Voices in My Head

Another great, insightful blog entry from Matt Keller:
“One of the most difficult skills a quarterback must learn is the ability to listen to the right voices on the field. If you’re a football fan, then you now how loud a football game can be: screaming fans, defensive players yelling out distractions, referees blowing whistles, teammates shouting commands, the loud speaker booming out music. For a quarterback, learning to tune in the right voices and tune out the wrong ones often means the difference between winning and losing.” – (taken from page 76 of The Up the Middle Church)

If you are a leader of any capacity then you know how true the above quote can be. At the end of the day, the voices we choose to let in and the voices we intentionally keep out will make or break our leadership. Here are a few thoughts:

1. We choose the Voices we “Turn Up.”

Over the course of my leadership life, I have had to adjust the voices that speak into my life. When we began NLC 7 1/2 years ago, we went on a quest for new voices who could show us a new way of doing ministry. And the voices we found have made all the difference.

Over the years, the voices I choose to turn up have morphed and changed with the seasons of my life. As a leader, I work hard to find voices who are speaking to where I’m living in my life at the time. It’s not easy to find the right voices, but in the end it’s well worth the effort.

2. We choose the Voices we “Turn Down.”

In my opinion, one of the most important things a leader can do is identify the voices that no longer fit into the reality God has called them to lead in and Turn Them Down!!!

So many leaders underestimate the power of “Negative” or “Manipulative” voices in their ear. It doesn’t mean we don’t EVER listen to someone who sees the world differently than we do, but for the voice that is “A Continual Dripping” like Proverbs says, or doesn’t fill us up EVER, we’ve got to learn to marginalize that voice and turn them down.

Leadership is hard and having voices that constantly drain the life out of us will wear us out and make us question our vision.

3. The Voices in our ear affect the voices in our head.

I learned the hard way that when I have given some voices too much volume in my life, they affect the way I view myself. In once incident, I had a leader who was constantly questioning the direction we were going. I truly think he was just genuinely trying to examine our ideas, but I found myself questioning my vision every time I would leave a meeting with him.

So, I ended up having to move him out from my direct ear shot. I couldn’t lead effectively with his voice so loud in my ear. He was affecting how I saw myself and the vision God had put in my heart.

4. Make a Decision today to Take Control of the Voices that influence you.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to choose the voices we do and don’t listen to in our lives. This may require some hard conversations. This may require distancing ourselves from voices that have played a powerful role in a previous chapter in our lives. All the same, as leaders, there is too much at stake for us to NOT examine the voices we’re allowing in and take control of who gets “Ear Time” in our life.

After all, “For a quarterback, learning to tune in the right voices and tune out the wrong ones often means the difference between winning and losing.”

Preaching is a Dangerous Game

An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day

I learned of this article on the Slow Leadership Blog, one of many I consult every day. It's an article by Peter Bregman on the Harvard Business Blog:
Yesterday started with the best of intentions. I walked into my office in the morning with a vague sense of what I wanted to accomplish. Then I sat down, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Two hours later, after fighting several fires, solving other people's problems, and dealing with whatever happened to be thrown at me through my computer and phone, I could hardly remember what I had set out to accomplish when I first turned on my computer. I'd been ambushed. And I know better.

When I teach time management, I always start with the same question: How many of you have too much time and not enough to do in it? In ten years, no one has ever raised a hand.

That means we start every day knowing we're not going to get it all done. So how we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That's why it's a good idea to create a to do list and an ignore list. The hardest attention to focus is our own.

But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?

We need a trick.

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru, knows all about tricks; he's famous for handcuffing himself and then swimming a mile or more while towing large boats filled with people. But he's more than just a showman. He invented several exercise machines including the ones with pulleys and weight selectors in health clubs throughout the world. And his show, The Jack LaLanne Show, was the longest running television fitness program, on the air for 34 years.

But none of that is what impresses me. He has one trick that I believe is his real secret power.


At the age of 94, he still spends the first two hours of his day exercising. Ninety minutes lifting weights and 30 minutes swimming or walking. Every morning. He needs to do so to achieve his goals: on his 95th birthday he plans to swim from the coast of California to Santa Catalina Island, a distance of 20 miles. Also, as he is fond of saying, "I cannot afford to die. It will ruin my image."

So he works, consistently and deliberately, toward his goals. He does the same things day in and day out. He cares about his fitness and he's built it into his schedule.

Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. Not simply a list or a vague sense of our priorities. That's not consistent or deliberate. It needs to be an ongoing process we follow no matter what to keep us focused on our priorities throughout the day.

I think we can do it in three steps that take less than 18 minutes over an eight-hour workday.

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you've been productive and successful? Write those things down.

Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.

In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.

If you want to get something done, decide when and where you're going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don't let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It's simple.

This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

And, at the end of the day, isn't that a higher priority?

Thoughts on Sabbath

I loved this post by Matthew Keller on his blog, on observance of a Sabbath for pastors. It reflects my experience to a "T":
Yesterday, in our Vintage Series, I talked about how taking a day off, “Never Goes Out of Style.” I have already gotten so much feedback from so many of you about how you felt like I was talking right to you. (Which I love by the way…) However, I also had a few questions about the details of “The Sabbath” and I wanted to share a few additional thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

1. God gave us the 10 Commandments to keep us free not put us in bondage again.

It’s always important to remember that God didn’t give the 10 Commandments to make us feel guilty or to make us bound up to the little details. Instead, He gave them to us to help us stay free from bondage. Therefore, when it comes to taking a day off, God doesn’t want us to be all bound up with rules like, “I can’t mow my yard, or clean out the pantry…” Those are rules that put us in bondage again.

2. The Sabbath is all about Restoration.

I have always viewed the Sabbath as “A Day with No Work.” I mean my typical work. For me of course, that’s ministry. So if I check my e-mail and it puts me into “Work Mode” then I probably shouldn’t do that. Make sense? Here’s another illustration from my life.

I love to write. In fact, I feel as called to write, as I do to pastor, which is a cool thing! When I write, I feel strong. So… for a long time, I used to love to write on my day off. It would recharge me, I would feel like a million bucks, etc. However, a few years ago, when I started writing, “The Up the Middle Church” I suddenly turned my hobby into a job. So for me, I had to stop writing on my day off because it was more like work, then restoration.

3. Do things on your Sabbath that make you feel strong & restore you.

For a long time, playing golf made me feel strong. I loved being outside and walking around exercising. After a while, golf no longer made me feel strong, instead I started coming home more frustrated than relaxed. Conclusion: I gave up golf on my Sabbath. Spend time on your Sabbath doing things that restore you. If reading restores you, do that. If it doesn’t, than don’t. If gardening restores you, do that. If not, than don’t.

4. Find a hobby that you can’t turn into a job.

I highly recommend that everyone get a hobby that looks nothing like your life. Something you can completely escape in and you have NO WAY to turn it into a job. For me, it’s baseball. I love to go to Major League Parks because they look nothing like my life. I love the statistical side of the game. I love the history of the game. I love the fullness of summer in the air. I love that there is movement everyday. I love that there are 2,430 games every season and everyone of them matters. Baseball is my hobby. And as of yet, I haven’t figured out a way to turn it into a job.

When it comes to your Sabbath, remember the Spirit of the law is greater than the Letter of the law. If you ever feel yourself being led toward guilt or bondage, that’s not God and that’s not the point.

Church of the Week: Centennial Memorial Temple

One of the most famous buildings in the history of The Salvation Army is the Centennial Memorial Temple, located at 120 West 14th Street in Manhattan and erected in 1930 under the direction of former National Commander Evangeline Booth.

The building is a beautiful example of art deco architecture, designed as it was at the height of that era. Like most Salvation Army structures, it is intentionally unchurchlike.

The lovely Robin and I have often worshiped in this space, most regularly from 1978-1980 when, as cadets in The Salvation Army's School for Officers' Training in Suffern, New York, we would worship and minister at every "FET" (Friday Evening at the Temple) there.

Awesome Day

Another awesome day at Cobblestone. Reminds me of the old, old Gaither song, "If it keeps getting better and better, O Lord, I don't know what I'm gonna do."

Our worship celebrations were incredible, with Under Cover taking us to the very throne of God (and Rachel Bryant's violin adding wonderfully to the whole experience), and the celebration of communion, with people letting go of stones into the wells our team constructed onstage before receiving--awesome.

And then the Beach Party and Baptism at Hueston Woods, with a sumptuous meal so lovingly and capably coordinated by Cindi Daddabbo, and such a great crew of people testifying to finding new life in Christ through the sacrament of baptism! Awesome.

And then tonight, a wonderful cookout with my Journey Group. We told stories, ate, and laughed...and Dana and Amber swam (I got in, too--briefly). All in all, "If it keeps getting better and better, O Lord, I don't know what I'm gonna do."

Shepherds and Problems

I spent at least the first twenty-four years of my life in ministry with a ludicrous expectation: that my life--and, more precisely, my ministry and the life of my church--was supposed to go smoothly.

And, corollary to that expectation was another: when everything didn't go smoothly, something was wrong. And, usually, a third and a fourth corollary: it was my fault, and it was my job to fix it.

Now I know better. Most of the time, anyway. Okay, okay, some of the time. Just recently I was reading in Proverbs and came across a verse that made this pastor laugh out loud:
Where there are no oxen,
the stalls are clean;
but much is produced
by the strength of an ox (Proverbs 14:4, CJB).
Where there are no oxen--and no sheep--the stalls are clean. But stalls are supposed to house livestock and therefore they will get dirty. And churches are supposed to be filled with the smell, noise, and mayhem of sheep. That's why we're here.

Eugene Peterson writes:
Every time I move to a new community, I find a church close by and join it--committing myself to worship and work with that company of God's people. I've never been anything but disappointed: every one turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmerers, complainers, the faithless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamorous secularizers. Every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate these companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: word of God-shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyful suffering, constant prayer, persevering obedience. I see "Christ--for Christ plays in ten thousand places/Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/To the Father through the features of men's faces" (Leap Over a Wall, p. 101).
So, when our church is in turmoil, and our sheep are hurting, we should not think it strange. Jesus' own leadership team and his extended flock suffered many ups and downs, and all while he was with them! And the churches mentioned in the Bible exhibited both ugliness and beauty, struggle and victory.

There will come a day when our troubles are over--when we "meet on that beautiful shore." But, until then, we will do well to remember that a shepherd without problems...is a shepherd without sheep.

Pray for Laborers

Jesus commands his disciples--not only leaders in the church, but the church, in fact--to pray for workers and ministers and leaders to arise:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matthew 9:36-38, NIV).
We must be doing this as leaders in God's church, certainly...we must pray for God to provide workers for a great and bountiful harvest.

Andrew Murray, in his classic, With Christ in the School of Prayer, wrote:
As a single individual, within the limitations of a human body and a human life, Jesus feels how little a short visit can accomplish among these wandering sheep He sees around Him. He longs for help to have them properly cared for. He therefore tells His disciples to begin to pray. When they have taken over the work from Him on earth, they are to make this one of their chief petitions in prayer: that the Lord of the harvest Himself would send laborers into His harvest. But since He entrusted them with the work and made it to a large extent dependent on them, He gives them authority to apply to Him for laborers and makes the supply dependent on their prayer.

How little Christians really feel and mourn for the need of laborers in the fields of the world, so ripe for the harvest. How little they believe that our labor supply depends on prayer and that prayer will really provide "as many as he needeth." The dearth of labor is known and discussed. Efforts are sometimes made to supply the need. But how little the burden of the sheep wandering without a Shepherd is really assumed in the faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth the laborers in answer to prayer. Without this prayer, fields ready for reaping will be left to perish. And yet it is so. The Lord has surrendered His work to His church. He has made Himself dependent on them as His Body, through whom His work must be done. The power which the Lord gives His people to exercise in heaven and earth is real; the number of laborers and the measure of the harvest does actually depend on their prayer.
So pray. We must pray, believing that our labor supply depends on it. Because it does.


I didn't want to buy or read Bill Hybels's book, Axiom. While I have great respect for Hybels and Willow Creek, when I first learned of it at the Leadership Summit last August, I felt no desire to thumb through a bunch of "powerful leadership proverbs," as the subtitle promised. I wanted meat. I wanted substance. I wanted clear, muscular guidance.

So what made me finally read it? I don't remember. But I'm so glad I did. It's a top-notch leadership book, and it's both clear and muscular. And while the 76 chapters in the book are short, they're thoroughly substantive, and almost all of them were tremendously helpful to me--some because they were affirming (it's good to know I'm not the only one!) and others because they were corrective. A few (like "Leaders Call Fouls" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi Isn't for Hire") suggested new or improved ideas to my mind.

I agree with Rick Warren's critique (I'm sure he'll be relieved to hear): Hybels "serves up solid content, not cliches; axioms, not merely anecdotes."

This Is What I Want MY Library To Look Like

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland.

Leading Church in a Flat World

Another terrific post from Shaun King of the Shaun in the City Blog:
In large part due to technological advances and the literal tearing down of walls that divide people groups into little segments that basically hate each other, the playing field in any particular area of the world (including church) is more level (or flat) than ever, but most churches have not yet caught on to this.

Hear me – the “old strategies” of leading church may work.

Some churches still swear that mass mailers are wildly successful. I believe them.
Some churches still say that 9am-5pm are the best office hours. I believe them.
Some churches still proclaim that the sermon is the most important thing a church can offer. I believe them.

The problem isn’t whether I believe them or not, it’s that MILLIONS & MILLIONS of people don’t and while an equal number of people may really love mass mailers, traditional office hours, and have lives that revolve around the sermon, new strategies will reach people that old strategies won’t. I’m not even saying one strategy is better than the other here, but that new strategies are needed to reach unreached people. Period.

Here a few numbers behind how Courageous Church has used new(er) strategies to reach new people.

--Of the 700 people in attendance @ our church grand opening on January 11th, over 65% of them learned of us online.
--Over 50% of our weekly 1st time visitors learn about our church from Facebook or Twitter.
--About 50% of our financial giving takes place online.
--Our Facebook ads have been shown a total of 26 million times. Yes. I’m serious and we rounded down
--A very low ball estimate for the cost of a mass mailer to 26 million people would be $400,000. Our ads (which are numerous, targeted, current, etc.) cost us $8,000.

Writing Sermons Two Weeks in Advance

Early in my ministry, Thursdays were my sermon prep day--for the coming Sunday (I’ve never been a Saturday guy; just can’t live that close to the edge). And when we started Cobblestone, 8 or 9 days in advance was the norm. But that changed about five or six years ago, and here’s some of the reasons why:

1. Working two weeks in advance allows for other staff and volunteers to get in on the process. Once a message is written, the work has just begun. The worship pastor plans from it (though she also has the annual teaching plan in outline, titles and Scriptures included, so she does some planning even before that point), the message notes are printed for inclusion in the programs, the presentation slides are created from the message script, any videos or special ingredients are created, etc. Most of this is done by volunteers who really appreciate more than a 24- or 48-hour time frame in which to work!

2. Working two weeks in advance paves the way for extra creativity. For example, a while back, I had mostly finished my message for 2+ weeks ahead, but was missing something impactful to drive home the point of the message. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I threw it out to my fellow staff members. We thought about it for a few days, and eventually settled on a visual, tactile exercise that really supported the application, and made the response time one we’ll remember for a long time. The message was on submission, and I showed a clip of The Passion of the Christ, which depicts Jesus actually crawling ONTO the cross. If I could have, I woulda had a couple life-size crosses on the floor and invited people to crawl onto them to indicate their submission. That wasn’t practical, of course, for a crowd of several hundred. What we did do, though, was to erect two rough-hewn crosses at the front of the auditorium, each with a hundred rough nails driven into them; people then came forward with a small white slip of paper, a “white flag of surrender,” representing their surrender (some folks wrote a prayer or signed their names or listed the things they were surrendering), and impaled the paper onto the nail. It was beautiful...and because the idea had to percolate, and the crosses had to be constructed by one of our gracious volunteers, it would not have been possible if we worked just a few days in advance.

3. Working two weeks in advance allows us to be flexible in the face of unforeseen circumstances. Funerals, births, and sicknesses don’t happen on schedule, so working well in advance gives us the ability to roll with the punches. If a call comes on Friday or Saturday and the speaker for the coming Sunday needs to respond, there’s no problem; everything is already in the can.

4. Working two weeks in advance prevents panic. It’s one thing to be creatively “stuck” while working on a message for later in the month; it’s quite another thing when the well has dried up and Sunday is right around the corner! While I’ve sometimes heard pastors insist they do their best work under pressure, I’ve been the recipient (or victim) of some of those sermons, so I know that’s not always true. And for me, knowing that if the creative juices aren’t flowing, I can give it some time makes a HUGE difference.

I’ll admit that when I first started working that far in advance, it took some getting used to. It was hard at times to project myself--my mind and heart--two weeks into the future and discern what the Spirit was saying to the church. But not anymore. Now, such distance usually improves my prayerful dependence on God, and gives him more room to work. And there are still times when I scratch an idea or insert a new thought in the last couple days. But in those cases, the idea is an improvement, instead of a concession, or an act of desperation.

Baptist Wax

Saw this photo on one of my favorite blogs, The "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks Blog:

So, what exactly IS a Baptist Wax? And do I even wanna know?

Church of the Week: Sesquicentennial Chapel

It was my privilege this past weekend to officiate in the beautiful wedding of Sean and Robyn (Brod) Duley in Miami University's Sesquicentennial Chapel.

The University Chapel was built from contributions of alumni and friends received for the Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1959 (Miami was founded in 1809). The Chapel was dedicated June 7, 1959, as part of the Sesquicentennial. The carillon chimes were dedicated the following October, a gift from Delta Zeta and Delta Sigma Epsilon.

The chapel's interior was completely and beautifully redecorated in 2008.

Groovy Church

I love my church. It was another great day at Cobblestone Community Church! We concluded our "Summer of Love" series with a dynamic worship set, including a moving prayer segment following up last week's "Love Dare," a Top Ten Best Things About the Sixties from John Johnson, and I spoke on "The Breadth of Love," from Ephesians 3:18 and Luke 15:1-7....in the hippie threads you see at left. People laughed. I don't know why. I thought I was groovy.

I love it when the Spirit does his thing, and he did it this morning. Sharla, observing that the worship set was longer than she thought, prayerfully decided to do the final song in the set anyway; I was not sure (because of multiple sound and video clips in the Top Ten list) how long the message would be. But the Spirit took over the timing and it all worked out perfectly!

I love my church. Have I said that?

Teddy Said It

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat" (Theodore Roosevelt).

Ugly Church Art

Carolina Cannonball held an ugly church art contest, and my first reaction was, "some of these aren't that bad." My second reaction was, "Yeah, guess they are." Most of them, anyway. A couple I thought could be borderline. But the "putrid pieta" was merely confusing....until the caption told me it was trying to be a pieta! I had no idea.

My "ugliest" would have to be the "side of beef" Jesus:

and Rock Monster Jesus:

I loved the caption for the above: "Rock Monster will eat your priests."

Several entries, I must admit, reminded me of the entryway sculpture at the Abbey of Gethsemani, which has always creeped out my wife, the lovely Robin:

As one commenter said of the Rock Monster Jesus (but which I think is more applicable to this one), sort of reminds you of Han Solo in carbonite, doesn't it?

Backhanded Compliments

Shaun King made me laugh recently. He related an email he received in which a stranger lambasted him, claiming that he was “shortchanging the Gospel” by making church and Christianity “sound fun.”

Awesome. That's a great criticism to receive. Reminds me of two of my favorite criticisms. One came a couple months ago, when a Christian, believe it or not, intended to insult me by saying, “he’s good at asking for forgiveness.”

The most recent was a couple days ago when I heard, through a member of the church, of a Christian neighbor who expressed disapproval of Cobblestone because it's just a "big party," or something like that.

I'll take both of those "insults." They're among the best compliments I've ever received!

Less Clutter. Less Noise.

This week's recommended book is one on churches getting the message out, by Kem Meyer, communications director at Granger Community Church.

I marked pages to come back to in prayer, pages to discuss with my fellow staff members, pages to share with various volunteers, etc. I want to evaluate our weekend programs; I’ve long sensed that they are an effective communication vehicle for a very small percentage of our attendees, and the cost/benefit seems weighted heavily on the cost side, in terms of money and time (mine and others’). The book steered me to this great blog post by Tim Schraeder, communications director at Park Community Church in Chicago about their assassination of their weekly bulletin.

Meyer’s book has made me much more aware of the information overload our families are dealing with (especially pp. 122-123), the death of print media (even our own) as an effective form of communication, and the counter-productive ways most churches communicate (one of the memorable phrases: “reach fewer people more times”). And it was a timely read as we’re looking over a redesign of our website. And the “back of the book” stuff was very helpful.

God Doesn't Owe You An Explanation

Perry Noble, one of the pastors who pastors me, mainly via his blog:

Letting Leaders Lead

Following is a wise post by Tim Stevens on his blog, Leading Smart. I share his convictions about this principle, but this has been one of areas in which I've gotten the most pushback from some of my friends and fellow leaders in the church:
We call it the "Loose/Tight Principle." That is, you have to decide as leaders what you are going to hold on to loosely, and what you are going to hold on to tightly.

For example, you likely want to hold on to your mission tightly. It's not up for debate. We have defined the mission, communicated it over and over in many ways, and it gives clarity to our direction. We have some major values and beliefs that are also in the "tight" category.

But there is so much that is in the "loose" category. We bring great leaders on the team and then free them up to lead. They make decisions, spend money, set direction, develop ministries--all without a huge approval process or a bunch of hoops to jump through to get permission.

Problems emerge in many organizations like this...

+Bad hiring decisions are made.
+So senior leaders jump in and start running things.
+Then the organization starts to get bottle-necked and people get frustrated.
+So potential high-capacity leaders don't want to participate.
+And the senior leader is too busy running things to properly interview potential leaders.
+So more bad hiring decisions are made.
+And the cycle continues.

If you want to develop a healthy culture--decide the non-negotiables, then get out of the way and watch great people do great things!

Restoring Peace in the Body

I shared the following with my fellow leaders at Cobblestone on June 28, 2005:

Jim Cymbala, pastor of the 6,000-member Brooklyn Tabernacle, writes in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:
One Sunday about 20 years ago, back in our days [of meeting] in the YWCA, I said something impromptu while receiving new members into the church that has stuck with us ever since. People were standing in a row across the front before me, and as I spoke, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to add, "And now, I charge you, as pastor of this church, that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone--myself, another pastor, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else--you have authority to stop that person in midsentence and say, 'Excuse me--who hurt you? Who ignored you? Who slighted you? Was it Pastor Cymbala? Let's go to his office right now. He will get on his knees and apologize to you, and then we'll pray together, so God can restore peace to this body. But we will not let you talk critically about people who are not present to defend themselves'" (p. 160).
I have not yet gotten good at remembering that. But I want to challenge us all, as leaders of God's church, as shepherds of God's flock, to work at emulating that in all our exchanges with the flock.

If someone comes to you with a complaint or criticism about someone else in the church, about anyone else in the church, I urge you to stop that person in midsentence and say, "Let's you and me go to that person right now. Maybe he will get on his knees and apologize to you, and then we'll pray together, so God can restore peace to this body. But I will not let you talk critically about people who are not present to defend themselves."

We spend far too much time and energy and give far too much room for the enemy to work by letting people come to us with their problems with other people, and as leaders we need to model to them and challenge them not to talk ABOUT people they're in conflict with, but to do as Jesus says,
If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God (Matthew 5:23-24, NLT).
He doesn't say go to anyone else. He doesn't say take your complaint to the leadership team. He says "go to your brother."

He does say, in Matthew 18,
But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector (Matthew 18:16-17, NLT).
But conflict resolution in the church must start, not with gossip, not with involving others, not with complaining to the pastors or the CLT, but mano a mano, brother to brother, sister to sister, one on one.

If we help our flock follow the Scriptural pattern, and follow it ourselves, we will very likely see--at least eventually--a decrease in gossip, a decrease in offense, and an increase in repentance and reconciliation.

Strong Words

From Perry Noble's excellent blog:
If you can’t handle being hated…then you are NOT called into ministry!


I think he's right. But wow.

Words to Myself and My Fellow Ministers

Calvin Miller, in his book, Into The Depths of God, writes:
Jeremiah said of his call that it felt like a fire shut up in his bones (20:9). That fire that kept him going when all else failed. But Jeremiah at Benjamin Gate learned another truth: The holy fire of the call is easily quenchable. Dull churchmanship is a fire extinguisher. Business meetings, deacons meetings, committee meetings, and various assorted congregational criticisms all tend to douse the flame--to quench the fire in our bones.

How wonderful are those churches in which the number of members is identical to the number of ministers. In such a church, laypeople are God-called. Their passion burns. Their inner fire rages. They fry their old alarm clocks and can't wait for sunrise. They have an indestructible spirit. They don't buckle under gossip. They outlast their foes. They survive their critics. They awake to praise God on the mornings of their most foreboding trials.

The call of God is so much more than a divine employment agency. Too often the call is equated with vocation, as if God's call is only valid if it means a job in the ministry. The call is more of a relationship than a vocation. A zeal for God. An ardor for the things of God. Ardor joins the applause of God. The angels cannot help but applaud the kneeling and hungry who are famished for God.
Don't let the weighty matters of your task--or the minutia--diminish the flame. Don't let the business damper the call. Remember that just forty words after saying, "his word is in my heart like a fire, like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9), the prophet said, "But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior" (Jeremiah 20:11).

Keep the Lord with you--or rather you always with him, abiding in his presence--and the passion, your sense of calling, may still waver--but it won't die.

Church of the Week: Irwin's Chapel

This week's featured church is Irwin's Chapel, a one-room log church which was built around 1840 near the community of Hamburg in the mountainous county of Madison, North Carolina. After it was no longer used as a meeting house, it was acquired by a local farmer and later purchased by Thomas Tweed of Woodfin, NC, for $35 and a cowboy hat. John Rice Irwin purchased the building and all its contents from Tweed's widow in 1976.

The log pulpit and benches were reportedly from the original church, and the rocking chair belonged to Ben Davis, a Baptist preacher who rode over Madison County on a horse.

Irwin's Chapel is nowadays part of the excellent Museum of Appalachia, in Norris, Tennessee, just off I-75 north of Knoxville. I took the opportunity to preach a very short sermon from the pulpit....so I could say I did.

Another Great Cobblestone Day

Today was another great day of worship at Cobblestone. God filled the house with beautiful worship, and the response at the end was awesome. Thank you, Lord!

(I took this pic on my iPhone while I was backstage waiting to read 1 Corinthians 13 from The Living Bible as part of the song, "You Are My King").

How Do You Read So Much?

I was asked again the other day, “How do you read so much?” It’s asked every so often, particularly when people learn that I read an average of 60 or more books a year. I suspect that, once upon a time in our country and culture, that would not have been considered “so much,” by any means. I betcha folks like Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt and other fairly active, busy people of generations past read far more. But that was then, this is now. Nowadays time that may once have been spent reading is probably consumed by watching television and movies, surfing the web, working out on our Wii Fits, and so on.

And I don’t read nearly as much as I want to. I’m constantly anxious to get back to this book or that, frequently aware that (as my bumper sticker would say if I had one), “I’d Rather Be Reading.”

Still, as an insanely busy husband, father, grandfather, pastor, and erstwhile writer, how do I read more than a book a week?

1. I pray. Daily. Actually, twice daily most of the time. And usually those times of prayer involve reading. So once or twice a day, I’m reading from (of course) the Bible and one or two (or three) other books. Right now those books are The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila, and Ancient Christian Devotional by Oden and Crosby.

2. I read in the bathroom. A dear friend of mine, who has since moved away, used to stop in at my house unexpectedly every so often...to use our first floor bathroom on his way home from work. Since we live less than fifteen minutes from where he lived at the time, I asked him once if he just couldn’t “hold it” another fifteen minutes. He explained, only half-jokingly, that he came for the reading material in the bathroom. In addition to a varied assortment of magazines (Biblical Archaeology Review, Leadership, The Christian Communicator, Poets & Writers, etc.), I keep a current book in the rack....usually one with fairly short chapters, for obvious reasons. The current tome: Axiom, by Bill Hybels.

3. I keep a book with me at all times. My wife, the lovely Robin, once expressed righteous indignation because I left the house for one of our weekly date nights with a book under my arm. “Am I such bad company,” she said, “that you need to bring a book?” I tried to explain that, no, she is sparkling, scintillating, captivating company....but that one just never knows when one might have the chance to read a page or two. She didn’t buy it. I stopped that abominable practice immediately. However, I still take a book everywhere else I go! (And, as a happy and proud iPhone user, I am able to have a book on my person at all times, anyway...I use several applications for that purpose: Stanza, Classics, Shakespeare, and Kindle for iPhone.

4. I read while driving. I admit, there have been times in the past when I actually read a printed book while driving...but only on the expressway. But my wife disapproved that practice as well, so nowadays my “reading” in the car is via audiobooks....books on CD or on my iPhone. Particularly on trips of more than an hour.

5. I read while walking and running, particularly in Spring and Summer and early Fall, I like to listen to an audiobook while walking and running. I choose these books (like those I listen to in the car) fairly intentionally, making sure they’re not books I would want to underline or make notes in. So mostly fiction and biographies. Like John Adams by David McCullough or Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice.

6. I read while waiting in line, while eating, while waiting for someone to show up, at the doctor’s office, at the airport, etc. I even read while waiting in line to buy a book. There are hundreds of opportunities in a given week when I can steal enough time to read a page...or two...or more.

7. I watch very little television. The lovely Robin and I do DVR a few shows to watch together, but I almost never watch television alone. I’d usually rather be reading.

8. I observe a Sabbath. Once a week, I spend an entire day (as God has always said to do) observing a Sabbath--a break from doing, and a day to practice being...with God. On that day, I pray, walk, nap...and read. Most of the time it’s spiritual reading, but not always. And sometimes I read an entire book through the course of the day.

9. I retreat. I take an annual prayer retreat (sometimes more than annual), during which I talk to almost no one but God, and listen to him...primarily through the reading of his Word and other books that foster “interior conversation” with God.

10. I read on vacation. The ideal vacation for me involves a lot of time to read. In a hammock. On a beach. On a porch with a cup of coffee in hand. On the balcony of a cruise ship with a cup of coffee in hand. In a coffee shop with a cup of coffee in hand. You get the idea. (In fact, one of the things I love to do is connect my reading thematically with the place. So, on a recent vacation in Durango, Colorado, I read a couple novels set in that part of the country. On a recent cruise, I read Charles Nordhoff’s Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy. On a California vacation, during which the lovely Robin and I enjoyed a memorable drive down the Pacific Coast Highway from northern to southern California, I read Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, which visits and revisits much of that coastline.)

That about covers it, I think. By the way, in addition to the 60+ books I read each year, I also read feeds from 30+ blogs almost every day. And I peruse a couple news-related websites every day or two. And yet, with all that, I still can’t satisfy my hunger for reading. For books. For words. For the experience of turning a page in anticipation, reading a line of prose or poetry repeatedly because it’s so striking or beautiful or apt, turning a book over in my hands or closing it with gratitude. It’s one of life’s simple--and best--pleasures.

Matter of fact, gotta go. I hear a book calling my name right now.

10 Pieces of Advice for Ministry Candidates

A blog I read regularly is the nakedpastor blog. He made me smile with an entry today:
10 Pieces of Advice for Ministry Candidates

by nakedpastor

I figured I would be helpful to those considering going into the ministry, who feel a call to serve the church, who think they might like to become a priest, pastor, or minister. Follow these pieces of advice and I will save you a lot of time. You will be on the fast track to a clerical career:

1. Stop thinking independently and keep your own thoughts to yourself!
2. Memorize whatever it is you are supposed to believe. Regurgitate! Regurgitate! Regurgitate!
3. Agree with everybody and disagree with nobody. Keep your job is job one.
4. Plan on never changing your mind or having a crisis of faith or morals.
5. Read a room and totally conform to it. Never rock a boat, even a bad one.
6. Meet expectations without resentment. You are the composite of everyone’s religious fantasies.
7. Keep about 20 years behind the times.
8. Criticize everything and everyone who is different from the most popular religious status quo.
9. If you have a personality, lose it!
10. If you want out, break any of the above.

Thank me later.
He pretty much nailed it. I could add several more, but I'm afraid doing so would violate one or more of the above!

In Which I Interview Myself

One of the blogs I read daily, this one LifeChurch.tv: Swerve, by Craig Groeschel, features an interview with a different church leader each day. It's been encouraging in many ways, not the least of which comes from the assurance that I'm not alone, I'm not the only one....in various areas. So, since I don't expect Craig will ever ask me ("Bob Who?"), I thought I'd supply my own answers:

1. What is the biggest leadership lesson you’ve learned over the past year?

That to lead is to make decisions, and to make decisions is to disappoint (some) people. I am also learning that I am responsible for my actions, not other's reactions. I have wasted so much time and energy in the past few years trying to manage or counter people's emotions and dysfunctions and suspicions and the like, and the only thing I got for my trouble was criticism, anxiety, and depression. So I'm learning (sloowwwwly) to lead with all diligence (Romans 12:8), with passion even, but not get focused on results or reactions.

2. What is God showing you personally?

Fear not. If God is sovereign (and he is), and if his plans for me and my family and my church are good plans (and they are), then fear is a sinful waste of energy.

3. What is the top ministry challenge you’re currently facing?


4. What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my wife, the lovely Robin. Spend time with my kids. Spend time with my grandkids. Read.

5. What books are you reading?

Just finished Axiom by Bill Hybels, and am now reading Jerusalem by Karen Armstrong, and The Servant Leader by Blanchard and Hodges. Also Black by Ted Dekker.


Don't know where it came from, exactly, but I have this deep-seated expectation that life--and ministry--is supposed to be generally a smooth path, more or less like this chart:

Naive, I know, but that's just the truth. But God is really working hard at changing that in me. He's teaching me that in the normal course of things, ministry and leadership look more like this chart:

He's teaching me that there ARE constants in ministry and leadership, but that those constants are NOT the ones I expect. The constants I can count on:

Miscommunication and misunderstanding
Unhappy people
People leaving the church
People dealing with sin
People not dealing with sin

BUT there are other constants, too, for which I give thanks:

God's presence
God's power
God's faithfulness
Reminders of my need for grace and forgiveness
Grace and forgiveness
Loving correction from my Father
New friends
New blessings
New joy
New mercies

Obviously both are a partial list. But while I am a slow learner, I do learn every once in a while, and I am learning, as Jesus said, not to be surprised when trials come, but to be of good cheer...because He is my Overcomer.

Mad Church Disease

This week's featured book: Mad Church Disease (Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic) by Anne Jackson, who definitely knows whereof she speaks.

The most striking quote was when she related the question posed to her by a colleague when she was on a church staff and struggling with burnout:
“Does working at this church interfere with your communion with Christ?”
Wow. A lot of pastors would answer as she did, with a resounding “yes.” At times, I would have had to say the same thing.

Other things I underlined:
“We allow the idol of convenience to replace the knowledge that the Holy Spirit has instilled in us” (p. 53).

“No one thinks pastor and then thinks ‘good time’” (p. 164).

And a quote from Penelope Trunk: “People are afraid to be amazing” (p. 174).
The book also, very helpfully, led me to begin the process of reflecting on how my choices, my behaviors are responsible for my own stresses and flirtations with burnout. It’s easy to blame others, or “circumstances,” but the truth is, as she says, “The first step in overcoming burnout is to own up to the decisions that have led you there.” Meaning, my own decisions. Rats.

I WISH I Could Preach

Bishop T. D. Jakes preaching on 2 Kings 4:

This is just part of a long sermon called "It's In the House."

Twitter: An Aid to Prayer

By way of my writer friend Marsha Crockett, I learned via Twitter of the article below, about Gerard Kelly, founder of the Bless Network (with his wife Chrissie, with whom he is pictured below) and Senior Pastor of Crossroads Amsterdam, a church of 40 nationalities. He talks about a new spiritual practice he's discovered, via Twitter:

As reported in London’s Independent and around the world, Ireland’s top Catholic Cardinal Sean Bray has urged his flock to use Twitter as a means of prayer. In a speech in honour of the late Father Patrick Peyton, the Priest famous for coining the phrase “the family that prays together stays together,” Cardinal Bray insists that a new movement of prayer can arise using new technology and social networks.

Publicity-seeking hype, or a genuine call to prayer? Can social networks genuinely become part of spiritual discipline in the 21st Century?

My own experiment with prayer on Twitter would suggest that they well might. At the end of February this year, I was reflecting on what value Twitter might have in my own life. It was just days after the Amsterdam air incident, when a Turkish jet crash-landed in a field a few kilometers from my home. Many people from our church community were involved in the rescue efforts and in treating the victims as they were rushed to local hospitals. And many others were astounded by the speed at which Twitter users were able to inform others of the crash. This was a week in which Twitter, in more ways than one, got everybody talking. And it got me thinking. Two things happened to me as a result. The first was a prayer that rose in my heart: “This day, Lord, be born in me. This day teach. This day heal. This day win, in death, surprising prizes. This day rise, this day rise in me.”

The second was a word: Twitturgies. Why not use Twitter as a means of prayer, all the time accepting the constraints of communication in less than 140 characters? In essence I simply took the Twitter question “What are you doing?” and translated it as “What are you praying?” taking the prayers I was praying in any case and crafting them into personal liturgies.

Two hundred and twenty-four Twitturgies later, the result has been an unexpected change in my own life of prayer. Others have expressed appreciation for the prayers they have received on Twitter, but the real benefits have been in my own spirituality. By allowing my commitment to Twitturgies to force upon me the regular question, “What are you praying?” the practice of writing Twitturgies has blown a fresh breeze through my prayers.

There are three key ways in which this has really helped me: Firstly, it has empowered me to pray frequent, short prayers, peppering my day with snatched moments of prayer, rather than waiting for the rare occasions when I can spend focused hours praying. I still seek out those times when I can, but I am praying more overall by adding these shorter prayers. I don’t update Twitturgies at fixed times, but they are often early-morning or late-evening “tweets,” with whatever opportunities I can find in between to use my computer or phone to pray.

Secondly, the forced constraint of 140 characters brings incredible focus to my prayers. On many occasions I have been surprised by the clarity that emerges. Twitturgies are shared with others, so they have to be interesting, accessible, and easy to understand—criteria that should be perhaps applied to prayer more often. Twitter posts are the new Haiku, and as the Japanese have known for centuries, the constraints of form do not stifle creativity: they give it depth. The challenge of expressing heartfelt prayers in such short sentences has been a new discipline in itself.

Lastly, the practice has made me newly conscious of my own prayers and longings. My aim is that Twitturgies be authentic—that is, that they genuinely reflect something I am praying about. They are prayers, not poems as such. I have to ask myself, “What do I want to say to God right at this moment?” “What is on my heart today?” The questions become part of the discipline. The result of this is that I am both a reader and a writer of Twitturgies; the construction of these prayers speaks to my heart also. And because they are short and sharp, they capture very succinctly what is going on in my soul at a given moment. I archive all the prayers so they are also a kind of spiritual journal. I can look back over a day, or a series of days, and see a pattern in the prayers that have emerged. “Reading” this pattern against the events of that day or days helps me to reflect on my own spiritual journey more deeply.

Twitter has become, for me, a vital part of my prayer life. Because it is intended to be a mobile medium (I write as often from my phone as from my laptop), it is a go-anywhere prayerbook. I have prayed “twitturgically” in between appointments, walking home from the office, during a coffee break, in a worship service, and in the last moments before sleep. Perhaps Twitter can become a kind of technological breath-prayer, a “pray without ceasing” application for any of us.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Saw this awesome cartoon on one of my favorite blogs, The Naked Pastor:

Ain't it the truth? God answers prayer, doggone it! I must admit, I've paid dearly for some prayers I prayed, in all sincerity, not imagining how thoroughly God would answer them. Like a little over a year ago, I think, when I prayed (I have the prayer journal to prove it), "God, show me who my true friends are." Zip, zap, he did, in no uncertain terms.

We complain about unanswered prayers. They test our faith. And they teach us a lot, if we're willing to learn. But just as often we need to beware of answered prayers....they can be a lot more dangerous!

What a Great Idea

Courageous Church, a new church in Atlanta, got my attention (and prayers for their success) with this idea:

5 Reasons To Twitter During Church

Scott Williams, a campus pastor for LifeChurch out of Oklahoma City, posted the following on his "Big is the New Small" blog:
I know there are some varying opinions about texting and utilizing social media during church. I actually use my YouVersion Bible app. on my iPhone during church and I have also been known to Twitter during a church experience/service. I think individuals should Twitter while they are in church and here are 5 Reasons Why.

5 Reasons To Twitter During Church

1. You have the opportunity to be a real-time extension of your pastor’s voice while he/she is communicating God’s word.
2. If the pastor shares something that moves you, inspires you or changes your life; there is a good chance it will have the same impact on the lives of your followers as well.
3. When Jesus said: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel… “All The World” applies to the Internet world, as well as the TwitterWorld. Do your part by going into all the TwitterWorld, tweeting the Good News.
4. You will have a stored database of your compelling thoughts and notes, from your favorite sermons.
5. You can spare a couple of minutes of (SAD) Sermon Attention Deficit during most sermons. It’s better use of your time Twittering great thoughts than drawing on the back of offering envelopes.

Church of the Week: La Compañía

On the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa, Peru, is the Jesuit church, La Compañía. This is one of the oldest churches in Arequipa. La Compañía was completed in 1698 and boasts an elaborate façade of sillar stone, mined from the nearby volcano, Misti. The cloisters Baroque-style stone arches contain carvings from the Jesuit Order and gargoyles spew the rainwater from the roof.

I snapped this shot from the top deck of a tour bus, at the outset of our four-hour tour of Arequipa in May, 2009.

CommunityFest 09

Wow, what a great day. Thank you, God. Our first community festival since occupying The Loft was a roaring success, beginning with a fabulous motorcycle ride that introduced us to many, many new friends.

Then followed a packed celebration at 11 a.m. (instead of our usual dual celebrations), after which we all adjourned to eat, play, spend time together, meet neighbors and new friends, and just generally have a blast.

There was free food and drinks, a cornhole tournament, pony rides, a euchre tournament, ring toss, bouncy house, kids' fishing pond, marshmallow driving range, live music, kids' crafts, and more!

At 3:00 we headed into the auditorium for a wonderful worship wrap-up to the day, and that was wonderful, too. God gave us very comfortable temperatures, no rain, and even sunshine late in the festival! I can't even express how blessed I am to be a part of such a wonderful church family! Thank you, God.

CommunityFest 09, Baby!

Praying for good weather and a great effort today. So many finestkind people have put their time and dedication into this effort, and we're praying for it to have a real impact, bless our neighbors, and let people mingle with a church full of people that aren't totally weird.

10 Things That Are Harder Than I Expected

From the excellent church planter blog, Shaun In the City, a list of Ten Things (about church planting) That Are Harder Than I Expected:
Starting (and growing) a brand new church isn’t easy. I’ve made a ton of mistakes since we launched 6 months ago and aired some of my dirty laundry for you by sharing a big ‘ol list of mistakes here. However hard you expected it to be, plan on it being much harder. Some people say it like this, “If you could (or want to) do anything else, do that.”

Sounds harsh, but church planting, while fulfilling to the core, is just hard. I can’t say it any simpler than that.

Here is a quick list of 10 things about starting Courageous Church that have been much harder than I expected. They are not in any special order.

Over the course of this week, I’ll be breaking down a few of these areas in more detail. Let me know in the comments section if you want me to expound on one in particular.

If you are a church planter, do any of these resonate with you?

1. Fostering Real Diversity

2. Raising Money

3. Finding and Managing Good Musicians

4. Following Through on Lofty Promises

5. Training New Leaders

6. Not Bugging People about the Church

7. Pushing the Creative Envelope

8. Balancing Church Work, Family Life, Education

9. Informing People of Tough Decisions

10. Sticking to Our Mission/Vision
All of those resonate with me (though #3 was only a challenge until our worship pastor, Sharla, came on board). But to those I would have to add:

11. Communicating clearly and effectively

12. Handling conflict

13. Stopping gossip

14. Inventing and installing effective systems

15. Structuring for growth

That's not everything, of course. But it's a start.

I Need More Less is More Leadership and Less More is More Leadership. Need I Say More?

This week's book of the week happens to be by Dale Burke, Chuck Swindoll’s successor at Fullerton EV Free, who also used to pastor in Oxford, where I now pastor. But I’m reading it because of the title, and the promise of “Less is More Leadership.” I need that.

See, I’m on staff in a church that wisely grants our staff a “weekend” off every week (Monday AND Tuesday). That’s NOT the rule among pastors, I know, and for all my previous ministry history, I felt like I was doing great when I got ONE day off a week! So how come, even with two days off a week (most weeks), one of which I reserve as a sabbath, how come I still feel like Wednesday morning hits and the next five days are a frantic ride on the back of a tiger who’s just been shot out of a cannon that was packed with rocket fuel? I’ve been asking this question of everyone I can lately, fellow pastors, friends, my shrink, you name it!

On the one hand, I and my fellow staff members accomplish a prodigious amount of work every single week, so I am grateful for that. But, on the other hand, I don’t feel like we’ve hit a rhythm yet, a routine to our week that contributes to peace, creativity, etc. Maybe our problem is partly the timing of a Mon/Tues “weekend.” After all, Sunday is game day, so to speak, for us, and it’s only natural for the whole rest of the week to point to that day.

Also, I know that we’re blessed as a church to have staff members whose tendency is to work too hard. That’s the kinda people we always wanna hire, of course. It’s a blessing, and sure makes for great staff relationships and cooperation. But maybe we’re not doing such a great job of helping each other achieve sanity in our routines and rhythms. Maybe we ALL need to figure out how to lead and still have a life (and Burke's book has been helpful, so much so that we've incorporated the video series into our staff meetings).

I know there are some pastors who don’t feel constantly under the gun...right? I see ‘em at pastors’ conferences all the time. They’ve got it figured out. They’re refreshed, they’re in the zone ministry-wise....so if you’re out there, tell me what I’m doing wrong!

A Preacher's Worst Nightmare

Sometimes the words just don't come out right....


One of the best pastor blog names out there (next to my own "Desperate Pastor" site, of course) is the Steve Brown-hosted "PoopedPastors.com." I've subscribed to the blog, and registered for the pastor forums they have on the site, which Steve claims is the best feature of the site.