Both of us were considered “up-and-comers.” We were close in age, and even among well-meaning men who love the Lord, competition can crop up subtly.
There’s an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I don’t know who coined the phrase or what the circumstances were, but they were wrong for the most part — at least with regards to leadership.
From nearly entry vantage point of church leadership, I’ve found familiarity to be an asset.
There are many good races, but only one matters most.
It doesn’t matter if you win a race if it’s the wrong race. We can’t declare ourselves winners of a marathon for winning a boat race.
It’s winning. It’s just winning at the wrong thing.
Which is a form of losing.
Calm is the “unicorn” of virtues in a world gone mad.
all-is-calmSomewhere along the line, it became cool to be loud and bitter.
It became an expectation that, for us to change the world (our job, apparently), we had to become social activists. Not the good kind — the Rosa Parks type of social activist. I mean the other kind. The abrasive, snarky, shaming, Jesus-juking, share-button-hitting, constantly outraged kind of social activists.
There are certain ministry roles have more conflict between them than others. Senior Pastors and Youth Pastors, Church Administrators and Youth Ministers, for example. There is also sometimes significant tension between the Worship Leader and the one preaching Sunday. This is obviously not the case in every church, but it is in many churches.
I’ve consulted with dozens of churches formally, and perhaps hundreds informally. However, many churches never evaluate their ministry with any rigor.
The reason, these churches say, is because they don’t see the need for the effort, expense and potentially difficult season (emotionally) inaugurated by bringing in someone from the outside or going through an evaluation process. In my experience, those who refuse to evaluate themselves are either trying to avoid seeing empirically what they already know to be true through experience (painful), or are deferring pain in hopes it can be avoided by grasping for quick-fix solutions in the present (“We got this”).
Such mindsets betray feelings of, We could fix this if we really wanted to or really thought there was a problem. The words of the late Dr. Charles Siburt come to mind here: “Then why haven’t you?”
Everyone is buzzing over the new Pew Research study that suggests Millennials are continuing to leave Christianity for the ranks of the “nones” (the religiously unaffiliated). A closer look at the data shows the bulk of the slide has occurred within Mainline Christian denominations and Catholicism, with Evangelical Protestants essentially holding the fort. While the bulk of the study didn’t isolate Millennials, its implications aim toward them. This means of course, the obligatory freak-out among some Christians who are afraid we are losing the next generation.
Here are some brief thoughts of my own.
Pastors are unusually dependent on “the well.” All people are to one degree or another, but pastors are more dependent on “the well” than others — in part because they participate first-hand in helping replenish the wells of others. When we dry up, the results are felt by others.
If I asked you to tell me about your 2014, you’d likely tell me about the highlights — vacations you took, job changes, big things in the lives of your kids, and other things that stand out in your mind. But, that’s not what made the biggest difference in your life in 2014. Here’s what actually made the biggest difference: You ate. You slept. You drank water. That’s why you’re alive. That’s what sustained you and allowed all of the other things to happen. When any of those slipped, so did the rest of life. Try to enjoy your vacation without food, drink or sleep. Try to have breakthroughs at work or be a sunshiny presence at home. Eat, drink, sleep. Do those three things well and the rest of life happens. Fail to do them and life is worse — or life ends.
How can preachers make adjustments that better prepare them for the transition from one to multiple services? I’ve been a part of such a transition numerous times, and made the transition from two to three, and three to four. I’ve also had to make adjustments for seasons that included preaching live in multiple venues and multiple locations on Sundays. Each season required me to make adjustments — physically, personally and vocationally. While my experience is that the jump from two to three services requires the most adjusting — the jump from one to two services also requires substantial adjustments.
Here are some things I’ve found.