Don’t call it an “office”

There are a couple things in life that I’m passionate about. Hills upon which I am willing to die. In no particular order:

  • One does not put two spaces between sentences; the computer will space it appropriately for you.
  • One does not grind one’s coffee until it is time to brew said coffee.
  • North Carolina is in no wise “first in flight”; Ohioans commandeered their beach and wind.
  • The bottom button of one’s blazer, suit coat, or sport coat is to remain unbuttoned.

And, more recently, a new rule:

Don’t call my study an “office.” It’s a study

Nomenclature matters, folks. Our words create the worlds we experience and the quality of our experiences therewith. John Culkin famously said that “we shape our tools, and afterward our tools shape us.” Names of things are human-shaped tools, which thereafter shape us. They shape our expectations and our realities.

I don’t have a classroom of my own. I instead have a tiny room at the end of a hallway. I love this arrangement. I get lots of privacy and in turn I get lots of things done. And, by “things done”, I mean principally “thoughts thought” and “learning learned.”

That’s because my room is my study.

When I tell a student to come see me in my study after school, I am indicating to them that we are going to learn together. Whatever problem they may be having with their grade, the paper they’re writing, their attendance record, their behavior, their language acquisition process, or their mastery of the course content will be approached in a specific way: it will be approached with the conviction that we are, together, learning.

Consider the alternative. I could call my room my “office.” What experience can a student, a colleague, a supervisor, or a parent expect to have in my “office”?

They can expect to have their problem dealt with administratively. They expect their problem to be solved like the unclogging of a procedural bottleneck. They show up to get a grade fixed, a paper corrected, an assignment postponed or a concept explained. People who come to an “office” expect bureaucracy, and they pray that maybe this will be the one time in a hundred when that bureaucracy actually works efficiently, achieving the results desired. They expect, though, to be processed like any other data input that might come into that space, whether through paper and ink, email, telephone, or flesh and blood.

As for me and my study, we shall serve the learner. The learner inside me, and the learner inside student, teacher, administrator, and parent. I want people to come into my study–myself included!–with the expectation that both solitary and collaborative learning takes place in this sacred space. The sofa and armchair, the bookcases, the coffee station and the aroma that regularly makes it into the adjoining hallway, the round table (as opposed to a desk, aka bureau, hello!), and the natural light coming through the windows–all of these things help indicate what this space is for.

But especially the name of the space. Don’t call it an office.

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Sloth and Our Lazy Loving

I am in the midst of teaching through a course on The Seven Deadly Sins for the 5th time. This repetition has occasioned something of a seasonal self-audit of my own spirituality. Each time through, the study of each vice (aided mostly by Rebecca DeYoung’s great book on the subject) diagnoses things in me that make me uncomfortable and, hopefully more often than not, repentant.

DeYoung’s fantastic definition of sloth continues to haunt me. Sloth is not laziness, but laziness in loving. Sloth is “resistance to the demands of love.”

We are about as slow and as tardy to love as this sloth is lazy and late in Win, Lose, or Draw:

As I’ve studied the philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, my mind has been blown by two dynamics in this respect:

  1. The reality of our creaturely, finite, temporal natures means that we are constitutionally “late” to love–not in the tardy sense, but in the responsive sense. God loves first and best. We love, but any love we give that is worthy of the name is always already a citation, a response to a call that precedes us. This is not bad. It’s good. We are imitative beings through and through.
  2. We are fallen creatures. We are late in another sense. We are lazy in love. We resist love’s demands. We hear and see the speech and action of our Creator-Lover, and we kick against the goads. We instinctively know that if we are to truly receive such love, we will be compelled to give it again. And we know and can name the people in our lives we regard as unworthy of our love. And so we push away the love of the first and best Lover, thinking this releases us from our status as imitative beings. We reject love, so we won’t be compelled to love the unlovely.

I’ve read in several places recently that one major malaise of our current culture is its boredom. Marion suggests (in his own way) that boredom is the result of our systematic resistance to the demands of love. What is left when the receiving and giving of love is eschewed as our ultimate vocation? Boredom. The residue of an always-unsatisfying saturation with entertainment, diversion, distraction.

Our relationships feel like work and so we check out from them—often with entertainment.

But often with work. Busyness is the other side of the Boredom coin.

Or we view our work as something other than a response of love and a reiteration and imitation of that love in the direction of our neighbor, and so we avoid it.

A resolution or two:

  1. Some productivity guru once said that you should swallow a frog first thing every morning. If you do, you can be sure that you’ve done the hardest, most unpleasant thing you’ll do all day, and now it’s done and out of the way. If I know a demand of love faces me, and its demand is less than fully pleasant, I need to swallow that frog. Have the hard conversation. Put down the phone and look the person in the eye. Give myself in full attentiveness.
  2. I need to stop myself before every new vocational task. I need to remind myself that I am doing that task out of love for my neighbor, my colleague, my student, my friend, my children, my wife. I need to imagine the face of the beloved for whom I work, sitting there in the room with me as I work, asking for my love through my work.

All said, to love well, I need to resist my resistance to the demands of love.

Know Your Role

Just as a snowpocalypse is heading for the Southeast, I’m heading into a new work week. (I take Mondays off.) I want this work week to be apocalyptic. I’m realizing that I let The Mundane have an uncontested victory too many weeks.

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What I’m going to do to try and make this week apocalyptic will itself seem ironically mundane. I am going to spend 45 minutes in the morning reviewing my roles and establishing my goals. Sheesh. Even typing that last sentence feels boring.

My biggest takeaway from my most formative personal development book (Stephen Covey’s First Things First) was exactly this. I want to quit floating through my work week looking for the next least-boring thing that I can still justify as ‘work’ to do. I want to move the needle on my life’s work in a significant way by the time the week is out. And so I will sit down with my roles and goals.

Know Your Roles

What are they?

In more-or-less their order of importance, my seven personal roles are:

1. Husband.

2. Father.

3. Pastor-Church Planter.

4. Disciple-Maker.

5. Gospel Neighbor.

6. Community Group Leader.

7. Entrepreneur.

A couple of things to notice:

  • I’m entering a “work week”, but only one of these 7 roles—number 3—is actually my paid vocation. All 7 are my vocations, but only “Pastor-Church Planter” generates income.
  • My callings are life-specific. There may be 5,000 other Americans with the exact same vocational breakdown. That’s not many out of 315,000,000 Americans. Yours is probably different.
  • My callings are overwhelmingly relational. Most people’s probably are too, even if they don’t recognize them as such.
  • Most of my roles don’t immediately suggest obvious key actions that would move the needle in each calling. Most don’t seem to set me up for an apocalyptic week.

Know Your Goals

The only person who can discern what key actions in each of your roles will make for a well-worked work week is you. Ask yourself: “What’s next? What one action in each role, if tackled with zeal and followed through to completion, would enable me to say, at the end of this week, that I was faithful and fruitful across all my callings?”

The answers to this question are your goals for the week. Simple as that.

You will still have all your tasks, which are pressing and urgent. These aren’t your goals themselves. Your goals are the non-urgent, super-important things that will get lost—if you’re not vigilant—among the next-least-boring tasks and the distractions. Commit to these goals.  Schedule them. What block of time are you going to be working on it?

Reckon

Before you start the next week, sit down with your list of roles and the prior week’s goals. Evaluate yourself ruthlessly, and honestly. What kept you from moving the ball in the way you intended to? Were you faithful? Were you vigilant to schedule your goals and stick to your schedule?

Plan

Here’s where the work week gets apocalyptic. Working on the goals in each of your roles reveals what the next goal really ought to be. The apocalyptic boon of charting a clear course is in the fresh view afforded you as you arrive at the end of the charted course.

Adjust. Regroup. Make your goals more realistic, more achievable, more concrete, more measurable. Build on the momentum of what was achieved the prior week. Set aside this 45 minutes at the beginning of every week and make sure the prior week’s work reveals where you really are, and what’s really next.

_______________________

Look. I’m not speaking as an expert. I’m speaking as a church planter who floats and seeks distractions, who feels too often that his energy is not being channeled into the things that matter most. I post this not to lecture you. Mostly, I post it to keep myself accountable.

I’ll follow up in the days to come with some insights I gain as I actually commit myself to the task of seeking an apocalyptic work week.

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66% is a “D”. We Don’t Need “D” Church Planters

Actually, it’s an F where I’m from.

What kind of work is church planting? What does it take to be an effective church planter? How should we assess church planter candidates?

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Todd Henry describes 3 types of work in his new book Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day(It appears he also blogged about it here.)

  1. Mapping: This is what you do before rolling up your sleeves and doing ‘actual work’. But it’s still work. It’s the important, non-urgent work that determines what kinds of work you should be doing. It’s the act of discerning between merely urgent things and truly important things. It’s planning and conceiving, incubating and sketching, whiteboarding and prioritizing, envisioning and preparing.
  2. Making: This is the deliberate tackling of a task list. It’s the act that produces something you can point proudly to at the end of a day, week, month, or year, and say “yep—I made that.” It’s follow-through. It’s often urgent, and it should be important. But by the time you’re in the throes of Making, it’s rather late to be making those distinctions, because when you’re making, your head is down and you’re banging away at something till it’s done. Till it’s made.
  3. Meshing: This is the ineffable work of synthesizing the work you’re doing on a number of fronts by making note of their interrelations. It’s the act of aligning your various callings so that there is synergy and integrity between them. It’s the work of discovering, by reflecting on the work while you’re not mired in the work, exactly what sort of person you are, and might become. It’s the slow arrival to consciousness of your emerging legacy.

Which kind of work are you predisposed toward?

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My ‘boss’, the fella who chairs the committee that oversees my church planting work, once said to someone, and I quote: “Just plant the stinking church.” What is he getting at?

Todd Henry says that …

  • … if you Map and Make, but don’t Mesh, you’re a Driver. You can get things done, and often the right things. But you fail to become a more effective human being. You’re too busy ‘accomplishing’ to become truly accomplished. You might actually be a decent church planter with this mix of competencies—even if you never become a Tim Keller.

And then there’s two work ruts that seem to plague church planters.

  • … if you Make and Mesh, but don’t Map, you are a Drifter. You end up with a thousand little ideas in no particular order. Some of them see the light of day, but most of them are abandoned after the initial fun of dabbling wears off. “Dabbling”. That’s essentially Mapless Making. You see the big picture and you are a well-rounded human being. But you don’t ultimately never decide which ideas should become projects and which of them were simply brain exercises.
  • … if you Map and Mesh, you are a Dreamer. You have many ideas about many important things, but you’re all forest and no trees. Instead of a thousand unfinished projects, you almost never begin anything. In the creative economy, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can be cerebral and visionary without ever undertaking something that has an explicit beginning, middle, and end.

I’m sometimes the Drifter, sometimes the Dreamer, just in case you were curious. So I’m often a well-rounded fella who fails to distinguish important from unimportant work (Mapping) or who fails to actually get to work (Making).

We need to honestly determine whether we are prone to be a Driver, Drifter, or Dreamer. And once we do, we need to determine who to let into our life in order to challenge us to include the type of work we love to exclude from our personal workflow. Do you have a sidekick who covers that base for you? Do you have a coach who can call BS when you’re excusing yourself for not owning all 3 types of work? Are we who assess church planting candidates prepared to spot Drivers, Drifters, and Dreamers? Do we have the guts to flunk them, or at least send them ‘back to the minors’, if their work-neglect habits are acute? 2 out of 3 is 66%. We don’t want D-level workers planting churches.

Die Empty is all about making the unique contribution that you were put on planet earth to make. It’s about moving from being a Driver, Drifter, or Dreamer toward becoming a true Developer. And this is what church planters ought to be: developers. We ought to be people who determine what counts as valuable work, people who do that work, and people who become better people because they integrate their It’s narcissistic to obsess about your legacy. But it’s just plain obedience to be faithful across all three dimensions of work, in order that you might be, at the end of your life, counted a fruitful servant of Jesus.

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Hanging Out Isn’t Work

One of the oddest things about church planting is determining whether or not you’ve put in an honest day’s labor.

When Paul describes his church planting experiences, you don’t get the sense that he spent much time casually schmoozing with people over organic coffee or indulging in rarified theological discourse with the petite intelligentsia (did I just make up a new term?) at the corner cigar lounge. Instead, you get the sense that when he wasn’t being shipwrecked, run out of town, broken out of prison, or receiving lashes, he was working in his trade to support his evangelistic endeavors, pouring out his heart from house to house, or writing to ministry colleagues in similar circumstances.

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I’m pretty sure it never crossed Paul’s mind that he ought to log his hours and make sure he wasn’t becoming distracted by superficialities and calling laziness ‘work’.

It’s easy to impress people in the community by all your personal connections. Yesterday I was meeting with a colleague in Amélie’s, our downtown bakery and coffee joint. He was floored by how many people I greeted during our one-hour meeting. “Who do you not know in this room?” Well, I hang out. It’s not exactly hard. It’s not work.

Two ‘not quite’ solutions

What’s the solution for the troubled conscience of a church planter who feels guilty trying to justify all the coffee refills as ‘networking’? Some would suggest arithmetic. If the average person in your congregation works 40 hours per week, and then is engaged in 10-15 hours of church activities—worship, community group, discipleship, mission, etc.—then a pastor/church planter ought to work for 50-55 hours each week, regardless of where that work happens or what kind of work it is.

On the other end of the spectrum are work-hackers like Timothy Ferris, whose NYT bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek suggests that 9-5 is completely arbitrary. Ferris declares that there ought to be no correlation between the value of one’s work and the amount of time spent getting it done. He cites Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Give yourself 10 hours to do 40 hours worth of work, and you’ll do 40 hours worth of work in that 10 hours. The Ferris hack shaves off time mostly by eliminating time-wasting interruptions and by avoiding human beings.

A working synthesis

Here’s my current conviction. I think church planters need to give themselves to…

  1. Working on the System. Carve out blocks of un-interruptable time and stay laser-focused on the non-urgent, hyper-important, high-leverage work that will make the biggest difference in your missional endeavor.
  2. Working the System. Set aside small intervals of time dedicated to delegating tasks to the appropriate people within your system, and completing the urgent, important tasks that you’ve assigned to yourself or that need your attention.
  3. ‘Working’ outside the System. Hang out and be the ‘regular’. Pastoral and church planting ministry is a relational calling. Ignore human beings like Tim Ferris while you’re doing #1 and #2 above, but ignore #1 and #2 above when you’re doing #3. Keep track of the people you meet. Learn their names. If possible, become their ‘chaplain’.

At the end of every week, we church planters should know that we moved the ball across each of these three important fields: the systemic, the maintenance of the system, and the relational. Some weeks this might occupy 75 hours, and other weeks it might only take 25 hours. No matter what week it is, it will be impossible to quantify our “hours” with any amount of precision. But the best barometer is actually our gut’s response to an honest look at your task list: at the end of the week, at the end of every day, did we move the ball?

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Be Weak, and Let Jesus Be Strong

If you’ve read many of these church planting proverbs, you may have noticed that there’s a bit of a paradox that runs through the archive here.

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On the one hand, there’s all kinds of LESS.

  • Less ‘launch’
  • Less pizazz
  • Less money
  • Less clericalism

But on the other hand, there’s a good bit of MORE.

  • More attention to workflow
  • More productivity
  • More intentionality
  • More scheduling of top priorities
  • More ambition

I’ve come to believe that I must be very serious about the stewardship of my callings. I have finally begun to be habituated to certain personal disciplines and structures that I would have previously thought to be ‘legalistic’ and constraining. I have accepted the fact that faithfulness is not enough; Jesus desires, expects, and is intent upon producing fruitfulness.

How do I reconcile these newfound disciplines and drives with all of the ‘LESS’?

More important still, how do you authentically lead a gospel movement built on grace while putting constraints on your schedule and growing more ambitious? Aren’t these things irreconcilable?

I don’t believe they are.

Smart & Weak

There is a big difference between being a disorganized, immature, unproductive, unfruitful, unambitious follower of Jesus and being a weak follower of Jesus. A big difference.

Productivity seems to me to have a lot to do with being smart, rather than strong. We can be manifestly weak, humble, and dependent on Jesus at the same time as we’re working as smart as we can. We can utilize a whole menu of ‘hacks’ to boost our chances of moving from faithfulness into fruitfulness. And at the very same time, we can allow Jesus to be strong.

In my life, anyway, these two things seem to be increasingly happening simultaneously.

I am more competent and confident than I ever have been as a ‘grown up’ with a ‘real job’. I’m better able to navigate the tricky circumstances of a church plant with poise and grace than I have been in the past.

Competent & Needy

And yet I’m also more aware than ever that I’m a total weakling. I’m repenting more than I ever have before: to my wife, to my friends, to my flock, to Jesus. I’m more haunted than ever that I am quite capable of BIG sin. I’m more prone than I have ever been to tell my close friends when my life is out of whack due to my failings and sins.

Let’s be super productive. Let’s be incredibly ambitious. Let’s employ as many hacks and disciplines as necessary to make us better stewards of the gifts we’ve been given.

But let’s ask ourselves afresh: how often do we feel our mortal weakness and fly to Jesus?

Let’s be smart.

But let’s be weak, and let Jesus be strong.

Sleep When You Want to Sleep

A while back I posted Steve Childers’ 7 Ss for church planter survival and sanity. To review, they were:

1. Sleep.
2. Sun.
3. Solitude.
4. Sabbath.
5. Sex.
6. Sweat.
7. Sustenance.

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It turns out I’ve already posted on 3 of the 7 Ss:

And since, as I write this, I should probably be sleeping, and, indeed, I desire to sleep, tonight it’s … Sweat. 

Just kidding. Sleep.

Traditional Wisdom

Early to bed, early to rise. That’s what they say. 

If this is you, good for you. You get to experience more daylight than the rest of us. You’re probably super productive before breakfast. Nothing wrong with this. 

Radical Non-Wisdom

One of my favorite theologians is John Owen. Owen produced tons of scholarly and pastoral works in the 17th Century. He also slept less than 4 hours each night until he was old. 

He also got old a lot younger than most of us will. And when he was old, he regretted punishing his body and mind in his younger years. He believed that his health suffered, perhaps along with his soul (if we read between the lines a tad). 

There is a foolish “radical” stance toward sleep that says it’s for when you’re dead. But you’re really dead without it. 

Surprising Doctoral Wisdom

I was delighted to read in the biography of the great 20th-Century Welsh preacher Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones — who was, mind you an MD, not a PhD — a surprising bit of counsel on sleep. What are the doctor’s orders? 

The Good Doctor believed that we are psycho-somatic unions. (That means we’re soul-bodies.) Because of this, the life of our soul and the life of our body are intimately intertwined. 

And so, if you’re feeling tired and want to take a cat nap, the Doctor says … go for it. If it’s 2pm. If it’s 10am. 

Let’s not forget that a big chunk of our hemisphere practices Siesta. And most of Europe takes loooonggg, leisurely lunches. 

Unsolicited ‘Wisdom’ 

My take on all of this is simple:

Sleep when you want to sleep. 

Are you productive late at night? There’s no rule that says you have to be a morning person to be a productive person. 

Are you an up-before-dawn kind of person? Kudos. Hit the sack at 9pm and get more done before breakfast than I do all morning.

Look, the reality is that you’ve got to juggle your own predisposition, your marital and familial rhythms, your vocational responsibilities, and the other restraints that come with your season of life. And you have to fight against both sloth and workaholism. And depending on your soul-body, you probably need 6-8 hours per night. 

Beyond these things, sleep when you want to sleep. 

But do definitely sleep. 

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A Labor Day Resolution

Show up where you said you’d be, when you said you’d be there, having done what you said you’d do. 

– John Carlton, legendary freelance copywriter

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Being a people-pleaser, proficient procrastinator, and pathetic pushover, Mr Carlton’s professional code of conduct is a punch in my gut. He makes me look like a Cretan: always lying, a cruel beast, a lazy glutton (Titus 1:12).

It’s supposed to be the church ministering to a messed-up world of Cretans. But Mr Carlton the (for all I can tell) pagan rebukes Pastor Andy. Ouch.

Today is Labor Day. Today I make a resolution about my work.

I will commit to Carlton’s professional code.  To hope for any progress, I will have to dismantle the 3 aforementioned temperamental bits of vocational wickedness one at a time. I’ll start with the first one.

I’M A PEOPLE PLEASER.

It has to stop.

What’s the number one reason that I don’t show up where I say I’d be, when I said I’d be there, having done what I said I’d do?

I over-promise. I promise people the moon when the moon’s not mine to give. I say “yes” to 80% of things. Of those things I say “yes” to, I very quickly regret saying yes to 80% of them. Out of those things I regret saying “yes” to, I fail to deliver on 80% of them.

Meanwhile, I am unable to spend the required time, energy, and attention on the 20% of things that I’m really supposed to be doing—the big, important, usually non-urgent things that are in my sweet spot and that would produce long-term awesomeness.

I can’t get more than 24 hours in a day. So if I am going to deliver on time 100% of the time, I must stop complaining and start saying NO to 80% of the things that come my way.

God has all the time in the world, and he says “no” or “not now” to tons of things asked in good faith by devoted followers. Why should I be ungodly?

So, there’s the remedy for my people-pleaserosity. Stay tuned as I examine my proficient procrastinatorship and my pathetic pushoverness in the next several days. 

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Work Hard, Play Hard

In the last 24 hours, I’ve run across 3 different instances in which small businesses have worked extremely hard to create a culture of hard play.

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WELL-DESIGNED SOCIALIZING

Tamara of Social Design House, a full-service design studio that shares a building with The Cordial Churchman in Old Town Rock Hill, blogged about their annual retreat at the National Whitewater Center here in the Charlotte area. They rode the rapids of the world’s longest man-made circuitous river, flew on a zip line to get dry, sipped microbrews, and then talked transparently about everything that would make their work environment more awesome in the days ahead.

They’ve also had a practice called ‘Social Lunch’ for a number of years. They go out to eat at a different Rock Hill restaurant every single Tuesday as a team.

TEA AND CARROM

And then I discovered that we’re getting more new neighbors: Span Enterprises. They are a tech firm that creates web-based business management products, and they’re moving into the Old Town space once occupied by our friends the Friday Arts Project. They have “tea time” every day at 4pm, and instead of ‘casual Friday’ they have Carrom Friday. Their blog is essentially an invitation to join the hard work and hard play that epitomizes their company culture.

CHOCOLATE-DIPPED VEGGIES

Finally, I picked up a volume of Kinfolk Magazine this evening, only to read about Mast Brothers. They’re the first bean-to-bar chocolatier in Brooklyn, NY. And ever since the beginning, they’ve had a near-daily ritual of a long lunch with a chef-of-the-day. Everyone pitches in to chop veggies or stir kettles. And then they have an hour of free time after lunch is cleaned up.

Rituals.

Do you want to have a church in which everyone works hard? Consistently works at peak performance? Contributes fresh, innovative ideas and then executes on them with passion?

Then you need to create a church that works hard at playing hard.

Religiously. 

You can’t manufacture passion. It’s birthed from a culture that values people, and therefore plays.

If you’re going to plant a church that makes a big push for the kingdom of God, then plant a church that teaches people to take themselves less seriously, and to take play more seriously. You’ll discover that hard work will still be hard, but will be constantly infused with play. And you’ll discover that you’ll be doing the work of the kingdom even while you play.

It’s a glorious thing to watch. And I’m sure Jesus loves watching it.

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Get Right Out of Town

What is the one indicator that a planter has learned how to develop and deploy leaders in a church plant?

His ability to take a bona fide vacation. 

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I’m blessed to have a wife who will never allow me to become a workaholic. She knows how to look me in the eye and demand that I never abdicate my duties and calling as a husband and a father in exchange for more success in the church plant.

Recently she looked at me and said, with the prophetic certainty that only she can muster: “It’s time to get out of town.” There’s nothing wrong with being in town. It’s just that sometimes it’s time to get out of town.

Immediately, I began assessing whether or not this was possible, and, if possible, how quickly it could happen.

  • Who will preach? Thankfully, I’ve got an apprentice who in many ways is a better preacher than me. I’ve got 2 other men in the congregation who I can call upon to preach, and who can preach with even more passion than I can. And I’ve got 2-3 other ministers who are able to jump in and preach if need be. This time, Daniel gets the nod because he’s had a couple weeks off and wants to experiment with preparing 2 sermons in one week. The RUF minister at Winthrop is preaching at the front end of my coming vacation.
  • Who will lead music? The liturgy? I’ve got a musically gifted wife, but obviously this won’t be the occasion to have her fill in for me. I have 2-3 capable music leaders in or around the congregation upon whom I can call. I need to develop more musicians and music leaders in the future so that we have a rotation of music teams and leaders, and so I don’t necessarily need to be one of them. I’ve got lots of liturgists.
  • Who will manage the set-up, tear-down, and clean-up? I’ve got people who are skilled and equipped to do this better than me already. It’s no worry at all.
  • What if visitors show up? Will they feel ripped off that the pastor wasn’t there? Probably not. We’ve created a culture in which leadership is diffused. While I am the lead elder, and I take responsibility for the health of the body, my absence does not mean an absence of leadership.
  • What about community groups during the week? These don’t depend on me at all. I need to better equip our community group leaders for sure. But they don’t need my presence or oversight in order to gather, eat, open the word, and apply it to their lives—-or to engage their neighbors in deeds of love and mercy.

Occasions like these are good opportunities to discover how full of yourself you are. Planters who believe that everything depends on them, who feel that if a job is going to be well done, they have to do it—these planters can never take a vacation, because they’ve never shared leadership.

GOOD THINGS

Looking at my quick-and-dirty assessment of my delegation of roles and duties, and my empowerment of other leaders, I’m glad to realize that getting right out of town is eminently possible. And, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of town is good not just for me and my wife, but for our young church plant.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

But I also realize that there is much more development and equipping of leaders that I need to be doing. I err on the side of over-releasing and under-equipping leaders in some areas of ministry. I can’t get in the habit of abdicating leadership in the name of “equipping the saints”.

What about you? How early in your church plant were you able to take a bona fide vacation? Did you have to keep everything running remotely, or were you able to disconnect and trust the well-equipped body of Christ to do it’s thing?

If your wife implored you, could you get right out of town?

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