Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew, knew she was about to be sent to a concentration camp. In A Life Interrupted, she describes how she knew she could only take with her one small backpack to sustain her as she entered hell. In her mind, she pondered and planned, mentally packed and unpacked that small bag, before finally deciding on a Bible, a volume of favorite poems by Rilke, a bottle of aspirin, an extra sweater, and a chocolate bar. Etty struggled to define what was valuable to her, and what would sustain her on her journey. A stripping-down, a letting-go was inevitable as transport to the death camp came closer. If we are going to have an interior life, out of which we lead, it demands we limit what is in our knapsack, or backpack. Not knowing how to listen to our interior world puts us, our family, and the people we lead in. Read more.
“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left” Chinese proverb. Geri and I now depart with respect (for our partners The Willow Creek Association New Zealand and Australia, and Eagles Communications in Singapore, along with New Life Fellowship Church out of which EHS flows), with affection (for the many wonderful people we have met), and with gratitude (for the people who worked hard to serve EHS in this part of the world). I think we are finally getting it that EHS offers a powerful message of deep, beneath-the-surface spiritual formation that resonates around the world, and not simply in New York City. At the same time, a consistent thread weaved itself through this trip – our doing must flow from our being. In other words, live the message we preach, giving out of the overflow of a full cup. What does that look like when we are traveling?. Read more.
Four critical factors form the foundation of personal and organizational goal setting. When ignored, we will find ourselves, eventually, anxious and rushing, with too much to do in too little time. These include: 1. God’s First Goal for You. My first goal is to be a contemplative who dwells in God’s presence (See Ps. 27:4 for David’s modeling of this). Establishing these daily, weekly, annual rhythms to be with God comes first. 2. The Interior Movements of the Heart. I listen for the consolations and desolations of the Holy Spirit inside me. Does this initiative give me life or death as I imagine myself going this direction? 3. The Gift of Limits. Rebellion against God is tightly tied to making good plans for God that are not His. (See The Emotionally Healthy Church, chapter 8). For example, since I am called to lead out of a great marriage, every initiative is filtered through its impact on my. Read more.
I spent most of my adult life reading great leadership books. EHS led me on a journey, however, to recognize there were unique issues to church leadership that were rarely discussed. I have identified eight unique leadership challenges, each of which is powerful and far reaching in their implications. Each is worthy of a chapter or a book itself. I have crafted them in the form of tensions that we hold as leaders. 1. Dual Relationships- Supervision and Being Friends We are a church family and we often hire our friends who then become our employees. The result is I become both your pastor/spiritual leader/supervisor and friend. Which is it? We hire people we mentor and then they become our employees with a contractual agreement and money is exchanged. We are naïve to admit that all things are equal. They are not when we have the power to fire or increase/decrease someone’s pay. The. Read more.
As we are in the process of doing our annual job reviews at New Life Fellowship, I have been struck anew by the need to include in our job descriptions that our number one task is to love God, ourselves and our spouses (if applicable). Out of a “cup that runs over,” we offer the life of Jesus to those whom we serve. What else do we have to give? When we overextend ourselves, we grow resentful, love with a “human love,” lose our passion and gradually hear His voice less clearly. The fruit is short-lived. The reason this is so challenging for us (and I begin with myself) is it touches the core of our relationship with God. Limits touch my desire to do my will, not His, to rebel rather than surrender, to keep going rather than stop. Adam and Eve crossed God’s limits in eating from the tree in the Garden.. Read more.
It is ironic that Christmas is often the time we as pastors find ourselves least centered on Jesus. With the emergence of social media and new technologies, this problem has reached proportions. The following is an adaption of my top 10 lessons for leadership applied to this Advent season. 1. Be yourself. You and I are uniquely crafted by God to lead. That means we cannot do what others can. You may be able to do more or less. The great challenge of leadership is to calmly differentiate your “true self” from the demands and voices around you. Discern the desires, vision, pace, and mission the Father has given as you lead. Take off Saul’s armor. How much activity can you sustain without losing your soul? And remember, “to live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage” (Rumi). 2. Your first work is to be contemplative before God (to be with him). Our. Read more.