It might be true that not all readers are leaders...but it seems to be a common denominator that the best leaders are also readers. So, this begins a series of posts that will show up throughout the year to highlight what I'm reading and the insights that I'm receiving as a result.
I'm always looking to "read wide", which means that I'll read things that i don't agree with. It's good to sit with someone who has a different way of thinking and wrestling with their conclusions. That being said, please recommend a book for me to read.
The 38 Page Rule
I would be an all-star reader if every book were 38 pages long. Most are not; therefore I have many books that I have "started" but not many that I have followed through to completion. I'm going to blame it on the author, all of them...because surely it has nothing to do with my lack of discipline.
Nevertheless I'm undeterred and pressing on to read and glean and be a better leader
tomorrow than I am today.
So, here's what I'm reading right now:
God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates For Finding and Focusing
Your Church's Future (By Will Mancini)
This book is challenging my thinking in regards to composing a vision for a church. The leadership in a church must have a vision for what their church is going to be, otherwise the congregation will flounder in ambiguity. What I love about this book is that it is a tool to help church leaders to arrive at their vision and clearly communicate it to others.
My biggest takeaway, so far, is that God's vision for your church will be specific to your church. There is no other church like yours in the whole world. There may be similarities, but the congregational make up of your church is different than all other churches. You may be able to borrow portions of a vision from another church, but wholesale duplication is not the best option.
What are you reading?
Remember the Oregon Trail computer game that you used to play in elementary school on those old Macintosh computers? If you're like me, you don't really know if you ever made it to the end of the trail...because that wasn't really the point. The REAL goal of Oregon Trail in the mind of an elementary-aged boy is how many buffalo can I kill! Halo...Call of Duty...forgettaboutit! We only needed one button to line up the crosshairs and put down those 8-bit beasts.
Once you got past the hunting portion of the game, most of the time leaving meat on the table because you couldn't carry it all with you, you would head out to travel the trail. You could pick which pace you wanted to travel: 1-A Steady Pace 2-A Strenuous Pace 3-A Grueling Pace. It was always tempting fate to travel too long at a Grueling Pace. It wasn't too long until a wheel would break or the inevitable illness would fall upon a member of your family.
Just like it is with Oregon Trail, in life we get to set the pace in which we want to live. We can go at a steady pace, getting things done as they come. We can go at a strenuous pace, making sure that nothing falls through the cracks, always putting our best foot forward. We can go at a grueling pace, sacrificing necessary health measures to try to sustain more demands than any person is meant to try and take on themselves.
Go. Go. Go. Go. Go.
Do. Do. Do. Do. Do.
Make. Make. Make. Make. Make.
Get. Get. Get. Get. Get.
Give. Give. Give. Give. Give.
The thing is about living life at a grueling pace, is that we don't really have to work to get there. Eventually the demands of life will drive us there...if we don't figure out how to say, "no".
Many times we say "yes" with the noblest of intentions. Rationalizing...it's not THAT difficult. It won't take THAT long. It will take LONGER to teach someone else to do it. So we put it on our tab and keep grinding away.
Can We Just Stop For A Minute?
Parents, don't miss this. We are responsible for creating a sustainable rhythm in our homes.
Do we really need to play three sports?
Do we really need to clean everything right away?
Do we really need to keep checking email when we're not at the office?
Listen to Jesus...
"you are worried and upset about many things,
but few things are needed--or indeed only one."
Take some time, early in the morning. Allow this to set the tone for the rest of your day. Be with Jesus. Read from the Bible. Write in a journal. Pray. Spend time at Jesus' feet. Ask Him what should be a part of your schedule.
Author Bob Goff talks about quitting something every week in order to create margin for the most important things to win out.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” – Bob Goff
Is the pace that you're currently running sustainable?
Oh, I know, it's just for a season, right?
...so why not plan now how you will scale back once this season is finished?
One more thing, the most important thing that you can give to your children is an example of what it looks like to walk with Jesus. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.
There is this verse in Ephesians that has been on my mind a lot this year...here it is:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,"
This was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians living in a place called Ephesus. Ephesus was where Paul had started a church. Ephesus was important due to it's geography and it's culture. This verse is part of a powerful prayer, as Paul encourages his readers to live in God's power that is living within them through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a good friend before he leaves town at the end of the month. Don't you love getting together with a friend to have a great conversation? Even though I don't get to connect very often, whenever we get together, the conversation is rich and dives to the depths of what is going on in life.
He told me that he has been captured by the concept of "story" and how our lives tell a story each day. How each day we have the opportunity to introduce new stories into our lives that challenge our imagination and how we see the world. As a new parent himself, he and his wife are seeking stories to share with their children that will inspire their imaginations to grow.
I've been carrying that conversation around with me all week...and it led me back to this verse in Ephesians 3.
God is able to exceed our wildest imaginations. His power at work in our lives is where our existence and his divine plan collide. We are a part of a much, much, much bigger story...oh, and don't get caught up in the outcomes, because Paul addresses that in the very next verse of Ephesians 3:
"to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Imagine what could happen if we began to embrace God's power at work in our life?
What if now is the time for you to start living a better story?
My one-word for 2016 is "Reach". Reach means to stretch in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something. In terms of social media, reach indicates the breadth of audience that sees and interacts with a post. Church leaders will think long and hard this year about how to reach their communities with the message of Christ. In order to achieve 'reach' you have to do something. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to fail. Musicians will tell you that reaching and practicing over and over and over will produce a stretching of your muscles and actually enable you to reach further.
Reach is a word that may lead to rescue.
Reach is a word that promotes intimacy.
Reach is a word that indicates a goal has been completed.
Reach is a word that inspires exploration into the unknown.
Reach is a word that encapsulates the mission of anyone following Christ.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
My hope is to "reach" more in 2016. What is your one-word for 2016?