Friday, September 30, 2016

LESSON 27 - FUN

I've spent the entire month of September blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it has been rocket science -- just tips that have served me well these past three decades.  Today is the last entry.

Lesson #27 - Have fun.

Don't take everything so seriously.

Relax about stuff.

Live each day to the fullest.

Be thankful for what you've been given.

Enjoy life.  You only get this one.

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

LESSON 26 - SHORTCOMINGS

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #26 - Be honest with your own shortcomings.

Decades ago people thought it unwise or wrong as a leader to say you had problems or faults.

The generation that is on us today knows something the church largely denied for decades.  Church leaders aren't in their positions because they're absent of sin, temptations, desires or failures.  They've seen too many scandals in the church to believe that anymore.

They aren't looking for perfection (thank goodness). They're looking for open and honest conversation about personal struggles.  They're looking for genuineness, realness, a willingness to admit and confess shortcomings and then tell how the faithfulness and work of God has shown up in those areas.

Sure, there's wisdom with all of this.  There's no virtue in heaving out all your Tuesday sins to the world.  Nobody wants to hear that and that isn't what I'm talking about.

It's the honest, vulnerable unravelling of our frailties, flaws and limitations and our expressed need for the grace of God.  People don't love you less when you do that.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

LESSON 25 - OUT




During September I'm blogging every day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #25 - What's in you comes out of you.

It's so easy to blame someone else for your responses.

'She makes me so mad.'

'I wouldn't have said that if he wouldn't have . . . '

'The only reason I act like that is because of what she does.'

No.

What just happened is that person revealed what was already in you.  They didn't put it there or drag it out -- it was already living under your skin.

I know that's hard to hear.

But you've never made a choice in your life that wasn't precisely what you wanted to do at that moment.  Every action - every reaction - every decision - you've ever made has been, at the moment you made it, exactly what you wanted to do.

It was the lesser of two evils.
It was the better of two goods.
It was the right choice for the occasion in your mind and heart.

Always.

You may have thought better of it five minutes after, but at that moment it was just what you wanted to do.

This is why Jesus said: 'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'  
It's why Paul repeated it:  'Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.'  Evidently your mind has a spirit - the way it does things - the things it thinks about - the ways it prefers.

It is that spirit that you and I act out of every day.  It isn't because someone made you respond the way you did.

It was already in you.

So be on guard.  Because what's in you comes out of you.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

LESSON 24 - FLOOR

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #24 - Leave something on the floor.

You're gonna love this one.

It's been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn over the years.  Mostly because I'm pretty sure I'm brilliant.  I'm also the only one who's 'pretty sure' about that.

This is great instruction for your preaching -- for conversation -- for email and texting -- for advice giving and counsel -- for communicating with a friend or a spouse -- you name it.

You have all this amazing, not to mention cool insight you want to pass on to everyone who obviously knows much less than you.  It all really needs to be said - preached - shared - measured out - spewed - vomited.

Yeah, you probably need to learn to leave 90% of that on the floor.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

LESSON 23 - CARDS

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #23 - Sometimes you lay your cards down last.

There are a lot of people on our team who have better ideas than I do.  I very often give them the opportunity to share their input before I share mine.

If you always lead with your own ideas, you risk choking off the ideas of others on your team.

Several years back our team worked thru a two-year process of re-imagining our mission, church purposes, core values and ministry model.  We did it together, all hunkered around a table for months and months presenting, debating, arguing, making up, going at it again -- and ultimately coming out with a vision that is carrying us forward years beyond.

Respectfully, I've watched other leaders with their group at team tables leading so far out front the team didn't see a reason to give input.  Their creative ideas and God-thoughts were shut down.

It doesn't advance the organization or the Gospel.

Leaders are visionaries.  But when they walk into a room and spill the whole plan with no feedback or hope of real involvement from the rest of their usually very smart team, the team realizes their input is unnecessary or unwanted.

Sometimes when you save your cards till the end you're able to glean some extremely critical input that otherwise you would have missed.  And now and then, you don't have to play your cards at all.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

LESSON 22 - THINK

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.


Lesson #22 - You know less than you think.

I'm not talking about you; I mean me.  I'm sure you know all kinds of junk.

When you come into a role, you have loads of ideas.  You're sure they'll work.  Even if the former six leaders tried all those things, you're positive they won't fail when you, the Master of the Universe, attempts them.

I mean, I'm dynamic.  And passionate.  I know how to turn things around.  Things go gold when I touch them.

Umm.  Not even close.

Leading is more about listening and becoming a student than it is being The Teacher.

You know a lot, I'm sure, but you know a lot less than you think.

And be blessed.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

LESSON 21 - QUIT

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #21 - There will be some days you'll want to quit and do something easier.

Nothing is as rewarding as ministry.  Nothing is as frustrating as ministry.  Nothing is as fulfilling as ministry.  Nothing is as draining as ministry.  Nothing brings you as much joy as ministry.  Nothing brings you as much pain as ministry.

Know that you are called.  You'll need that one on days you want to hang it up.

Don't worry about what the church down the street is doing.  Bless them.  Don't compare yourself to someone else.  Bless them.

Just love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength -- and pray as hard as you work on all the other stuff you do.  Commit your way to God and He'll direct you.  The steps of a righteous person are arranged by God.

But nobody ever said it was going to be a cake walk.  (I'm not really sure what a cake walk is, but I'm pretty certain it's easier than doing ministry.)

And be blessed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

LESSON 20 - SOMEBODY

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Nothing about it is rocket science -- they're just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #20 - Don't try to be somebody you aren't.

To my discredit I've tried to do this from time to time - be somebody else.  It was always someone I deeply admired -- their personality -- their approach to ministry -- the way they handle conflict -- their preaching style -- I've tried to be somebody else.

I found I could keep that up -- for about 72 hours.  And the whole time I looked like a complete moron to everybody around me.

Plus, I go home exhausted every night.

Just be you, for heaven's sake.  God likes you the way you are.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

LESSON 19 - MODEL



During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Not rocket science -- just tips that have served me well these past three decades.



Lesson #19 - Model everything.

It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.  That somebody is you if you're the leader -- for your church -- for your family -- for your ministry.

I challenge our own team with this concept.  Model it all, ladies and gentlemen.

Model worship.
Model serving.
Model community.
Model sacrificial giving.
Model prayer.
Model telling people about Jesus.
Model healthy family life.
Model everything.

As they say, 'That's why you get the big bucks.'

And be blessed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

LESSON 18 - LOVER

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Not rocket science -- just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #18 - Every leader needs a lover.

Just make sure it's your wife (or husband).

I have seen more tragedies than I want to admit over the past 30 years of people who started well and finished poorly in this area.

Pray to have eyes only for your wife/husband.

Do date nights.
Take her to the spa.
Have regular vacations.  Don't 'work hard' and then 'vacation hard.'  That's a terrible rhythm of life.
Write spontaneous notes.

You get the idea.  You did it when you were dating, so I know you know how to do it.  Just keep on doing it.

The grass isn't greener on the other side; it's greenest wherever you water it.

And be blessed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

LESSON 17 - NOTHING



During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Not rocket science -- just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #18 - Nothing is as good as it seems; nothing is as bad as it seems.

This one has taken me awhile - I'm still learning through it - but when it's all going wrong, it isn't going as wrong as you think, so don't beat yourself up over it.  Relax.  There's always tomorrow.  

And when it's going so great that you're ready to bronze yourself in the lobby, step back - it isn't going THAT great.  Really.  Deflate your head.  Honestly, we should regularly and consistently do an ego-mania self-check.

But either way, it has less to do with you than you think.

When your team succeeds, give them the credit.  When they fail, take some blame.  It just works.  Don't over-think that.  It just works.

And be blessed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

LESSON 16 - IMPRESSION

During September I'm blogging each day about one thing I've learned from 35 years of doing ministry.  Not rocket science -- just tips that have served me well these past three decades.

Lesson #16 - You never get a second chance at a first impression.

I've said to our team on a number of occasions - and I'll say it here and merely leave it at this - 'We cannot afford to have a bad day.'

And be blessed.