Friday, March 19, 2010

Perspective: Steering Through Chaos

At the end of this post, learn how you can win a free copy of "Steering through Chaos" just by posting on the blog and tweeting/Facebooking a link to it.

I have read a lot of books over the years, but few connect the reality of the stress and decision making processes of staff ministry. For the last seventeen years, I have been a part of a ministry staff. Some teams were creative and effective, others dysfunctional dictatorships. One constant in all situations was stress and the need for critical thinking and decision making. In some places I learned the value of submitting to authority, in others, the importance of thinking big and creating "wins" for other team members. I do not think that in any ministry situation, there has not been a life lesson I was able to take away.

In Scott Wilson's new book, "Steering through Chaos", he not only addresses the focus and discipline of the key leader, but also that of the rest of the team. Let's face it, the team works hands on with his/her own team regularly to instill the vision God has given the key leader. We, as team members/staff need to know that leadership understands "our chaos". Stress and dysfunction is just as rampant in those who have a calling to a specific group as in pastoral leadership. If the calling came from the same place (God), and carries the same goal (reaching the lost, equipping the believer) why would we expect less resistance and stress from our efforts.

Scott Wilson seems to have a firm grasp on the importance of decisive leadership and communication of vision. In most of the stops in ministry in my life, I could not convey the vision of the leader I was to serve. Ministries have operated in survival mode and fear of failure for far to long. We no longer dream big enough (which would be evidence of one way communication during prayer), risk enough, or challenge our people. Chaos will find you either way. Play it safe, you will just have a different set of problems...but they are still problems.

In my time in his book, Scott has given me perspective. It's not about the problems, but how I navigate them. These stories of navigation will be the leadership lessons we pass on to the next generation and will be the core of our mentoring process. (Scott has a great section on storytelling) This was made vividly clear to me in a recent ministry event, when a student re-told one of my stories. During a service one night, I told a story about my 6 year old son and his soft heart for a hurting family. I listened, as any proud mentor would, as she told the story that happened in my family. I must admit, I re-tell stories that hear from my ministry mentors! (there is also a great chapter on finding a life coach in Scott's book)

Having known some of Scott's staff, I know the quality and excellence that has been produced in that team. I hope that my team will be as creative, insightful, and dedicated as I grow in leading them. I certainly know, I must stretch myself to improve to support my pastor and the team that I serve. The effectiveness of our church and ministries depend on it.

I would encourage you to get a copy of Scott Wilson's new book if you are involved ministry. It will give you some great perspective on the chaos that is life in ministry. You can find it here!

Also, I will be selecting a post from the comments on this blog and twitter/facebook to win a free copy of Scott's book. Help promote Scott's new book and share the word about and to win.  The winner will be selected March 27.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It has been too long since my last published post. I say published post because I did write some things that I just didn't publish. Chalk it up to therapy...

Anyway, since my last post, a lot has happened on our planet. We have seen major damage from Haiti and Chile, watched our own country battle in partisan politics, crowned an unlikely Superbowl champion, and I had a friend and mentor make a major move in ministry. All of those events are on different levels, and bring about different emotions. But to those who were directly involved in the "NOW" of those events, they were life changing. They didn't happen because of a focus on their "now", but rather a focus on their future. Let me explain.

When David's sheep serenade was interrupted by a call from home to come and meet the prophet, he had no idea the implications that his trotting down that dusty animal path would bring. He arrived home to a family that was in disappointment (face it, they all wanted to be king, and dad wanted a rockstar on the throne, not the shepherd) and probably a bit of denial. As Samuel anointed David as the next King, David didn't jump right into leadership. He still had time left in the field and in service in the castle. Years would pass, threats placed on his life, and he would live in exile before living in the Palace. If David had focused on his "now", he would have failed in obedience far before Bathsheba. Instead, he focused on God's goal for him, His prize, His future. He worked diligently in his "now" slaying the occasional lion, bear, or giant, all the time knowing his tomorrow had a different outlook because God had already laid it out.

You know there must have been days of insecurity and question. Wondering if his mentor had just missed it a bit, and overshot his potential. There must have been days when he questioned the dream of his heart, the dream placed their by his Heavenly Father and not understood by his earthly father. Alone times. Exile. Discouragement. This is where the dream, the promise either flops or flourishes. I think the difference is our focus. Are we focused on our now, or on our our promise. On our tomorrow!

John the Baptist had this experience as well. In Matthew 11, he asks a heart wrenching question:
1.When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 eNow when John heard fin prison about the deeds of gthe Christ, he sent word by hhis disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you ithe one who is to come, or shall we jlook for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 kthe blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers1 are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and lthe poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who mis not offended by me.”

The man who jumped in Jesus presence...while still in the womb, was asking Jesus if "He was the One, or should we look for another?" This was family! The guy who saw the trinity reveal itself at the same time during his church service in the river. How did he get to that point?

John was in prison with death imminent. He was focussing on his "NOW" and Jesus refocuses him on the future. Jesus tells him about all the things that are happening that he cannot see because of his circumstances and emotion.

Where is your focus? Feel like you are just not where God promised? Quit focusing on your now, and grab hold of the vision and hope of tomorrow! God's already there.