5 Ways To Ensure Getting Fired From Your Church

I’ve been in ministry for a long time, and thankfully I’ve never been fired from a church position. ¬†In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been fired from any job.

That said, I’ve witnessed numerous friends/co-workers over the years lose their jobs. ¬†Some did not deserve it. ¬†Others, however, should have been let go but were not.

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Here are 5 things that can lead you to losing your position at your church:

  • Disregard for policies and procedures | Most people really hit the Student Pastor hard on this one, but I’ve seen all levels of leadership turn their nose up at P&Ps that they don’t personally agree with. ¬†They simply do their own thing. ¬†But it’s only a matter of time before this one bites you in the butt.
  • Poor time management | Some of us need to work on this more than others. ¬†Nevertheless, this can be viewed by some senior leadership as laziness. ¬†When we fail to manage our time well tasks tend to get done last minute and often poorly.
  • Lack of good people skills | We are in the people business. ¬†Church is made up of people. ¬†So, whether you work in pastoral staff or administrative support, knowing how to deal with all kinds of people and people issues is critical for all of us.
  • Disconnection with the mission and values | This is really big! ¬†Honestly, this is something we must consider and pray about before ever taking a position on a church staff. ¬†Mission and values ‘should’ be what guides and molds the direction of the church and all of it’s ministries.
  • Not a team player | Church really is a team sport. ¬†And churches that have individual ministry silos operating on their own with zero regard for what the rest of the church is doing……well, these churches become ineffective in achieving the Great Commission. ¬† They don’t have ¬†a Kingdom work mindset. ¬†Competition with other churches, as well as with their own church ministries, becomes commonplace.

There are MANY more things that can get us canned, but these are some of the most common that I’ve seen. ¬†What would you add to the list?

Leave a comment below.  I love hearing from my readers.  Thank you!

Stop Searching For The ‘NEXT’ Thing

Have you ever found yourself wanting something new? ¬†Specifically, I’m thinking of a new opportunity, experience, or career.

Or maybe you have recently stepped out of something, but the next ‘phase’ of your life lacks clarity.

For whatever reason, most of us do experience longing for a ‘NEXT THING’ at some point in our lives. ¬†And it becomes even more difficult waiting for what that next thing is when we think we have an idea what it might be.

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Recently, after nearly 20 years of working in church ministry, our family moved across the country to Colorado Springs. ¬†My wife accepted a position with a Christian publishing company, and I am currently working as a Barista at a popular coffee shop. ¬†Shortly after moving and starting my new job, I quickly started speculating. ¬†I noticed that I was trying to guess what God’s next assignment was going to be for me…as if my purpose were on hold.

But there was a huge problem with this.

I was already in that assignment!

I received a random text from a friend last week. ¬†It read, “I was praying for you today, and God wants you to know that you are right where he needs you. ¬†Invest your all in it.”

This almost brought me to tears.

The lesson I am learning in all of this is very simple…BUT equally challenging. ¬†I am to accept where God has placed me as my primary ministry focus. ¬†Period!

Then this scripture hit me right between the eyes.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

¬†I was seeking God, but not with ‘all’ my heart. ¬†A large portion of my heart was dedicated to seeking my next calling….job…opportunity. ¬†I was peering into the future, into a season God has not allowed me to see yet.

God may very well be working on details for me somewhere down the road, but I am really excited to pour my life into the HERE and NOW of what today consists of.

¬†Can YOU relate? ¬†Does any of what I’ve shared resonate with you, or am I really the one one?

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Has Busyness Intruded On Your Life?

I am sick and tired!

Literally, as I write this I have been knocked down for the last 5 days. ¬†I’ve missed work, gotten behind in my studies, and whined a lot to my family about how miserable I feel.

Truth | You and I are not super-human, and we’re definitely not God! ¬†We were not created to be invincible (I know, hard to believe).

Confession | I haven’t taken time to rest like I should. ¬†This is a huge reason I got sick. ¬†I have not had my quiet time with Jesus in the last week. ¬†I have not been proactive about taking a real Sabbath once a week.

So how did this happen to me?  How do we allow our days to spin out of control?

EASY!

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We let our priorities and healthy habits fall out of sight. ¬†When we don’t plan ahead…when intentionality becomes scarce…those things get replaced. ¬†So what takes their place? ¬†¬†Busyness!¬†

I don’t know about you, but I plan to be more intentional with my time. ¬†That’s simply going to mean looking ahead at my week and planning accordingly.

How about you?  How do you successfully keep busyness from leading the way?

Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

I’m Moving To Colorado Springs! What???

I have a Love/Hate relationship with change.  How about you?

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In the Fall of 2013, it was revealed at our staff retreat that my wife and I were going to step out of our staff roles at the time to launch the first multisite church campus of Christ Community Church. Fast forward to Nov 8, 2015. On this Sunday we announced that our campus would be changing our video teaching model to offer live preaching. Not only did this change not include my wife and I (change in leadership), we also announced that we were moving to Colorado Springs in 4 weeks.

This has all happened so quickly.  We really have seen the finger prints of God all over this…not only in our own lives, but for the health of the campus as well.

So, this is basically a journal entry reflecting on my thoughts with this transition:  What I FEEL vs. what I KNOW.

What I feel | There is personal loss attached to big life transitions. Loss of close friends, co-workers, family, culture, and familiarity.

What I know | There often needs to be loss if God is going to bless us with new blessings. It’s His way of making room for the new. I have seen this over and over in my lifetime, so I’m not sure why I don’t get more excited at the onset of changing seasons when they pop up.

What I feel | 18 months is too soon after launching a new church campus for the leadership to move on. Ok, it’s too soon for my comfort level. There, I said it. I really thought I’d be shepherding this body of believers for at least 3-5 years. And that was my problem. I presumed God’s intentions more than I should have.

What I know | God’s timing is always perfect and always better than mine. On God’s clock, late and early are non-existent. This is so comforting (and frustrating) to me.

What I feel | Its not fair that I don’t get to be a part of this local church body in its next chapter. I want to see it grow. I want to meet all the amazing, new people. I want to celebrate with the new believers and disciple them.

What I know | God’s calling on my life (and yours) is never about fairness. And it is not about our personal wants. It is, however, always about obedience, faith, and a larger Kingdom purpose than my own little world.

What I feel | I worry about how my kids will weather through this change. Our 2 oldest are staying in GA, while 2 of our boys are moving with us. I often think, they did not ask for this life of ministry….constant change and moving from place to place.

What I know | They are only mine for a season and for the purpose of training them up in faith and life. Ultimately, they are The Lord’s. When we dedicated them to Him as babies, we were placing them in His care. As they have grown older, I have had to constantly re-visit those moments and ask myself a question. Do I truly mean today what I meant back then? Thankfully, the answer has been ‘yes.’ But I do find myself constantly rededicating each of them to God’s care and providence. This is mainly for my own sanity.

What I feel | If I’m going to be really authentic here, I’d have to admit that I’ve said to God (more than once) that I didn’t ask for this calling of ministry in my life. I’ve often thought what it would be like to go to church at the same time as everyone else does. Or how it would feel not to have to live completely by my calendar. Or not having the heaviness of knowing so much of the pain and struggle many of our church members are¬†enduring each week.

What I know | While that all sounds appealing on the surface, I know better. Yes, ministry is demanding and hard. But (there’s a huge ‘but’ here), it is also rewarding beyond words. The innumerable experiences, tragedies, joys, challenges, victories, and relationships God has gifted me with….none of them would have come to be if I had said ‘No’ to His call on my life. I would have forfeited the past 24 years of partnership with God. The thought that I could have given all that away to someone else makes me cringe.

“This is God’s universe, and He does things His way.¬† We may have a better way, but we don’t have a universe.”¬† – Dr. J. Vernon Megee

 How about you?  How have you maneuvered through major transitions in life?  When have what you FEEL vs. what you KNOW collided?

This has been the quickest, healthiest, and craziest change in my life to date…..and I’m really looking forward to it!

You Don’t Need To See All The Details Today

Have you ever wished that God would stop holding out on you and simply show you his plan for the next season of life? ¬†I mean, we want to step out in faith and all that good stuff. ¬†But why can’t he just let us in on the secret? ¬†Give us the details?

Something caught my eye while traveling out of town recently.  It was a horse trailer, and the horse was wearing a mask like this.

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PHOTO CREDIT: WWW.HORSETACKCO.COM

I do know a little bit about horses, and there are two common purposes for having a horse wear a head mask like this while they travel in a trailer.

  1. It protects them (mainly their eyes) from insects.
  2. It helps to keep them calm.

That’s right. ¬†The mask has a calming effect on the horse when it can’t see all that is going on around it. ¬†The horse’s owner will remove the mask when the environment is mostly free of harm and distractions.

Meanwhile, the horse still needs to respond to the owner’s guidance. ¬†It doesn’t just stand there. ¬†It follows it’s owner even though it cannot see what it is walking toward.

Sound familiar?

Check this out:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  РIsaiah 55:8, 9

If God is leading you somewhere and you can’t see what it’s all going to look like, that’s O.K. ¬†There is usually good reason. ¬†In my own life, I can think back to many times when I would have not followed him if he had shown me the plan before the journey. ¬†Why? ¬†Because it would have scared me to death! ¬†He has bigger, better plans for you and I. ¬†He provides and equips us as we need it every step of the way.

My encouragement for you today is this. ¬†Be grateful! ¬†What he’s asking of you today may seem like an incredible step of faith, but it’s likely to be just one of many baby steps toward something too amazing to wrap your understanding around.

Could this encourage someone you know today?  Share it online.

Perhaps this was something you needed to hear in your own life today.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Today, may you be able to fully trust God even in the absence of big details.

 

 

 

Words: Inspire or Damage

“Can’t you do anything right?”

When was the last time someone said something to you that left you feeling worthless or inadequate?

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How’s your intake…and how does it compare to your output? ¬†Every day all of us intake (receive) words spoken into us. ¬†We also output (speak words into those around us). ¬†The negative criticism and judgments that we hear also tend to be the¬†ingredients that¬†feeds what we speak into others.¬†¬†This can be our spouse, kids, co-workers, or even the innocent grocery store clerk. ¬†It can affect our mood in a noticeable way. I’ve been guilty of this many times!

‚ÄúOur encouragement to others often goes unappreciated, yet damaging words are often remembered for a lifetime.‚ÄĚ

At one time or another, we have all been on both sides of this statement. ¬†And it’s so true! ¬†When we help or encourage someone, don’t we want them to remember it? Don’t we wish our efforts would be a lasting blessing?

It does not matter if we are talking about our place of employment, family, school, or community. Our choice of words will make some kind of an impact. And once they are spoken they cannot be taken back. This holds true of physical conversations as well as over technology.  In many ways, the human mind and the internet are very unforgiving.

‚ÄúDon‚Äôt use foul or abusive language. ¬†Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.‚Ä̬† ¬†(Ephesians 4:29)

Today, may we strive to have our words spoken from our hearts…and not from our hurts. ¬†Remember, what we say to a total stranger today just might be¬†the only uplifting thing they will hear at all!

Has someone recently spoken words of encouragement to you?  How did it impact you and your day?

Leave a comment below.

3 Things I Did To Get Back To My Goals

So, three weeks ago I began a serious refocus on my personal health. ¬†Specifically, regarding my obsession with food. ¬†Then, I spent a week in Nashville for my son’s graduation followed by 4 additional days serving at a Summer Camp for elementary kids. ¬†Let’s just say that those two environments don’t make it super easy to eat healthy and plan your meals ahead of time.

I ate the best I could for the most part.  I also indulged a little, but feel like I did pretty good.  I was able to refrain from most carbs and sugar, and DID honor my rule of not eating after 7pm.

During those 2 weeks, however, I completely stopped my daily push-up challenge.

In the past, I would have felt like I have failed for two solid weeks and thought, “What’s the sense in picking this back up? Why even try?” ¬†And I would have returned to the former eating habits immediately.

Not this time!

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Here’s what I did when I returned home….

Forgave myself | This is a huge first step. ¬†I need to be able to give myself grace in the low moments in order to excel into new higher moments. ¬†Otherwise, I’ll continue beating myself up over the past failures and crippling future potential successes.

Reviewed my original plan | I looked back to 3 weeks ago. ¬†I looked at how I was able to lose 7.5 lbs in my first week. ¬†That motivation gave me the ‘can do’ attitude to pick up right where I left off. ¬†No worries…no regrets…and only looking forward.

Determined to start again | Like Nike says, ‘Just Do It.’ ¬†Start somewhere, ANYWHERE. ¬†And I did. ¬†I began today with a goal of getting 30 push-ups done. ¬†You know what? ¬†I did 60! ¬†I was also public (once again) online and with my family about my goals. ¬†Putting my goals out there creates powerful accountability for me.

Now, I’m writing this just two days after restarting. ¬†I’m hoping and praying that a week from now I’ll be able to tell you I’ve been able to #WinToday successfully each day with my goals. ¬†And honestly, I’d invite you to ask me exactly that.

How do you bounce back from a day or more of slipping away from your goals?  Or maybe a better question is what do you need to do that you are not doing to get back on course?

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below.

5 Things To Consider When Asking Jesus To Work

I’m sure we’ve all been there. ¬†Circumstances which are out of our control often lead us to saying things like, “Lord, I need a miracle” or “God, why is this happening to me” or “I’m not sure if I can make it another day.”

Can you relate?  (I thought so)

Take a quick look at this passage from Matthew 20:29-34.

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. ¬†And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‚ÄúLord,¬†have mercy on us, Son of David!‚ÄĚ ¬†The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, ‚ÄúLord, have mercy on us, Son of David!‚ÄĚ ¬†And stopping, Jesus called them and said, ‚ÄúWhat do you want me to do for you?‚ÄĚ ¬†They said to him, ‚ÄúLord, let our eyes be opened.‚ÄĚ ¬†And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

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So try to keep these things in mind when asking Jesus to move in your circumstances:

1) ¬†When asking Jesus for his mercy, make an emotional investment (Lord,¬†have mercy on us). ¬†These guys asked more than once. ¬†They put their heart into the request. ¬†If it’s not meaningful enough to us, it probably won’t be meaningful to Jesus.

2)  Ignore the naysayers (The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent).  There will always be those around us who doubt God, his ability to do anything, or that he even cares.  When this happens, surround yourself with believers who are mature in their faith who will partner with you in prayer.

3) ¬†Be specific with your request (What do you want me to do for you?). ¬†Jesus already knows, but it’s that relationship thing again. ¬†He wants you be make it personal with him. ¬†Notice, however, that he doesn’t ask the men ‘How.’ ¬†This is super important. ¬†Simply answer the ‘What’ and trust him with ALL the details.

4) ¬†Trust that he does care about you and why you are making your request (Jesus in pity touched their eyes). ¬†When translated, the word ‘Pity’ literally means to have compassion. ¬†Jesus was moved by their situation…and he’s moved in yours as well! ¬†Remember this the next time you ask for something. ¬†And imagine Christ looking intently into your eyes with compassion, caring, and genuine concern.

5) ¬†Follow him, even more than before, once he answers your prayers (and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him). ¬†Never take his touch on your life for granted. ¬†There’s always a reason, and it will almost always bless someone else who is not even involved in your specific situation.

 Today, may you cry out to Jesus with all your heart and clear expectations.  And may you find peace as he turns and looks into your eyes.

Comments are always welcome!

4 Ways To Embrace Failure

How does failure affect you?

Every new venture has the potential to succeed or fail. ..BUT only if you actually take a risk.  This is very true for churches when they launch their first multisite campus as well.  Nine months since our launch and the lessons continue to flood in weekly.

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Recently, our streaming video teaching failed in a BIG way! ¬†So I thought I’d write about it (insert smirk). ¬†What exactly happened and why is less important than actually taking steps to ensure that this virtually does’t¬†happen again. ¬†Our team got together during the week, collaborated, and agreed on a process. ¬†All I can say is that the next campus our church launches should be much better off as a result of the lessons we’ve learned.

So, what are we to do when things go wrong…whether we caused it or not? ¬†The choice is up to you and I.

Here are 4 ways to EMBRACE failure.

1) ¬†Expect it | What we can see coming (to a degree) prepares us to better deal with it mentally when it hits. ¬†It’s like a warning. ¬†And I’m not talking about pessimism either. ¬†Reality and experience teach us that failures are a part of life.

2) ¬†Don’t fear it | Fear can keep us from taking future risks. ¬†Fear screams, “Don’t even try that!” ¬†Here’s the thing, fear of failure crowns complacency as King. ¬†We don’t want that.

3) ¬†Learn from it | Failures not learned from are usually repeated. ¬†If you continue to stub your toe on the same item when you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, don’t you eventually move that item? ¬†Learning usually requires some level¬†of adjustment. ¬†Leaders who don’t learn from their failures fail to grow.

4) ¬†Share it | Grab a huge piece of humble pie, own your “Well that didn’t go as I had hoped” moment, and help others to grow their leadership from your experience. ¬†Most of the incredibly helpful leaders I have learned from in the past 20 years of ministry realized that sharing their personal mishaps actually helps further Kingdom work. ¬†It offers hindsight to younger, less experienced leaders.

In a recent interview, Jon Acuff¬†said, “I like the 39 year old me better than the 29 year old me, and I hope the 49 year old me feels the same.”

I think that can apply to leaders too. ¬†Think about it. ¬†Ten years from now don’t you hope to be a stronger leader than you are today?

Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Two Guarantees In This Life

Have you ever thought of life in general as a disappointment? ¬†Ever said, “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!” ¬†Well, you’re not alone.

I have recently come to an eye-opening revelation about life.

This simple but scary revelation occurred to me as I was reflecting on my current season of life.  And it took me back to this well-known scripture.

 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.  РJohn 16:33 (HCSB)

Here’s what they are:

We will have challenges | We’re going to get a flat on the way to work…get into an argument with our spouse moments before teaching a session on marriage…not get the job we really wanted…or live with an illness that makes it hard to be joyful every day. ¬†We can run ourselves into the ground trying to discover the ‘why,’ or we can choose joy in the fact that we have a loving Father in Heaven to walk through it all with us. ¬†Perspective is everything!

God is always faithful to His promises | His Word is true and it can always be trusted. ¬†It is packed full of promises, instruction, and encouragement. ¬†He celebrates, hurts, and walks with you and I through it all. ¬†He’s never absent. ¬†Never uncaring. ¬†Never unfaithful. ¬†He’s your loudest personal cheerleader!

God’s Word is both our microscope into our life AND¬†the life-saving anchor for when the waves of life get turbulent.

Do you agree?  How has this been true in your life?  

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!