Sunday, April 24, 2011

Baseball story

 I wonder what it would be like to be a leader who did not have a limp...any scars.  Then I would wonder what planet they came from because they surely could not be from this one, could they?  I would figure that really if they did not have a limp it would not be because they were better than me, just maybe further along in the healing process...I can live with that.  
I love baseball and played it all the time when I was growing up.  I would watch lots of baseball games and one of the things I began to notice as I grew older was that superstar baseball players rarely if ever made good managers.  It seemed odd to me at first...I mean the best players ever, who really knew how to play the game, who made the game look so easy at times.  Not good managers.  In face if you look around the list of managers there are many of them that never made the big leagues or were just fill in players.  Many played years at the minor league level, just struggling along hoping that one day it would be his big day, but that day never came.  
But in all the hard knocks of the game they really learned all the little things that it takes to play the game.  They watched everything that was going on and would ask others lots of questions...they wanted to learn.  
Star players never can relate to the guy who struggles to hit the ball or to field the ball.  Who cannot make the big throw to home plate from the outfield.  Why can’t you just pound the ball over the fence?  It is not that hard.  Why can’t you make that play?  Everyone should be able to make that play...the game is so easy...why do you make it look so hard? 
For me I find much hope and grace with my limp along life.  I am like the life long minor leaguer that had to do a little of everything just to stay on the be a team player...a role player if you would.  Someone needs to work in the nursery...OK.  Someone to work with the youth...we will.  Someone to clean the building...all right then.  Someone to...well you get the idea.  I am not patting myself on the back, I am saying I learned to lead by serving.  I understand I am not the fastest, biggest, smartest, or the strongest.  I understand that in my weakness, He is made strong.  So like Paul, “ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”   It is not that I am glad to be weak but knowing that in my weakness, God comes in and brings strength. 
So like the life long minor leaguer who never made the big show, I am the regular guy that God says “OK, now put into practice all the things you learned behind the scenes.”  I think that is kind of cool...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

With a limp..I lead

Oh boy! The last few weeks have been a mix of some of the best and the worst of times...Some great highs and very low lows...interesting how life is isn’t it?  I can remember reading a quote from John Wimber where he said he would never trust a leader who did not have a limp. Now for some that is an absolutely crazy statement.  Who wants a crippled person to lead?  And how could a guy with a limp stay in front anyway?  Everybody could pass him by couldn’t they?  You want the fastest guy in front, the strongest, the bravest...not someone with a limp.      I guess I think it is more like John was saying, I want a battle tested person leading, one who has taken a few hits and has who understands it takes more than brute strength to win a fight.  
As someone who has been leading a church for almost 17 years, I always knew I had a limp.  I knew that I was not called because I had impeccable qualities and gifts but really I was called because I was available.  My problem on too many occasions was I let me limp turn into an amputation.  I not only limped I needed crutches or a wheel chair to get leg was not broken it was gone!  I focused on my limp...I thought it was what made me humble...kept me so lovable:)  What I did really was magnify my limp...when I needed to magnify God...make Him bigger...allow Him to be God.  
Lately I feel like God is healing my limp...actually I know He has healed and has been healing it for quite a while. A few weeks back in the Experiencing God class we talked about the fact that God is really not in a hurry...He never takes shortcuts, or allows us to take shortcuts, when it comes to building character into us.  He is patient...and slow...painstakingly slow.  Because He cares more about us than about what we do...He is building us not ministries...He is healing our limp...but we will always have a scar from the surgery.  
I think I am really coming to grips with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12...”My grace is sufficient for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more greatly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”   So I know I have a limp...but even more so in my limp Christ’s power is made perfect.  It is not about my limp is about His power...about time!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We need Your grace....

I had written another blog last night I thought I would post today...but this thought has been heavy on my heart.  I think I am finding the blog kind of therapeutic and I hope this one does its’ work.  First let me share a scripture with you, one I shared a few weeks back, but I want to emphasize a different part of it, but one I don’t think the church can ignore much longer. In Hebrews 13 Paul mentions obeying leaders and how our leaders have to lead knowing they will give an God. Then in verse 18 these three words are written, “Pray for us.”  In 1 Thessalonians Paul writes in 5:25, “Brothers, pray for us.”  In fact if you read Paul’s letters he requests prayer on many occasions.  I am beginning to think many leaders today have quit asking for prayer or the Church has quit praying for them but something is wrong and we need God’s help, desperately.
So on to my the past few months I have heard of at least 8 leaders of different levels falling in moral failure.  Adultery...plain and simple...and it hurts.  This week I found out a fellow I consider to be a friend, one who I love and believe in came clean and admitted having an affair.  I was crushed...and I am pretty far removed from it really...well how far removed can we be when it is one of us...the Body of Christ...who falls.  I don’t stand in any judgement, rather I stand with a Holy fear before God praying for strength.  But questions come to me just like anyone else.  How?  Why?  Did no one see it coming?  God your people are falling apart!! Help!!!  Church pray for your leaders...always...never ceasing...please.
It is a reminder that just because God has allowed us to serve in the role of pastor, worship leader, or some other ministry leader, we are human and very fallible...even if we don’t want to admit it.  I think of the family...I think of the church family...I think of those who do not yet know Jesus and this is another mark that confirms the church is made up of hypocrites...yes it is...not all but some for sure.  Secret lives lived out by living a lie...standing up in front of a congregation all the time a dark secret has to be eating away at them.  Doesn’t it?  Shouldn’t it? 
This blog is about a regular guy trying to live in Christ and fulfill the call of God in my life.  Barb and I talked this past Sunday about our desire to finish our race well as we turn 60 this year. We see the years in front of us as being filled with great potential and great things done in the kingdom. Now I am reminded there is no cruising in the kingdom and that we have an enemy who laughs loudly when we fall short of the finish line.  There is no letting up to coast across the line, it is a battle right up to the point we meet Jesus.  One moment of letting my mind wander in the wrong direction, one thought of how strong I am spiritually, forgetting who I am living for and the cause we have been called to live for and even to die for.  Living for my own happiness or being center rather than Jesus...It happens...too good good hurts...everyone. I have to ask as a leader, pastor...where is the fear of the Lord?  Have we forgotten He is all knowing...have we decided since He is love, He can only love us and not discipline us?  
So this regular guy who has his own stuff would ask you to pray for him...he needs it...wants need to do want to.  I am humbled...confused...
hurting...concerned...and holding onto Jesus tighter and tighter.  
Titus 2:11,12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.”                  
God pour your grace on your church and its leaders...please!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

boy am I about you?

We joke a lot about how a pastor really only works one day a week and it is funny, really it is.  Just not true...but funny.  I think I mentioned in one of the early blogs about how I took a test on line through the Barna website to see if I had the gift of “leadership.”  Well I knew the answer before I took the test and George sent me my results, “Sorry Bill, you are not gifted with the gift of leadership...You are a shepherd.”  Shepherd...hmmm...David was a shepherd and he did ok...Moses hung out with his father in laws sheep and it worked out OK for him didn’t it?  The prophet Amos was a shepherd so I am really ok with that image or gifting...being a shepherd for God’s flock...OK by me.  But I am not sure shepherds get days off do they?  Can they call in sick?  Can they accumulate sick days?  Where is my union rep here? I have some big questions for him...Would that be it’s His church...the Holy mind.
The real item here is you never really take time off, I don’t think...Oh we get away for some rest and relaxation for sure...Monday is my “day off” from the church...but we are never away from the church, we are the church.  When God calls you to something like this role of a pastor you can never just leave the job behind you.  It is always on your mind....more importantly people are always in your heart and how do you take time away from that?  I know I have lots of help around me with great staff and great leaders so it is not like the world revolves around Barb and me but you can never really leave it is a part of me...I am a part of it...we are joined the heart.  It is a God thing, believe me.  
We had the funeral this week for our youth pastor Jeremy Tate...Most of you know I am not a seminary trained or equipped pastor...just learned as I go I think, but I wonder what kind of training or equipping would I have gotten that could have helped me through this hard thing?  What would they teach in Bible school to prepare for a young leader dying and leaving behind a wife and 3 kids?  I would have loved to have been in that class.  Oh you can teach someone the steps to take, to be in the right place at the right time.  Go to the house...go to the funeral home with family if needed...get stories to share at the service...go to funeral home during visitation...prepare evangelistic message...go home.  
When is it ok for me to cry?  When is ok for me to yell at God?  Is there a time where I won’t have to be "on", so to speak?  Will there be some time where I don’t have to be the strong one?  
Well, my church family gives me the permission to be me all of the I can cry whenever I need to.  I never really have to be "on"...I don’t have an on button. One of Jeremy”s relatives came up to me after the funeral and thanked me for being so honest and letting the service be so honest.  I was interested in what she meant by “honest” so I asked.  She said it felt raw...the emotions were raw and real and she appreciated seeing that. Me too.  
I can yell at God now if need be because God has given me permission to be me also...because I have allowed Him to be God...I did not prepare an evangelistic, avoid hell at all cost message to get to them while they are weak...I tried to tell them that God loves them with a lavish love, and He is who we run to when we just do not get life...
Yep...I am a shepherd...I love my sheep...and my sheep love...Jesus.  Nice.     
PS One of the things God did during this ordeal was allowed me to have my really big times of grief away from the larger my home by my office right before the funeral, with friends and family praying for me...I think so I could do what was needed for the family.