Following Jesus is not first doing things for Jesus; it is first listening to him speak, and then doing what he says. Peter, James and John were the cream of Jesus’ leadership team. Yet when Jesus was transfigured before them, Peter was unable to resist making plans to maximize this exciting new open door. Fortunately, a voice from heaven shut him up, commanding him to listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:5)! It is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO him. The word listen or hear is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is: “God, how are you coming to me, what might you want to say?” In this podcast, I give specific examples of how I regularly apply this question to different areas of my life and discernment process. I apply it to: How I. Read more.
Most leaders I meet with are overworked, tired, and weighed down with too much to do in too little time. Almost all are generous, sacrificial, and compassionate. Yet the pressure of ministry demands smothers their ability to listen deeply to God’s voice that speaks to the essence of the problems facing them. I know this too well. It is easy to rush headlong into quick-fix solutions to problems – hoping they dissipate, only to find out that we have now planted the seed of a new problem! What has happened? We have forgotten Sabbath and silence. These are the places from which we hear the quiet wisdom of God if we are to provide creative leadership for what is before us. Let me invite you to consider 3 biblical texts that I mention in this podcast, allowing them to breathe rest into your soul: The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the. Read more.
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.
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.