My brother-in-law is in a killer band called We Are Voices. This is their latest song “Loneliness.” Be sure to check them out.
Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.
- Brad Lomenick on 6 key lessons he learned in his 20’s. Good stuff.
- 7 things preachers can learn from Andy Stanley’s sermon to students.
- Brian Dodd on 10 ways to show pastors and leaders love.
- Brian Howard on 3 ways to be more productive as a pastor.
- Loneliness in leadership is a choice.
- Tim Challies on How far is too far.
Middle Class Problems
The Ragamuffin Trailer (interested to see this as I love Rich Mullins music)
- Seth McBee on Satan in the suburbs. Great reminder of how Satan shows up when people are on mission, yet Jesus is more powerful.
- 4 keys to creating momentum in your church.
- Nick Bogardus on The search for authenticity.
- Text and tweet during a church service.
- Tim Challies on Is a wife’s job harder than her husband’s job?
- If you lead something complex, loneliness will follow.
- Perry Noble on 5 core values of a declining church.
- Why I quit following celebrity pastors on twitter and why you should too.
- Ed Welch on An intrusion into the Christian bedroom. Some helpful things here.
- The historical reliability of the Bible. Helpful stuff.
- Michael Horton on Application in sermons.
- The gospel and marriage explain one another.
- Ed Stetzer interviews Scot McKnight on his book The King Jesus Gospel. You can read my review of the book here.
- 5 suggestions on raising boys. Love the last one, one of our dreams with our kids is to have the house their friends want to come to.
- Fight the funk.
- Jeff Vanderstelt closed our series Uprising at Revolution and what spiritual power means, how to tap into it and how it can change a city. Definitely worth a listen.
- Hollywood is suddenly hot for the Bible.
- Does Joel Osteen not know or not care?
- Tony Morgan on Knowing who should be on a senior leadership team.
- Involving children in a missional community.
- Rick Warren on 3 ways to overcome loneliness in ministry.
- On mission this Halloween.
- Ed Stetzer on What to do with “issue Christians.” Great advice here.
- Church attendance ceilings.
- Grace Driscoll on Being a Pastor’s wife.
Over the weekend I read Reggie McNeal’s book Practicing Greatness. I had it on my shelf for years and for some reason Friday night Katie was out so I made some coffee, put on some music and started reading. I was grabbed immediately.
Here is the short review: If you are a leader of any kind, you need to buy this book. I would easily put this in my “Top 10 leadership book” list. It is that good.
Still not convinced? Keep reading.
You might think from the title that the idea of being great and being a spiritual leader shouldn’t or don’t go hand in hand. Shouldn’t leaders be humble? Obscure? Especially spiritual ones? What McNeal points out is that “greatness in the kingdom of God is a journey toward humility.” The problem that McNeal points out and I agree is that too many spiritual leaders and churches are mediocre. They don’t aspire to be great. They don’t aspire to use all the gifts and talents that God has given them. And that is a sin. Greatness is not just about character. It’s also about effectiveness.
So what is a great spiritual leader?
Great spiritual leaders bless people. Depending on their sphere of influence, this blessing may extend to those in their organization, their spiritual tribe, a region, an entire nation, the whole human race – whoever populates their leadership constellation. Great spiritual leaders are not just given to great issues; they are given to people. In the end, this capacity to bless is the deciding category that elevates them to greatness in spiritual leadership…Leaders who achieve greatness are not only blessings; they feel blessed. They count themselves blessed by those they lead and serve. They are blessed by their colleagues. They are blessed by their leadership team. They are blessed by their friends. They often enjoy the blessing of family. Most of all, they feel blessed by God…These leaders are marked by gratitude. They consider leadership a privilege. Not unaware of its burdens, they are grateful for their assignment. Even though the price of greatness may and often does include emotional, physical, and spiritual stress, they count themselves fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with God in his redemptive mission in the world. Though the road to greatness exacts even their lives, they would not swap the journey for any lesser pursuits. They cannot imagine, in the end, doing anything else.
But how do you choose greatness? Does every leader choose it?
You are faced with the option of greatness as a spiritual leader. You can choose, as countless others have done, to settle for less. If you do, you die a premature death. And you rob others of the chance to live a better life. If you decide to go for greatness, it will cost you everything you have and are. You will have to surrender your life. You will no longer belong to your personal dreams and petty agendas. Your days and years will belong to the One who believes in you so much he has risked his agenda on you. You will die first, only to discover this is the way to life.
What McNeal does it he lays out what we need to do to be great leaders. He pinpoints 7 practices, disciplines as it were:
- Self-awareness: knowing what you are good at and not good at. Knowing how to maximize your strengths. Knowing why you react to things a certain way, why some people rub you the wrong way, why you are prone to certain sins or certain things attract your attention.
- Self-management: How you manage your life, health, marriage, mind, learning, body, sexuality, relationships, time. No one but the leader can manage it. Whenever you say, “I don’t have time for that, it is because you haven’t made time for that.”
- Self-development: If you are going to develop and grow, what is the plan. The old adage is true: “Leaders are learners.” Who will you learn from? How will you learn? What will you learn and grow in? For me, I set a goal of reading at least 1 book a week. When I run or have long drives, I listen to podcasts, sermons, etc. Maximize your time. Too many people waste time and don’t manage themselves and they miss out on growth. Great leaders differ from good leaders, in part, because of the degree to which they have developed and built on their strengths. These leaders have figured out that their best shot at making their greatest contribution to the world is for them to get better at what they are already good at. So they have decided to focus on their talent – identifying it and developing it.
- Mission: For many leaders this is the “call” on their lives, but that isn’t it. This was one of the most helpful points of the book. Your mission is that thing you can’t stop talking about, as a pastor it is the thing you always preach about. That is the thing God created you to do. Do it. He called you because he wired you that way. Great spiritual leaders can articulate their passion. They know what makes their heart beat faster. They know what they do that enables them to feel the smile of God. They move toward their passion. They feed it. They are intentional and alive!
- Decision making: Pretty self explanatory, but the questions he asks in this chapter are crucial in terms of making decisions and evaluating decisions to make better ones of the future. The bottom line is that great leaders are not paralyzed. They are able to make decisions, often with little information, but they are not paralyzed. Great leaders know how to make decisions, when to make decisions, and what decisions need to be made. They also, and this was profound, they make sure they are answering the right question. Too many decisions solve the wrong problem.
- Belonging: Leadership is lonely, but it doesn’t have to be as lonely as leaders make it out to be. Relationships and community take work, time and effort. It won’t be easy, it might hurt along the way, but you have to belong to thrive as a leader. You must belong in your marriage and family as that is the life blood for a leader if they are married.
- Aloneness: This is choosing to set aside time to be alone, to refresh, to walk through tough times and deal with the junk in your life. He highlights the wilderness experience of many leaders in the Bible. In fact, he has a whole book on this discipline called A Work of Heart, which is also worth reading if you are in a wilderness time of God shaping you and working on you and you are struggling to have clarity about how to move forward with something. No leader goes through wilderness unchanged. The transformation may be in the leader’s mission or person, or both. Usually, both life and ministry are altered. Great leaders would not exchange the wilderness experience for anything. It is often in the wilderness they come to their truest understanding of who they are and what they want to accomplish. In the end they find themselves grateful that God would grace them so profoundly.
As I said, a great, fast read. A ton to chew on that I will go back to. I’m taking a retreat day tomorrow and I’m looking forward to working through these practices to see how I can grow in different areas.
- Never make fun of your spouse. My wife Katie has been doing a series of blog posts on our relationship rules and this one is broken by so many spouses. This one change would make a world of difference in your marriage.
- All you need to know about church planting in 3 minutes.
- Ron Edmondson on Addressing a porn generation.
- 4 lessons from Martin Luther on Marriage. This is a great article.
- Dave Bruskas on What I’ve learned from raising daughters. Dave is a pastor in New Mexico and has raised 4 daughters so I’d take that as being an expert on the topic.
- Gabe Lyons on A third way for the ‘Christian nation’ debate.
- How to leave a church well. Sometimes people leave for good reasons and leave well, but often they leave for poor reasons and leave the church by throwing rocks. Love the example from the book of Acts, maybe that is why churches today don’t see the effectives they did in the book of Acts.
- Pastors who suffering from relational anorexia. Pastoring is one of the loneliest jobs on the planet, but there are some things you can do to fight it.
- Tony Morgan on Signs you have a vision that inspires. These are right on, the clarity at Revolution has inspired people and repelled people. Vision divides and that is okay.
- Who needs porn when you have MTV? This is crucial for parents to keep in mind as they raise kids and what they allow on TV. (Note: there is a semi-explicit photo accompanying the article).
- 10 easy bible verses for kids to memorize. We have a verse of the week at our house and it has been awesome to see the kids start memorizing scripture.
- Loving our Muslim neighbors. This is a great video panel discussion with J.D. Greear and Thabiti Anyabwile.
- Christopher Wright on The biggest obstacle for world missions is idolatry. This is a convicting article.
- J. Oswald Sanders on Are you ready to be a leader? These are great questions to work through if you want to enter into leadership or have a desire to take on more leadership in your church or business.
We are kicking off a brand new series this Saturday and not only that, it is our 2 year anniversary. So, we are celebrating with a big night, having a baptism and we have challenged everyone in our church to come to church in pairs. Katie and I have been praying through and talking with friends about coming to church this Saturday and I have been hearing from many Revolutionaries about family and friends they are bringing. Can’t wait to see what God is going to do this Saturday.
We’ll be spending the next 3 months going line by line through the book of Philippians . The whole point of this series is to look at what we do to make ourselves happy, the things we try, the things we emphasize in our lives from stuff, jobs, hobbies, relationships, marriage, sex. All in the hopes of being fulfilled and happy. Yet, statistics show that very few Americans are happy in their jobs, marriages or life. What if in the midst of all our searching we have missed the point and gone after the wrong thing? What if happiness is not what we should be looking for?
To start off our series, we’ll be looking at Philippians 1:1 – 11 and looking at how to handle loneliness, whether or not relationships, marriage or community can fulfill our needs. It is going to be a night where we peel back some layers and look at how we go after things in life and if those things will do what we want them to do and what we hope they will do.
It is going to be a powerful night.
So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night! And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.
Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.
See you Saturday.