Don't Force It
I often find it hilarious when someone in ministry decides its their responsibility to bash another leader's calling. Usually it's a leader who is small in vision and large in pride. God couldn't possibly be using different people with different talents and experiences to share his solitary Truth.
Do I have opinions about what can and should work in one place or another? Yes. Has the God of the universe commanded me to tear down what another person says the Holy Spirit told them to do? Not a chance.
I also find it hilarious that we judge on a scale unknown to God. We basically throw people in the fire and judge them in the first year or two. We speak about them. We tell them negative things. We ask them to consider quitting or moving on to other areas of life where they can be 'successful'. It is almost laugh-out-loud funny to me because I wonder how many people in scripture would have been advised to quit in less time than it takes to pay off a used car.
So that whole Noah thing... yeah... what a dope. He should have quit building that stupid "boat". That John the Baptist dude... c'mon... his career wasn't exactly going anywhere. I wouldn't have wanted that dude to bring his smell into my living room. Gideon... would he even have been invited to the 'cool blogger' table?
Sometimes the truth is that we hit it out of the park. We get up before God's people and proclaim his name. The Holy Spirit sweeps the room. People come to know Christ. People repent and are baptized.
Leaders weep for the lost.
And then there are other times. The times we scoff or offer trite phrases of condolence instead of inspiring proclamation of scripture. We tear people down. We refuse to see the good and the hope. We're all guilty of it. It may look different in your case but I'm positive you know what I mean.
At the end of the day what separates us in those times we feel as though we just hit a game winning home-run from the days when we are less than biblical? Pride.
When we are feeling that feeling when our heartbeat seems to beat at the same rhythm of God's heartbeat it is most often the time when we've abandoned the manufactured facade of our religion and humbled ourselves long enough to allow God to move in and take over.
My encouragement? Get with God and then get out of the way. Don't manufacture anything. Don't push the next thing through. Don't Force It. Relax. In this drama how about you play you and let God play the role of God. Easy huh? No it's tough.
Don't play God and "prophetically" tell someone what God is doing if you haven't honestly gone to God on that person's behalf. Quit accepting your knee jerk reaction as the equivalent of the Holy Spirit.
Just get with God and get out of the way. When we force it we tend to take on far too much of the Holy Spirit's role. I don't know about you but its never healthy if the world expects me to play the part of God. In reaching the lost be intentional and be incarnational but also remember that we're inconsequential at the end of the day. You may water, you may sow or you may reap. At the end of the day the Holy Spirit gets the credit and you get to fall on your face weeping that you had anything at all to do with any of it because none of us deserve it.
Let's collectively take a deep breath. Go ahead. Do it. Good. Now doesn't that feel better? Don't force it today.
Where have you been trying to 'force' it? Repent. Move forward in grace and each time you want to run things just stop and say "Father, how can I act in this moment that would get me out of the way and let you do what you do?"
Remember not to manufacture God when He's the one who manufactured you.
Profound Thoughts from TW
God is so stinkin' big and we're so stinkin' small.
One Hour and a Legal Pad
Let me begin by saying that I was very impressed by the speakers at WiBo.
The vibe was demonstratively unique from the opening session to the final goodbye. I think part of that was that most conferences take you to the church of a 'star' church. There is naturally a built-in feeling that you're going to learn from one main guy and a few of his friends. WiBo was unique in part because the dude who dreamed this up basically gave announcements and little more. Ben's personality came through in the event itself.
We were all there together. There was no church building to gawk over and Portable Church provided the gear. Church planters didn't walk around 4 million buildings trying to figure out how to rig their Handycam on a broom handle to create a boom crane. My point? We as the church were the recipient of messages from God about God. Asking people to give their one idea brought us to the heart of the issue for many of these leaders and I LOVED IT.
So I got to thinking. Based on my observations of the speakers from WiBo.
If I were given 1 hour in the office of each of these leaders, what would I ask before I shut up and filled my legal pad?
Darrin Patrick - Lead pastor of the Journey in St. Louis, MO, and vice president of the Acts 29 Network
I'd ask Darrin to tell me all he can about is spiritual growth. What books he reads, who/how he studies, etc. I love the depth of understanding that tends to accompany A29 guys. At WiBo, Darrin did an excellent job of bringing the high theological heat. I ate it up. I could sit under his teaching every week.
Darrin is also built like a UFC fighter so I'd probably see if we could have our talk at the gym so I could pray for muscles by osmosis. Somehow I think both the learning and bodybuilding come the same way... lots of exercise.
Perry Noble - Senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC
Perry is a dude I'd like to talk to about his growth as a Pastor. He's a guy who I have to believe has matured like crazy. He's seen his life change radically in the last 8 years. From the birth of a mega-church to a near death experience to the birth of his daughter... he's been through a lot. I'd love to hear him talk about what its been like maturing. Everyone talks about Perry for his over-the-top style and although he says his SAT scores were low I see a guy who's intellect has to be top-notched to be where he is.
I met him in person for the first time at WiBo but every friend I have who has been around Perry says the same thing... that he's a humble dude who goes out of his way to help encourage Pastors.
John Burke - Senior pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin, TX, founder of ELI, and author of No Perfect People Allowed
John is one of the guys I knew just a little about but the one I may have the most in common with at the end of the day. I'd ask John to talk to me about how he has handled leading a church of addicts and executives (although sometimes they are the same people) in the same service. John strikes me as a genuine dude with a love for humanity. I talked to him briefly and encouraged him for what he's done with ELI. They are the group I used a few weeks ago to run some profile stuff and I loved the knowledge I picked up from the process.
At the end of the conference when I was talking with John he had mentioned that he was getting hungry. I have no clue if he had some friends waiting or not but I wondered to myself if he was like the pretty girl that didn't get asked out on a date because the guys all figured she was taken. I hope he had friends waiting at a restaurant because I would have gladly bought him supper.
Ed Stetzer - Director of research for Lifeway Christian Resources and a partner in NewChurches.com
Ed Stetzer is a guy for whom I'd certainly have some questions. Ed gets most of his credit for the work he does with Lifeway Research but he's also an active Pastor and church planter. He gets very little ink for what he does in the trenches but I get the sense that he sees all of the numbers as souls.
What I've come to appreciate about Ed is that he's bringing the facts to the table. What he is saying isn't mind-blowing to most pastors who have a brain but he is a man who is taking the time to put meat on the bones. Instead of allowing discussions to turn generational or emotional, Ed has done a great job of keeping the discussion factual and speaking some truths that some have a hard time accepting. I have enjoyed his voice in our convention (SBC) and hope more people listen to him.
In light of what happened the other day with Steven Curtis Chapman's family I thought Ed's talk may be the most lasting if Pastors would take time to watch it over and over. He helped people see that you can't write away everything with a trite phrase. Doubt is real and doubt leads to seeking answers and Jesus said that if we seek we will find. His talk was very genuine. It was from the heart of a Pastor, not statistician.
Mark Dever - Senior pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and founder of 9Marks Ministries.
Pastor Mark Dever is another guy I'd approach with some theological discussion. I'd ask him about how he trains and handles his congregation. Ben sat in with him for a weekender not long ago and it sounded like it was pretty intense. I'm going to read some stuff I got from his table but I'm certain there is a lot I could learn from Dr. Dever.
Dever's talk was closer to that of a college lecture. It's not surprising in light of the fact that he shared his view that preaching should effectively be done in the form of a monologue. On Twitter during his session I saw several people saying that the couldn't understand him and that he was too smart. I wasn't one of those people. I loved his logical thought pattern and his series of propositions. It's not personally what I'd do but then again I am not him.
Dever basically argues that the local church and how she operates is an effective evangelistic tool if it is filled with true disciples of Jesus. I'd ask him more about that. I may have new questions after I read the two books I picked up from the Nine-Marks table.
Mark Batterson - Lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC, and author of In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and the forthcoming The Wild Goose Chase
The two main questions I have for Mark Batterson are 1.) How can he be so kind while being so brilliant because most people aren't bright and can get agitating. And 2.) How does he attract and motivate so many amazing teammates.
If you don't know about Mark's team at NCC, they are all brilliant. I could not help but notice at the Buzz Conference a few years ago that Mark has assembled a staff with quite possibly the highest average IQ score of any non-profit organization in the country.
After Buzz a few years back Mark was kind enough to allow me to sit in on a staff meeting. He took time to pray for us and allow me to participate in the conversation. I would have been honored to have been asked to shut up and sit in the corner :)
Mark busted vintage Batterson when he used a few minutes to map out the human brain followed by the solar system only to end up with a moving video of people being baptized. He combines intellect and emotion better than any speaker I know.
Tim Stevens - Executive pastor of Granger Community Church in Indiana
If I had time with Tim I would likely ask him about being an amazing second-man.
In all of these great churches there is a secret. The #2 guy/gal is usually the brains and brawn of the organization. Based on my experience with Liberty University and Thomas Road I see Tim Stevens as somewhat of an Elmer Townes-type. When Dr. Falwell wanted to start Liberty University he called on Townes to lead it. Townes (and a few others) helped implement and execute the vision God gave to Dr. Falwell for both the university and the church. I am awed when I see extremely talented people find their sweet spot as a support to another leader. I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for people who don't mind knocking it out of the park from behind the scenes.
Because I believe every great leader needs to first be a great follower, I'd truly enjoy soaking up whatever insight Tim Stevens has to say on that subject.
Vince Antonucci - Lead pastor of Forefront Church in Virginia Beach, VA
Since he's local, I have already spent time with Vince but I look forward to more. We started a few years ago without a team and without money. I didn't know Vince from anyone but he was kind enough to sit down with me and help me think through some things. Vince also tries to network - as much as he's able - with other pastors in the area. I regret that we all haven't done a better job locally of doing this effectively but it's not because he and Forefront haven't tried.
I'm actually processing some pretty big decisions right now so the questions I have for Vince will probably be a lot less theoretical and more 'now'. Hopefully we'll set something up soon. I went to Forefront this week and was blown away with how great of a job they are doing to reach their audience. Vine is an amazing communicator and from my experience always been a great guy to talk with personally.
So there you have it... some of the things I'd ask if I had an hour with each of these guys.
What would YOU ask?
A Day at the Park
This is how we roll when the weather is beautiful. (click to enlarge)
Initial WiBo Thoughts
I just got home so I figured I'd drop some of my initial thoughts. I say initial because I assume in later posts I'll be touching on various things I picked up from WiBo.
First and foremost I have to commend my friend Ben Arment on an amazing job. Ben has been a great friend in ministry since I considered this whole church-planting thing and yesterday I felt as proud for him as I could for anyone. I'm honored to know him and I'm glad he's on the Catalyst team. God has blessed him with an amazing family and blessed the church of our generation to have Ben and guys like him. Great job Ben. I heard so many positive comments about the conference. I think for most of us who have attended a conference or dozen... this one stood out for its quality but also its punch. Get in, get to the point, get out. A very unique and much needed forum.
The speakers were tight. I will go over my notes and dedicate more time to them later as I apply their teaching to my life but I have a general impression take-away and that is that although WiBo was about 8 different people sharing their 'one compelling idea' I felt like God used that platform to give us a theme that wasn't printed in any bulletin or website. In my opinion God's theme for the day was something like this:
Jesus is THE way to heaven. Go tell the world. I'm done hearing excuses.
Tragic news today for SCC. His family lost their 5 year old daughter in an unfortunate accident. Let us all lift them up in prayer.
The details found here.
Whiteboard hasn't started but I've had a great time already. Having the opportunity to connect with Tadd Grandstaff and Jeff Kapusta has been great. A friend from Chesapeake, Dave Farwell met up with me earlier in the night so the four of us hung out tonight.
We took some time to hit up the Reston Town Center area and stopped in to visit with the various crews who are setting up for the conference tomorrow. We found Ben Arment calm and collected and teams of people systematically making the place pop. I love the atmosphere of the facility Ben chose for Whiteboard. It is large enough to accommodate everyone but Reston itself and the facility in particular give you a feeling of a much more intimate setting.
Tomorrow (actually today...its 1am) will be a great day. I'm certain. I'm usually pretty lax about conferences but I'm pretty amped for this one. The timing is perfect for me right now for many reasons and the content very fresh. I love ideas and challenging, thought provoking discussion. I have a feeling tomorrow will provide both. Additionally, I have been cheering for Ben throughout this entire process and to see what God has done through his leadership is pretty inspiring. I'm so excited to see Ben move over to the Catalyst team and I'm very proud for him and for what he's done here.
If you're reading this and you're attending WiBo, I look forward to meeting/seeing you. If you aren't at the conference do not forget to check it all about at ConferenceChannel.org. Thank me later.
Hotwire and Holiday Inn
So I rolled the dice for the first time ever by using Hotwire.com to book my hotel for WiBo. I'm over at the Holiday Inn at the airport (For all of my stalker and paparazzi friends).
I'm looking forward to catching up with a few friends and hopefully meeting some new ones.
If you're up there and want to touch base feel free to hit me up via email or more easily through twitter.com/tallywilgis
For those of you who aren't attending The Whiteboard Sessions ... You must check out ConferenceChannel.org all day Thursday. They are broadcasting a one of a kind conference-online. You will get to see behind the scenes of the conference as it happens, watch interviews of the speakers and read live twitter feeds as it all goes down.
In a few minutes I'm meeting up with @davefarwell and then at some point we'll catch up with @taddgrandstaff and @jeffkaputsa. Should be good.
Paul and Timothy, Dick and Mark
This morning I took some time to watch Dick Foth and Mark Batterson of National Community Church as Mark concluded the series "Potential". Dick Foth has served as a huge mentor in Mark Batterson's life and anyone who's observed NCC for very long knows that Mark takes many opportunities to mentor others. It is powerful to consider the spiritual implications of what God does to pass information and inspiration from one generation to another.
Mark and Dick did an amazing job giving us a keyhole view into their relationship as 'Paul and Timothy'. There is far too much in the message for me to try and create bullet points. The joy is that while there are some principles that stand out it would be a huge disservice to try and dissect what you will see. It's one of those times when you need to experience the whole to understand the parts.
Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Burger King Baptist Church?
In a conversation with a layperson of a church searching for leadership I was given a fantastic quote. This person tried to describe the loss of vision and lack of leadership by illustrating the seemingly endless fancies that now dominate the church.
"We've become Burger King Baptist Church where its 'have it your way' for everyone. If someone wants to do something, they do it."
This is a layperson looking at the situation saying "We need leadership."
Many churches do not really want Pastors or Shepards. They want curators or caretakers. That's well and good except that the bible presents the church as a body with a mission. Poor alignment and a lack of leadership leaves the church vulnerable to becoming 'Burger King Baptist'.
The church shouldn't make the focus 'Have it your way' so much as it should focus on sending the message 'Have it Christ's way'.
Time For Honor
After the wedding I performed for my friends a few weeks ago I experienced a ceremony that I had never taken part of before. The groom is a member of the U.S. Navy. At the reception stood a lone table with a place setting for one. The goblet was turned upside down and meticulous care had been taken to arrange the setting just right. A friend of the groom who is also in the Navy came up and read a powerful charge to those in attendance to remember the men and women who would not celebrate with us for they have not returned home from war. This was a ceremony to remember the POW/MIA. This was a ceremony of HONOR.
The message resonated for me in several ways and I thought it may ring a bell for you.
In my first 'full-time' church staff position out of college I served under a Pastor who frankly was extremely insecure and in many ways revealed himself to be immature. During my tenure I experienced terrible leadership with little guidance and a ton of rebuke which in retrospect was partially deserved and partially borderline abusive. This man felt the way to lead was by making sure he was the biggest fish in a small pond. Like I said, insecurity.
There came a point in my ministry there where I sincerely felt that this experience had wiped me out. I was a shadow of myself and I felt extremely unhealthy. I sat down with a friend at McDonald's one day and asked this question: "What do you do when you work for a man that you can't respect as your Pastor?"
This particular question was asked because I was finished with the verbal abuse, finished with unrealistic expectations, finished with the lack of training and finished with hearing how he talked about church members outside of their presence. I lost respect for this man.
Pastor Steven Furtick's message resonated with me because it appears we had similar experiences and we chose similar paths. Instead of causing a problem or telling others what I thought I chose to honor him as the Pastor. At that moment I didn't know of direct moral failure and the feelings I had did not warrant division within the church. As God led me to a new position I did my best to exit with grace.
I remember the weeks in between knowing I was leaving and actually saying my final goodbye. We moved into a new church building so I was helping design a room I'd hardly use. Just about everything I touched in the last month was something I would share no part in but I felt it was vital to honor the church and the Pastor by giving my best until my final second.
I recall reading a letter to the church thanking them for being the great people they are and encouraging them to continue to honor their Pastor. I thanked the Pastor for allowing me the privilege to serve as a co-laborer with him. Some of my students were very angry and understandably upset. They felt that I was abandoning them and walking out of their lives. I had a few refuse to say goodbye and a few walk out of our youth room during the announcement. It hurt.
Inside I thought "If they only knew why I feel forced to leave." But there was a principle at play for me. I have always seen in scripture the principle of honor. God had not instructed me to be the instrument to tear down another leader's ministry so I remained under God's instruction to honor him and the ministry until my last day.
In our newer churches today I am concerned that we as leaders aren't doing a great job at teaching this principle. I know for me it was one thing I didn't emphasize because I frankly felt uncomfortable trying to teach something that could appear to be self-serving. Looking back I was absolutely wrong. Teaching people the value in honoring and serving and protecting those in leadership are vital spiritual lessons. The reality is that at the end of the day many of those we teach will be leaders themselves.
In college I learned a saying at Thomas Road and Liberty University that has always remained with me: "To be a great leader you must first be a great follower."
Everyone wants a title and everyone wants to lead but very few leaders truly can speak from first being GREAT FOLLOWERS.
Scripture is full of God's anointed positional leadership. God is a God of order and roles. For things to flow smoothly we must have honor for all of those around us and if we are being led by someone we must honor them and have their back. Too often today it is the people who know the leader most who view themselves as God's only method to bring 'accountability'.
While there are certainly times when a person has completely disqualified themselves, I truly believe there are more times when those who know the leader are to be a part of his protection and support. I think back to David dealing with Saul in 1 Samuel. David had the anointing of the LORD but it wasn't yet his time. Instead of attacking he chose not to do so. He honored Saul by holding back.
If you are a leader I encourage you to be a person of honor. Live a life that others believe in. Live a life where you can say as the Apostle Paul said "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." Live a life that can preach "Thus sayeth the LORD." As you do, also teach your church to honor 360 degrees around themselves. Honor God, leaders, family and those who may be in a position that others view as a lower than yourself.
We should all learn and live lives of honor.
I've been intentional about personal evaluation as of late and most especially concerned with what environments and people I need to surround myself with to lead to success. Through my previous working experience I've learned that teamwork is the only way to go and I'm also pretty confident that discovering my sweet spot is one of the most important things I can do as a leader.
This week I sat down and worked through a Church Planter Profile associated with ELI out of Austin, TX. I love taking profile tests and learning more about myself and others. Ben Arment did my Myers Briggs profile a few years ago but I hadn't done too many other all-out tests. ELI certainly changed that. If you're interested in church planting or just want to learn more about your strengths, check out their site.
This is what comes with ELI's Church Planter Profile:
- Golden Personality Profile
- DISC Portrait Predictor
- Spiritual Gifts
- Online 360 Evaluation (Others evaluate you)
In addition, they provide a place for you to input your Strengthsfinder results should you choose to include them in your profile.I thought about sharing all of my results but felt that may be a little like having a public personality colonoscopy. (Blogger's spell check is underlining colonoscopy.)
So go... check it out, learn more about yourself and others. It will be worth it.
If you have taken these tests before I'd love to hear about you.
Family Day at the Opera
Kristy and I have been together for 10 years. We've been married for 7 and in July will have a 3 year old son. Over the last year or two we've become much more sensitive as to how fast time seems to be flying.
One of our desires as parents is to expose our children to a variety of cultural experiences. Today we were able to share in another of those planned experiences. We took our son Caleb to see "Pinocchio" at the Virginia Opera here in Norfolk, VA at the beautiful Harrison Opera House. This was the 4th year of the "Family Day at the Opera" which is a fantastic experience. Last year we took in the Pirates of Penzance in the same fashion. The tickets were inexpensive and the show was designed to be kid-friendly with plenty of excitement, lots of music and a quick 1-hour performance.
After the show we went to brunch at 'The Broken Egg' here in Chesapeake. That's become my spot. Thus far it's been a great day of making memories with the family. We all came home and took a nap so now that we're up Kristy wants to eat some dinner and head out to grab some Cold Stone Ice Cream and Starbucks. I love that woman.
So what are you doing to make memories with your family?
Tornadoes Aren't Fun
When I log on to Weather.com, I really prefer not to see this pop-up.
The stuff causing the tornadoes seems to be sliding south of here. We're not completely out of the path but it isn't had bad outside right now.
My Secret OCD
Don't tell anyone... but I have a secret and I need to confide in someone.
With most things in my life I am very relaxed and I don't mind going with the flow. But I must admit I have some areas that are OCD.
So what is one of my OCD areas you ask?
Alignment on my coffee cup.
I can't explain where it started or what it is about me that demands this but I always have to make sure the logo on the Starbucks cup aligns with the logo on the sleeve. Additionally, I have to position the lip of the cup so that I drink in alignment with the logos below.
I'm tellin' ya it's crazy. However, here's what I know from experience. Most people aren't insane like me but once I tell them about this they end up having the same compulsion.
Do you have any weird OCD issues?
I'm a Tebow Fan
To me, this is what the Gospel is all about. Taking the life changing message of Jesus Christ and sharing it to transform lives. You do not have to have a title, degree or theological 'attaboy in order to share the love of Christ.
I heard that Tim Tebow was a Christian who is active in sharing his faith... this story highlights that fact. Head over to ESPN and check it out.
"Everybody is telling me I've made it," Tebow told the inmates. "They tell me, 'Tim, you have success and you've made it.' I've won the Heisman Trophy, so I've got it made, right? One day, people are going to forget about me. One day, people are going to forget about the Heisman Trophy, the jump pass and the national championship. One day, this [championship] ring is going to rust. There are only four things that are going to last forever: God, his word, people and rewards."
Going to the (Ice)Chapel
Tomorrow I fly out to the wonderful metropolis of Hibbing, MN (go ahead and look it up) which is about 2 hours from Canada. I'm going there to perform a wedding for a great couple in our church. I'm honestly pumped. They are a fantastic couple and one of the funniest I've ever met.
I've been joking with Travis and Anna (the couple) about how out of place I'm going to be. Here is a summary of what I know so far:
- Ice Fishing is a part of life there. They bring sheds out over iced-over lakes and drill holes in the ice. I was told that if a person falls in they will shoot a spear at you to save your life. So basically you lose a leg but at least they can pull you out.
- Hibbing is home to the world's largest Open Pit Iron Ore Mine.
- The whole town was actually physically moved once because there was Iron Ore found to be under the city. In order to get the iron, they decided to move the entire town.
- Hibbing is home to the Greyhound Bus Museum.
In case that's not enough apparently there is also a Bob Dylan museum!
I hope I can get it all in before my flight back home!
Have any of my wonderful blog readers ever been to Hibbing, MN?