Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Over the past week end I began thinking about an event in my youth, probably about my 6th grade year…maybe 7th. We had music class and we were all in the class and the teacher had each of us come up and sing a part. After we finished she called me over and requested that I come to a high school choir practice to sit in with some of the older guys. I did. There was not much explanation but I sat next to a fellow who I believe was a senior. Pretty intimidating really but he was kind and had an incredible booming voice. In fact later on he went into local TV work, some behind the scenes work and some in front of the camera. Anyway we did that one time…then nothing else. I do not remember her saying that I had a good voice or even that I had potential and nothing more came of it. In high school I was involved in sports and choir seemed like not a guy things to do. More importantly to me…no one asked. If there was something there I wondered why not be a little more persistent to get me to join?  I loved and still love music. 

So for years I figured this was not a talent I had and I listened to others and dreamed a bit. Barb and I married and I was introduced to church music, not choirs at first but a lot of hymns and blue grass gospel singing. We eventually moved to a little larger Baptist church and they had a choir…it was an awful choir but still a choir. I was also introduced to special music, you know the lead up to the the message but a soloist usually. We had some special music in our prior church but it was more of a, “Does anyone have a song to share?” This was more planned out. Then they hired a choir director at the new church. Immediately the choir improved. It was not great but much better and Barb and I joined. Now Barb was a natural and and a great asset to any choir. She had sung in high school choirs and trios in church. I have never heard her sing off key or miss a note…she will make up her own words on occasion;) So I was now singing in a choir…and really enjoying it. No one ever said I could sing or that I had a nice voice but they said I could sing in the choir. Then the director began a young married musical group made up of couples and we tried out…and made it. Again I rode Barb’s ability to get in but we were in. Then a men’s quartet made up of 5 or 6 guys…yep that is right a quartet…math was not his strong suit. One song they gave us to learn he passed out solos to be sung and I got one. First time ever…I began by singing timidly and quietly which really is not singing at all. I have heard it said that singing is controlled yelling…yelling on key I guess. So at one rehearsal I just decided to let it rip, sing like it sounded on the tape. When my time came I let it fly, sang with all my might and heart and it actually went well. The piano player almost fell off her stool as I sang, the timidity was gone and I was determined it was now or never. If it was bad…I would be out but if not, I as going to enjoy myself. I did. 

That choir director in a short time got more out of me than anyone ever before. He left a little while later and I even led the choir for a while, me a guy who could not read music, who did not know 4/4 time form 3/4 time. It was fun. Barb and I sang in a trio for a while with another friend and we had such fun. In my head we were going to be the next Bill Gaither Trio but that did not happen. Eventually we discovered worship. Not song singing…worship. We joined a growing charismatic church in town and fell in love with worshiping God in powerful way. The pastor had our worship leader train me to lead worship and I was over the moon excited. He did not really train me, to be honest. He was such a great musician and had such a great ear for music he had a hard time relating to a person who did not hear quite as well as he did, and I was not musically inclined. I again began leading timidly and it was OK at best. I could sense the pastor was thinking that this was not working and it really was not. So again one evening I decided that if this was going to work I had to go all in. Pretend to be confident even if I was not, sing with clarity and boldness so others could follow. Worship above all…worship the way I loved to worship. Boom, it happened! 

That church went through a lot of stuff and eventually closed and that story in itself is a strange one. But later on I had coffee with the pastor and I thanked him for taking a risk on me, to seeing something and putting me in a place to go for it. I never really had the chance to thank our old choir director but I hope one day I will be able to. I do think I reached out to him on social media one time to think him but never heard anything back. 

A teacher sensed something, I think, but never really followed up. Maybe it is all about God’s timing. Discovering I had a voice changed so many things for me. Developing my voice was fun. I knew I was limited in my ability and yet once I found my voice I could not longer sit back and watch. Most importantly, finding my voice pushed me to discover worship. Worship took me to deeper places…leading worship trained me to lead in general. Moving people from one spot to another place is what worship leaders do. Song leaders my pick a few favorites to sing and that is fine but a worship leader takes you on a journey. 

Anyway, I wondered why I even focused on this memory. It was not that exciting or even disappointing, just a thought from a time past. In the past I probably would have gotten sad or even angry at the reacher for not doing more for me, kind of play the victim card a little bit. It does feel like I was overlooked by her or not valued enough to pursue more. So what…the real story here is how God used others to bring me to a place to discover a gift I loved. He placed me in places to expand and to use the gift. I do not think I would be doing what I am doing right now as a pastor if this part of my life had not been unearthed and brought to daylight. I knew I had a lid musically as I watched other worship leaders lead. I was not instrumentally gifted though I did learn to play guitar enough to lead in our Vineyard context. And that put me in the place to say yes to Jesus when the call to plant was in my lap. I led worship at the church plant because that was my comfort place and had to grow in other things like preaching. 


Why do I even share this story? I think because, especially in leadership, what we do is to dig for the jewels all around us. To hunt for and discover all the Bill’s that might be lurking around waiting for someone to notice what is buried inside of them. Some of it might not even be buried…we seem to be in a season where we are seeing the gifts of some young teenagers and it is up to us to help them develop the gifts that will be used down the road. We tend to look for the more seasoned adult and then we wonder why the percentage of young people who leave the Church as they graduate high school is so high. We overlook them but the world does not…we wait for them to grow up and then it is too late. Ok…that was a bit of a trail. I do wonder why the teacher gave up…but I am grateful for those who took a chance. As I finish up here I remembered this also…The Vineyard took a chance on me years ago when they told us to go ahead and plant a church. I have spoken to the overseers we had back then numerous times to thank them for the risk they took. I did not see what they saw…I was an average worship leader who had a few people say that they would like to see us lead a new Vineyard Church. I was not classically trained scholastically, I was a life long factory worker who loved Jesus and served in every known capacity of church life. No one…no one ever looked at me and said, “You should plant a church.” Only a few thought that being a pastor was a good idea for me…and I was not one of them. Honestly one choir director unearthed something buried deeply, another leader introduced me to worship and leading worship. The Vineyard grew that in me until one day…I said yes to being a pastor…a reluctant yes but a yes nevertheless…I again began leading timidly and grew into it. Thank you Dan Larramore, wherever you are. Thank you Tom Polker. Thank you Rich Nathan and Danny Meyer…this oft overlooked fellow thanks you for not overlooking…for seeing only what God could see… 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Whoosh! That is me blowing the dust off this blog. As a leader and one that seems to operate from a different leadership grid I am so surprised at the places and situations God has put me in. I am stunned when someone talks to me about the leadership I carry and how they see the gift in me. I have laughed on many occasions about how I took the George Barna test on leadership online and how he gently told me that I did not have that gift…a shepherd maybe…leader no. As I think about myself and my journey I have a couple of thoughts…I never sought to be a leader…at all. My strongest gift. I think, is showing up…putting one foot one front of the other and continuing on following Jesus…loving His Church. 

I came into being a pastor kind of different. I had been in a church plant that was led by a young guy. We were there to support and help build the church from the ground up. I had no desire to go beyond leading worship and a small group…and after five years this young leader changed his theology drastically. Went from a charismatic bent to a full on cessationist in a short time. Caught off guard we suggested he speak to the leaders over him to see what they thought. He could not lead in the Vineyard and hold to those values…so he pulled the church out. This is a much longer story but we, with the blessing of the Vineyard, planted our church…with fifteen or so people we began again. My point in telling that story is say I understand when leaders, especially young leaders, change their minds on theology. I get it…and yet I do not. 

As I look over the landscape of the church, at least in the states, there is a constant stream of articles that get passed around talking about another leader leaving the faith. Pastors, ministry leaders, worship leaders, authors of best sellers, leaving behind Jesus and His church. I read this article about another one and he spoke about his journey towards unbelief and he said something like, “I began to wonder if the Bible had gotten it wrong about the LGBTQ questions.” You know I can almost get my head wrapped around a guy going from charismatic to non-charismatic but to ponder out loud does the Bible have this or that wrong is beyond me. No one ever seems to ask, “Do you think the culture has gotten this wrong?” No…it is a Bible problem. I am reminded of a sermon Jesus preaches in John 6 and it is gross and controversial and then Jesus turns to His disciples, “Does this offend you?” That is the problem isn’t it…the person is offended because the scripture speaks to a different view of holiness and spirituality than they are comfortable with. How may times do you hear the question, “How could a loving God send anyone to Hell?”  He does not send anyone there…it is a choice. Hell was created for Satan and his followers…well, now I did it I brought up the devil. How archaic is that? 

Jesus knew the message He brought and the things He would declare would be offensive and even divisive and He still pressed on. John 3:16 is quoted over and over and yet God is rarely seen as loving because His view is much different than our view. For a short time I wrote for an online religious paper. I was consistently being challenged and argued with as I wrote things concerning the church and scriptures. And at least one of the arguers was a pastor…who help low value of the scriptures. Now I will be very transparent here…I am not a great theologian or even a Bible scholar…I love Jesus, His church, His word. I have had many doubts and questions, many times where I just did not understand what God was or was not doing and yet it never crossed my mind to think, “What is the Bible got this part wrong?” It is so strange and even humorous to think in this time of such great enlightenment and wisdom we still stumble for satan’s oldest line, “Did God really say?” Then, because we are so biblically illiterate we misquote scripture or overlook it because culture says we cannot say, “The Bible says.” YES WE CAN! 

The great cultural architects of the day do not know which bathroom to use, what sex they are, how many sexes there are, when life actually begins. They label certain lives not worthy of having life, defend the rights of one human but not of another. A mom can begin at the age of three to tell her little boy he is really a girl. By age seven she can begin the procedure to have his sex changed. The dad speaks up and a jury votes eleven out of twelve that she is right and dad has no say. A judge did intervene but where do you even find a jury where eleven people would think it is a good idea to let the mom have her way here? I would hazard to say that just a few years ago the mom would have lost custody, would have had to go though psych evaluations and only allowed visitation with a guardian in the room. Culture has lost its mind…and the church will lose its also if we keep pandering to culture. 

Pastor/author Erwin McManus says, “The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world.” We exist to be an alternative to what is being presented out there as wisdom and life. An alternative…it will be offensive at times. We do not have to work at being offensive it is built into our message. When Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father…that is offensive to culture…and now to some in the church. Strange. In a faith where as we read about the disciples we tend to overlook that as far as we can tell only John might have died of natural causes…and they did try to boil him in oil! Culture killed everyone of them…after of course they killed Jesus. 

Another story in John…after the crucifixion the guys were huddled in a room…afraid. Jesus walks in, through locked doors and all of that and then says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 Now let’s be clear here…they did not find comfort in any of His words there. “PEACE!!!! They just killed you! I mean I know you are alive now but you were dead there for a bit…let’s talk about that…but let’s do it somewhere else!” Jesus had prayed for the guys earlier and in His prayer He did not ask God to get us out of here…but to protect us while we are here. In the Jesus movement it was a big thing to speak of the second coming of Jesus and to think that it as imminent…a bit of escapism I think. He is coming back…yet He left us here. Salt and light…salt preserves…salt give flavor…light allows others to see through a darkness that covers the world. 

Let me stop this ramble with this…the Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy…so often it begins with attacking God’s word…he steals the light that lights up the path we walk on. I feel for the guy who let culture put out the light of his path. I do pray he comes back…though I suspect his new found celebrity identity will be hard to leave…One more thought…cannot help it in light of current events…I am not one to jump on celebrity band wagons but I must say…along with Kanye West…JESUS IS KING!!!!


Bill

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vision is Limited

Recently Barb and I took a few days and got away on the motorcycle for our anniversary. We knew of a quaint inn in south east Ohio that sets right on a river next to a dam. The second day we took off for a ride even though the chance of rain was high.  We rode to a town nearby and had lunch with friends and then checked the weather app and saw the chance of rain had fallen drastically so we took off for a nice ride through Hocking Hills park and beyond. Then it happened…rain. We put on rain gear and rode on trying to head towards wherever it looked like the skies were clear. Mind you we are in the country, with hills and winding roads, really winding roads, which is why we were there, to ride the hills and curvy roads…just not in the rain. So the rain kept coming and going until it mostly was raining. We began heading towards the area where the inn was located and we missed a turn or two but the GPS kept re-directing us toward our destination. It was raining pretty hard in places and we began seeing the water running alongside the road, down hill getting deeper and deeper. Missed a couple of big puddles and hit a couple of more. It was difficult for me to see to navigate our way on strange roads. Narrow roads with little space to pull off so we kept moving along with me straining to see the road in front of me. Seeing just far enough to make the turns in front of me we were not riding very fast just trying to work our way to a safe and dry place. There was a pick up truck following us in one stretch and I was very appreciative that he was giving us space yet I was aware he was there. Sometimes I think I focus too much on what is behind me rather than what is out in front. 

Then it happened…as I strained to see the road in front of me all I could see was water. Maybe 10 feet away but more like less than 6 feet away water was running across the road and there was nothing I could do. I yelled to Barb to hold on and she did what she does best…yell out the name of Jesus! We hit the water…I would guess at least a foot deep, maybe more maybe less but a lot of moving water across the road. As we entered the water I kept applying the gas and holding on as the bike squirmed back and forth. I was pretty sure this would end badly…but we came out the other side and kept moving. (I would love to talk to the guy behind me to see what he saw as we splashed through the water.) A mile or so up the road I saw a large building with an awning on the left so I pulled into the gravel lot and pulled all the way up under the awning and we got off the bike. To say I was a little shaken would be an understatement and yet Barb was like, “That went pretty well didn’t it?” She told me,” I knew you could do it so I was not afraid at all…well other than asking Jesus for help loudly and He did. Jesus helped!” The rain slowed down and we finished our trip to the inn…I am not sure it even rained there! Sunlight broke through and we were safe. 

 This is leadership for me. I do not always see way out in front with great clarity. Fact is most of the time it seems like I am struggling to see through a foggy, wet windshield in a rain storm navigating one curve or hill at a time. Rarely do I feel like I am traveling familiar roads with wide pull off areas and run in a straight line in the sunshine. As Barb expressed her confidence in me I shake my head and tell her I was terrified we were going down. I fought every curve and intersection…nothing was easy. I wanted to pull over and call for an Uber driver to come and get me…but there were no Uber drivers where we were…no obvious ways of help. It was perseverance and steadfastness to keep pressing on even when it looked like this ride was going to end badly. It did not…it ended well with a great story to tell, an adventure that Barb says we should celebrate and not miss out on. 

I get it…sometimes leadership is having all the answers and walking with extreme confidence in who you are and what you are doing. Well, sometimes leadership is pressing through a storm, even though visibility is low and there are things like huge puddles trying to take you out. You hold on and press on…sunshine is just ahead…it was not where we were at it was just ahead. We could not sit and wait for it to come to us…we had to keep pursuing it. I think there are only so many John Maxwell’s in this world and for many of us in leadership roles this thing does not come naturally. We try but it becomes mechanical and not real and then we are frustrated. The best thing I can do for those who will choose to follow me is keep getting back up and moving forward. The next morning after all of that excitement we had to climb back on the bike and ride four hours home to attend a funeral. There were no options just get back on the bike and head home…if I have one talent it is simply that…getting back on the bike and riding…not stopping when it really does seem like it would be a good idea. For some of you reading this you cannot relate to my story at all and for others you totally get it. That is why I write…for those, like myself, that find themselves in leadership roles and you feel like you don’t fit the mold. You probably don’t…have you read the Bible? God chooses the unlikely all of the time…be good with it and keep getting back up and leading…we need you. 


Bill 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Really? This is it?

Whoosh! That sound is the sound of me blowing the dust off my blog…and boy is it dusty. Barb mentioned  a friend of hers was reading my blog and I began to panic and try to remember what I may have written in my blog that I regret now…kidding. While my blog has been pointed at leadership issues and styles I hope to expand it a bit in the future. I did find that in part of my writing I was angry at the state of the Church and even at times angry with my own tribe. I do apologize if my anger or frustration seeped in and offended some. Having led a church now for over 20 years a reasonable person would assume leadership would be easier now. I am seasoned…and also my head and my heart have taken quite a beating. One needs to remember that the person out in front makes a great target. And if fear or injury takes over that leader it leaks to the rest of the group. Fear. It creates indecisiveness, makes one want to shrink back and it paralyzes. Quite an effective tool of the enemy. 

A favorite quote of mine comes from a small book a I read a few years back titled, “Jim and Casper Go To Church.”  Jim Henderson, a former pastor and Matt Casper, an atheist go on a road trip visiting about 10 churches, many of them of the mega style. Now let me say up front this book is not an in-depth study of churches and how they work, it was more like a drive through view of church. At one mega-church with lights, and cameras, big cameras and smoke machines and a lot more Matt turns to Jim and asks, “Is this really what Jesus asked you guys to do?” I have never been able to shake that question and again to be fair if we all rolled out Radio Shack sound systems and used hymnals or over heads we would be criticized also. But…what brought this question back to me is the things I see pastors have to be concerned about. The incident that caused the question come back for me was an innocent one. Our sound guy took Barb aside recently and said he would be leaving the church in June. Now before anyone goes off on him let the say that 1st off he is in love and he is engaged to a wonderful young lady and he has decided to go to church where she attends. That is not evil…it is sweet…and it seemed to crush me. Why? How did we get to the place where a young sound person can seem to make or break our church? I read the Bible and wonder why didn’t Jesus or even Paul address things like sound people, small group leaders, or musicians? Jesus spoke to hundreds and even thousands at a time…without lights or a sound person. He fed thousands without a commercial kitchen or a smoke machine. 

My point here is not to criticize all the glitz or to throw my sound guy under the bus, again he has an incredible servants heart, but to unveil a bit about the things pastors and leaders concern themselves with…many times at the cost of them loving their own neighbor! I heard myself asking Jesus Himself, “Is this really what you called me to do?” Can I be real transparent with you? Only a pastor knows the feeling of having a person you love and have cared for come tell you that this is their last week at the church…on a Sunday morning. And they tell you like it is good news! You have to smile when you want to cry. You have to hug when you want to run away. You have to go preach all the while you feel like you are bleeding to death on the inside. Please hear me when I say I am not writing so someone will feel sorry for me. Don’t! I love what I do….even the crazy parts. I love the people God brings our way…all the way to the back door if need be. But I write in hopes some young guy or lady who will or is even now leading a church will know they are surrounded by other leaders who know exactly what they are going through. They actually may be kicking butt right now and they are the place to be…but what they are called to do is not wrapped up in the details of sound, musicians, heating and air or any other thing screaming for their attention. What has to sustain us is making sure we are sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking what we get in our times with Him to the people we are called to shepherd. We need to be living from His love for us, being secure knowing He loves us and that He has called us, so that every day we can love what He loves…and He loves the Church. Not the structure and the buildings…the community of believers who have called on His name.

My blog is called “Thoughts From a Regular Guy” and that is the difficult deal of being a leader, a pastor. I am not special…I do not have a secret line to the Father…I do not live in a bubble…I am not extremely gifted. I am a regular guy…who has been called…and I said yes…like thousands of other men and women. We said yes…to serving the Head of the Church, Jesus, and to loving His body, the Church. One more thing to my friends who are leading churches…when I look into the mirror I do not see Pastor Bill…I see Bill…Jesus follower Bill. The title can be taken away…but who you are in Him is eternal…live there…


Bill

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just...Small Word Large Impact

I just sat down at a coffee shop to begin working on my sermon for the week end…well it is a Tim Horton”s but I did just get coffee. I thought maybe I would connect with my inner-hockey player and not my inner-drink cool coffee person. I will re-connect with that guy soon;) As I walked to the door I heard myself saying to myself, yes I was talking to myself is that bad? Anyway I heard myself say something like, “ I am just a guy who…” Have you had those thoughts before like, “I am just a regular guy who happens to pastor.” “I am just this way and that is how it is.” It is good for us to know who we are for sure, but when we preface it with “just” we tend to down play who we are. I do like humility but downgrading ourselves usually means we are comparing ourselves to someone else…or someone else is doing that for you, comparing you to someone else. Pastor to Pastor…worship leader to worship leader…children’s leader to children’s leader etc. Then we stand back and say that we are just not good enough…obviously. My thought as I headed to the door was “I am just a factory worker who happens to pastor.” Can I tell you something? First of all, being a factory worker was good to me, real good. Second, I have not worked in a factory for almost 20 years! 20 years ago I left the factory and became a full time pastor, though I really despise the term “full time.”

I went through a period riding my motorcycle where I began to lose confidence in my ability. It probably was not helped by Barb asking, “Have you ever ridden a bike before?” Words of encouragement for sure;) But true words, from her perspective as a passenger on the back of the bike, my wobbly stopping and starting was a bit scary I am sure. I switched motorcycles and am getting the feel back…the problem is I did form some bad habits but they are being wrinkled out. Losing confidence riding does not make it a pleasant experience for anyone, the tension you feel is real. A leader that loses confidence in their ability to lead brings comfort and confidence to no one involved. When a leader is walking around like I am, thinking, “I am just” it is not humility, so to speak, rather they have listened to other voices speak and forgot Who called them. Being compared saps the confidence away…and you become “just” another person trying to make it to the end of the day. 

My thought process was stirred up a bit by a friend we are going to visit and he asked if I would talk to his staff briefly about leadership. Right…I am just…you fill in the blank. Hear me…I am no threat to be writing John Maxwell type leadership books anytime soon and yet I am a leader. My task is not to lead to the best of someone else's ability, my priority is to lead to the best of my ability…and to continue to grow in my leadership. My friend, who is a great leader, recognizes something in me that he would like shared with his staff. It won’t be better than he could do but it will be different and that is what he wants and what I or you need to embrace. It is OK if our leadership styles are different. If we stop leading because we have lost confidence or we have heard too many voices telling us what a leader really looks like, there is no leadership in the place God has put you. That void will be filled by poser voices that God has not commissioned to lead…but are filling that void with noise.   

I am not “just” anything…I am a child of God…the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me. The God that called Moses, Peter, Paul and more…called me. I joke about arguing with Him about His calling…but reality is…He does the calling…it is His Church…I can hear Him  say, ‘Lead Bill…lead. Share Who you know…not simply what you know.” Hmmm. I will think about that for a moment…maybe go practice riding my motorcycle and think…

Bill 




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Whiny but Steady!

I never went to seminary or bible college, I did take some training from a Vineyard online school that was very good. But I wonder if at a good seminary, as the young men and women study to become pastors, are they ever told about how they will be judged or viewed, if judged seems kind of harsh. My favorite baseball team is the Detroit Tigers and for a few years we had a manager that really was one of the best in baseball. Highly respected all through major league baseball by pretty much everyone in baseball. And yet, I believe, one of the things that pushed him to retire was the constant second guessing he had to live with from local sports writers. Now mind you none of these experts had ever managed a team let alone a major league team. Most had not played baseball since junior high and yet they were so much more knowledgeable about all things baseball…at least in their own eyes. Experts just trying to help…if you are a young person thinking God may be calling you be a pastor understand this…there is always someone sitting out there wanting to help you get better. (hint of sarcasm;) 

I want to get back to writing my blog again but every time I sit down to write it feels kind of whiny so I delete. Probably sounds whiny because it is…I mean I have things to say about being a pastor or even what I see in the Church but I need to communicate from a better mindset. The thought I began above came after a long, difficult conversation I had recently with a person who had began worshiping with us, had come from another Vineyard and was now proceeding to tell me what all I was doing wrong, what I needed to change to be more “effective.” The cruncher was when he repeatedly let me know the sermons we preached (mostly me) were light and ineffective. I really should be more like the guy who preached where he attended before. Now listen up…the place he came from had probably the best speaker/preacher in our whole movement. Who wouldn't want to preach like that? Anyway, like the manager of the Tigers this is part of the task of the calling we are called to. Someone, who never has been a pastor, who maybe even has not led a small group will be glad to tell you how you do not match up. And Jesus said we were to love each other…really love! 

My point is this…where do you or I find our identity? Is it in the role we are called to…the title? Do we depend and need the pats on the back and the compliments on a great sermon? (it is kind of nice;) A good friend sent me this as a reminder, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. John 15:16 Yesterday after I left that meeting I asked God why in the world He called me. See that is it…He called me…you. I did not seek this out…I said yes and I said it reluctantly and with much fear. In leadership you may hear on occasion, that you are not doing a very good job. Well, like any good disciple you do a heart check…you make sure you are not phoning things in…then I turn to the One who called me and remember…before He called me to do this…He called me His son. When the music fades and the titles do not matter any more…I will still be His son…find your identity in Him…not in man made measured success. We can try to make the Church run like a business…but it is His body…Jesus is the head…we are the body. So this son is going to go back to his Father and sit with Him…I might not even talk…just sit in His presence…

Bill


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ramblings of as I think about life...

I began this blog under the name “Thoughts of A Reluctant Leader” and after some feed back I changed it though it is still there somewhere. I meant it from the perspective I never sought out leadership role. And as it was thrust upon me I did not grasp it as if it were a perfect fit. Like all leaders you do have to find your own armor to put on…Saul’s will not work for you. For many of us John Maxwell’s way might not work either…you have to find your own way. As you find your way you look back to see if anyone is still following. I do think I have perfected the Jesus leadership or crowd control method. One time a friend of mine said he was coming to our church to check it out…I think I talked him out of it. Man, was Barb angry with me;) Jesus would look around and if the crowd was pretty big He might teach something difficult and then say something inviting and including like, “Let him who has ears hear.” Then shut down the meeting…how inclusive is that? Seeker sensitive? I digress.

I tend to think it is kind of arrogant for me to put out there my thoughts on leadership…and yet I know there are others out there that do get what I talk about. I do think you can lead from a position of humility, you can lead without knowing all the answers. You can lead when you are only a half step ahead…you can. My favorite prayer in scripture is Jehoshaphat praying in a desperate time of his kingship. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”  2 Chronicles 20:12 I am pretty sure he prayed this out loud! The freshness of having a leader confess his weakness and depending on the Lord. What might it be like to hear one of our national leaders confess they did not know what to do…but were fixing their eyes on Jesus? For sure he would be roasted in the press… but would we rally around them knowing God would be faithful to respond to such transparency and humility? Ahhh…I can dream. 

I was taking with friends yesterday from another country and they were so taken back by our U.S. model of church where we have turned to business models to run the local church. Hiring search firms to hire new staff…hiring outside the tribe we belong to for our new leaders. Like our values are not important as long as the person give a nod towards them in agreement. “Sure, I believe in that too…no I have no experience in that area but I believe it.” We want to see the test results from all the personality, IQ, gift mix, and a multitude of other tests that I am sure help but do they answer the big questions. Yes, the gift mix is awesome…how are he and God doing? Can you discover their character in a test? Passion? Because he passes our eye exam do we know they will fit in our church body? Sorry…I know I am a bit outdated…but I have seen enough over my 40 plus years of being a believer to know…the guy who passes all the tests…many times does not fit. Sorry…look around…search out the results. 

Man I am wondering around a bit…I think as I turn this corner of life knowing I am racing towards the finish line I have thoughts and concerns for the Church. I am in a season where our church has shrunk a bit…transition is all around me…I feel the pain of rejection deeper than I used to. I hear all the talk of the new churches around us that are hot and happening and tend to think I am not that hot and happening leader for sure. It seems to me that every time I take a step forward and dare to be bold another bomb explodes nearby…one of my adult kids in pain…maybe both. Another marriage in the church is in trouble…another disease diagnosed. According to the books I need to walk through all of this like I am coated in teflon and things just run off because I’m the man of power for the hour. In my prayer times I cry out for relief and help…I do keep moving forward…as Rich Nathan would say, one step at a time. “Right foot, left foot. Do it again…right foot, left foot…repeat.” I know that will never sell a book or inspire someone to get on board but to be transparent that is leadership…you keep walking…one foot in front of the other. 

Recently I was listening to a recording of our worship team from a Sunday morning. My daughter is now leading our worship and as I was listening to her and the team lead us in worship I was struck by one thing…I noticed she was belting out the songs. Even a brand new one she just let it rip…and I sensed the Lord saying to me, “You need to listen to her, Bill…really listen. You know all that is going on around her and yet she is leading with absolute abandonment. You need to join her in that abandonment…don’t hold back…don’t focus on the stuff going on around you. Let go…lead with abandonment. Lead with passion…lead with freedom.” Yes, I can learn from my adult children…shoot I learn from my grandkids! Some day I will venture out and talk about what a joy it is to work with your spouse and your kids…not today. 


Bill