i’m tired

Tomorrow is the final day of preparation for our high school mission trip to Seattle. It is the final day to rest before seven days of early mornings, late nights, manual labor, and exceedingly long stints of extroversion.

And I’m already tired.

tired.jpgCaffeine has been one of my closest friends the past few weeks. It’s always been there for me during the long days of preparing for this trip and maintaining other daily tasks. But there is only so much this legal drug can do. Only so much energy it can fake before the inevitable crash. And while caffeine will continue to be there for me through the thick and thin of this next week, it, too, has it’s limits.

So entering into this mission trip, there are two things I know for sure: (1) I’m tired, and (2) whatever success, whatever building of the kingdom, whatever individual growth happens on this trip has to be because of God, not me.

I’m reminded of Mike Erre’s thoughts in Astonished, “This is the paradox of strength and weakness: that I am strongest when I am weakest; I am most usable when I am in over my head; Jesus is most present when I am at the end of my rope.”

I’m thankful that I worship a God who is strong in my weakness. Who uses me in my weakness to be strong. And who will be present always. I’m starting this week with the realization that God is going to show up. God will continue to be present. God will work.

And I wonder if God is chuckling with Himself at my tiredness, knowing that if I was well-rested, it would be too easy to point to me in successes; but because I’m already so tired, it will be much easier to point to Him.

Again, I’m so glad that God is in control.

what i’m reading – june ’14

I’ve decided to copy my wife’s “What I’m Reading” video post, and make one of my own.

Watch, learn, and let me know your thoughts.  I’d also love to know what you’re reading in the comments below!

 

love those you lead

The pastor stood on the stage, looking out over the congregation, and didn’t recognize a large group of people in the pews.  New believers?  No – These people had been attending the church for years.

The congregation looked up to the stage, not really knowing who the pastor was.  Was he new?  No – He had also been there for years.

The youth pastor sat down in her regular meeting with youth ministry leaders and looked around the circle and realized she didn’t know their likes and dislikes.  She had no clue what they did for fun or their favorite food.  New leaders?  No – Both parties had been working together for months.

empty_pews

This happens all too often in church – those who lead and those who follow don’t know each other.  There is a lack of relationship, a lack of compassion, a lack of love.

Without relationship, it is difficult to cast vision.  Without compassion, it is hard to relate. Without love, it is impossible to lead.  John Maxwell, in his book Developing the Leader Within You, states, “You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.”

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV).

Even if I had all the talent and abilities of being a leader, without love, I am nothing.

I’m reminded of the once popular song by Chris Tomlin that declares, “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay.  When you move, I’ll move.  I will follow.”

This song speaks of our willingness to follow God in our lives.  But this act of obedience is not without a prerequisite: we know that God loves us.  We know that God deeply cares for our lives.

As a leader, I must love others.  When love enters in, relationships are built and leadership takes flight.

Love is the key.  It develops relationship.  It shows compassion.  It builds bridges.

Are people not following you when you lead?  Try love.  

(Photo credit: silent shot)

doing it all alone (7 deadly sins of youth ministry)

7 deadly sins title

“I’ve got this!”

A dangerous phrase in ministry.  Of course we need to be confident in who we are and how God has gifted us, but when that leads to always taking and holding tightly to the reign of control, things can get a little rocky.

We like to be in control.  We like to know what’s going on and have our hand in the outcome in some way or every way.  We keep others at arms length and keep each task close at hand.  The intentions are good: to ensure everything runs smoothly.  But the outcome is often unpleasant: stress, broken relationship, or burnout.

This is a lesson I have learned time and time again.  I am an activator, I like to see things happen.  I can have obsessive tendencies when it comes to organization and ideas, and I want to do things right the first time.  Allowing others into a situation or task releases some of my control and hands them control that I may or may not have wanted to give up.  But I can’t do it all alone.  I need people: people to partner with, to delegate to, to bounce ideas off of.

7 deadly sins content

In Exodus 18, Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law), gave Moses this advice: “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”  Moses was trying to do it alone.  He was trying to be the best leader he could be by retaining control in every situation.  But as Jethro pointed out, Moses could not handle it alone.

Saying, “I’ve got this!” is ignoring the biblical truth that God created each individual with unique gifts and talents.  Trying to do it all alone, whether in ministry, marriage, or any other context, can lead to strained relationships and ultimately personal failure because we are meant to be in community.  Yes, it often causes discomfort to let others share control with us, but it is the way God intended it.

Engage in discomfort with me and share control this week.  Be a true leader and let someone lead with you.