A country lawyer with only 1 year of formal schooling, Lincoln found himself in the middle of the greatest conflict in American history. When elected, he was called a country bumpkin and a disgrace. By the time the Civil War ended (1860-1865), 529,000 men out of a country of 32 million lost their lives. Every family was touched by the agony. Despite the pressure, his spiritual development was astounding during those years. How was this possible? Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Schenk, records how Lincoln struggled with serious depression from a very young age. Yet, he notes, his pain fueled his greatness and propelled growth. He was able to integrate his deep feelings, his melancholy, and his failures into a larger purpose. His lifelong journey involved integrating his gifts and talents, which were so powerful, with his sadness and depression. In photos, we can observe he. Read more.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 (NASB) The steady stream of pastors and leaders leaving the ministry due to sexual or financial scandal has not changed in decades. What is most alarming, in recent days, however, is the rash of lead pastors committing suicide. Judas committed suicide. Jesus Himself knew that temptation as well: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death,” he said (Matt. 26:38). I believe most Christian point leaders who carry the weight of a ministry or church know the struggle of wanting to die. I sure do and remember times, in my 26 years as Senior Pastor of New Life, that I was not sure I wanted to (or could) drink the “cup” that was before me. Jesus’. Read more.
Participants came from 17 different countries and 30 states, from the largest church in one state to urban storefronts in another, from the Congo to Germany. What struck me, nonetheless, was how similar we are, and how our struggles in leadership are universal. Three major insights emerged, for me, out of our conference: 1. Sabbath-Keeping as a spiritual formation practice is countercultural and extremely difficult for leaders in all cultures and contexts around the world. It truly is the starting point to slow down our lives. 2. Truth-telling is rare in all cultures. One of our pastors modeled “Climb the Ladder of Integrity” out of the Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 curriculum. His public admission, and correction, of a simple lie with a New Life coworker shook the conference. 3. The Western church has much to learn from dialogue with the African, Latino, and Asian churches. I was deeply challenged, for example, by the Liberians. Read more.
Patience is a form of wisdom. Some things must unfold in their time. A child that rushes a baby chick to hatch ultimately kills it. The straining and process of birthing is God’s way to prepare the chick to survive into adulthood. In the same way, God rewires and forms us into our true selves in Christ, burning out that which does not belong to Him, through our slow sufferings and struggles. God’s process cannot be hurried. As Rilke says: “Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart, and try to cherish the questions themselves. Perhaps one day… gradually… you will live right into the answer.” Move towards your goals, but with a sacred patience. Prayerfully ponder the questions to which you have no answers. He will lead you into the answers.
God has been increasingly challenging me to take off Saul’s armor as a leader and courageously to follow His voice. This has led me today to review Geri’s chapter in I Quit to quit living someone else’s life (ch.8). The following is a brief summary from her chapter that is worthy of a meditation time before God. God invites you and me to ignore the distracting voices around us — regardless of their source — and to pursue wholeheartedly our God-given life. Four practices provide trustworthy guidance for this journey: Discover Your Integrity When helping someone who is struggling with an inner conflict, I often ask, “What is your integrity calling you to do?” Most ¬people hesitate before responding because they have rarely thought deeply about what they believe and value. The question behind that question is this: “What is important to you?” If you do not take the time to answer that question, other ¬people’s fears, expectations,. Read more.
Geri and I have just begun our yearly, summer “sabbatical” rest (our old term was “vacation”). We are in Thailand, beginning to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Yet we wanted to take a few moments and share with you several highlights from our time in Singapore at the Eagles Leadership Conference where we spent the last 6 days. 1375 delegates (pastors and leaders) from 19 countries attended this very well-run, powerful conference. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were the top four countries represented. Geri and I did a plenary session around our story and the main insights of EHS. This was followed by a full day workshop for around 200 leaders, and then 2 shorter workshops around “The Leader’s Spouse (by Geri) and Insights of Monasticism for the 21st Century (me) on the final day. We were very well-received and felt greatly honored. We also learned quite a bit. The following are a few. Read more.