Category Archives: Getting Personal

2 year program update

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Last weekend, (5/20-22) I was in Colorado for the first of my four weekend retreats in my 2 year leadership development program. We were at a Christian camp up in the mountains. I love the mountains…it was a huge blessing to do this retreat in that setting. The rest of the weekends will be in IL & WI…not as exciting scenery wise, but still equally powerful experiences.

I’m still processing all that I learned on the weekend, but wanted to share with you something that was particularly impactful for me. This retreat was on life mission/purpose. There were 40 participants – various ages and careers. A number of men came into the weekend wondering if they were going to end up changing their careers after discovering their mission/purpose. During the course of the retreat, we discovered that mission and purpose has more to do with what kind of person you are than with what kind of job you have. I think this is an easy mistake to make. We often find our identity in what we do for work. The reality is, that’s something we do, not who we are. Granted, there are times where who we are and what we do are very similar, but even still the job doesn’t define us…we just happen to be in a job that is aligned with our gifting/abilities/passions/etc. What am I getting at??? Understanding who we are, how God has shaped us, and what gifts/abilities He’s given us, provides us with the opportunity to live on mission every moment of every day. Mission is about what kind of person we are at a core level. So, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we have the opportunity to be that person and as a result to fulfill our mission/purpose.

I love this stuff! For me, understanding what kind of person I want to be has an impact on every area of my life. It affects how I interact with my wife and kids. It affects how I interact with my fellow church staff members, lead our student and children’s ministries, teach, etc. I’m excited to continue to unpack this and explore the mission/purpose that God has created me for. Thank you for your financial support that has made this journey possible.

Grace,

Chris

Thank You!

“Thank you!” doesn’t even begin to express it. I’m overwhelmed at the response of our church for the Invest in Pastor Chris special offering. We had a goal of raising $5,400 to fund a 2 year leadership development program that I’m beginning this month. In 1 week, you exceeded that goal! Your generosity has made it possible for me to do this program that I would not be able to afford otherwise. Thank you! Thank you for believing in me and thank you for investing in me.

The program is through a Men’s Ministry called The Crucible Project. I’ll be doing their 2 year transformational program. I’ve been involved with this ministry for 1 year now and I absolutely love it. It’s been life-changing for me! The 2 year program is a choice to intentionally go after my personal growth as a husband, father, and pastor. Here’s what the program involves…

  • 4 Weekend retreats (first one is next weekend, May 20-22)
  • Weekly small group meetings to continue to learn and grow
  • Monthly coaching calls to refine what I’m learning and set goals

I’m excited about the journey ahead and look forward to what God has in store.

Grace,

Chris

 

I AM WHO I AM

For the past year, I’ve been mentoring a college student from our church. We meet weekly to talk about life, discuss a chapter in a book we’ve chosen to read together, and pray together. I look forward to these meetings every week. It’s exciting to walk alongside someone in their faith development. We’re currently reading through the book Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving.

Here’s an excerpt from the book that really stuck out to me this week.

In response to Moses’s second question (“Who are You?”), God said very simply, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is not a dismissive statement. It is very significant, and there’s much to be learned from this declaration. God was explaining that He cannot define Himself by pointing to anyone or anything else. The name I AM speaks of His eternality. Where as an appropriate name to describe us would be “I became” or “I was brought into existence,” God’s name is “I AM” because He has always existed. He is who He is, and that is who He will always be. This is a statement of absolute being, absolute power, absolute importance. God is who He is, and He never changes. (p 177)

So much meaning packed into this short statement. So much that we can easily miss. God cannot define himself by pointing to anyone or anything else. We do this all the time. Consider how you answer the question “Who are you?”…Our family name identifies who we are based on our lineage. Our address identifies us based on where we live. Our career, hobbies, interest, etc are ways of defining ourselves. God doesn’t need to do this. He is the All-powerful creator of the universe who has always existed and always will.

Moving from head to heart…this truth offers me a tremendous amount of comfort. Knowing that God is constant and unchanging helps me to be at peace in the midst of the unknown. Knowing that I can depend on God to be who He says He will be and to do what He says He will do makes me feel secure. Like a child playing at the playground feels safe knowing that Mom or Dad is there watching over them, I feel safe knowing that my God is who He is, and He never changes.

Grace,

Chris

Teachableness (Is that a word??)

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Think being teachable as a follower of Christ is important?

 

I’d say so! Being a disciple of Christ means you place yourself under the tutelage of our great teacher – Jesus Christ. To be a disciple means to be a learner.

 

And we have a lot to learn.

 

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Have you ever had an unteachable employee or co-worker? It’s miserable!

 

Have you ever witnessed a young athlete with a boatload of talent, yet their promising career fizzles because they were uncoachable?

 

We are charged to constantly grow in our knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

 

So how can we develop a teachable / coachable spirit? Let me suggest 5 ideas:

Talk less. It is a known fact – if you’re talking you can’t possibly be learning. A teachable person isn’t always talking; instead they know to…

Listen more. BOOM! That’s when you learn!

Read his Word. Developing such a specific habit indicates you know you don’t know it all and that you do have a lot to learn.

Ask Questions. A teachable person is inquisitive.

Find a mentor. This would not need to be an expert – just someone a little bit further along than you. And then when with them: talk less, listen more and ask questions!

 

What additional ideas do you have for developing a teachable spirit?

Peace,

Dave

 

 

 

What I Learned from Waiting to Pay for Pizza

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I like being a servant. Until somebody treats me like one.

 

Recently I was waiting in line to pay for my food at a local pizza joint. Suddenly a 2nd cash register opened with the announcement, “I can help the next person in line.” Faster than a speeding bullet, the lady behind me cuts in front of me and over to pay – before I even flinched. At first I was just surprised, maybe even slightly amused by her rudeness. But within about 10 seconds my dominating emotion was anger. I just stood there, continuing to wait in line but I was mad. At the cutting in line lady. At the behind-the-counter pizza lady for allowing such an injustice. At the pizza store manager for not properly training employees in such a manner as to prevent such miscarriages of justice. I almost said something snotty but kept my mouth shut because one of these Cretans might visit my church someday. So I smoldered in silence.

 

In retrospect, I began to analyze my inordinate emotional reaction to the situation. Why did I get so angry??!!!

 

After all – this incident merely resulted in my paying for my pizza about 60 seconds later than otherwise. I wasn’t in a hurry. I still got my food. What was the big deal?

 

The answer? I was treated like a servant. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

 

If the lady had asked if she could go in front of me – I would have said, “Yeah, no problem.” And meant it. On one of my better days I might have even gotten the idea myself and invited her to go before me. But that is not what happened.

 

And what happened exposed me for who I am. (Or at least who I was at that moment.)

 

Proud. Easily provoked. Impatient. Uptight.

 

That doesn’t sound like the description of Jesus – does it? Or a servant of Jesus?

 

I know he calls me to be humble. Gentle. Long-suffering. Without anger or malice.

 

So I confess. I acknowledge I still have some growing to do. I need God’s help to keep my spirit in a good place. Especially when I’m in line at the pizza joint.

 

Maybe it would be easier if I just stopped eating pizza…

 

Nah.

 

Peace,

Dave

A Longing to Belong

 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” -Matthew 3:17

To belong is a fundamental human need. It’s the way God created us. Genesis says, “let us create man in OUR image”…which of course points to the trinity. That God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in perfect harmony with one another…that they belong together. It’s from that place that God created us. He’s placed in our hearts a longing to belong. However, our need to belong has been tainted by sin. As a result we often look for belonging in inappropriate ways. We might exclude others or hold prejudices which helps us belong by feeling superior. We might hide our true feelings or change things about ourselves for fear of rejection. I believe there is a better way. I believe that God alone can redeem our need for belonging and heal our brokenness in this area. We were created to be in relationship with God and our deepest sense of belonging will be fulfilled when we find our satisfaction in Him. I believe the verse listed above are words that we all need to hear. These words, spoken to Jesus after his Baptism, are words that I believe God wants each of his children to take to heart.

  • This is my son. Family is perhaps the deepest sense of belonging we have. To be adopted into God’s family is a powerful thing. It speaks of having an inheritance (salvation) and intimacy.
  • Dearly loved. God loves his children with a love beyond understanding. A love that we can do nothing to earn and nothing to negate. That kind of love offers security.
  • Brings me great joy. God enjoys his children. He is pleased with them. To know that God is pleased with us creates a welcoming environment. We can go to Him unafraid.

Let me encourage you to look to God to meet your need to belong. Allow His words to sink into your heart – You are my dearly loved child who brings me great joy.

Grace,

Chris

BEING A LEADER – TOTALLY WORTH IT!

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I’ve spent the last two Mondays writing about the negatives of being a leader and how to overcome them. While I believe that what I wrote was true and realistic, I also want to acknowledge that there are some tremendous rewards and benefits to being a leader.

 

1. You are forced to develop and grow – that’s a good thing! The demands of leadership will stretch you to grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. You’ll pick up experiences and skills along the way that will last a lifetime.

2. You get to have a lot of influence. Directional, big picture vision casting, creating game-changer policies or procedures / protocols and training others to their betterment. Leaders want to make a difference – and get to everyday!

 

3. You will develop a healthier, more productive lifestyle. The responsibilities of leadership will likely cause you to be more focused, use your time better, and become more disciplined with your sleep, diet and exercise habits.

 

4. You will know the joy of seeing God work in and through you. As a result, your faith will increase as will your desire to serve God and others even more through your leadership gifts. It is extremely rewarding and gratifying.

 

5. You will come to realize that if you treat people with respect and believe in their God-given abilities and creativity –  amazing things will happen. Unleash people and most will respond beyond your expectations.

 

6. You will be drawn closer to and become more reliant upon God – again, that’s another good thing! As you struggle with feelings of incompetency or endure harsh criticism or just feel overwhelmed with the scope of your responsibilities, you will end up leaning hard into God for strength and wisdom. And it is there you will know the truth that his strength is perfected in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). You will come to see that whatever you might accomplish is because of his provision in your life.

 

God is able. So, lead leaders. If God is calling you – answer that call. Step out in faith and see how God can use you!

 

Peace,

Dave

PUSHING PAST THE DARK SIDE

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Last week I wrote about the dark side of leadership  – being honest about the fact that being a leader is often not easy! I cited three specific truths about being a leader:

  1. It can be stressful.
  2. It can be lonely.
  3. It can be frightening.

To my own astonishment, I have been in leadership positions (primarily in a local church) for over 35 years now. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve been the object of gossip, slander and threats. There have been times when I felt beaten up and completely discouraged. Yet after 35 years I am still standing! And I still love God, still love the church and I love being a leader.

 

So even though there are most certainly drawbacks to being a leader – I think it is totally worth it. Whether you are a first year rookie leader or a grizzled veteran, tough times will come your way – fairly regularly. So how do you push past the dark side of being a leader in order to carry on?

 

In no particular order, here are six ideas that I have learned from experience:

1. Have a confidant. Sometimes you just need to vent; someone to whom you can articulate your frustrations, anger, confusion or hurt. Someone you trust implicitly to listen without judging and without blabbing! Often times it’s someone outside of your organization or church. It might be your spouse, or a best friend from your college days or a colleague in the area. But find yourself a confidant. Often just being able to articulate your pressures to someone else is extremely therapeutic.

 

2. Expect critics – even enemies. It always used to surprise me when I met someone who didn’t think I was wonderful! I was stupefied to discover individuals who didn’t think my every idea was golden! Fairly quickly I learned that detractors, subversives and just plain mean people are inevitable in life. The very nature of leadership inevitably means not all will agree with your every decision or be willing to follow you. Even the best leaders face fierce opposition from time to time. Even Jesus had his Judas Iscariot. So, no longer be surprised by such people.

 

3. Be humble and teachable. Sometimes I have deserved the criticism. Sometimes I have been flat out wrong – I deserved to be opposed! A critic can end up helping us identify our blind spots. I am fallible so I must believe I can learn something from anyone. But even if I’m 100% right and innocent – remaining humble allows me to not respond with anger and hatred. Humility is not weakness, quite the opposite – it is strength under control. This is a character quality that God can develop within you.

 

4. Maintain your integrity. There is a stability and an authority that comes from moral leadership. So never lie or cheat. Admit when you are wrong. Don’t be lazy. Refrain from gossiping or slandering. Put the well being of others before your own. Seek to make others successful. Do this – and your mind will be at ease when someone questions your motives or attempts to assassinate your character. And you’ll sleep better at night too!

 

5. Prioritize your health. Because the demands of leadership can be exhausting and taxing on both your body and soul – you must take time for yourself – otherwise your eventual “crash and burn” is as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise. So control your diet. Exercise regularly. Always take your day off. Don’t cheat your sleep time. Spend time with your family. Practice Sabbath. Look for ways to laugh and have fun. Invest heavily in your relationship with God.

 

6. Be sure of your calling. Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing? Are you following the will of God in your vocation? If so, he will guide you and give you the strength for the task. Carry on. But, if you don’t have the assurance that you are in the center of God’s will then take the time to reassess what you are doing with your life. I think I’m a bit old school but I’m a huge believer in the concept of needing a call. Not like a “burning bush” type call or an “audible whisper of God” type call but rather a simple but deep conviction that you are doing what God wants you to do – where he wants you to do it. If you have that conviction you can weather just about any storm. This truth reminds us that being in the will of God doesn’t mean everything will be easy. The truth is that throughout the Scriptures and every century since, every man and woman marked for leadership has had to be tough. To face adversity with courage and determination. To be resolute in the commitment to fulfill their calling…by the strength of the One who called them.

 

A lot more could be written and with far greater insight. But these thoughts were simply the first that came to my mind.

 

Don’t lose heart leaders! Pushing past the dark side is so worth it.

 

Peace,

Dave

No Longer Slaves

This Sunday we are teaching a new song titled “No Longer Slaves”.

The song is about remembering everything God has done for us, and is a powerful reminder that we are God’s children, His sons and daughters.  In light of that, we have no reason to fear.  Listen to how Romans 8:15-16 puts it:

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

This song has been so powerful for myself and my wife Kristen in the season we are in right now.  I hope it grabs you in a fresh way and encourages you just as much as it has us.  Listen to it a few times and learn it so you are ready to sing it this Sunday!

Peace,
~Scott

The Dark Side of Leadership

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Are you a leader? If so, you know there is a dark side to leadership; an underbelly that makes you question the wisdom of ever becoming a leader in the first place!

 

In my experience, I have found these 3 things to be true about being a leader and all 3 are intertwined:

It can be stressful.

Leadership = lots of responsibility and a wide variety of expectations from many different people. Your decisions will sometimes be second-guessed. Your motives will be questioned. The need to produce tangible results can rob you of sleep and ruin your day off (assuming you are taking a regular day off!).

 

It can be lonely.

When you are leading, it seems that no one following you understands the pressure you face, the criticism you endure. As a leader just how vulnerable can you be with your followers? Is it ok if they see you cry, worry, get angry, get discouraged or admit that you’re not sure you know what you’re doing? Often you are left feeling isolated – to whom can I safely vent?

 

 

It can be frightening.

Much is resting upon your competency. People are depending on you – trusting you for their personal well-being and / or for the health of your organization. There can be much to lose if your leadership is found lacking. Self doubt can creep in and self-confidence can slowly erode until you no longer are sure you are the right person for the job.

 

Anything sound familiar? Can you relate? What other dark side truths might you add?

Next week I’ll write about how to push past the dark side. In 2 weeks I’ll address the awesome rewards and benefits of being a leader. I just wanted to deal with the negatives first – got to keep it real!

Peace,

Dave