Henri Nouwen, towards the end of his life, articulated a core struggle for every leader. He described the two different voices that come to each of us. One voice constantly pushes us to succeed and achieve, and comes from below. It was the voice he spent most of his life heeding. It led him to make decisions and plans without God. He taught at prestigious Ivy League universities. He wrote a book a year. He kept an active speaking and ministry schedule. But his spiritual life was suffocating. He was praying poorly and living isolated from people. The other invites us to listen to God’s voice. This voice reassures us we are loved without conditions or performance. We have nothing to prove. Our primary goal is to recognize the Lord’s voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet. Only in the last ten years of his life, Nouwen said, did he. Read more.
It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas, especially if you are a pastor or leader. These are at least five mistakes that we often make: We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink because we have so much to do. We become perfectionistic. We forget that to be human is to make mistakes. Eugene Peterson says it well: “Perfectionism is a perversion of the Christian way. To impose it on either oneself or another…is decidedly not the way of Jesus.” We do more than God asks. When we do more than God asks, we open the door for all kinds of disorder and chaos. We engage in faulty thinking. Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it is what you know that isn’t so.” We forget our greatest gift is who. Read more.
Instead of highlighting The Fastest Growing Churches, I recommend we highlight The Slowest Churches, i.e. those that help us most to slow down and pay attention to God, ourselves, and others. When our churches continually remind our people that “only one thing is needful,” we strategically position them to be a gift to the world (Luke 10:42). Here are 5 reasons why I believe this is true: Going slow makes possible… The doing of God’s best plans. I love the story, told in Wayne Mueller’s Sabbath, of a USA international agency in the 1990’s and their frenzied plan to address needs of a famine in equatorial Africa. In failing to be quiet, listen to the people, and study the soil, they developed a short-term solution that actually worsened the problem in the long term. We too are dangerous when we move at high speed. The receiving of Scripture in our hearts. According to Jesus,. Read more.
I love our evangelical stream in Christian history and would not be here writing or leading without it. Yet our emphasis on activity, now joined by the speed of change around us, has resulted in Christ-followers and churches without much depth. We need to learn about slowing down for loving union with Christ in a way that is powerful enough to transform us – and the people we serve. This requires we travel into different territory outside our tradition as evangelicals/Protestants and learn from church history and other Christians very different than ourselves. Let me invite you to download this free e-book on why church history matters for a discipleship that deeply changes lives in our churches today. It represents the fruit of over twenty years of study and thought. And I pray that the powerful truths on these pages will profoundly change your life and leadership as they have changed mine. Warmly, Pete. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
This blog is an update from last year called Summer Spirituality. I re-wrote it because I believe this theme needs to be revisited each year by each of us, starting with me. The Bible teaches there is a time and a season for “everything under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). God has built this into the very fabric of nature’s seasons as we observe the cycle of death and newness every winter and summer. Our churches experience seasons. And so do we. These seasons are limits given to us by God. They are gifts from His hand meant to keep us grounded and humble. I have violated God’s seasons in my leadership more times than I want to remember. But treating our vacations, and summers, as mini-Sabbaticals can be powerful if we build this into our lives. The way we do this can be summarized in three words. Receive. Summers are a time to do less. Read more.