Life Goes By…Quickly

“Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:5‬ ‭ESV

I read these verses and they always make me think:

It doesn’t matter how old you, life is really just a moment, a breath, it comes and goes very quickly. The key is to fill them with stuff that really matters.

What I have done may be fantastic but what lies ahead can still be greater.

In reality the days I have ‘truly’ lived are far too few.

Days, weeks, months and years pass by quickly. Time to take the walk with God more seriously and listen to what He is asking of me.

Honestly, a lifetime in the context of eternity is nothing. We are spiritual beings in a temporary home not the other way round. I will live forever but not in this present form.

Help me Lord to walk careful, to take hold of the time I have, to occupy myself on things that truly matter for eternity. 

A Full Month

The month of May started with Vision Night at Xcel and the encouragement to ‘lean in’ to what God is wanting do, in us and through as a bunch of believers at Xcel Church.

Then I headed off to Israel and Jordan for 10 days. An incredible time, discovering the Holy Land, learning about what life would have looked like for Jesus, and so much more too in the +45° heat.

I know I can muck about but my prayer is that through this time away there will be a freshness to my relationship with God, an added ingredient of understanding after standing in places where Jesus would have stood.

Next came Lead Summit with words from Paul Scanlon and Jurgen Matthesius that just messed with your head.

Add to that, all the normal stuff of life, family and church and the last 31 days have definitely been full.

I’m not complaining though. Isn’t this the life we want to live, the full and abundant life of John 10:10? I am thankful in so many ways it can be difficult to explain. Now, as always, I just need to keep on with the living the life God has positioned and placed me to live.

Time to Get Back to It

Been a strange day today. No sunshine. No warmth. No horns continually beeping. Less traffic. A lot less traffic. Way fewer people too. And no Immy either.

Yet, like I said yesterday, I am glad to be home and back to it. After some family stuff a quick visit to the office.

Time to catch up. Talk Bangalore with my Lead Pastor. Send some messages. Sort a bunch of little things for the weekend and Conference.

Time to think ahead. Just plan the week and organise myself. If I don’t know what needs to be done then how do I know if I have done the right things. The danger is just a lot of energy expended on good things but not necessarily the best things.

Time to reflect. Last week was amazing. It’s surreal to think that I was there hanging out with the incredible Immanuel. So it’s good to reflect, remember and then act on the right things.

Time to be the best me. Not wanting to sound arrogant but this is my heart. To be the best I can be and what I am supposed to be doing. Check out my previous posts about this idea.

Time for some more writing. I am behind on my goals and that frustrates me. Nothing but procrastination and being busy with other ‘stuff’.

Time for some sleep. Not quite yet, as I write this it’s only 4pm. A good sleep is important to keep you fresh and healthy, part of helping us in all these other endeavours.

What is it time for you to get back to?

Leadership Disciplines [2]

Last week I wrote that to become a better leader requires discipline. 

The subsequent question could be, ‘in what’? Different leaders would answer this in different ways. I have some disciplines that would not be considered out of the ordinary, such as reading, keeping my relationship with God good & strong, staying teachable, praying, being accountable, etc.

To dig a little deeper this is where my thoughts are at the moment, what I am being disciplined about in regard to my own leadership. I know it’s not revolutionary but through recent conversations I was reminded about the importance of making these two a priority…

Stop telling others what to do. I am the leader, I probably have the right to tell you what to do, and it doesn’t mean I never will but I am doing my very best to more disciplined in my empowering of others.

This is not just about delegation but delegation with purpose. Helping others to flourish in their own abilities. It’s about me being disciplined to make sure that they know and understand the bigger picture, that they begin to see things that need to be noticed and thought about, and that they realise they have it within themselves to work out what should be done in response.

It means I am asking more questions of others. What do you think? How do you think this can be improved? What do you and your team think we could do? Why is this important to us?

It challenges others to grow. It challenges me to keep growing. It increases a sense of ownership. It releases people to flourish and get on with seeing the vision come to pass.

Stop doing things that others could do just as well. An article I read recently suggested that if someone can do something 80% as well as me, then maybe I should be giving them the permission and the resource to be doing it.

That is difficult for me as a leader. I like things done well. However, that just means that I keep control of everything for fear that they might not do it as well or the same way and that helps no one. The results are often negative – I get overwhelmed and they don’t have anything to get their teeth into.

I am therefore having to be more disciplined to get myself out of the way. To be purposeful in the giving away of roles and responsibilities. I am having to be disciplined in ensuring that as I empower others I resource them adequately and work with them on the journey.

Someone asked me how I think strategically about church, what is my thought and/or development process? I guess this would be a part of the answer. For any organisation to achieve its vision it takes more than one or two people, it takes as many as want to achieve it. Part of my role as a disciplined leader is to facilitate those opportunities and then to empower, equip and release those who are willing to be involved by stopping to to tell people what to do and getting myself out of the way.

What do you think? 

What Do You Actually Do?

One question I get asked on a regular basis is this: ‘So, what does an Executive Pastor actually do?’ Great question. Sometimes I wonder that myself. Not many days are the same so it can be tricky to answer.

Here’s a good list for starters having checked my recent to-do list ~ people, meetings, budgets, discussions, strategy, organising ministry opportunities, identifying leaders,  looking at the detail, more meetings, process, systems, helping other leaders, asking questions and then continuously repeat, in any order. All covered by keeping my relationship with God as strong as possible.

As far as I am concerned, one of the most important aspects in my role is knowing the vision of my Lead Pastor and then helping others grab a hold of it too. For me, it’s about taking everything that I have to think about or plan through the filter of the big picture, the overarching vision that we have in our church.

People are passionate about what they do, seeing what they get to do as the most important thing in the world and that’s a good thing. Yet it can also be dangerous, as it is easy to become blinkered to anything else or how what one part is doing impacts on another. That’s where my role comes in, helping them keep the big picture in mind. After all, it’s no good one part winning at the detriment of another part.

In rethinking my writing and the resource it can be, unpacking some of the journey as an Executive Pastor might be useful. I’m no expert but I have been giving it my best endeavour for the past 5 years now. I’m hoping I have learned a thing or two worth passing on.

I love what I do.
I’m not sure how I got here but I feel like I am in the right place.
I love building local church.
I love helping others to love what they do.
I feel privileged that God would have me do this.
I want to help others feel empowered in their roles.

I know I’m not perfect in this. I get it right. I get it wrong.

If you could ask one question of someone in a role like mine, what would that question be?

Am I Playing It Safe?

In the context of the ‘Are We In?’ thoughts recently, perhaps the reason we hesitate to give an answer to this question is that we love our comfort too much, we love our safe place. We have got used to how things are and even though it isn’t always a great place, it’s our place, we know it and it has become the norm.

The Christian faith is a paradox. Think about it. God is our refuge, He is our safe place, in Him we find refuge and rescue and peace. Yet that journey often involves trusting Him in ways we can find uncomfortable. It feels a little risky and we are unsure of the outcome as we have to relinquish control.

I have lived too many days with the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging on the door, treating my life a bit like I treat a hotel. Enjoying ‘my time’ while the rest of the world passes me by. Meanwhile God is calling me to engage, to be ‘in’ with all that He is doing. To do that means ripping up the sign, getting up,  moving and doing something.

I have to not allow my desire for safe to override my desire to serve God. I am convinced that one will stop me from living out the other. I cannot play it safe and be someone who says they trust God. I cannot play it safe yet want to believe in faith for a move of God. After all, faith is about believing for those things that I cannot see yet. It’s about stepping out into the unknown because I know that is what God is asking me to do. In doing what seems uncomfortable though I will find the safety I crave in the fullness of God. That’s the paradox at work.

I think I have got too comfy recently. That’s why I am stuck in this thought of being ‘in’. It’s why everything I am reading is challenging me to go for broke for God. To fall into His arms and trust that He will catch me. To take that one step and then allow God to light up the rest of the path. To let go of my dreams and give God the chance to put His dreams in my hands.

How have I played it safe? Just existing. Just doing life. Nothing bad or horrendous. No ‘off the scale’ sin going on. Just meandering through life waiting for God to zap me when I think God is waiting for me to wake up to the fact He already has.

I don’t have the answers yet. I am praying and asking God. What do you want me to do? Where can I put my faith to the test? What does my statement of faith, of intent, need to be? I need a bit more adventure in my life and not just one that I could make up but living the one that God has for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I ‘m not about to quit but even in that you can kind of getting to a rhythm and lose the edge that staying in faith and believing for something impossible can bring.

What about you? Where have you got stuck and need to make a step of faith again?

What is my Purpose?

Here’s an interesting exercise for anyone, leaders or otherwise. A simple question to put your thinking hat on for.

What is your purpose?

If you had to sum up who you are and use no more than 8 – 12 words, could you do it?

Who do you want to be?

Who do you need to be?

What can you bring to the party?

How will things be different because you are there?

What would you get out of bed for every day?

Take time to chew over this. Make time to think it through properly. It might come quickly or it may take a few weeks, perhaps even months. Just don’t give up, ignore it or not bother.

Knowing our purpose can bring clarity and focus. It helps us say yes and no to things. It can set us up for the success we desire. The rest then is up to us, to live up to that sense of purpose we have clearly defined. To get on with what needs to be done.

Is It Only Tuesday?

Been a jam-packed couple of days. Lots going on. I’m sure your week may have been the same.

I realise that the life of Pastor might not seem that fast-paced to most but it’s definitely never dull with lots of variety. It is not all sitting, reading my Bible and praying. Sometimes I wish it was.

Meetings ~ of all kinds. Finance. Operations. Diary. Xcel Bangalore. Key Leaders & Congregational Pastors. Goodbyes. Catch ups. All about moving toward the 2020 vision. Asking the right kind of questions, hopefully, that challenge the process and make sure we always remember ‘why’ we do what we do and do it as well as we can.

Happy to do all of these with some amazing people who share the same determination to get the job done. To do all we can to help set up the opportunity for someone to connect with their Saviour. It may sound cliché but nonetheless true.

So, it’s only Tuesday. That just leaves me 5 more days of this week filled with more catch ups, discussions about ideas and the future, conversations about life, praying for people, lunch with good friends from Australia, Friday night prep, and then Sunday with my Xcel Church family. Always excited for a Sunday and this one is extra special as we have the wonderful Steve & Rachel Mawston with us.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I love what I do and why I get to do it. Building local church is my passion. Serving my Saviour is the most exciting thing I think I could spend giving my life to. How about you?