Links I Like

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.

book

  1. Practicing biblical hospitality.
  2. Geoff Surratt on 3 reasons guests don’t return to your church.
  3. An email from a proud deadbeat dad. Love Matt’s response. Definitely shows what is wrong with men in our culture.
  4. John Piper on Parents, require obedience from your children.
  5. 6 trends in kids ministry.
  6. Carlos Whitaker on 4 tips on how to handle social media with your kids. Great tips for parents.
  7. One father writes a letter to his daughters about body image. If you have a daughter, help her understand biblical body image.
  8. 30 hour work week.

What I Wish I’d Known About Energy, Family & Mistakes

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT ENERGY

Your energy—spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational—is the most important thing you can give your church, and only you can control it.

It may seem obvious, but this is crucial. Church planters tend to be the driven, entrepreneurial, take-the-hill kind of leaders. They are also usually young, which means they think they have endless amounts of energy. They eat like college freshmen and often sleep like them. It’s unsustainable.

While planting is a busy season, filled with meetings, getting stuff done, making phone calls, rallying a core group, and raising funds, you have to hit the pause button. No one can make you sleep, spend time with Jesus, exercise, or eat well. No one can make sure you have friends—and not just church planting friends, but real friends. If you miss this, the extent of the damage can be huge.

Your energy is the most important thing you can give your church, and only you control it.

Many guys who fail in ministry and sin will tell you that it goes back to not managing one of these areas. Several years ago, I did not manage my energy well and I hit a wall. It slowed our church down, demoralized our leaders, and hurt my family, and it took a year to recover as a church.

The first question I ask my leaders when I coach them is to tell me how they are doing in these four areas: spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational energy. You as the leader set the tone.

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT FAMILY

Your family has to come first. They need to know it, and so does your church.

Every pastor says their wife and kids are more important than their job, but sometimes it’s not true in practice. Though it happens occasionally, when missing time with your family is the pattern, I believe it is sin. One thing I learned from Eugene Peterson was that he started to call everything he did an “appointment.” If someone asked him to meet and he already had a date planned with his wife or an activity with his kids, he said he had an appointment. No one questions your appointments.

Talk about this up front. In your sermons, lift up your wife and kids—don’t make them sermon illustrations of what not to do. Talk about how you date and pursue your wife, and talk about spending time with your kids. You are the model to men of what it means to be a man, a father, and a husband.

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT TEAMS

Who you surround yourself with will determine your effectiveness, and the leaders you choose will determine the health and future of your church. This means you must know who you are, your gift mix, what you can and can’t do, and what you do that brings the most glory to God. Then you must look for leaders who complement your gifts.

If you are a strong visionary and can see the future, you must find someone who can think in steps and can see the map, not just the destination. If you love to shepherd people and want to make sure no one falls through the cracks, you’ll need a leader to remind you that sometimes people need hard truth and not coddling.

Your first hire is the most important. Don’t rush this. If someone isn’t working out, don’t wait around. Move quickly to help them find a new role and responsibility. If they don’t line up with your vision and DNA, have the tough conversation. Everyone you start with will not finish with you, and it is naive to think otherwise.

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT CHURCH GROWTH

Think twice your size. Too many planters simply want to get started, which is a good goal. As the church gets off the ground, they can quickly move into maintenance mode. They stop thinking ahead and the grind of preaching every week starts to set in.

When before you had dream sessions, now you are having counseling sessions. Before you used to talk about the future, but now you are dealing with what just happened. In this time, it is easy to stop dreaming, stop vision-casting, and just do.

But that is dangerous. At all times, as the leader, you must think twice your size. You must ask, “if we do this, will it keep us from doubling?” Or, “When we are twice our size, will we do that?”

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT MISTAKES

You will make mistakes—so learn from them. In fact, you’ll make mistakes before you have your first core group member. That’s okay. Learn from them.

When we started, we did small groups a certain way. Yet they didn’t give us the results we hoped to get: we weren’t seeing disciples made and community happen. So two years into our church plant, we scrapped what we were doing and started over. That was hard to admit, because we had 85% of our adults in a small group. But we learned.

Today, I know how to shut a ministry down. I can raise $45,000 in a month to make a big move. I know how to kill a worship service. How to start a new worship service. How to hire a leader. How to fire one. How to have tough and easy conversations. You can blow through those experiences, but I would encourage you to go through them slowly, write down what you learned, and process it with someone.

Lastly, get a coach—someone who is steps ahead of you in the journey. Get someone you respect who can speak into your leadership, give advice, and be a sounding board. It is helpful if this person is not at your church so you can be completely honest with them and not hold back.

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT COMMITMENT

Commit to outlast everyone. Put down roots and commit to one church and city. When you start a church, it is exciting. Then the hard work starts. People stop coming, someone gets angry, shepherding sets in, and it is hard work. That is why, before you start a church, commit to that church and to that city. Put down roots.

When we started our church, our prayer was that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, and to one movement. We prayed that a million people would follow Jesus because of our church. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes your calling is all you have. You will come back to it, question it, and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, my wife and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

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Links I Like

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.

book

  1. Trevin Wax on Don’t give your child a trophy for losing. Couldn’t agree with this more.
  2. Regular bedtimes help kids behavior.
  3. John Piper on Hijacking your brain from porn.
  4. Thom Rainer on 7 reasons your church needs to go on a diet. Being simple is the one of the defining characteristics of Revolution Church.
  5. Ryan Williams on 8 things I learned as a young lead pastor.
  6. 10 productivity tips for pastors.
  7. Ron Edmondson on 5 tips to be a better dad this week.
  8. Sleep & productivity.
  9. Mark Driscoll on 7 sabbath killers.

Elevation Creative: I Have Decided

Links I Like

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.

book

  1. What is the role of a campus pastor in a multi-site church? Can’t wait for Revolution to plant our first church and we have dedicated staff in this role.
  2. Luke Simmons on A leader needs to love the people they have now.
  3. Billy Graham answers what he would do differently. So insightful.
  4. Brian Howard on How to keep pornography out of your home.
  5. Why worship music should be loud.
  6. Meredith Fineman on Please stop complaining about how busy you are.
  7. The introverted mother.
  8. David Murray on How to criticize a pastor.

A Vision for a Transcultural Church

New Coldplay song from “The Hunger Games”

Links I Like

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.

book

  1. What your church can learn from Joel Osteen and his church. While I disagree with much of Osteen’s theology, this article is a great read for pastors and what they can learn from him.
  2. Brian Croft on How a pastors should schedule his week.
  3. How to help your child read with discernment.
  4. Bob Franquiz on The challenges of an introverted pastor. Definitely have applied these in my ministry.
  5. How do Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll & Alistair Begg prepare a sermon.
  6. Rich Birch on 5 time wasters for pastors.
  7. What to learn from a church spy. Pastors need to read this.
  8. Doug Wilson on A childish life. Great look at the growing desire of what Time Magazine calls “The Childfree life.”
  9. What the teen choice awards tell us about youth culture. If you don’t read Walt’s blog and you are a parent or a pastor, shame on you.
  10. Sam Storms on Why God doesn’t save everyone.
  11. When you pray with your children, you are teaching them how to pray.

Links I Like

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.

book

  1. What John Maxwell is reading. If you want to read great leadership books, read what John Maxwell reads.
  2. Ed Welch on The lasting pain of adultery.
  3. 5 ways you can teach your kids about their sexual development.
  4. Donald Miller on Why 20-Something’s are delusional.
  5. The Haddon Robinson principle of preaching.
  6. Thom Rainer on How to kill a sermon.

I agree with Trevin’s assessment—”there are no words“:

Links I Like

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.

book

  1. How to fill out a losing march madness bracket.
  2. Josh Harris on How should a reformed pastor be charismatic.
  3. Marriage and the single girl.
  4. Brian Croft on How long should a pastor preach.
  5. Battling discouragement as a pastor’s wife. If you are discouraged, have been discouraged as a pastor’s wife, you should read this.
  6. Trevin Wax on Read the fine print before supporting “marriage equality.”
  7. 6 ways to serve your pastor’s wife on Sundays.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

  • What an awesome day yesterday at Revolution
  • Preaching on marriage and relationships is always a blast for me
  • Yesterday, I got to cast the vision to the women of our church of what it means to be a godly woman and a godly wife
  • Such a high calling that has enormous implications for generations to come
  • I always love the reaction I get from local pastors when I tell them I’m preaching on male headship and submission
  • They look at me like they’re looking at a dead man
  • More pastors need to man up and call men and women to be who God created them to be
  • Everyone in your church wants to know what the Bible has to say on manhood and womanhood, dating, sex, marriage and parenting because almost everything they’ve tried hasn’t worked
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • It’s not just for women, I also laid out what a man should look for in a wife and how a husband can encourage his wife to be what God has created her to be
  • I loved reading the connection cards today and seeing the women who took the step to confess to their husband ways they’ve undermined his leadership in their family and are going to ask their husband how they can encourage him to lead
  • Love it
  • Next week, I’m unpacking what God calls men to be as husbands, as single guys and how to raise sons in that way
  • It’s going to be awesome
  • I put together a list of recommended books on dating, sex, marriage, biblical manhood and womanhood, family and parenting that is worth looking at if you want some more resources
  • Here’s the song the band played right before my sermon
  • Set it up perfectly
  • This past week, I read one of the more interesting books on leadership that I’ve read in a while
  • So, so good
  • Here’s my latest post on the resurgence
  • After a great morning at church, got to come home and watch my Steelers hold on and beat the hated dirty birds of Baltimore
  • Love when we beat the Ravens
  • Had elk burgers for the first time last night for dinner
  • Amazing
  • Got to hang with our neighbors who were building a relationship with
  • The christmas offering at Revolution is in full swing
  • Love the chance we have as a church to help move the gospel forward in Tucson through other organizations
  • I’d appreciate your prayers this week, I’m starting to think through my message for our “Christmas Eve Eve service” on December 23rd
  • Talking about “The image of Christmas”
  • Going with Katie and some friends to the Sufjan Stevens Christmas Sing-a-long tonight
  • Pretty excited to see him, even though it is a Christmas sing-a-long
  • He’s off the charts talented

[Image Credit]

A Simple Time-Management Principle

There is an incredibly simple time-management principle that has guided my decisions and how I manage my time.

While it is simple, it has far-reaching implications. Here it is:

Every time you say yes to something, say no to something else.

If you run a company or a church, you can’t do everything. In your family, you can’t afford everything; you can’t sign your kid up for every activity (although lots of parents try).

It’s very simple. If you say yes to something, you will have to say no to something else. I was talking with a couple recently and they were wrestling with whether or not the wife should go back to work. They have small kids, money is tight, and they said, “It would help us financially.” I told them this idea and said, “If you say yes to working, you will make money. But you are now spending less time with your kids and someone else is raising them, you are bringing stress into your life that isn’t there now because you will be home less, because of working.” I kept going but you get the idea.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Every weekend, every weekday we make choices about how to spend our time. When a man chooses between spending time on the golf course or at the lake with his buddies, versus with his children, he is saying yes and no to something. We might say yes to what we want to do, but at the same time, say no to investing in our kids or an important relationship.

At the end of the work day, when we decide to take work home, stay just a little bit longer as opposed to getting home, getting to the gym to get some exercise, spend time with friends. We say yes to something and no to something. By saying yes to working late and yes to more stress, we are saying no to a sustainable pace, no to spending time with friends that would relax us or help us to unwind, no to exercising so that we can be healthier.

You can’t say yes to every kind of music, dress, style, and service time. Pick one.

Pastors try to fight against this in their churches. “If we have a program for everybody, we will reach everybody,” they say. But if you shoot to reach everybody, simply you will reach nobody. You can’t say yes to every kind of music, dress, style, and service time. Pick one.

When I planted Revolution Church, I struggled with this every day. As a pastor, there are so many people to meet with. You don’t want to say no to anyone because they might leave, and you need everyone you can get, all the givers you can muster. This often leads you to running ragged, not resting well, not spending time with your family or time with Jesus. We rationalize that we’re serving people, helping them, and that next month we’ll take that Sabbath, that date night.

As a parent, it is easy to do this as we run our kids from one activity to the next in an effort to give them a well-rounded life. By doing that—by saying yes to running their kids everywhere—we are saying no to family dinners, family devotions (often), but we are saying yes to more stress in their life as a family. Many couples sacrifice their marriages for their kids, pouring their time and energy into their kids instead of their marriage as the most important relationship in the family. This is one reason why more divorces happen in year 25 than any other year of marriage now. Empty nesters don’t know each other without their kids.

HOW TO SAY YES AND NO

We say yes and no in our family. We say yes to exercising and a healthy lifestyle. I’ve shared in other places about my journey of losing 130 pounds and keeping it off. Every time we go to the gym or make a meal plan to eat a healthy diet, we are saying yes to health and longevity in life. We have to say no to sleeping in later (as I get to the gym by 6 a.m.), to late night snacks, to too many chicken wings, and to swearing off my beloved Frappuccino.

When we got married, we decided I would work and Katie would stay home. We said yes to her staying home and no to a lot of other things. Other families have nicer things or go on nicer vacations than we do because of this choice. That’s OK. When we made this choice, we knew what we were saying yes and no to.

You need to know the implications.

We say yes to spend time with certain people and no to others. Pastors feel the strain of wanting to be with people, spending time with as many people as possible. But it is simply impossible. For our family, we seek to spend time with the pastors and their wives at Revolution Church, the MC leaders I coach and those in our MC and those our MC is seeking to reach. That is what we as a family we have said yes to. This means we have said no to other things and other people.

You need to know the implications. When you say yes to something, you say no to something else, maybe multiple things, but it happens every time.

IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO

This at the end of the day is what drives many of us to say yes. We have this desire to appease people, to be comfortable, to make others like us. This is what drives so many of us to not say no and to say yes too much.

When someone asks if they can meet with me, I want to help them, I want to say yes. Often I’m able to, but many times if I say yes to that opportunity, I will say no to something else. It might be a date night with Katie, time with my kids, a nap that I need, and my sermon prep time. When we say yes to the wrong things, it is often because we want to make someone like us, approve of us, and be comfortable in a relationship.

FOCUS

This is really a question of focus. When we say yes and strategically, we live more strategically. One helpful thing for me has been to lay out my ideal week and identify what the most important things for me to accomplish each week are. This helps me to see the time I actually have available for things that pop up at the last minute, it helps me to gauge if I can say yes to those opportunities without hurting the most important things.

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Links to Check Out on Your Day Off

  1. My first post on The Resurgence: 3 reasons we won’t be still.
  2. Jared Wilson on 10 reasons to under-program your church. We do 2 things at Revolution and it is on the main reasons we are healthy as a church.
  3. Ed Stetzer on The Unfortunate Link Between Cultural Castigation and Pitiful Preaching.
  4. What an outsider thought of a Christian music fest. Amazing how ridiculous Christian things look sometimes.