Monthly Archives: January 2013

Executing

The other day I determined that the biggest challenge for me about being an Executive Pastor (or any leader really, I suppose) is in the executing.  It’s much easier to talk about executing; to sketch out gameplans and org charts about what the execution would look like; to troubleshoot said hypothetical execution; to mull it over, consider all options & angles.

But alas, at some point a trigger has to be pulled.  At some point the calculated risk becomes actual risk.

The hard part is in the execution, is in making the call, in owning the call you’ve made–come what may.  And you’ll make some bad ones.  And you’ll have to take responsibility for those.  The good ones won’t move you nearly as far up the field as you hoped and it won’t be nearly long enough before something or someone else needs you to make another important decision you feel underqualified or unprepared to make.  Such is the nature of leadership.

Analysis is incredibly important.  Thoughtful decision making is an art.  I can roll it around in my brain for weeks and come to a conclusion too late.  A good decision that is no longer needed or valuable or relevant is pointless.

I don’t like being wrong.  I strongly dislike learning lessons the hard way.  I LOATHE preventable mistakes.  You can see how difficult this is when your job is making decisions- big and small- every day.

“What if that flops?”

“What if there’s a better way I’m not thinking of?”

“What if people don’t respond the way I think they will?”

Some days the “what ifs” get the best of me and paralysis and worry sets in.  Other days I muster up the courage I need to lead with some semblance of strength & confidence.

Those days I can usually find some courage in a few faithful places:

My pastor (and boss)

…who believes in me enough to entrust this really big, important job to really little, often indecisive me.  I trust that he isn’t maliciously setting me up for failure, throwing me in the deep end to watch me flail about. (Though some days I’m still not so sure!)  I trust that he won’t let me make too big of a mess and that he will support my calls publicly and correct me privately.  I trust that he is for me.

My smallness in a big, big world.  

That same pastor once shared with our team this quote from Tolkien’s The Hobbit

“Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

At Renovatus we talk a lot about the gift of smallness, the gift of obscurity.  In our culture, obscurity is often seen as punishment and a thing to be escaped.  But a lot of good and important stuff happens in obscurity.  Character is developed, skills are sharpened, faith is built, a solid foundation is poured.  Here in obscurity I can learn a lot even while leading.

It’s a gift to recognize I am just one person amidst billions of others.  I am one pastor among millions around the world.  I run an organization that is one of millions.  I am not nearly as unique, my circumstances & challenges not nearly as unique, as I’d like to think.  Recognizing my smallness ironically gives me confidence to embrace the new adventures that the Lord brings.

My God Who is able.

I take an awful lot of comfort in knowing that the Lord is infinitely more concerned about His church than I ever can be.  He will honor my humility and sincerity.  His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted…even when I make a bad call.  The Lord managed long before I came along and He will do just fine long after I’m gone.  I choose to believe that the Lord is sovereign and good.

______________________________

Leaders, by all means, let’s do our homework.  Let’s think critically and prayerfully and be prepared.

Let’s just not get stuck there.  Let’s execute.

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Move on

In my discipleship group in college I learned Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  We claimed it as this verse of trusting God and waiting on Him.  It was a verse of surrender and patience.

Fast forward 4 years and I’m sitting in church and Pastor Jonathan was literally in a teaching series surveying ALL OF SCRIPTURE.  It was a long series 😉  He got to verse 14 and I expected the same interpretation and application as I was taught.  And then he read verse 15 aloud:  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

MIND BLOWN.
(ALSO: Lesson learned in the importance of reading Scripture in context before memorizing it and claiming it as a “life verse” out of context.)

As much as I love to be busy and productive and take matters in to my own hands, I wish that v 14 is where the story ended.  I wish I could be still and let the Lord just work it out and holler at me when it’s done.  I suppose there are times when that might be the case, but most often I feel like it’s more a both/and.

The Lord will fight for me and He will tell me to move on.

The Lord will call me to still my soul and to press on.

The Lord will hide me in the shadow of His wings and I will throw off things that hinder me and run the race marked out for me.

He has given us things to do, even when we feel like there is nothing we can do.  He allows the sun to rise and set day after day even when, frankly, we’d rather Him not.

When things get heavy or hard and all I want is to sleep for a week or 3 until “it” passes, there are dishes to do and emails to answer and babies to bathe and meetings to run.  I can choose to be resentful of the routines that must continue, of the seemingly unsympathetic time that ticks on by– or I can see those things as means of grace.

Grace in the conversation at lunch with a friend in need that counters (or at least distracts me from) my self-pity.  Grace in the alarm clock that kicks me out of the bed.  Grace in a hot shower- a perfect place for crying, for a moment of solitude, and for drumming up the courage to step out into the day set before me.

I trust that the Lord is okay with it not being pretty or efficient or neat or without faltering.  It doesn’t even have to be out of noble ambition or holy desire.  It can be by feeble and limping faith in what I cannot possibly see or understand in this moment.  It can be in obedience and surrender despite my uncertainty and reluctance.

I cry out and hear the Father, full of compassion and tenderness, calling out to me…

Move on.