leaning on our own understanding, which is oftentimes gained from years of experience. And when we do that, sometimes we “win” and sometimes we “lose.” But what happens when we “trust in the Lord”?

Sometimes we “win” and sometimes we “lose.”

But there’s a much different outcome when we trust in the Lord. Even when we “lose,” our paths are made straight.

My kids love to ride their bikes in our neighborhood, and at the end of our road there’s a gravel drainage area. It’s basically a basin, with a downward-sloping hill on all 4 sides: the perfect place to ride a bike. But riding across crushed granite doesn’t net you the kind of speed you want as an 11-year-old boy. So my kids got to work, moving rocks and dirt to the side in order to make a path. It was hard work. And it took them a long time. But the result was something they were really proud of. “Dad,” my son said with a puffed out chest. “Come check out what we’ve done.”

The Hebrew word for “straight” in this passage denotes the clearing of a road, to make it safe. Everybody loves a straight path, but not everyone wants to go through the painstaking process it takes for that path to be made straight.

The painstaking process begins with trust. Not a blind trust that runs head-first off a cliff. But a trust that takes one step at a time down a path that’s being made straight. The path that proves the One that’s carving it out is worth being trusted.

So what should you do as a business owner this next season? Trust in God. Then take a step.

What should you do as a pastor? Trust in God. Then take a step.

As a single person? Trust in God. Then take a step.

As a small groups pastor that is uncertain what the future of groups will look like? Trust. In. God. Then take a step.

As we’re all in a season of exploring uncertainty together, may our first step not be giving glib “do this” answers. But may we, despite our callings, start with trust.

 

The 5 Cs of a Catalytic Leadership Meeting

Meetings are a part of our lives. They’re inevitable. If you work, volunteer, or just live life, you’re going to be meeting with people.

I serve as a pastor, which might make you think I work one day/week. And if that’s what you think…you’d be wrong. I lead meetings with the team I serve, and with the volunteer team that I build in to. I’m a part of meetings every single day. And if you’re a leader, you’re often organizing, planning, inviting, and facilitating meetings, too. Multiple ones every week. Sometimes, multiple ones each day.

I don’t have time for meaningless meetings. Neither do you. I don’t want more meetings for the sake of meetings. I want meetings to be purposeful, and take us somewhere. I want action items. I want vision. I want inspiration. I want connection.

Here are a few vitals you need to keep in mind if you lead leaders. If you lead followers, maybe there are some principles in here you can skip. But if you want to lead leaders well, you’ve got to keep these things in mind.

The 5 Cs of Leadership Meetings

Calibrate

Always have an agenda. Know what you need to report out on since the last meeting, or since the last project began/completed. Make sure everyone is clear on where you’re at, and where the meeting is headed. This is also the chance to honor the work you put in to the last meeting, and not overlook celebrating what was done, and filling in the holes of what still needs to be finished. Meetings aren’t just about the new and shiny objects you’ve got in front of you. They’re about making sure you did what you said you’d do last time.

If you skip this step, the meeting will feel scattered.

Cast vision

Why are you having this meeting? Where is your team headed? What’s coming up? What goals are you driving towards? Make sure you paint a big picture, and not just jump to the tactical, logistical side of leadership. If you overlook this step, you’ll create a bunch of worker bees that burn out.

If you skip this step, leaders will dry up. 

Create action steps

This is the part where assignments are made, and the vision begins to take shape. Give deadlines, specific roles, and accountability. People should always leave a meeting knowing what the expectations are. I’m also of the opinion that everyone should leave with “homework,” objectives to complete before the next time you meet. This helps keep meetings from becoming a “we’re just meeting because we’ve always met,” focusing them around the idea that there’s work to get done, and we each have a hand in accomplishing our vision.

If you skip this step, your team will never feel like they’re going anywhere.

Care

It’s easy for the above to feel tactical. Make sure you give space for leaders to share a bit of what’s going on in their lives. You know what I know about leaders? They lead everywhere they go. Oftentimes, they “don’t have time” to care for their soul, and those they lead sure don’t pick up that banner. If leadership is about serving others, this is vital to a thriving team.

If you skip this step, your team will feel like you’re only for their productivity, and not for them as a person.

Coffee

I mean, come on. You can’t have a meeting without coffee. The principle is this: serve them something. Provide a snack. Water. Coffee. Tea. This helps people feel engaged, loved, served, and cared for.  And it gives them something to do in those awkward pre-meeting-what-do-I-talk-about-I-don’t-know-so-I’ll-just-drink-this-coffee moments.

If you skip this step, people will fall asleep.
Any meetings vitals you’d add?

 

Powerful words leaders say

You’ve probably worked for some great leaders. Ones that empowered and encouraged you. Ones that helped you accomplish more, and be a better leader yourself. They made you feel like your team could tackle anything. And it’s often been from words they spoke to you or about you.

And you’ve worked for some terrible ones. Leaders that made life more difficult. That made you question everything about yourself, and the project you’re working on. That made you afraid every time you opened your email, stepped in to a meeting, or answered your phone.

A leader has tremendous power with their words. Power to build up or tear down. Power to move others to action. Power to paralyze.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. – James 3:3-5

Here are words I’ve been personally told, or have heard said to others. I cringed. Maybe these are words you’ve heard…or said.

Damaging words

You’re worthless.
What were you thinking?
This is typical.
I’m the boss.
If you fail, it’s on you.
I’ve got to tear you down so I can build you up.
One more little mistake and I don’t know what we can do with you.
Failure isn’t an option.
There’s no recovering from this.
You don’t know what you’re doing.
We need results, not relationships.
You ought to feel lucky just to have a job here.
You’re too young to know…
You’re too old to know…

On the flip side, words bring life. I’ve literally felt weight come off of my shoulders as I’ve heard some of these. I’ve walked into a meeting feeling burdened…and stepped out feeling like I can take on the world. Others won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.

Life Giving Words

I’ll go first.
Let’s go together.
If you lose, we lose.
I’ve got your back.
I believe in you.
You be you.
How can I help?
You are so valuable here.
Thank you.
You’re incredible with ____ (be specific).
What do you need from me?
If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.
What barriers are you facing that I can tackle for you?
What do you need to know to do your job better?

I recognize, though, that there are times when a change needs to happen. I just *naively* believe that it can be done in such a way to honor a person, and help them grow without damaging their identity and causing them to run from the faith and from your organization. Basically, the goal here is to listen and learn before you speak.

Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting. The first person to speak in court always seems right until his opponent begins to question him.  – Proverbs 18:13, 17

Words to help steer the ship without sinking it

Help me understand…
What do you see as the crux of the issue?
Help me see the fuller picture
What piece of this am I missing?
What resources do you need to win?
Is there a different seat on this bus that you’d thrive in?
What are the things you LOVE to do?
Who can we surround you with that can help you succeed?

Leaders exist to serve others. Your words carry immense weight. Weight that can put wind in sails, steer a ship, or sink it.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. – Paul, Galatians 5:13

Use your words wisely, and build your organization well by serving others well.


 

A Gospel built on good manners

My wife and I prize good manners. We’re from the South, so Southern hospitality flows through our veins. Even if we don’t like you, you’ll think we do.  😊

So we teach our kids to have good, respectful manners as well. Here’s how a typical conversation goes at our house:

Me: Hey Rex!
Rex: What?
Me: Rex, do you want to try to say that differently?
Rex: Oh yeah, “Yes sir?”

It’s not that I want to try to keep him in a subservient role by calling me “sir.” I don’t want to remind him every day of his “place.” I also am not on a power trip where I feel like I “deserve” to be called “sir” because of my position or how hard I work. It has nothing to do with personhood.

Yet it has everything to do with personhood.

I remember in seminary being warned not to confuse behavior modification with Gospel transformation. That to boil transformation down to altering some behaviors is to rip the power out of the cross. The point of Jesus’ death wasn’t to make us “good” people…the point was to reconcile two polar opposites: God and sin.

Did Jesus die to make us morally good people?

No sir. He didn’t.

But one of the rules my wife and I have as parents is that when our kids address us, and all adults for that matter, they speak with respect. That means a few things.

  • Saying, “Yes sir/ma’am” and “No sir/ma’am.”
  • Looking people in the eye.
  • Listening when others are speaking.
  • Learning people’s names.
  • Responding when spoken to.
  • Speaking up when you want/need something. (and not just expecting people know what you want)

I’m sure that my seminary friends will differ from me. In fact, I would probably have disagreed with me while I was in seminary. But now as a parent, I’m thinking otherwise. I don’t just see “good manners” as a parenting tactic to keep Southern charm alive and well. I also don’t see it as a way to keep my thumb on my kids and their behavior. I don’t equate it with the sum total of their spiritual lives, yet it’s a fruit of their heart.

“Good manners” are a theological stance. I see 4 main reasons why having good manners is a reflection of a heart that first and foremost loves God. (yes, you can have good manners for a variety of other reasons. Just like you can choose to do all kinds of good things for a variety of other reasons. You don’t have to love Jesus to choose not to murder people, do you?)

4 reasons why good manners are theological

1. As image bearers of God, everyone deserves respect.

We have been created in the image of God. Every one of us. As such, every person deserves a level of respect. Have they lived worthy of that? Probably not. But that doesn’t negate the image of God in them.

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

When we treat others with kindness, we respect the image of God in them.

2. Good manners show we believe God is loving, patient, and kind.

When we are loving, patient, and kind towards others, we reflect our deeply held belief that God is that same way. When we are loving, patient, and kind towards others even when they don’t deserve it, we reflect a God who operates the same way.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. – Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

When we treat others with kindness, we reflect a God who does the same.

3. Good manners show how pleasant life can be.

Wouldn’t you much prefer to be treated with respect than without it? Isn’t life much more pleasant when, even if/when we disagree, we can do so civilly? I’m not suggesting we need to agree with everyone, and affirm their every thought and action. Love chooses a different way, even in moments of disagreement. Love chooses kindness not at the expense of truth, but alongside it.

But I tell you, love your enemies… – Jesus, Matthew 5:44

4. Kindness leads to repentance. Not harshness.

Check this out: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” – Paul, Romans 2:4

Harshness, biting words, and condemnation didn’t lead you to repentance. Kindness does. If you want to be an agent of reconciliation, don’t be a jerk.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Jesus, Luke 6:45

It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, not His wrath. Kindness doesn’t nullify or weaken truth, and the power of our sin. If I’m kind and respectful towards you, that doesn’t mean I condone everything you do. It means I recognize the way God operates with me, and how I’ve been led to repentance. And it means I’ve got the same hope for everyone.

When we use good manners, we treat others with kindness. Because we have eternity in mind.

So I’ve got more in mind when I correct my children on their “sirs” and “ma’ams.” And there are plenty of other ways to teach our children to respect and treat others with kindness. But I’ve got a Gospel focus in my parenting. I’ve got an others-focus that I want them to grow in.

But maybe I’m just being old-fashioned?


 

To be an effective leader, stop wasting your time

This is a flea market. Notice all of the junk. Randomly priced, randomly placed, randomly assorted junk. The highest priced item here: $7.50. (It’s also a picture of my son’t handiwork. “Hey dad…*snicker*…see what I did to that little wooden…*snicker*…mannequin…*snicker*?”)

Below is a picture from the next table over. Seriously, within just a few feet I saw a “Royal Albert China Dinner and Tea Set” for $850. I’m not saying it’s not worth that price tag…I honestly have no idea what, if anything, it’s worth.

 

Someone kept these for a long time. They spent a lot of money on them. Probably moved with them a time or two. Took extra time and care to store them. And probably rarely (if ever) used them. Now they’re sitting at a flea market, not selling. Because you can’t sell $850 dishes beside a $.28 button.

It’s sad, really. I feel bad for the person that bought them, the one that stored them, the one that didn’t use them, the one that transported them across town to the flea market, and the one that’s (not) selling them now.

Individual leadership

I bet there’s something you’re doing right now that, when you look back on your life in 20 years, is really a waste of time. You’re moving boxes of expensive dishes (your most valuable resource is your time) that you’re going to try to sell later, that nobody wants to buy.

  • There’s a book you’re reading that isn’t helping you. Put it down.
  • There’s a habit you’ve got that leaves you more irritable and less patient with people. Stop it.
  • There’s a relationship you have that is moving you further from who God made you to be. Change it.
  • There’s a side hustle you’re juggling that sucks the life out of you. Time to cut the cord.
  • Your “relaxing” time doesn’t leave you recharged. You can do better.

Life’s too short to protect expensive dishes you don’t want.

Organizational leadership

Church leaders, make sure the “programs” and initiatives you’re starting don’t just appease people’s itching ears, but actually lead them somewhere. Just because people ask for it doesn’t mean you have to do it. And on the flip side, be careful putting your time and energy towards what you think is nice without seeing if people want it.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. – Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3

Know where you’re taking people, understand WHO you’re trying to produce, and relentlessly pursue that. Stop having people do things that simply keep them, and you, busy with activity but don’t actually help them become the Jesus follower you’re trying to lead them to become.

Good pastors don’t just exegete the Scriptures, they exegete their people. In other words, good pastors don’t just spend time trying to know, understand, love, and unpack the truths found in the Bible. They work equally hard to know, understand, love, and unpack the people God’s called them to lead, and the unique vision God’s called their local congregation to. One without the other short-changes both. To love the Scriptures but not people makes you into a Bible-thumper. It also means you’ve not obeyed the most important command in Scripture: love others as yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Jesus, Mark 12:30-31

It’s hard to know when you’re doing this, though, and whether the programs and processes you have in place are working. Maybe try asking a couple of questions of those you’re leading:

  • Because of ____ (program, event, etc.), are you closer to Jesus?
  • Are you growing more patient or more irritable with people, as a result of ___?
  • Are you finding yourself more or less courageous with your faith?
  • Do you find yourself more available emotionally, spiritually, and physically for your family, and those closest to you, because of ___?

People will be honest, especially when it comes to how they spend their time and resources. It may just be that that recreation ministry makes you happy, but isn’t helping your church become more faithful followers of Jesus.

Can we all agree to not become, or continue practices that produce, expensive dishes that nobody wants to buy?

 


 

Getting help from the kids

My kids help me cook. Clean. Fix. Load the dishwasher. Put away clothes.

And it’s more work for me. It takes longer, is more frustrating, isn’t done as well, and will oftentimes end up in a sibling arguement. It would be much easier for me to just do the chore myself. It would be done more effectively and efficiently. But I let them engage in these tasks among thousands others. Why?

sometimes you’ve gotta eat donuts after bedtime. #Disciple

Because I love them. And I see who they will become. My kids aren’t going to be any help around the house when they grow up, and won’t be productive people as adults, if I don’t give them opportunities like this. If I always treat them like kids, they’ll always act like kids.

As a parent, I’m not raising children. I’m raising adults. In other words, I keep their end in mind.

Does this sometimes burn me? Yep. Sometimes, things break. Sometimes, it takes so long that I don’t get done what I needed to for the day. Sometimes, the house isn’t fully clean by the time people come over. Sometimes, the the project we were working on ends up in a couple of extra trips to the hardware store.

I’m praying that the work I’m putting in now will pay dividends as they grow up.

Just like discipleship

When you disciple someone, you see who they will become, not simply who they are now. And you help them take steps towards who they can become.

dis·ci·ple (verb) , /dəˈsīpəl/ – to invest yourself in someone else to help them become all God created them to be.

If you want to help someone grow spiritually, you’ve got to give them responsibility beyond what they’ve “earned.” To challenge someone means that you push them beyond what they’re comfortable with. You give them opportunities to grow, not opportunities to stay exactly where they are. In the gym, if you lift the exact same weights every day, you won’t get much stronger. But if you lift heavier weights, your muscles grow.

“Love…hopes all things” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:7

I’m so thankful that people have done this for me. That’s what’s helped me grow up. If I were only given rookie level opportunities when I was a rookie in ministry, I would’ve stagnated as a rookie. But I was given responsibility and authority beyond my level, and was given the chance to grow up.

Sometimes, it “worked,” and I succeeded. Many times, it didn’t, and I fell flat on my face. I found myself running tucked tail back to my boss (or mentor) saying, “HELP ME!” (and to be honest, I’ve grown more through my failures than my successes) Other people could’ve done those tasks much better than I: quicker, more effectively, with better results and with less mess. But they wanted to see me grow more than they wanted a task to be completed.

And isn’t that the zone where significant growth happens, in an environment where risk is taken, but failure is safe and protected?

Could taking a risk on people burn you? Yep. Both in the now and in the future. Maybe you’ll be criticized for what they did. Maybe you’ll be criticized for giving them responsibility too early. Maybe you’ll be criticized for spending time with THEM. (if Jesus was, so will you)

But that’s what their faith needs to grow. Muscles don’t get stronger unless you use them. You see who the one you’re discipling will be, and you’re constantly pointing and repointing them that way.

SMALL GROUP PASTORS: Don’t expect a new group leader to act like a veteran. But don’t ever expect them to become a veteran if you don’t give them the chance.

Jesus chose people that “the church” had rejected. People that had been passed over. It was THOSE men that Jesus chose AND DEVELOPED. He spent time with these guys, so much so that others criticized him for it.

The Church needs you to disciple. We need you to pour yourself into others, and give them opportunities that they haven’t earned. We need you to replicate yourself, growing people in their faith. Not so that they become clones of you, but so that they ultimately become fully formed followers of Jesus.

When was the last time you gave someone an opportunity they hadn’t earned?


 

5 truths to remember when you move

My family and I have transitioned more times than we would have liked. Each move has been difficult for one reason or another. And each has brought an abundance of joy for one reason or another. We’ve moved

  • from home
  • from a church we loved
  • from a state we loved
  • from a beach we loved
  • to a different city
  • to a different state
  • from the South to the West
  • with kids
  • without kids
  • with help from a moving company
  • with just our own backs

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In our 13 years of marriage, my wife and I have moved 8 times. The WHY (and how to know we were ready to move) is another post for another day. But we’ve learned a few things about making a transition. It doesn’t mean we’re experts by any means. But maybe what we’ve learned can help you if you have a move coming up.

First of all, I’m going to presume God’s in it. Moving is difficult enough. Don’t go anywhere unless you’ve wrestled that one to the ground.

So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the LORD to stay in the land of Judah. – Jeremiah 43:4

 

“The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.'” – Deuteronomy 1:6

But if you’ve already made a move (or at least made up your mind that it’s time), here are 5 things you must remember if you want to land well. And I know you do. You don’t want to burn out yourself or others. You don’t want to be in your role for a couple of months and hate it.

You know there’s more that goes in to a move besides your job, right? That is typically what will move you, but not what will sustain you. That’s the part of the iceberg you see, not the 90% that’s below the water.

5 truths about moving

Remember: unpacking every box right away isn’t the most important thing.

Yes, you want to feel settled. Yes, you want your home to be less cluttered. Yes, you want to find that pan  you just KNOW you packed in the box with the rest of the pans but it’s not there. But believe me when I say that unpacking everything right away isn’t of utmost importance. You’ll have plenty of time to settle in. Plenty of time to hang those pictures. Just breathe. Unpack a couple of boxes every day. You’ll get there. But putting pressure on yourself to do it all in the first week is a recipe for a quick burnout…and a lot of counseling sessions down the road.

Remember: do the thing you love, that brings you joy and life.

For my wife and me, we love CrossFit. Are there “more important things” than finding the gym where we can work out? Sure. Can we just work out at home and do our own thing for a while? Sure. Do we HAVE to quickly find the CrossFit box where we want to work out? I’d actually say, “Yes.” For us, we CrossFit every day. It’s our physical outlet, and the way we push ourselves physically and mentally every day. It’s our community. They’re our people. It’s our daily release. I’m not sure what yours is. Maybe it’s coffee. Maybe it’s basketball. Maybe it’s a book club. Maybe it’s bunco. Find that *thing* that brings you life, and that gives you a semblance of routine, and do that QUICKLY.

Remember: integrate yourself…don’t wait for others to do it.

Yes, you’re the new girl. And everyone wants to get to know you. But don’t wait for them to do it. Introduce yourself first. Walk the halls. Invite yourself to coffee. Be genuinely curious about people, what they love, and how long they’ve been doing what you’re doing. Don’t put the burden of responsibility on everyone else. Take some initiative.

Remember: you’ve got to keep relationships alive.

You’re the one that left, after all. Text, call, FaceTime, send notes, send gifts. Don’t expect that everyone is pining for you. If you want to maintain friendship, that’s on you. And you need it! There are a handful of relationships that will span the moves and the years. Hang on to those and fight for them.

Remember: give yourself grace.

Did you know that it takes somewhere between 2-3 years to feel settled? If you feel a bit uneasy and out of sorts in the first few months, know you’re normal. In some of our moves, we felt like we’ve moved to a different country. Yes, we spoke the same language…but besides that, EVERYTHING felt weird. Every 6 months felt like a new window was opened, that let a little more light in. As relationships formed and routines were carved out, a new state will begin to feel like home. But it takes time! So give yourself grace to feel sad. To feel lonely. And to feel like a fish out of water.

Have you ever made a transition? Anything you’d add?


 

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my kids

As a family, we spend a lot of time together. It’s a value for us, honestly. Some people would say quality time is most important, but we say that quality time is only found when you spend quantity time together.
And because we spend such a vast amount of time together, we experience a lot of everything: lots of laughs, tears, and joy. Lots of light moments and plenty of teachable ones. Moments of quiet and long stretches of seemingly meaningless noise from the back seat. And while “learning” mostly flows one direction (my wife and I are always looking for opportunities to teach our children truth), the waters flow the other direction from time to time, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned recently from my kids.

5 leadership truths I’ve learned from my children

1. Don’t root your identity in what people think

My daughter is a wild child. She vacillates between high highs and low lows, and everything in between…all in the span of 5 minutes. But one thing is certain: she isn’t affected by what you think of her. If you think she’s funny, great. If you don’t, great. If you agree with what she’s doing, great. If not, great. And while some of that behavior we as parents are working on, there’s something beautiful about not being swayed by the shifting thoughts of others.

think she cares what you think? Nope.

think she cares what you think? Nope.

The more you care about others’ opinion of you, the more you find yourself chained by them. What do you see on this spaghetti-smeared face? Pure joy.
Confession: sometimes I care too much what other will think.
Truth: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25

2. Have fun

My son just loves to have fun. Where ever he is, whatever he’s doing, he’s looking to enjoy life, and pull others in to his vortex. Seriously, whether he’s at school, church, or in the front yard, he’s constantly gathering people together to play, laugh, and enjoy life.

Check out the one kid on the left that's dabbing. The. One. Kid.

Check out the one kid on the left that’s dabbing. The. One. Kid.

 

Confession: Sometimes I get lost in tasks.
Truth: “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes 8:15

3. Take risks

My kids take risks. All of the time. Some   Many of them are dumb. But that never slows them down from taking another risk that might end in them falling flat on their faces. Maybe we could learn something from them. Maybe we play it too safe, under the guise of “I might look foolish” or “I might not succeed.”
Confession: Sometimes I lean towards comfort.
Truth: Where there is no risk, there is no faith.

4. Love quickly

Both of my children are quick to love and trust others. I’ve found that the older I get, the more I’m tempted to be slow to trust. They have a short memory, while mine is a little longer. As I’ve seen my trust of others broken, it makes me a little hesitant. I’m learning from my kids that relational risks are worth the potential downside.
Confession: Sometimes I struggle to trust after it’s been broken.
Truth: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus, John 13:35

5. Tell people what to do all of the time

Oh, wait…that’s just my daughter. And I’m not applying that one. 🙂

 
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