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.




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!


The Dark Side of Leadership


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!





Do you find yourself getting off track spiritually? It’s easy to do. I’ve found in my life that it’s not usually a conscious decision to get off track…it’s usually a series of small, seemingly insignificant, decisions that add up over time.

If you find yourself off track, I want to suggest 3 steps to getting back on track.

  1. Confess. It’s important that you take responsibility for our choices. You need to be honest with yourself, God, and someone else. Tell God you’ve gotten off track and acknowledge your poor decisions before him. Sharing this with someone else can help “make it real” and provide some support for you as you seek to get back on track. 1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. God is ready and willing to forgive you for drifting away. He’s ready to welcome you back home.
  2. Receive. Accept God’s forgiveness. Believe the words of 1 John 1:9. Know that our God is loving and gracious (Psalm 103:8-10). You may know in your mind that God forgives you, but it needs to sink into your heart as well.  An important part of getting back on track is recognizing that Jesus paid the price for that sin and He’s not asking you to pay for it.
  3. Adjust. Just as a GPS reroutes you when you get off track, you need to make the decision to change your course. When Jesus interacts with the woman caught in adultery he tells her he doesn’t condemn her, but then tells her to go and “sin no more” (John 8:10-11). Identifying where you went off course and why is an important step. As you gain clarity around that, you can identify new habits and patterns that can help you get on track and stay on track.

Whether you find yourself way off track, or just a little, I hope you’ll take time to consider these 3 steps and how you can get yourself back on track.





This morning I was reading in 2 Samuel and came across some incredibly powerful and encouraging words.


Words from a woman who had a reputation for being exceedingly wise (from a tiny, little farm town) to King David…


All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. 2 Samuel 14:14


I love this.


The message is that we only go through life once and so God has committed himself to help us not waste it! Even when we doing something stupid and end up wandering  away from him.


“He devises ways…”


God plans how to get us back. Wow. That is a tenacious love. Divine mercy. Amazing grace.


All of this is found in Christ!





P.S. David heeded the lady’s advice. He opened up his heart to God once again. Will you?


EORO Stories


2015-16 at ACC is the year of EACH ONE REACH ONE. We are moving toward each person reaching one person for Christ. And so we are praying specifically for the people God has placed in our sphere of influence (family, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, etc.). We are also looking for opportunities to share our faith story with them and perhaps even invite them to church!


As we engage in this outreach, many stories are being written. Some are stories of “success” – some not so much. Regardless, as we answer the call of Christ to be active witnesses it might surprise us to discover that WE are changed. Here is one person’s story:



“Thought I would share my experiences thus far.  Early in the fall I reached out to a couple I’ve known for 20 years and invited them to church and to chat about faith.  They respectfully declined so I have been praying and looking for further opportunities with them.  So we shall see how that one develops.  They are very far from the Lord and in desperate need, and have no idea how that He is what is missing.”


“In addition, God has used this venture to kick me in the butt in a way I had not anticipated.  Shortly after our first meeting I was praying about whom to place on my list of 3.  My thoughts drifted to the couple I mentioned and how I first met them and who introduced us to one another.  And then God hit me between the eyes and forced the realization that the person I most need to be praying for is my ex-wife, the person who introduced me to the couple originally.  I have had zero contact with her for over a decade now, and yet continue to struggle with feelings of anger and resentment.  However, while I know nothing about her current life or spiritual well-being, God has implanted the conviction (if not yet an honest desire) to pray for her spiritual health daily.  I have to admit that it is a very difficult battle for me and that my follow-thru is inconsistent at best, but I am trying.  I believe God is using Each One Reach One to reach me in new ways, and to help heal some of my brokenness while I reach out to others.  I would appreciate your prayers as I attempt to follow God’s lead.”  


Cool stuff! Who knows how God might continue to develop this story?? But to view others as deeply loved of God who need to hear about and believe in Christ ends up changing us!





10 Things I Love About ACC


In honor of my 10 year anniversary as an ACC staff member, here are 10 things that I love about ACC

In no particular order…

  1. Our staff team. Such a great group of gifted people who love God and love our church. We have the amazing blessing of having a lot of history together as many of us have been around for a long time.
  2. Our Elders. One of the reasons for such longevity of staff is our outstanding Elder team. These men care deeply about our church, take care of our staff, and lead our church in a way that honors God. So thankful for this group of Godly men.
  3. Our people. In the role of pastor, work and social life are inherently intertwined. I’ve always said that a pastor should want to attend the church he serves at even if he wasn’t on staff. That’s never been a problem for me. I’ve developed so many quality friendships here at ACC.
  4. The variety of things I get to do. I’m a Youth Pastor at heart, but I so enjoy the opportunities I have to be involved in other areas in our church. Children’s ministry – we have a great team of adults who love Jesus and love kids. I enjoy working with them and getting to know the children of our church. Teaching ministry – love the opportunity to work with Pastor Dave on teaching series and fill in on Sunday mornings (more on this one in the next point). Helping people get plugged into serving opportunities – love getting to know people, their interests and abilities and helping them find the right place for them to contribute to our community.
  5. The opportunity to teach. I’m a teacher, have been as long as I can remember. It’s the way God wired me. I love the opportunity to teach at our youth ministries each week and the times I get to teach in “Big Peoples” church on Sunday mornings.
  6. Spending time with students. I have SO much fun with our middle school and high school students. Youth ministry is a challenging gig for sure, but it’s super rewarding. The conversations I get to have with students, the chance to walk with them in some of the most difficult years of their lives, and the joy I experience as I see signs of spiritual growth in their lives…it doesn’t get any better than that!
  7. Creativity. We look, feel, and operate, like a church with a much large budget and staff team. We have many talented people who volunteer their time and energy to make ACC a better place and our staff are committed to excellence – doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.
  8. That my kids are cared for. This is something that wasn’t even on my radar 10 years ago. The fact that my 3 kids LOVE being at church is huge! They feel at home here and are cared for and ministered to by so many.
  9. The generosity of our people. From baby shower gifts, to pastor appreciation gifts, to “God laid it on my heart to give this to you” gifts, we have been so blessed by the generosity of ACC.
  10. That we have a shower. :). I’m serious! As a triathlete and distance runner, I spend a lot of time working out. I’ll often squeeze a run in before youth group, during my lunch hour, or on a Sunday morning before church. Having a shower here allows me to fit in the training I need to do and not be stinky for the ministry that I need to do.





Karen and I were married on July 18, 1981 – a scorching hot day in Phoenix, Arizona. When we said our vows I was confident that I knew her well. We had been dating for over 2 ½ years and had spent countless hours together – walking along the lake front, sitting on the floor of the sky deck of the John Hancock overlooking the city, noshing on bagels at a tiny but busy deli on Clark street, studying together in the student lounge at our college, and racking up huge long distance phone bills during summer and Christmas breaks. Lots of time together. Lots of talk. On our wedding day I knew her probably as well as I had ever known anyone.


But now over 34 years later I realize that I really barely knew her. Over the years I have learned so much more about her – through good times and bad, in times of high stress and during relaxed weekends away. Now I know there is always more to know about her. And the bottom line is that as my knowledge of her has grown – so has my love for her. That’s how a committed love relationship works!


When the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, he gave made this petition:



I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,  asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. Ephesians 1:16-17


It works the same way in our relationship with God: to know Him is to love Him. Our God can be known. He loves to communicate with us and reveal himself to us. To whatever degree you know him now, you could know him even better! And that increased knowledge of God would change your life! You could live for another 1,000 years and not exhaust the riches of growing in your relationship with the Creator of the universe.


So what’s the key to learning more about him?? Well, yesterday in my sermon I stated that if you go home remembering only one thing, it should be this:


The primary manner in which he invites us to know him better is through his word!


Jesus Christ is his primary revelation of self-disclosure to us and the bible is all about Jesus! As we humbly read, study and submit to his word we come to a greater understanding of who He is and we learn to love him more (think heartfelt authentic worship and enthusiastic obedience!).


Reading your bible regularly is by far the most spiritually transformative habit that you can develop. Are you committed to developing this habit? Do you value the word of God and prioritize it in your daily routine?


If not, why not?


It is essential that we become people of the book.


I pray you will!





P.S. Looking for a great resource to help get you started? Explore here:  https://www.youversion.com/    I and a lot of peeps at ACC use these bible reading plans all the time. I’m currently on day 11 of reading through the bible in 90 days.



EACH ONE REACH ONE – How are you doing?


At the beginning of this school year we designated 2015-16 with the theme EACH ONE REACH ONE.


The vision was for each regular attender of ACC to reach one person for Christ in the coming year. Those taking up the challenge received an EORO t-shirt and a “credit card” on which they could identify 3 loved ones that they would be praying for daily.


Did you take up the challenge? If so, how are you doing?

  • Are you actively looking to build relationships with the lost?
  • Are you praying?
  • Are you looking for opportunities to share your faith story?
  • Have you invited them to church yet?


If you took the challenge but have kind of lost your focus – get back on track. It’s not too late!


If you didn’t take the challenge, or you just recently began attending ACC – why not jump on board now? You can pick up a t-shirt and “credit card” at the Welcome Center for the next few Sundays. See how God might use you!


Feeling maybe a bit intimidated?  Unprepared?


Well then, WITNESSING 101 is for you! This 1 ½ hour seminar will be offered on Sunday, January 24 from noon – 1:30PM. A light lunch is included in the registration fee. You can register online: http://acchurch.org/grow/witnessing-101


This class was offered previously, this past October, and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive. The seminar is led by Elliott and Katy Glynn. Both in their neighborhood and workplaces they each are veterans at sharing the love and truth of Christ with others in an effective way. You will love their energy and gain much from their practical insights. I strongly encourage you to attend this event.


Together we can all be a part of the life-change God desires to bring about in the people we know and love that do not yet know Jesus.








This Sunday, January 3 at ACC we begin a new teaching series – BECOMING WHAT YOU BELIEVE. This 11 week study in the book of Ephesians will be a game changer as we learn more fully all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ and the resulting command he gives us to live in a manner worthy of our calling.


How can the maximum out of this new series?


  • Attend regularly. If you must miss – be sure to listen to the podcast.


  • Actively listen. Take notes. Intentionally focus.


  • Discuss it. Whether for 5 minutes or 30, find a friend or family member and interact on each sermon. (Better yet, join a growth group!) What did you learn? What did it get you thinking about? Anything confusing or troubling?


  • Come humbly. Have a teachable spirit; in fact, invite the Holy Spirit to be your teacher.


  • Read it. This week. By this coming Sunday, January 3 make the time to read completely through the book of Ephesians – at least once, maybe a couple times.


I’m praying this study will change our lives – that it will change our church!