I'm sitting here while Upward basketball is going on. It's another very busy Saturday. I arrived at the church around 6:30am. I'm here until around 9pm. I ref games, coach my team and make myself available for the folks working here and coming in to watch their kids.
During this break from the action, I'm working on my presentation for tomorrow night's Ministry Meeting. This quarterly meeting will be for the entire church with a meal and discussion about our future. It's kind of a state of the union address for the church.
This year, as I've said to many in the church, is a key year in the existence of this church. We are stepping out in faith in order to do what we feel God is calling us to - fulfill the Great Commission and Great Commandment. The great challenge right now is helping the members of our church understand this vision. We have a great church made up of great people, but the reality is that many have just "done church" the same way for so long they actually believe we are doing all we were placed here to do. That's the kind of thinking the Laodicean church had in the Book of Revelation. Remember them? They were so lukewarm, it sickened God. We don't ever want to drift there.
Part of our vision includes the expansion to the South Campus and the calling of Brandon Phillips as our new Worship Leader/Single Adult Pastor. You can read about Brandon at www.opfirst.org. I believe so strongly that he is the man for this vital position.
I was reading some blogs from other pastors and leaders and came across Perry Noble's. I love what he wrote here regarding advice for moving ahead as a leader and a church. I think we can take this to heart (me as pastor, all of us as the church.)
Perry was writing about seven things that will kill one's joy in ministry. Read this, my comments are in red.
#1 - Comparison - If you compare yourself to other churches then you will always be in some sort of depressed mode–there is always someone else out there who is seemingly growing faster or being more creative. Compare yourself ONLY to the vision God gave you. (Man, I'm so guilty of this and so are many of our church members. I always hear how First Baptist Middleburg, Hibernia and Celebration Churches are doing. So many people in our community church hop and so many former members here now attend these other churches, that you cannot help but hear what others are doing. The problem is when you cannot rejoice that other churches are reaching people, rather you stay angry because you fall into the trap of comparison. It's a bad thing that leads to death in a church. We have to avoid this.)
#2 - Critics - If you hyper focus on them they can seem larger than the world…my advice, don’t swim with the sharks, don’t eat yellow snow and don’t listen to people who don’t love you and desire nothing more than to tear you down! (I get this often, and I'm sure all our pastors and volunteers do as well. We can come off the greatest worship experience of the year and someone will come up and blast me or one of the other guys for not making enough hospital visits or not saying "hi" to someone, etc. I guess it's just about discerning where to swim, what to eat and who to listen to. A contant challenge.)
#3 - Being Busy - There are so many pastors/church leaders out there who feel like all they do is spin plates…and that one day things “will just get better.” To make matters worse–we now have devices that we carry that make sure our schedule is always in front of us AND that we are always accessible. (OK, I'm depressed now. I'm three for three on this list. Don't know if I should have told you this, but I hear honesty is good for the soul. At least you know how to pray for me. I will say that over Christmas break, I took two weeks off. We didn't go anywhere, but I also didn't come into the office or do any work. That was a good thing. I think I get three weeks of vacation a year. So far, over my 14 years here, I've averaged losing two weeks because I didn't take it. That's not happening anymore. I'm getting smarter in this area.)
#4 - Pride - Daniel 4:37 is so true! Trust me, I know! Anytime I’ve ever thought, “Dang I’m good,” God always brings me down a level…OR FOUR! (AMEN)
#5 - Loss of Perspective - Whenever I think that I am more concerned about the church than Jesus it always causes stress and anxiety, which negates joy! Remember–it is HIS church! (Great reminder. I needed to hear this. Maybe you did too.)
#6 - Lack of Faith - Whenever I desire comfort more than obedience I always know that something is not right! Hebrews 11:6 is SO true! (Well, the new campus and new ministries definitely aren't comfortable. It is about obedience.)
#7 - No Growth - Whenever I stop reading, listening to other teachers and don’t network with other leaders I both feel alone AND I rob NewSpring (This is Perry Noble's church) of the collective wisdom of other people who are much wiser than me. When I feel the pressure of having to come up with every new idea–it ALWAYS robs me of joy!
You may need this advice as much as I did. Hope to see you Sunday.