It’s a word that people seem to love to throw around and yet one that seems to be exhibited much less frequently than we might like to admit.
As I continued on my church planting journey, I keep trying to admit to myself and those whom I lead that most of the time, I probably don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m running on instinct more often than not, exploring the places that seem natural and, sometimes, unnatural to me.
The other day, I had just finished up a meeting at a local elementary school. I was excited to see more partnerships developing. As I was leaving the meeting, I was marveling at what was being accomplished. In my opinion, partnerships are the quintessential means by which to achieve goals. Keep your self-righteous and pompous views that you can accomplish anything you want if you put your mind to it, I’ll gladly join with others to see how much more we can accomplish together.
I’ve been to conferences and seminars. I’ve listened to podcasts and read books. When it comes down to it, I feel like a lot of what I do comes out of the things that make the most sense to me. I’m not modeling it any one thing that I’ve seen, I’m just going with what I know.
For years in ministry, I’ve heard people say, “People just want to be lead.” It was uttered so many times that it began to grate on me. But the truth of the statement and its simplicity may be just why it seems to grate. We sometimes look for solutions that are much more complicated than they need to be. We assume that somehow, if we figure out a complex solution to a somewhat complex problem, we’ve somehow earned our money and justified our own existence.
But solutions are rarely as complicated as the people who solicit them. Simple is better and I’ve more often than not found that simple solutions are not only among the most effective, but also the most easily explained and embraced when trying to lead others.
I sat in another meeting this past week and heard someone thank me for modeling what I am asking of my team. I scratched my head and said, “I couldn’t do anything else.” To ask others for something that I am unwilling to give myself is hypocrisy of the greatest sort, management rather than leadership.
I’ve often said that my greatest sermons come out of the deepest sense of preaching to myself. The moment that I have someone else in mind as a target for a sermon is the moment that I take the transparency out of it. But when I’m preaching to myself, it usually translates to some ounce of truth that could be helpful for others. Preaching out of what God is teaching me is the only way that I really know how to do it. So if I can’t do that, it either means God’s not teaching me anything, or more realistically, I’m not listening.
Church planting can be a lonely journey. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with a team of people whose commitment to the mission and vision is beyond lip service. There is no room in church planting for people who simply want to put on a good show and cast a pretty picture to those around them that they’re getting it done. It’s far too important a calling to simply put on accoutrements that make us look as if we’re accomplishing something that we’re not.
Over and over again, I marvel at the place to where God has brought me. While I might arrogantly attempt to take much of the credit, if I’m honest, I just can’t. Too much of what has happened and is happening is not my own doing. There are Divine fingerprints on so much, I feel that I’m simply following the trail to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.
During this season of Advent when there is anticipation, expectation, and excitement for what is to come, it’s a reminder to me of just how important it is to hold these things beyond just this season. If I am not constantly anticipating, expecting, and excited about what is to come, I had better check myself. If I think I’ve got it figured out and I’m leaning on my own understanding, I had better check myself.
The roller coaster ride of ministry may just be a more magnified version of life, having more pronounced and dramatic peaks and valleys. I’ve been in that valley in recent days and finally had to just step away. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if anyone tells you that there is, you might want to distance yourself from them, especially if they’re your boss or supervisor.
I’ll continue to pull back the curtain to reveal what’s going on back here. It’s not always as magical as it might seem, but that’s the beauty of it and part of the Divine mystery and miracle: God accomplishes the extraordinary through the ordinary. I’m not anything special and somehow God chooses to use me to be a part of the unfolding of his plan. That’s reason to boast, but not about myself, about the One whose plan I get to be a part of. If that doesn’t give me reason to anticipate, expect, and be excited, I had better check my pulse.