Leaders who Rush: what I learned today from the blind and broken

Leaders who Rush

Two experiences this morning caused me to pause not only my body, but my leader’s mind that seems to always churn, thinking about the next project or task.

This first occurred at a local diner as I ate breakfast with a friend. The both I choose gave me a view of the exterior entrance to the diner. Out of my peripheral vision, I noticed a middle-aged man walk up to the glass door. Nothing odd there…until he reached for the door handle. He missed it, by about a foot. For about fifteen seconds he kept fumbling with his right hand to find the handle. I thought that a bit odd at first. He finally opened the door. The view from where I sat also allowed me to see the inside entrance. As he walked in, the waitress spoke to him. Then she gently held his arm and directed him to a table. He was almost blind.

In an instant I felt both compassion toward this man and gratefulness for my vision.

When I arrived at the office an hour later, the second experience forced me again to push the mental pause button.

The older daughter of one of our admin staff takes care of a young boy confined to a wheelchair. His body is broken, he can’t speak, he drools, but his mind remains intact. She had left him alone in his wheelchair a few moments to go into our conference room. I stood at the end of the hall and noticed him alone. I walked up to him, patted him on the head and shoulder and said something like, “You’re a bit wet. That rain is a mess out there.” As drool slid off his lips, he responded was a loud grunt, the best his body would allow him to articulate.

As I reflect on these two experiences, I was reminded of a concept that Phil Yancey, the great author, described as ‘time between time.’ He explains that he tries to discipline himself to mentally pause between each day’s activity to reflect over what he just experienced and to prepare his heart for what comes next.

My encounter with a blind man and a boy with a broken body reminded me of those moments in time, the ‘time between time,’ that are often pregnant with meaning.

Leaders are always looking ahead for the next hill to climb. But sometimes, we must pause and make ourselves fully present in the moment so we don’t miss God’s subtle, but important lessons.

related post: The Guy on the Ventilator

How Church Leaders can Mobilize their Churches for Community Ministry

Some of the kids in Operation Helping Hands

It’s exciting to see many churches embracing community and missional ministry more than ever. When I grew up, I can’t remember being challenged to go out into my community to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor and under-resourced. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to personally ‘get it.’

The church where I now serve really ‘gets it.’ We are a church with a weekly attendance around 1,200 and after an intentional effort the last four years to become more missional, we’ve seen this fruit.

  • last year we gave more money to missional causes than we ever gave in a year’s time
  • 1500 participated in some way in local missional efforts, many multiple times
  • 100 went on a short-term missions project overseas
  • we just completed our annual Helping Hands project in the community and nearly 500 people from four different churches served

We even coined a term that has helped capture the spirit of our church: serving the Least, the Last, and the Lost.

So, what have we learned and what are some principles to keep in mind if you want your church to become more missional?

  1. Find a champion. One of our pastors had a vision 10 years ago for us to become more missional. He has persisted for those 10 years.
  2. Build missional ministry into your annual church objectives.
  3. Keep the vision before the church often. Repeat it in messages. Encourage small groups to do missional projects together. Celebrate victories and tell lots of stories.
  4. Offer multiple, small steps for your church. Stay persistent and don’t look for just one big thing to comprise the extent of your community ministry, although a big event can catalyze your church.
  5. Develop partners. Find local city our community agencies that need help and offer to help them. We’ve worked with over a dozen city agencies, the local United Way,  the city of Aurora, IL and several other churches.

Persistence will pay off. This year our church actually won the community “Volunteer of the Year” award from the local United Way.  We didn’t apply for it in any way. Rather, the committee that makes those choices had seen our extensive work in the community and made the decision.

So, as you lead your church, consider how to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the community.

Some great resources:

For more Ministry Help and Resources for Pastors, visit Pastor Stone’s main site.

My Review of the student devotional: Crash Course by Daniel Darling

Although my kids are well beyond the teen years, I wish I could have given them this devotional when they were kids.

Daniel Darling, a friend of mind, provided me a complementary copy of his new book called, Crash Course, forming a faith foundation for life.

Although written for the teen in mind, I was encouraged and learned a lot through the short two page devotionals. Each devotional includes a short story or insight on a particular subject. Daniel then includes a ‘Bottom Line’ statement that encapsulates the major theme. His ‘Own It’ suggestion includes a small, but doable project from reading a passage to watching a movie that reinforces the theme. He also adds a simple prayer and a verse of the day.

In 100 days, the reader will understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in these five areas.

  • Doctrine-knowing what you believe and why
  • Decisions-how to make good choices
  • Direction-what should I do with my life?
  • Devotion-Staying true in a world of lies
  • Delight-finding joy in a hard world

I highly encourage parents and student leaders to get a box of these books and get them in the hands of teens.

Daniel also wrote Teen People of the Bible.

PS-his website is one of the coolest, cleanest I’ve ever seen.

For more Books, Tips and Resources for Pastors, visit Pastor Stone’s main site.

3 Simple Questions when Leading ‘in the moment’

Sometimes we can view leadership as simply big-picture, long-term, and strategic, especially if we lead organizations such as a church or a non-profit.

I’ve learned, however, that how I treat one-on-one encounters with leaders can impact the leader and the organization often in greater ways than my big-picture leadership.

Here are three questions to silently ask ourselves when with another leader.

  1. If I were in his/her shoes, would this leader feel loved?
  2. What does this leader need from me now and how can I meet it?
  3. What is God doing in this person’s life and how does He want me to help?

Perhaps these questions are ways to live out the maxim, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Do you silently ask yourself any questions that help you one-on-one lead?

For more Leadership Resources for Pastors, visit Pastor Stone’s main site.

Why Pastors are Sometimes Like Turtles

Recently Leadership Network asked 40 pastors (including the likes of Wayne Cordeiro and Elmer Towns) to explain in 6 minutes what they wish they had done differently in ministry. They held an online conference called SAGE.

As one of the speakers, I spoke on why I wish I was less like a turtle.

You can read an article that Leadership Journal posted, Animal Instincts, taken from my book 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them that unpacks this concept in more detail.

Do your ever find yourself responding like this to ministry’s challenges?

CS Leadership from Ginger Creek Community Church on Vimeo.

For more Resources, Tips and Help for Pastors, visit Pastor Stone’s main site.