God came to me through two great biographies that I finished reading recently. The first was about Micky Mantle. was one of the greatest, most gifted American baseball players that ever lived. When I was growing up, everyone wanted to be like Micky. He enjoyed unprecedented success, wealth and fame in his twenties. He seemed to be immune to the suffering and pain of life. All his dreams and more were his. By the time he was in his early 60’s, however, as he lay dying of liver failure, he grieved and wept over his life. “I’d like to say ot he kids out there, if you’re looking for a role model, this is a role model. Don’t be like me… Everything I’ve got is worn out. Although I’ve heard people say they’d like to have my heart… it’s never been used.” Nelson Mandela’s reflections on the end of his life, as recounted in Conversations with. Read more.
Leadership is sacred, holy work before God. Whether it be leadership of our own lives, our churches, our famlies or our finances, it is a challenge to mature through the walls and challenges that confront us. It is easier to remain in anxiety, ruminate needlessly, or become reactive when we are stuck. This happened to me recently at New Life around a complex administrative issue before us. As a result I returned to the following simple,but difficult, emotionally healthy skill called, “Bust through the Wall to Maturity.” After working the simple steps below, over many hours and days, God’s pathway became clear. And I found myself flourishing before Him once again. Give it a try: 1. Identify one specific situation about which you have anxiety or feel stuck. 2. To what conclusions might you be jumping? Pass what you think to be true through the “distorted thinking” lens. Ask yourself: Am I doing… —. Read more.
I recently finished Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry (IVP,2008). I enjoyed it thoroughly and found a number of valuable insights for my own leadership at New Life. I recommend it to you. One unique insight was to clearly articulate the values of your leadership team as you enter into challenging, difficult discussions. The following is my first draft for our NLF staff team (Her team’s can be found on pp.176-178 of her book). 1. Personal Spiritual Transformation – We consistently labor to maintain balance in our lives as leaders, ensuring that we have time for prayer, rest, healthy relationships (play) and work. Our rhythms are our first work and foundational for both our lives and leadership. 2. Community – We are a microcosm of the larger New Life and seek to maintain and build unity in our relationships as Christ did with the Twelve. While the work itself can easily distract us away. Read more.
A number of people have asked me about where God is amidst the devastation of the recent earthquake in Haiti. What do we tell our children, our young people, our church, and seekers? Last Sunday I preached a summary of the Book of Isaiah to our church as we concluded a recent teaching series. We distributed two weeks of a Daily Office based on Isaiah that you are welcome to download. It can be found at: http://newlifefellowship.org/resources/sermons Why does God allow evil like the earthquake in Haiti? The answer is: “I don’t know.” Nobody does. The Jews went through repeated tumultuous, confusing, often disastrous, events during the time of Isaiah. The country was shaken to the core after King Uzziah died. He had provided 52 years of stability and relatively good leadership. They were invaded by the Assyrians and later conquered by the Babylonians. They lost everything and were carried into exile 500-700. Read more.
This past weekend Geri and I led another weekend for our small group around sexuality and spiritual formation. Once again, it confirmed to us that our sexuality lies at the heart of our spirituality and walk with Christ. We began this journey in early 1996 when we launched into emotionally healthy spirituality and remain convinced, that “as goes the leader’s sex life, so goes the church.” It is a startling conclusion, especially when we consider the state of discipleship aruond our sexuality in the church today (it is virtually non-existent for married couples). When I read a few months ago, for example, that spouses were encouraged to have sex for 30 days straight in order to improve their marriages, I was aghast. That is very long way from the biblical view of our sexuality, our humanity and God’s purposes. The following are a few thoughts we considered this past weekend: Our sexuality is all. Read more.
After another couple of weeks of pondering and passing this around our staff team for a second round of discussions, here is a second, more precise listings of our learnings. This is a living document, borne out of twenty-one years of labor, mistakes, and fruitful suffering. For this reason, I am prayerfully re-reading these lessons with a healthy reverence before God. 1. Character is more important than gifting. The power of God really is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we have overlooked issues of character, and humility in particular, we have paid a price. 2. Do not rush. When decisions were made quickly, without pausing to pray, think and proces implications, we have had regrets. Seeing the Promised Land without seeing the pillar of cloud and fire is foolishness. 3. Leaders need to take responsibility and initiative for their own growth and development. As leaders invest time in personal growth and development, they shape all those who look. Read more.