Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More from Sunday

It strikes me that I did not talk about one area that is often referred to as a solitary place. When people who are in leadership get together it is common for them to use such phrases as, "it's lonely at the top, that's why we get the big bucks, or I wasn't hired to be their friend."
I agree with John Maxwell, and many other authors, who in his book "leadership gold" suggests that if it's lonely at the top the leader's doing something wrong. However, in every organization (whether it's organic such as the church or not) there is by default one person to whom everyone looks to in the event of major decisions or failures. In that sense, it can be lonely at the top.
I've never felt comfortable passing blame, whether deserved or otherwise, to those who serve under my leadership. I have known few good leaders who would disagree. Maybe this is where we find the answer to the age-old question (well as old as my leadership), "why don't leaders delegate more?" It is not that leaders delegate less it is that the delegates wait on the leader for the critical decision which causes the team to miss a critical window of opportunity.
The leader is left in the lurch -- the delegate feels responsible and yet somehow let down-- and the team sees the whole situation is a failure.
And so the good leader continues to fail and along the way he finds other good leaders going to learn from their failure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Time Away is Not Time Away

I realize this is not a mind boggling concept but having just spent five days away from work with Judi and some friends I am reminded again of how incredibly active the mind is when it supposed to be relaxing.
We spent the time with food, fun, games and, well, food, until I got food poisoning so for almost 72 hours of that time I was laid up groaning or recuperating.
Amazingly, as soon as I stepped back into the work place, for me that is La Habra Christian Church, I began to list the ideas that had come to me while away, even though they did not come to me until I began to talk about work. A Pastor should not be surprised when that happens. After all, God was very specific about our work schedule.
We work six days and take one day off. That is one day away from anything to do with work. The first followers of God were so convinced of the efficacy of such a requirement went about putting a hedge about it resulting in hundreds of laws and rules that, unfortunately, made the practice more of a burden than a blessing. I confess that in my younger years - last year :-) - I reversed their error. I avoided the Sabbath or, even worse, mixed Sabbath with Work ("Business or pleasure, Sir?" "Um, yes, please.").
As I have matured (see eta above) I have come to realize that work needs to be work and "not work" needs to be, well, "knock it off." However, I have found an interesting law at work - because when I am working I am relaxed and when I am relaxing my "self" is working - so that in my life while I do the work of the one who sent me - I find that in my rest He completes His work in me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Blog or Not To Blog That is...

In a June 22, 2009 article on Christianity Today's website Dan Kimball, well known for his “missional” musings warned, “Do It, Don't Blog It” – a sentiment felt, if not expressed by many in the church world when bombarded with requests to “update” “tweet” or “confirm” from various social networks others have thoughtfully recommended.

I appreciated Kimball’s balance of mission and method – something I have always expected of myself and my staff, though I understand the and have suffered from the call of the “new” over the “passé.” I suspect, and this is hard to confess, the real measurement for any technology is not communication as much as it is results. I realize I am swimming up the relational stream here but I believe any tool is only as good as its product.

When the social networks lead to connections that affect lives for Christ they are sacred. When they lead to connections that make lives feel connected they are neutral. When they lead to connections that are distracting from mission they are profane.

There is a fourth option. They could just be gas in the wind, or, as the Bard would have it, “Sound and fury signifying nothing” not unlike this blog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Arrested Development or St John's Disease?

One of the professions I have had a love/hate relationship with has been MD's. As a Mission Executive I Administrated Hospitals in Africa and managed my share of MD's who are a sacrificial/self-important group (not unlike Senior Pastors - I hasten to confess). My love has been for their ability to hear a cough, rumble or squeak and identify the problem and recommend a diagnosis. Good diagnosticians are hard to come by and great ones are God's gift to the medical profession.
I have worked with at least two great ones in my career and have learned that many times the difference between a correct call and an OK call (one that does not do harm but does not really address the ailment) is all too often "gut" as opposed to brain. I have lived long enough to have a healthy respect for this "gut" input in my own profession and it is with that data I ask the question, "Is the church in America - more particularly the one to which I minister - suffering from arrested development or St John's disease?
Arrested development is the result of too little growth hormones, Bible reading, wise counsel, active church service and personal evangelism. As desperate as this condition my sound - a new believer who has never left the diaper stage and spends their Sunday's whining to be feed, but not too much - it is not a terminal illness. There are many 40, even 70, year old believers who still need to be changed by the Pastor before they can go out to play with the world, but who do little harm to the cause of Christ except as bad examples, which they don't really have much chance for since they spend so little time with unbelievers anyway.
St John's disease (C. Peter Wagner calls it a Syndrome) is best defined by Apostle John in the letter he transcribed to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 whom Jesus warned was about to be "spit out." But the condition could be seen developing in the church at Ephesus in 2:1-7 who was told to get back in touch with their first love, which I take to mean the love of the lost, given the powerful evangelistic movement in that church that led to a school of evangelism and the anger of the gold smiths of Diana.
I wish our illness today was arrested development but I fear it is St John's and while a good dose of spiritual disciplines will cure (if not heal) the former - only a rebirth in the fire of persecution seems to heal (there is no cure I know of) this malady which finds biological believers (for in America who is not at some point a biological? Few I would say) whining for government intervention to save a church whose Savior waits in the Doctor's lounge to be asked for a second opinion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Time Out

I feel like Punxsutawney Phil sticking my head out of my Paper Office to see if it is safe to put thoughts on a cyber screen. However, I love dialogue and, truth be told, monologue more, so I am going to give this a try.
I respect the bloggers I have read in the past and follow in the present, whose names and sites will appear here from time to time as I rely on their wit and wisdom. I am sure the blogging community will set me straight as I err and even when I only opine.
As a former missionary, professor of Intercultural Studies, not-for-profit executive and Pastor I will draw on my experience, but, look forward to the new concepts I can glean from this new prism of my life.