Archive for October, 2011

The Fear Every Leader Battles With

Posted: October 23, 2011 in leadership

It’s the fear I have to beat back with a stick every day. I mean every day.

If I let this fear take hold I would attempt nothing, risk nothing, have nothing.

It’s the fear of failure……….and I’ve never met a leader who hasn’t looked it in the eye.

Here’s a personal example in my life: This weekend our church kicked off a two weekend push to invite guests to our church to hear the gospel. The two fears I battled with: 1. What if people don’t come? 2. What if they don’t respond?

Turns out people did come and people did respond.

I was still left with the question, where does this junk come from? Answer: It comes from a deeper insecurity; the fear of failure.

If I could put a mic in my mind this is what you might hear : “If people don’t invite people, what does that say about my leadership? If people don’t respond to the gospel when I preach, what does that say about my preaching? Can I even do this?”

My thinking becomes dominated by the word “if”. Now, that’s not always a bad thing. The word “if”  is a powerful.  It’s all about potential. But, when I’m walking in the fear of failure my “if” is fixated on the potential of failure. When I am walking in faith, the “if’s” turn in to seeing the God potential in my leadership.

Notice another theme throughout my mind conversation, the word “I”.  This is pride. Most of the time this fear is less about the mission failing and more about me looking like a failure. “What will people think of me if this doesn’t work?”.

If we let the fear of failure run rampant in our lives we’ll end up not trying or risking anything. Our motto will end up being, “Never try, never fail.” We might not ever have to deal with the pain of failure, but we’ll end up suffocating the growth in ourselves and others we lead. That is failure.

So what’s the remedy?  On a daily basis I have to drag my pride and worry to the cross and nail it there. God has called me to do the right things for the right reasons and leave the results up to Him.

What about you? What are some areas in your life that you wrestle with the fear of failure. Take a moment and share below.

I got schooled in pastoral ministry by my 6 year old son, Landon, last night. He was an innocent school master that taught me a hard truth about myself and sacrificial giving.

The Story

After church last night Landon and I stopped at a nearby Wal-Mart (Don’t Hate) to pick up a few things. As we came out of the store into the rain we were stopped by a homeless gentleman named, Jerry. Jerry began to ask me if I had any quarters that he and his wife could use to wash and dry their clothes that had been soaked by the rain throughout the day or give them some money for food.

You see Jerry and his wife Lynn live in the woods behind Wal-mart with many others. His wife has hepatitis and he’s been out of work for a long time. I explained to him that I didn’t have any cash in my wallet (rarely carry it) but I was more than happy to buy them dinner inside at the McDonalds. He was grateful.

Landon and I went back inside and purchased the food and brought it back out. Jerry said, “God bless you. Will you please pray for us.” I said, “Absolutely!”, and Landon and I circled up and held hands with Jerry in the Wal-Mart parking lot and prayed. We parted ways and I walked away feeling good that we had shown love to Jerry and that I had the opportunity to model Jesus for my son.



The Interrogation

As we drove away Landon started this conversation:

Landon:  “Dad, does Jerry not have any money?”

Me: “No he doesn’t.

Landon: Why doesn’t he get a credit card?

Me: Because you have to have  money to have a credit card. (Not a universal truth)

Landon: Why does he live in the woods?

Me: He doesn’t have a place to live.

Landon: Why doesn’t he live in his car?

Me: He doesn’t have a car. You see son, that’s why we should be so grateful for what God’s given us and should be generous to share with others. That’s why Dad went in and bought him some food to show him the love of Jesus.

(Long Pause)

Landon: Dad, it’s raining outside. They’re stuff is all wet. We have a dry house. Why didn’t you invite him to spend the night and let him wash and dry his clothes there?

(BOOM……Deafening silence in the car.)

Landon: Dad, he doesn’t have a car. You could turn around and I know we could find him real quick and ask him. He’d probably be really happy and jump in the car.

Me: Son….(Tongue Tied)

Landon: Why didn’t you ask him that Dad?

Me: Because…..

(Landon continued this CIA type water boarding of questioning the entire way home.)

I finally got my whits about me and explained to him that I didn’t know this man and I have to be careful as a dad and husband to protect my family and be careful about who we invite in to our home. Landon seemed to understand and he seemed to roll with it.

I couldn’t roll with it.

The Lesson

The more I reflected on it, the more God wanted to speak to me about this.

The beautiful gift that a child brings is not only child-like faith, but also child-like solutions. In Landon’s mind it was simple: It’s Raining outside > He doesn’t have a home. > We do. > Let’s invite him.

Most kids aren’t jaded with all the reasons of why we “shouldn’t or can’t” do something. They just see the need and say, “Let’s fix this!” For me buying a meal for Jerry was easy. I’ve done that many times and frankly it was much cheaper than the inconvenience of having a homeless couple (that I don’t know) with all their wet stuff  come to my house for the night.

While many might congratulate me. I felt exposed. I hadn’t considered going the extra mile.  My point is that being a disciple of Jesus always means moving beyond what’s easy and comfortable. Thus the daily call to pick up our cross and follow Him.

Lessons Learned: 1. Look for the extra mile and walk  it out with others. 2. Don’t take my son to Wal-Mart. 🙂

What about you? When has God challenged you to go the extra mile? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

There are a ton of reasons you should pick up and walk away from your commitment to your church family. I’ve narrowed it down to the top 5. Be on the look out for these signs….if you see them get out!

1. Someone offended you.  At any point that you feel your feelings are hurt you should leave. Make sure you look for the subtle signs that people don’t like you: someone walking by and not saying “hi”, not being invited along with a group, not being thanked for something you did, a point in a sermon that made you feel uncomfortable, someone doesn’t notice that you weren’t at church because of the other hundreds of people in the room. If you’re offended it must be a good enough reason to leave. Go with that emotion.

2. You don’t “feel” like you’re being fed. This is really important. You need to purposely forget that your pastor is moving a large group of people from across a wide spectrum in their faith experience to maturity. Make an effort to avoid other discipleship opportunities like Life Groups and classes. It’s completely understandable that you would blame your pastor for your lack of discipline in feeding yourself the Word during the week. Make it a point to have a view that it’s really all about you instead of investing in helping others around you grow.

3. Your Son or Daughter isn’t happy there. In today’s child centered world this makes sense to leave your church if you’re child says they don’t want to go. What’s great about this one is it gives you an opportunity to model for your kids what you should do when something is not done your way: leave. Besides your child must know best….I mean they are the child. Whatever you do don’t teach them to adapt, appreciate the differences in others or model ongoing faithfulness. Get out before they plant roots.

4. Your area of passion is not being promoted enough. If the leadership team at your church doesn’t promote your area of involvement you should find the nearest exit sign. It’s obvious that the reason the pastor is refusing to do this is because he doesn’t like you and not because he has a million other important plates that need to be spun. Here is your chance to read sign #1 and be offended.

5. You made a mistake and a leader brings accountability. When you committed to follow the pastoral leaders of your church you certainly didn’t mean you wanted them to help you grow by holding you accountable. Who needs to submit? Not you! Don’t be sharpened by the experience or walk through restoration. Why should you when there’s another church down the street that doesn’t know anything about your issues and will welcome you with open arms.

(Important Note: If you decide to hit the door because of these valid reasons, make sure you share your reasons with as many people as possible. What’s better than leaving your church? Answer: Taking People with you!)

What about you? Have any other signs of when you should leave your church? Please share below.

I was a part of the rest of the collective world that sighed in sadness yesterday when hearing that the great inventive dynamo, Steve Jobs, had died. He is being called the “Thomas Edison” of our time for his tenacious vision for innovation, rightly so.

My first question upon hearing of his death was, “Was he a follower of Christ?”. Isn’t it interesting that we rarely ask that question of great innovators until they’ve died. To not ask this question is to value his personal accomplishments above him as a person. In doing some research I discovered that Steve was a self-professed devout Buhhdist. Unless in the process of dying Steve came to a point of faith in Jesus Christ (which is a real possibility) for the Christian  there should be profound sadness. Why? Because it means that Steve did not come to a saving faith in Jesus. If this is true he will not rest in peace.

Truly, Steve Jobs was gifted by God to be a creative genius. God’s common grace to all mankind was seen in what Steve Jobs gave to the world in advancing technology. However, I believe the greatest lesson Steve Jobs teaches mankind is this: Even great visionaries can be blind. Steve had the ability to see innovation on the horizon but he was blind to see Christ as savior and Lord. The only accomplishment and contribution that can save a man was accomplished on the cross through Jesus.

There are those that will find this post as crass and insensitive written so soon after his death. But I would say this: For the next few days his life will be dissected through article, documentary and essay. This to me is the greatest question: Did Steve follow Jesus?  It is the weightiest question that can be asked of any of us.