i have been absolutely loving being a dad and this new season of life. so so so so fun! the coolest thing lately has been watching adelina smile voluntarily (not that fake, “i-can’t-help-it” kinda way”).
but even as cool as it is, and even though when i’m home i never wanna leave, i know how easy it still is to overwork and give too much of my time to the church. andy stanley summed it up a few years ago here by challenging us with this tension. here’s a small bit, head there for the rest:
I’d like to tell you about the best leadership decision I’ve ever made. It came back in 1995 when we decided to launch North Point Community Church. My wife, Sandra, and I had two kids at that time, both of which were in diapers, and she was pregnant with our third child.
If you’ve ever started a church, you know it is extraordinarily time intensive. You’re never done. Whenever you go home, there is stuff left to do. And yet I found myself in this stage of life where there was more to do at home than there had ever been. So I found myself in this awful dilemma. There was not enough time to do everything, and there wasn’t enough time to be who I needed to be as a leader of this brand new organization, as a father of two little boys, and the husband of a wife who was pregnant and doing her best to support me emotionally through a very difficult transition. I found myself sitting alone one afternoon thinking, I can’t do all of this.
The “Work” Paradox
Think of the dilemma: If you stayed at work (and the “work” could be business or church) until you got every single thing done that you needed to get done and were just far enough ahead to where you could actually enjoy the next day, you’d never go home, right?
If you stayed at home until everybody at home got the time and attention they wanted, you’d never go to work! Never once have my kids said to me, “Dad, I think we’ve played enough. Why don’t you go on in the house and see if you can get some work done.” That has never happened, and it never will.
i love the courageous decision he made to set a radical boundary by coming home every day at 4:30, and in these early days with adelina, the whole article was a good reminder and challenge. you’re gonna cheat one of them… don’t let it be your family!
i hate all-nighters (those insanely stupid youth events where hundreds of teens congregate together all night with no sleep and lots of rockstar). if i was a singer, i’d perform this song right now for you (but i’m not so i’ll just keep typing). 🙂 more than anything this probably just means i’m getting old – doh! i’m not gonna complain about it because…
- it’s not about me. i have to tell myself this all the time. ministry is not about me, and what i feel at the moment doesn’t really matter. it’s just simply not about me.
- teens will bring their seeking friends tonight. i’ve already been seeing some pre-registrations come in, and it’s always exciting to see new names. when they heard that a church was putting it on, they still decided to come… which likely means there’s at least some interest inside them in this whole God thing.
- a few of them will stick around long term. one of the guys in my small group came to this all-nighter last year, and i remember really connecting with him there for the first time. it’s been super cool to see him stick around all year and inch closer to God in the process.
- teens will have fun tonight. and in a world where teens face more heartbreak, pain and hurt than ever before, it will put a smile on my face to see them having the time of their life! life is just too hard to not have fun in the midst of the mess.
- it’s a safe place for hurting students. there will be caring adults all over the place, and structures in place to keep the environment safe. a student can come without worrying if they’ll get jumped, beat up, or bullied.
- in terms of all-nighters, it really is a good one. we’ve all heard the horror stories of bored teens trapped in small buildings, but that’s not what tonight is. we meet at our church, then head to the rochester sports garden, then to the clubhouse funcenter, then to bowling, and then back to our church for some dodgeball. at 6am we serve a hot breakfast, and then send em home at 7am! no down time whatsoever!!!
- our church will get to work together with other churches. i love our network of local youth pastors, and we’ve been working together on this for a few months now. we all love students and there’s value in linking arms around common goals.
- some parents will have the opportunity to go on a date together. there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing the heartbreak in a student’s eyes because they know their parents aren’t in love anymore. i know not all of them will do this, but hopefully some will go to LongHorn Steakhouse together, catch a movie, or grab some ice cream at Abbott’s and simply enjoy some uninterrupted time together.
we had some friends over last night and were watching WIPEOUT together. there’s something great about seeing other people in pain (on this TV show at least). i’m convinced there’s no possible way to be cool on that show, especially with the voice overs by the announcers.
but as i was watching it, i was reminded again how well the announcers and script writers craft the words they use throughout the show. and i think those of us who speak on a regular basis can learn a lot from them.
take this clip for example:
on every show they highlight a few contestants, film them saying or doing something goofy at the beginning, and then craft the rest of the show’s script around that little bit. it may just be me, but it’s amazing how they bring so many different nuances of specific words for each different contestant coming through the same obstacle course.
as someone who speaks on a regular basis, we can learn a lot from these guys. here’s 3 things i jotted down:
- PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME. it’s obvious while this show retains a good deal of spontaneity on the part of the contestants, many edits are done before going public. the announcers’ script is part of that, which has given them time to word smith and craft their commentary. as pastors we all feel the pressure to prepare more ahead of time, and when God shows up with His power, it certainly pays off.
- USE WORDS RELEVANT TO THE SITUATION. it’s so easy for all of us to speak with terms that are outdated, irrelevant to the situation, or with words that simply don’t fit. preparing ahead of time helps us with this, but we still have to be immersed enough in culture to know how language is changing.
- WRITE OUT THE SCRIPT. after reading speaking to teenagers, i was challenged to write out word for word the entire script of each message before hand. i rarely have time to complete it all in the course of a normal week, but what i’ve found when i do is that it allows me to choose my words even more carefully. i don’t use the script when i’m actually speaking, but it’s amazing how many of those words are delivered even after simply writing them out ahead of time.
last week we were able to bring the baby up on stage at lakeshore and dedicate her with a few other couples. for us and our church, a baby dedication has little to do with the baby (directly) but more for the parents. it was an opportunity for us to stand up in front of our church and declare our desire to teach and model the ways of Jesus, as well as our desire for the church’s help in that process. here’s a picture of adelina with pastor vince and one other from the dedication. i also threw a few other random pics in there just for free 🙂
today in our student services we used a fun app that you’ve probably seen around: Talking Tom 2. it was super easy to make (especially for me since someone else made it!). it records your voice, turns it into a more funny pitch, and then allows you to render it as a video. oh, and it’s free!
if you want a cheap and easy way to get the announcements out to your students, use tom!
yesterday i posted some thoughts about a pastor/blogger who lost his voice due to some sin left unchecked in his life. it’s a danger NONE of us are beyond and ALL of us could fall to. and it’s why paul says in 1 corinthians 9:26-27:
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
unfortunately, i’ve recently heard of a number of fellow pastors sidelined due to sin – one i went to college with… so so sad. for me, when i hear these pain-filled stories, i want it to be more than tabloids and news: i want it to motivate me and remind me of some things we all know but too often forget. here’s what i do:
- PRAY. i get away for a minute or two to simply pray for all involved. sin is never done in a vacuum, and it never just affects you. it leaves a trail of carnage, and digging from the rubble takes churches and families years. i pray for the individual(s) at fault and the restoration process, for their families, spouses, and kids, and for the church leaders and members, as well as the church’s community.
- PRINT. whenever things like this happen, there’s usually a press release or news articles. the sad reality is that you can google the person’s name and the links that come up first are not their great accomplishments in ministry, but the one careless act that took them out of the game. i print the articles, read them, and stick them in a folder that i keep in my bag. from time to time, i’ll read through all the articles to remind myself of the ugliness of this all.
- PAUSE. i then pause for introspection and ask God to reveal to me areas of weakness in my own life. again, none of us are too far from this, and we must remind ourselves that we’re not as strong as we think we are. i try to pause long enough to see the faces of the people i love and have built into, and the shock that would come to their life if that news article was about me.
what do you do when you hear of a sidelined pastor?
i try to read and keep up with a number of blogs from a variety of backgrounds. they stretch my thinking, give me new ideas and inspiration, and challenge where i’m at.
but i just removed one blog from my google reader. the guy was a pastor at a growing church and had a ton of great content on leadership – i loved reading his stuff. about a month ago when i checked out his blog there was a letter posted from him to his congregation, admitting to a 2 year long affair with someone else in the church.
my heart still aches for the church, staff, and certainly for him and his family. i watched the new interim pastor read the letter to the congregation in a church service when the news broke. it was painful to watch over a computer screen with no real connect to the church. i can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear the unbelievable news about a person you’ve grown to love and trust. it’s unneeded, stupid pain.
tomorrow i’ll post on what i do when i hear of others in ministry who have been sidelined due to sin. i want it to be more than tabloids and news for me; i want it to serve as a humble reminder of how it could just as easily be me. but in the wake of this experience, he still is posting content on church leadership, and i just have a hard time respecting his voice anymore when i see his posts come up. is it something for me to work through? …probably. but nonetheless, the fact remains:
when you’re sidelined due to sin, [at least for a time] you lose your voice and influence. it doesn’t matter how much training, experience, and skills you possess, if you lose your purity and sacrifice your family, you lose your voice.
friends, there’s still too much to be done for you to step out of the game. it could be you and it could be me just as easily. what are you doing to keep yourself in the game?
for the last 5 or 6 years, i’ve avoiding going to the dentist, like it were a chinese prison camp or something. it may have something to do with this horror movie i saw:
actually, for the record, i never did watch that film, but it had been a new year’s resolution to get caught up in the tooth department for a couple years running now. finally a few weeks ago i decided to man up and ‘get er done’, and a truth that applies to much of life and ministry was made abundantly clear to me as i sat in that chair:
problems don’t just go away on their own.
after the initial cleaning and doctor exam, i was given a somewhat hefty rap sheet of all that needs to happen, and i’ve wasted no time starting the process. just the other day i had 2 wisdom teeth yanked, and in a couple weeks will start the first filling of i think around 6 cavities.
no, problems don’t just go away.
- loud exhaust systems on your car
- a leaky faucet in your home
- relationship issues within your family
- poor budgeting & spending habits
- team dysfunctions within an organization
- gossip and venomous speech (more prevalent in churches than we’d like to admit)
- a disgruntled parent or church member with influence
- and the list goes on…
to fix the problem, it’ll take a radical resolve to get your hands dirty.
it’s not pleasant, and there’s usually a cost involved.
pain will be a part of it for sure.
but the payoff and health afterwards is worth it.
what areas of your life and ministry do you need to deal with?
BTW, if you’re in the rochester area and looking for a dentist – mine actually is really great and i’m SUPER thankful for them! you can check them out right here: MODERN FAMILY DENTAL