Success is first and foremost doing what God has asked us to do, doing it his way, and in his timing. Years ago, when I was first wrestling with redefining success, I imagined what it might be like to come before God’s throne at the end of my earthly life and say, “Here, God, is what I have done for you. New Life now has 10,000 people.” Then he would respond, “Pete, I love you, but that was not what I gave you to do. That task was for a pastor in another part of New York.” Have you ever considered that your ministry, organization, or team may be growing and yet actually failing? Think with me for a moment about some of God’s faithful and, hence, most successful leaders: Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). Yet, if we were to create. Read more.
Slowing down can be terrifying because doing nothing productive leaves us feeling vulnerable, emotional exposed and naked. Overworking hides these feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness, not just from others but also from ourselves. As long as we keep busy, we can outrun that internal voice that says things like: I am never good enough. I am never safe enough. I am never perfect enough. I am never extraordinary enough. I am never successful enough. Do you recognize that voice? Far too many of us use workaholism to run from these shaming messages. I count myself among them, though I would consider myself more of a recovering workaholic at this point. When meeting someone for the first time we usually ask, “What do you do?” We ask because, in our time and culture, identity is defined in large part by occupation or job title. It is how we typically define ourselves. Read more.
On Good Friday we remember that at the cross Jesus wipes away our sins, becoming a global magnet that draws the whole world to Himself. Good Friday also reminds me that embracing endings (deaths) and new beginnings (resurrections) is the pattern of life for every Christian. Nothing new takes place without an ending. A real ending—a final death—often feels like disintegration, falling apart, a coming undone. It feels that way because that is what death is. It is an ending that requires walking through a completely dark tunnel, not knowing when or if any light will come again. If we embrace these losses for the severe mercies they are, God does a profound work in us and through us in ways that are similar to what the apostle Paul describes as “death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:12). As a person who tends to resist. Read more.
We make plans and decisions every day as leaders. Three great dangers, however, often torpedo our best intentions and efforts: We Define Success Too Narrowly In churches, we tend to define success by such things as attendance, finances (giving, meeting or exceeding budget, etc.), decisions for Christ, baptisms, numbers participating in small groups or other ministry programs, etc. If we work for a non-profit or in the marketplace, we might measure increased market share, program expansion, or numbers of people served. When the numbers are up, we’re successful; when the numbers are down, we’re not. Numbers can be valid as a measure of fruitfulness for God, but using numbers to define success is not without its dangers. The problem is when the portion of our time and energy devoted to thinking about external issues far exceeds the amount of time and energy we devote to internal measures of transformation such as the depth of. Read more.
In our current hurried, multi-tasking culture, an increasingly large numbers of Christ-followers are not spending time to cultivate their personal relationship with Jesus. They are Christians but are stuck, living on a spiritual auto-pilot. I am teaching the EHS Course at New Life this Fall to about 130 people. It has been an eye-opening experience for me to dig deeply into people’s spiritual practices around spending time with God, and calling them to an intentional rhythm with God integrating silence and the Daily Office (through the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day book). Not surprisingly, silence is the greatest challenge for most people along with the cultivation of a rhythm of stopping to be with God. My stopping to be with God four times a day is indispensable for my life. (In a future blog I will describe my rhythms). Let me invite you to watch this 3-4 minute introduction on the Daily Office and. Read more.
Last week at our two-day EHS Consultant Training, Wendy Seidman shared Bloom’s taxonomy of how people learn to help us understand why it takes so long for individuals and church/ministry cultures to “get” EHS. The following is her adaptation of Bloom’s classic work on the process people need to move through to really “get” something like EHS: 1- Aware. People hear about EHS for the first time (e.g. Sabbath, slowing down, past’s impact on the present, grieving, learning to feel). 2- Ponder. People think about it, trying to understand or sort through issues as they gather more information. At this point they don’t have a clear inclination for or against it. (e.g. They continue reading, listen to messages, go through the EHS Course, learn a few EHS Skills, talk about Sabbath with others). 3- Value. People think it’s important, find value in it, and commit to it, saying, “I really believe in this EHS. Read more.