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…


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…