I love the Ted talk that Simon Sinek gave a few years ago about how great leaders inspire action. The premise of the talk is that people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it. They follow you because they believe what you believe.
I would add for organizations and ministries, almost as important as sharing the why is how you choose to communicate the why. Email is a perfect medium for communicating the what. You can list all of the facts, numbers and details perfectly in an email, but you cannot convey the heart behind all of those 1′s and 0′s.
Great ideas need pushback. They need emotion. They need understanding that only comes through intense dialogue.
I have my doubts that if Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech had been communicated in a newsletter, that it would have inspired the millions that it has. When you watch the video of the speech, you see the passion, you see the commitment, you see the why.
I would challenge you that the next time you need to convey a new initiative, thought or idea, don’t do it in an email. Actually get up and walk across the office to share it in person. It will not only help communicate the why, but you might also burn a few calories in the process as well.
I heard someone say recently that when we are trying to light a fire under ministries, what we are doing most of the time is like using a gas can on the bbq. It will build a big fire for a few seconds, but then you’re left with what you had before – except now it smells bad. What we should be doing is putting on nice, big logs that will burn for a long time.
We all want big fires that get noticed. That 6 week campaign that pushes everyone into groups. The message series that looks enticing on an evite. Those are great, but if the foundation for the fire is not in place, then at the end of the 6 weeks you will be left with what you had before.
We have to always think about next steps. What is the follow up process for those host groups that we started for the fall series? Do we have the infrastructure to assimilate the new people that attended out of curiosity and now want something more?
Almost anyone can blow things up for a minute, but the real trick is turning that spark into a long lasting fire.
This year will be my 20th in full-time ministry. There are so many days where I wish that I could go back and start all over. Not because I am disappointed with where I am now, but because I could have saved so much time and anguish trying to figure a few things out.
Experience and time always manage to bring some clarity. I would not trade any of my experiences because they helped shape me into who I am today, but there are a few things that would have been nice to know from the get go.
It’s really ok to be me
I know this is a cliché that is used all the time, but it was a long lesson that I had to learn in ministry. On the surface, my gifts and temperament are not ideally suited for my entry into ministry. I was an introvert functioning as an extrovert in an extremely extroverted environment. For many years, I felt like I was coming up way short of where I should be because I didn’t fit the ideal that my peers seemed to be. It has only been in the last few years that I have come to realize that effective ministry takes every type of personality.
I didn’t know anything at 23
I think almost every youth pastor believes that they could lead the church better than the senior guy. After all, we are the ones on the cutting edge of ministry. If the leadership would just listen to us, the church would be better off. At 23, my youth group was having some success while the overall church was going through some struggles. I was convinced that if I were in charge, things would turn around. We just needed to add some pop songs in worship and people would stop leaving. I now realize that I didn’t have a clue. I had no idea about the decisions, the stress, the pressure that went into being the guy at the top of the chain.
Family comes first
I still recall the moment when this principle first dawned on me – I was sitting in a meeting following one of our first Easter services. We had just had our first child, and I had basically not seen my family for the last 2 months. My wife decided that she had had enough and asked someone to pull me out of the meeting so she could inform me that she was done being a single parent. I immediately realized that I was succeeding at work but failing with my family. I would love to say that I have never struggled with that balance since, but I have come a long way. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s too much wreckage out there to not make your family the top priority.
A Sabbath is not a suggestion
God knew what he was talking about when he commanded that we take a day off each week. I think this commandment is very easy to ignore when you’re in ministry. After all, everything that we are working on is for God – right? Satan doesn’t take a day off, so why should we? If you are not taking a weekly Sabbath, then you are telling God that you are in control – not Him. God needs us at our best, and I can guarantee that He’s not getting it if you are not taking the time to refuel consistently. I wish I had learned this way earlier in my ministry.
I am in Dallas this week, hanging out with a group of churches at Leadership Network talking about the rapid growth that each church has seen and how it impacts their ministry. One of the comments, after an exercise yesterday, was how it was nice to hear other churches that are going through the same stuff.
When I was a campus pastor at Seacoast Church, my favorite meeting every month was when I got together for the day with a few other campus pastors and just talked about what was going on. It was always extremely freeing to discover that other guys were having the same issues that I was.
C.S.Lewis said that, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
Everyone one of us needs a tribe. I need a group of people that are living the same experiences and are not too impressed with me. When you have a tribe, you can be real. You can be vulnerable. You can experience the freedom of saying, “What! You too?”
Who is your tribe?
1. It’s really hard
Helping someone become a fully devoted follower of Christ is not for the faint of heart. There will be times of elated joy and times of extreme frustration. People’s lives are messy, and walking this journey with them gives you a back stage pass to the ugliness.
2. It takes a long time
Most of us are not very patient – especially when it comes to other people. We want to see immediate results, or we’re on to the next thing. Becoming a disciple of Christ is a long road that takes time and patience. There is a lot to cultivate and refine. We didn’t get this way overnight.
3. It requires relationship
If Jesus was our example, then we are not meant to take this journey on our own. Disciples are not made in a classroom or on a pew. Iron sharpens iron. The only way to help someone become more like Christ is to be a part of their life. All of the good and all of the bad.
4. There’s not a finish line
By nature, we want to see the job finished. My favorite part of mowing my lawn is when it’s finally done. I can spend a couple minutes admiring my mowing skills and then move on to the next conquest. That’s not the way it works with spiritual growth. We’re never finished until we’re standing in front of Jesus.
5. It causes growth
What you may not realize is – when you decide to help disciple someone else, chances are, you are going to grow. Growth is difficult. Growth means change. Every time we take another spiritual step, it requires more from us. It would be much easier to stay right where we are, but the fact is, living things grow.