Embracing transitions is one of the critical leadership tasks every leader must master if we are to do God’s work, God’s way, and in God’s timing. Sadly, endings and transitions are often poorly handled in our families, ministries, organizations, and teams. When this happens, we miss God’s new beginnings—both personally and in the ministries or organizations we lead. While our culture views the endings in transitions as a sign of failure, i.e. something to avoid, God views them as maturing discipleship moments to receive His new beginnings. Scripture requires we embrace God’s 3-phase process: Endings: 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. Waiting: No one enjoys waiting. But waiting for God is one of the most important things we do in the Christian life. Letting the Old Birth a New Beginning:. 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.
I hate conflicts and difficult meetings – like 99% of the other leaders I know. My first reaction is to ignore, distract, rationalize, or blame someone – anything to avoid investing the necessary time and energy required to remove this “roadblock.” Over the years, however, I have discovered deep gifts hidden in conflicts – provided we allow Jesus into the inner closets of old hurts, sealed-off infections, fear, and shame this new relational tension may touch inside us. Consider Jacob. As a young man, he uses deceit to steal the birthright and blessing that rightfully belonged to his older brother, Esau. After 25 years with no contact between them, Jacob begins a journey back home. He decides to face the conflict head on and reconcile with Esau – if he can. In the midst of his fears about what might happen, a man, probably the pre-incarnate Jesus, wrestles with Jacob and strikes his hip. 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.
The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher is an important book. It serves as a prophetic wake up call to the church, challenging us to take a fresh look at what is happening around us: We must “make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.” “The spiritual crisis overtaking the West is the most serious since the fall of the Roman Empire near the end of the fifth century. The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West.” “If believers don’t come out of Babylon and be separate, their faith will not survive for another generation or two in this culture of death.” “Too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top, when they should be functioning as the living, breathing Body of. Read more.
According to a Pew Research study, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. Millennials, whom we now define as those ages 20-36, number over 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 53-71). Businesses such as Goldman Sachs are studying this trend, recognizing they will “change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.” I too have been thinking about this new culture of Millennials as they increasingly become the dominant culture in many of our churches. What are the critical issues we must address to make mature disciples, build sustainable communities, and reach the world effectively? The following are my top 5: Practice Presence in a Digitally Connected World. Millennials are the first generation where social media and smart phones are the air they breathe. But screens can’t teach empathy or face-to-face conversation. We have an amazing opportunity. Read more.