By: Kevin Seguin
There are a number of verses in scripture that bear particular weight on my spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 is one of the bigger ones:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (ESV)
The metaphor of our lives being like a house that we build on the foundation of Christ and the Gospel is a helpful one. All of our lives, while we live them here, we work. While we work here, our "house" is being assembled. Christ is the foundation, my marriage is the floor, my job is the walls, my kids are the roof, and that door frame over there is the time I volunteered at the youth center... The good things we do, the things that were righteous are the things that endure and continue on after the judgement of fire Paul describes. The things that aren't? They get burned up because they are useless to and in the Kingdom.
I'm suddenly thinking about this because Jack Chick died recently. If you're unfamiliar with Chick or his work, Sam Thielman at The Guardian did a really good write up on his life and work.
To be honest, Chick's work makes me sick to my stomach. I can't stand the arrogance, and the graceless way he delivered it. He mounted crusades on any group who disagreed with his narrow vision of Christianity. Roman Catholics, Ecumenism, the LGBT community, Halloween, even (and oddly specifically) Dungeons and Dragons. When he died, his company posted this on their Facebook page:
They promise their following that nothing will change, not the method, not the vision, and not the purpose. Perhaps this is my own gracelessness showing, but I have a hard time believing that the comic above is exactly the reception Chick got.
Now, by no means am I saying that Jack isn't in the Kingdom, that he was excluded from heaven. First, that question's out of my pay grade, and second, if I believe what Paul says above (and I do) then I must believe that Jack Chick was a brother in Christ even if he might not have said the same about me.
Ask me for an educated guess though? I doubt there are many Chick Tracts in his new house's library.
There's another verse that bears weight on me, I've written about it before, and it is the centerpiece of my own ministry. Colossians 4 teaches us that our witness toward outsiders must be "seasoned with salt," we must use wisdom and be winsome to be most effective. Chick didn't do this, he used fear, and the threat of punishment in Hell to push people towards a decision for Christ. I'm not arrogant enough to say that nobody ever got saved after reading a Chick Tract, they share many stories of people who say just that about themselves on their website. What I am saying is that fear of punishment is a horrible reason to become a Christian.
I'm not a Christian because I fear Hell, I'm a Christian because I love Christ and that is an important distinction. Far from being afraid of judgement, I realize that there is no judgement waiting for me (outside of the one from 1 Corinthians 3, but that's a whole other issue) because Jesus has already accepted the punishment that I deserve on the cross. That's the message I try and share, that's why it's called good news!
The Gospel isn't about scaring people into the Kingdom. The Kingdom has no place for fear since we know that "Perfect love casts out fear." The Gospel, and the good news that we share are about hope and love and winsomely telling people that while, yes, they (we) are sinners, the punishment has been paid and we are all now free to live lives that are full lives. Lives of love, and worship and not of fear.
At the end of the day, while I disagree with much of what he did, I respect Chick. I respect his determination and steadfastness. I respect his willingness to give his life for the Great Commission and for evangelism, even if I am horrified by his methods. I respect that he tried to serve God the best way he knew how.
Best part of the Gospel? One day, we'll sit down and talk about it together.
BY KEN BOONE
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Righteousness is much more than just doing right. Righteousness is the nature and character of the Father. Righteousness is living out of the heart of God. When our actions are righteous it is only because we are doing what the Father would do. When Jesus declared that He could only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19) He was revealing to us what true righteousness looks like. When Jesus healed the blind, He did it because that’s what the Father would have done in that moment. When Jesus had mercy on the woman caught in adultery, He did it because He was responding from the righteousness of His Father. When Jesus fashioned a whip and drove the merchants from the temple, It was the appropriate righteous response. When Jesus knowing He would be rejected declared in His own home town that He was the anointed one, He did it because it was righteous to do so. Jesus was not persecuted because He was doing what was right. He was persecuted because He was producing the heart of the Father in whatever situation was put before Him.
Wherever the heart of God is reproduced the Kingdom of God will be manifested. When the Kingdom is manifested the results are often supernatural. The Pharisees did not hate Jesus just because He did good things, they hated Him because the good things that Jesus did were producing supernatural results. Jesus instructed us to seek first God’s Kingdom, and God’s Righteousness knowing that that the manifestation of those two things would lead to persecution. But the persecution is for our benefit because when the righteous are persecuted it produces a violent resolve to live from His nature and see His Kingdom manifested.
Ken Boone currently serves as a co-host on The Alliance Podcast at boldcupofcoffee.com and founding pastor at Alabaster House as well as a public speaker, travelling equipper and writer.
Ken and his wife Christa are the proud parents of four children. They have been married for more than 15 years. And have been in the ministry for more than 17 years, They have dedicated their lives to preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom", and to living a life in partnership with Holy Spirit. Their desire is to see believers equipped to live a lifestyle that brings the realities of Heaven to the world that we live in, to see the culture of the Kingdom of God replace the cultures around us. And to fulfill the mandate from Jesus to: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, freely you have received freely give."
By: Kevin Seguin
I may not be a pastor anymore, but I still primarily work with people. As a result, occasionally I get to hear gems like this: "Man, if climate change worked the other way [and made the world colder] we'd have had this whole thing figured out decades ago!" More than just a funny interaction that made me snicker at the time, it has the ring of truth doesn't it? Even the staunchest lovers of winter and cold weather are ready for spring come March, April, and May. People have a tendency to at least tolerate global warming (or climate change if you prefer) because it gives us what we want for now, longer summers, milder winters, and all-around warmer weather. Sure, we're told the ice caps are melting and that the oceans are rising and that our grand kids will need HAZMAT suits to get around, but look how nice it is! I'm going to the cottage!
There's been a charged discussion surrounding climate change for a while. Is it real? Is it as serious as the worst predictions? Is it really caused primarily by humans and fossil fuels or is bovine flatulence really the culprit? Christians of all stripes have taken just about every position on the spectrum for a variety of reasons, even some of you might have opinions about my use of the phrase "Global Warming," "Climate Change," or just about anything I said in the first paragraph. You may object, or you may think I'm using language that is too soft. For Christians, though, there's a bigger issue than the language surrounding climate change acceptance or denial. There exists, for us, the Biblical issue of stewardship. Stewardship ought to be the thing that drives the conversation forward for believers.
Climate of Stewardship
To a Christian, the idea of being a steward of the world, of creation, is a central and ever-present theme in our lives. At least, it ought to be. When God created the world, He placed us in charge. We are the stewards of this creation. We are the caretakers.
We're not doing a tremendously good job.
I don't mean for that to come across as a politically charged statement, just an objective one. One really need look no further than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to see that humanity as a whole hasn't exactly been doing a stellar job of protecting and stewarding the creation we've been given. If you need more info, here's a mildly depressing list of ten of the most polluted places on the planet. Climate change and the political firestorm that surround it may not be simple issues for Christians, but endeavoring to be good stewards should be a no-brainer.
Now, I'm not suggesting that we, immediately, as a whole ditch all non-renewable energy sources and go live off the grid, that's not really the point, nor is it feasible for most of us. I, as an example, have a wife and three kids, so for us a minivan is pretty much essential. What I am suggesting is a little bit of individual, faith-led, common sense effort. Drive less, walk more, eat smarter, have a garden. Think about the waste you produce as a family, or as an individual. Investigate solar, or wind power. Check out the feasibility of those cool Tesla batteries. The list of possibilities is nearly endless and there's no one-size solution. Start seeing the world as yours to steward and guard, take ownership of it and see how you change in how you treat it. If You've been blessed to be a business owner, particularly one that is in a more pollutive industry, your standard for stewardship will be a bit broader, but if I can paraphrase the Lord a bit: To whom much has been given, much is required.
In either case, corporate or individual, no one's asking you to fix the climate, just steward your little patch of it well, and help others to do the same.
BY CHARLOTTE O
We stood in the circle, 50 plus people. I grasped the microphone and, with no more hesitation than an intake of breath, spoke loudly and clearly, words to encourage, words to lift those surrounding me to God, and his still, small voice transported me back to a similar moment that made this one possible.
“I’m shy.” I tell people all the time, and I’m often met with disbelief. Indeed, my career as a teacher and public speaker hardly seems befitting of an introvert who once ran and hid from unfamiliar situations, who counted sentences in class, stomach clenching into a knot as my turn to read aloud drew near.
As the oldest of four, would I call myself a natural leader? Bossy? Yes. But a leader? That seemed to require so much more strength, confidence, and knowledge than I possessed. But somewhere along the way, God showed me that being a leader wasn’t so much in gaining qualities that would qualify me, but in equal part, becoming myself and getting over myself.
So many times in my life, I’ve found myself wanting to push away leadership while simultaneously stepping toward it. And yet, there have always been people who saw something in me that I didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t see in myself.
Rewind to 2002. The breakthrough moment that I referred to above. I was a newly minted spiritual leader in the dorm during welcome week in my second year of college. It must have been a day of prayer, as I found myself assigned to help lead a prayer walk. We were outdoors, holding hands, surrounding the dorm, when suddenly I realized I would have to begin the prayers. There was no one else. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me earlier, maybe self-protection. But I was there, and there was no one else, so I opened my mouth and I prayed, hoping my voice would carry through the fall prairie wind. And it did. And I didn’t die. And no one but me knew that was my first time praying out loud in such a large group.
Now, I know people, even as adults, who feel very uncomfortable or self-conscious praying aloud in a group, or even giving a speech at a wedding. I know public speaking isn’t for everyone. I can understand, because I have been there. But one of the things that helped me overcome that fear was learning to grow into who I was created to be. As I came to see myself, my worth, my value, and my daughter-ship through God’s eyes, the fear slowly started to melt away. At first during episodic times aided by the adrenaline of the moment, and in increasing measure as I continued to allow God to work in my life. When I live in the knowledge of who I am in God, I live daily with a quiet confidence that I am becoming who I was created to be. But that is only half of the battle. The other is being aware of my weaknesses and limitations while not allowing them to control me.
GETTING OVER MYSELF
I’ve been leading a monthly baking group in my community for over a year now, and it’s a place where we hope to reach out to those with an interest in learning to cook. During the cooking time, I’ll lead a short devotional and people can receive prayer. I remember a time last December when we were making gingerbread cookies. Or we were supposed to be. But the dough was too sticky. The icing was too runny. The red was too pink. I was stressing out. I was mentally beating myself up for not doing a trial run of the recipe and working out all the kinks. I was frantically running through options about how to somehow salvage things when time suddenly seemed to stop. I looked up at the kids and adults around the table. They were forming intricate sculptures out of dough. They were painting their cookies, decorating them, and having a great time. In fact, I was the only one who was worried that things weren’t perfect.
I believe that moment of revelation was from God. It gave me the push I needed to get over myself: by which I mean my desire for perfection, and to be perceived in a certain way. It challenged me to remember the goal of the group: to invite people in to have fun and experience hospitality and begin friendships with people who don’t yet know God. Were these things happening? Absolutely. And I could have so easily hindered them with my desire for perfection and control.
That day I also learned that sometimes finding your voice as a leader is knowing when to be silent. It’s learning how to control the voices in your own head that are telling you to give up, to despair, or to get started on image-control before someone realizes how unqualified you really are. I would suggest that you can’t be a leader until you stop putting the leaders around you on a pedestal and realize that each and every one of them is as human as you are. I think there would be a lot fewer church scandals if pastors truly felt that could be honest and open about their personal struggles, and if there wasn’t such an emphasis on image and perfection in the Christian community.
These are lessons that I’m still learning, and probably will be for the rest of my life. I still have so much to learn about leadership, but I’m glad God has given me the grace to learn these lessons in the field. Even though I mess up all the time, he still somehow entrusts me with his mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven here to earth. And that’s a mission I hope to always be a part of. In the most recent event I held for the baking group, we were attempting to make cream puffs, a delicious cream-filled French pastry that puffs up in the oven. Only, ours didn’t puff. Someone quipped that we could call them “humble puffs”. How appropriate for the lessons about leadership I’ve been learning. As it says in First Corinthians, “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” I don’t need to learn more about being a leader as much as I need to lead from a place of genuine love for those around me.
I'm Charlotte O. I'm currently working with a non-profit organization in Taiwan where I teach, lead English Bible studies, write educational materials, train teachers, pose for pictures, and a bunch of other stuff too. I'm originally from Canada, spending significant amounts of time in all three westernmost provinces. I don't really know where to call home anymore, but that's ok, because I'm a citizen of heaven. I've learned that life overseas is not as exotic as people may think, but life with God is a daily adventure. I'm excited to join Bold Cup as a 'foreign correspondent.' I’ll try to keep my posts in English though.
By: Kevin Seguin
I talk an awful lot about culture and our response to it as believers. I do it to reach, I hope, an audience of new Christians, non-Christians and people who are looking for perhaps a different kind of Christianity then, perhaps, they are used to. I talk a lot about culture, but today, I just want to talk about the Bible. After all, it’s where I get all the other stuff from.
Much is made of the big parts of the Bible: John 3:16, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:13, Romans 8:28, and many more, but for me at least, it’s more often the lesser known verses that will reach out and grab me. For example, I was recently reading in Titus chapter two, which is less widely known than the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Titus on elder qualifications in chapter one. Chapter two focuses on the importance of teaching sound doctrine, but then near the end, I was treated to this:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
This section struck me particularly hard this week, aside from being reminded that the Apostle Paul was the king of run-on sentences (seriously, that passage is one sentence but four verses!) I was reminded yet again that the transformation of the gospel in our lives is what ought to motivate us believers to live the way we do. Let me break Paul’s crazy sentence down and show you what I mean.
What The Gospel Does
When Paul talks about the grace of God appearing, what he’s referencing there is the Gospel itself and Jesus in particular. You can read that section like this: “The Grace of God has appeared, the gospel of Jesus Christ which brings salvation for all people…” this is in it’s simplest form, what the gospel does. It saves us. The death and resurrection of Jesus allows us to live in relationship and community with God. This is the single most important thing the gospel does. If the gospel did nothing else (spoiler alert, it does much more) this would be enough. The Gospel saves us, but what else does it do?
The Gospel Trains
Sometimes theologians and Pastors use the word “gospel” too much. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, it’s just that sometimes, when we say “gospel” in English, we lose the meaning of the word. The word “gospel” comes from the Greek “euangelion” which literally translates to “good message” or good news. Paul is saying here that the good news about Jesus is what trains us, what teaches us, in how to live godly lives. This is true whether you are in 1st century Judea or twenty first century North America. The good news of our salvation in Christ is what teaches us, it’s what moves us. It is our motivation and we strive to live righteously as a result of the good news of Jesus and its impact on our life. Righteous behaviour is the result of the Gospel, not its prerequisite.
The Gospel Gives Hope
Why do we live these righteous lives out of a thankful heart? Because we have hope. We have hope, yes, that Jesus will return to make all things new, but we also have hope that the brokenness of this world will pass away. That as the good news moves forward and reaches more and new people that it will impact them to live righteously as a response as well. It’s hope for me, for you, and for everyone we love.
It’s a loop, a gospel loop, and it’s such good news.
Confession time: We leaders sometimes allow the burden for the organization, teams and people we lead to become all consuming. I know all too well the burden and stress of leadership and the toll it can have on an individual. As the executive pastor of a growing church, I have faced this terrible reality. So much so, that in our rebuilding years, I once contracted shingles on my face due to stress. I was dangerously close to losing my sight from the infection. It rang out like a siren that I had been pushing myself too hard; signaling to me that something seriously needed to change.
One of the things that came to the forefront of my mind was that a huge part of the stress was either self-induced or that I had allowed it to enter into my life in the first place. And if you are anything like me, this may be the case for you.
Of course, it may not be the same for everyone. There is definitely a genuine pressure and stress to being the leader. However, I believe the burden of leadership doesn't have to be an early grave. In my own story, I was able to find success in this, and after some serious reflection and intentional changes, I have been able to not only continue in my role but thrive in a position that should probably be shared with at least two other people.
I still have a lot to figure out as I continue to grow and learn every day (as we all do), yet I hope that some of the lessons I have learned over the years can be useful for someone reading this right now. My hope is that you find not just a healthy balance, but if you have come to the point of burnout, that you may return to the place of excitement and passion you may have once had.
1. Don’t Expect More of Yourself Than What is Healthy and Make Sure Your Team(s) Understands
It is very possible that you are in an unhealthy situation, and what you need to do is quit before you burn out. You are not called to sacrifice yourself, your calling or your family on the altar of your organization. If you are not the top leader and you have talked with your supervisor about your longevity and no help is given when you share your need, then maybe you need to eject yourself from that position. Remember, you are not indispensable, and to think that you are may bring about more harm to you and the organization/team(s) you are looking to serve.
Let's take it a step further. What about the unhealthy expectations you have on yourself? The deadlines you keep, the responsibilities you choose to handle, the performance level you expect of yourself, and the motivations you allow to drive you. Are your expectations for yourself things that only Jesus or Superman could keep? Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in hard work and a culture of excellence, but what we need to be careful about is moving towards a culture of perfection and people pleasing. We need room to fail so we will be able to take healthy risks. Also, we should never be driven or find our worth by the need of approval of those we look up to. Ask yourself this question: what/who is motivating me?
2. Be Disciplined In Your Time Management
What does your average work week look like? Are you constantly running out of time? Do you spend more time at the office than with family and friends? In the world of leaders, it can be easy to develop the bad habit of the 70 hour work week because we allow our schedules get away from us. Instead of us being in control of our time, information and projects, we let these things control us. We become slaves and are carried along by them. Many leaders don't spend enough time developing habits and tools to manage their time. Maybe you don't even know where to start. Let me let you in on something: the secret to time management isn't even managing your time: the secret is managing your attention. It is knowing how, when, and what we put our greatest attention towards and becoming focused on those things. This means we don't waste our greatest moments of productive attention on things that only waste our attention or in moments when our attention is low.
Even something as simple as having time limits on meetings or actually having fewer meetings will make a world of difference. I know that sounds harsh, but in no other profession would they let the person needing the meeting dictate the amount of time. I was amazed at how much time I had gained back once I became disciplined with the time I used and what I choose to focus my attention on and when. This is all about focusing on what is important and prioritizing the time I spend on it. If you are not sure how to start this or want to wrap your mind around this idea, a great book on this topic is How To Be A Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott.
3. Recruit, Equip & Release
I know that it is easier said than done, trust me, I know. But part of our calling as leaders is not to simply call or demand people to do, or worse, do it all yourself. Instead, we need to inspire, equip and empower people. This means we need to do the foundational work of sharing the authority and responsibility of the vision and mission, not just delegating tasks.
When we can find the right people that get the vision and culture we are building, we can equip and empower them to be released to further that goal as a team. Remember, whether you like it or not, you are not the expert in every regard. Your role is to lead a team, not to know everything. It is to find the experts in a particular field or gift, recruit them, give them the tools needed and release them with both tasks and responsibility (which involves letting go of some authority to accomplish this).
Maybe you think you don't have the time to invest in people like this. Let me correct you there. You don't have the time not to. Maybe one of the reasons why you are burnt out is you are trying to do it all on your own. Maybe you are too scared to share responsibility, or maybe you have a hard time raising the bar for people.
Maybe you are in a role that leads mostly volunteers. How do you ask people to step it up when they are volunteers? Let me let you in on a little secret: people are dying to be asked to serve in their passions. The key word here is 'passions'. As leaders, we need to connect people to their passions. Also, in the world of leading volunteers, some people quit because you ask too much of them, while others quit because you don't challenge them enough. The trick is figuring out which is which, (and the simplest way is to just ask).
Maybe you are not the personality to do that, and that’s alright. But find someone who is and has the know-how, character and has gained the right to lead and empower that person to do so. They are wired to do it, so don’t feel guilty. Be willing to share the glory and reigns. Remember, you don't need to be the expert in it all, you simply need to bring the best team together and bring the best out of them to accomplish the mission and vision.
Maybe think about it like this: Delegate anything that you don’t need to be doing to others who are passionate about those things, so you can focus on what you are wired to do and what no one else can do. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to step up when all they are waiting for is for is an ask. I have found that the big ask, in front of a large group, rarely works: people need the human touch. I recruited 60+ volunteers in 4 months for a project, simply by asking one person at a time. I got turned down a lot, but I also discovered a lot of people who were excited and gifted and have seen new teams form because of it. In a lot of cases people were simply waiting for the ask, or simply needed their questions or concerns answered.
4. Know When to Kill Something or Pass Something Off. You Can’t Do Everything
Don’t ever feel guilty to ask for help and inspire your team(s) to work alongside you. Remember, we cannot be the expert in every situation because we are not an expert in all things. I have heard it said from multiple leaders I deeply respect: "As the leader, it isn't our job to be the expert in the room, but to get all the experts into one room together." As a leader, our mission should be to work ourselves out of a job, not create more jobs for ourselves. There are so many people who are gifted in what you need and so ready to serve, it is simply being willing to see these people, ask, and release. Don’t create teams and fill the holes. Don’t ask people or try and fit them into things that they are not passionate about or gifted to do. Instead, find the passions and gifts of people and build teams and projects around them. Start with asking people what they are passionate about and see how they are gifted and build around them.
Furthermore, we can be much too busy in our organizations, because we are doing so much that we are never actually accomplishing anything. We are busy, but we are not actually productive. We need to be focused. Are there teams, projects, ministries that have lost their 'why?' for existing? If we can't answer the question of why something exists, maybe those things should be killed. I know sacred cows can be hard to kill, but they sometimes need to die. Or as my friend, Brian McNarry, put it to me, “Sacred cows make the best burgers”. If there is no one to lead it and/or you can't answer the question of why it exists… kill it. Change takes time—and you need to choose your battles—but in the end, you can't do everything, and you (and your teams) need to focus on what really matters.
5. Get a Hobby That You Can Measure In Quantified Growth
If you work in a vocation that deals with the growth of people, so often it can be discouraging because growth is slow, sporadic, and when people are encouraged by your organization's mission and are growing, we rarely hear about it. This is the hard reality of working with people. It would be awesome if those we worked with shared more good than bad, but this rarely tends to be the case.
One small thing we can do is find a hobby where we can walk away and say: “look what I did.” I worked with a pastor that gardened because he said he could actually see it grow. Find something where there is a tangible goal, something to strive for and accomplishments you can celebrate that aren’t tied to your vocation.
Ideally, this needs to be an outlet where you don’t need to be on, you don’t have to have your performance wrapped up in it all and your job security isn’t dependant on what you produce. As leaders, we all need something that we can do outside our ministries. This does not include reading a new theological book or personal development. Something that there are no strings attached, something simply for pleasure, but something that gives you fulfillment and accomplishment is an ideal balance.
6. Find Support Outside the Walls of Your Organization
Look for other colleagues or mentors to feed into you whom you also can feed into and give support to each other. This can be professional support and advice, but also find ways to minister to each other emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Maybe there is no one in your context and you need to get creative by using skype, phone calls, or something else. I am connected with someone who is on the other side of the world right now and is someone who keeps me grounded and focused.
Ultimately this creates a place where you can vent and mutually feed each other, do life together, challenge each other, call each other out, support each other, and a place where you can be yourself.
7. Give Yourself a Break
You don’t need to be perfect. No seriously! Listen to me: You are allowed to be human, to make mistakes, to have struggles, to not have perfect kids, to not be put on a pedestal and the perfect example for everyone else to follow. Help people to see this: show your blemishes and remind your team(s) that you and your family are human too.
We want to strive for excellence, but not perfection. No one can carry that burden. If you are a people-pleaser and worry about performance or have that pressure put on you, maybe you need a season to get away and deal with it. This can kill you if you don’t!
When is the last time you rested? I mean, really rested. And I don’t mean a vacation, I mean time to get away, be fed, feed yourself, seek God for your life, your family and even your vocation. We can get so busy with the details that we never find the time to stop and just be.
Find the things that feed you and give you life away from your position/vocation/organization. Look up Spiritual Pathways, it’s a good place to start. Don’t carry the world on your shoulders.
9. Add More Things That Give You Life, and Kill the Things That Drain You
Obviously, leading can be draining. But, if you can be using 70% of your time on the things that give you life and excite you and 30% on the things that drain you, you will be more likely to last.
You will go through seasons when the latter will be higher, but fight back to a healthy split. If you are doing too many of the things that drain, give it away. Trust me, there are people around you who would love to do that one thing you hate because they want to be involved and are wired that way (this might need a culture shift of everyone realizing they are a part of the team, but the work is worth it and the shift usually starts with us). I know that seems weird, but it is only because what you think is work is a passion for someone else.
I remember, early in y journey, having someone come up and ask me if they could help with my paperwork. What got them excited was Excel and spreadsheets. I remember thinking: “There is something seriously wrong with you.” After I got over feeling guilty of handing this over to someone who enjoyed this, it became easier to empower people to share the load because I recognized everyone is gifted and passionate for what they are wired to do.
Start asking this question to people: “If you could do anything, what would it be? What are you passionate about, no matter how weird you think it is?” You will be surprised by what can be accomplished when you empower others who are gifted.
10. Closing Thought to Ponder: Change Isn’t Easy But Is Possible
Now, I know all this is easier said than done, but I would still challenge you to really give it a go. Although there are likely many external factors pressing in against you, there is a good chance that a large percentage of the battle is internal also. We put way too much pressure on ourselves, and in a lot of ways that no one else actually feels. Change isn’t easy and will take time, re-training, and some hard work. But you can’t afford to not make some changes.
If this resonates with you and you don’t know where to practically start, find someone to help you walk through it. If you have no one, let me be the first to say I would be willing to start that conversation with you and get you on the right foot. And I’d wager a guess that there are leaders in your own community who would be just as thrilled to hear from you too.
Drake currently serves as the Editor-In-Chief of boldcupofcoffee.com and the Executive Pastor at gateway.ac
Drake is passionate about seeing people thrive and come alive. To BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME people FULL OF LOVE, FUELLED BY FAITH, and ADDICTED TO HOPE. Drake is also a life learner and loves being challenged to think deeper and grow further. One of his favorite things to do is spend a good amount of time in a good café or coffee shop with a good book or engaging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience is always a pleasure and honor.
By: Kevin Seguin
There's a phrase that goes around: "I'm not here to be my kid's friend, I'm their parent." There's even a video that went viral with a mother talking about how all three of her kids are currently mad at her, and she's ok with that because: “My number one job as their parent is to love them, and loving them does not mean making sure they’re always happy and get every single little thing they want,”. I think it's a pretty well-intentioned phrase. Good parents want to be good at being parents, they want to teach, discipline and raise their children to be solid members of society. They don't want to just be a buddy who is the one to make sure they are always happy and always get what they want. Like I said, it's a well-intentioned phrase, and don't misunderstand me, when it comes to parenting and child-rearing, she's right.
But the phrase gets friendship completely wrong.
I am deeply blessed to have a number of very close friends. Most of us live in different cities, but I know that I can be in touch with them at any point, and I know that they'll be there for me, and vice versa. In most cases we've known each other for a long time and regardless of how long it's been since we talked, when we do get together, it's like we never missed a beat. Most of us have a least one friend like that.
Our good friends, our closest friends are like that, but they serve many other purposes in our lives. One of the things that I, at least, look for in a friend is not someone who is a 'yes man'. If I'm about to do something stupid, and my friends see it coming, I expect that they'll call me out on it. I'd legitimately be upset if they didn't. It's their job to look out for me, just as it's mine to look out for them.
One of my professors, a very wise man himself, taught me that there are three types of friends every Christian needs to have, he used these Biblical names for them:
Everyone needs a Paul in their lives. Someone to lead you, someone to teach you. Someone who is further along in this journey of faith than you are who you can talk with and learn from. Your Paul will stretch you and call you out of your comfort zone. They lead you because they've been there before. The journey of becoming more like Christ is a life-long one. It's best done with someone who is leading you. This is by far, the biggest role we play as parents. We are Paul to our kids. We teach them, we train them. Sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's fun, but if we do it well, it looks like Paul teaching Timothy.
Speaking of Timothy...
If it is so critical that we have people like Paul in our own lives, it follows that we also have people like Timothy. People whom we are farther along than. People we teach and train. What we receive from our Paul, we give to our Timothys. Christianity is a journey made in community. We are pulled along by men and women who serve as our Paul, and we pull along people who are our Timothy. The most important Timothy in your life is your kid, and eventually, if we do our jobs right, there will be times when the script flips and we become Timothy to our kids' Paul. But more on that later.
In Acts 4, Luke calls Barnabas the "Son of Encouragement." If Paul is your leader and teacher and Timothy is your follower and student, Barnabas is your cheerleader. Barnabas is your equal. Barnabas your partner. He's the guy who comes alongside and helps you succeed, encourages you when times get tough, lets you unload when things get tough without judgement.
Having only Barnabases as friends is that one dimensional danger I was talking about. Being only Barnabas to our kids is just as dangerous as not ever being Barnabas at all.
My great fear is that when people say that "I'm not here to be friends with my kid" they're really saying they are prioritizing their role as Paul to the exclusion of the other two. That's equally dangerous. Our friends aren't only our friends to be our Barnabases. To think otherwise cheapens friendship itself.
The Many Hats Of Parenting
The key is that you've got to be all three to be a successful parent. You've got to be Paul because you have a lot to teach. You have so much more experience and knowledge than your kids it would be criminal to deprive them of that. It is our sacred duty to teach them about the Gospel. It's our job to teach them how to live in and navigate the world.
You can't do that well if you're only wearing one hat.
The authority hat IS important, no doubt! However, we have to be our kids' biggest fans, their biggest cheerleaders. Even if they don't like the things we like, or don't want to do the things we want them to do. I want all three of my kids to love and play baseball, but if that's not what they want, I need to learn what they want to do and learn to love it because I love them. We meed to cultivate the kind of trust that comes with acceptance. Our kids will probably like and value different things, we need to accept that about them. We don't take off the Paul hat completely of course, but we must recognize, love and accept that our kids will be different people and if we want them to trust us with their lives, we have to trust them with theirs first.
Finally, we need to be humble enough to realize we are Timothys as well. My kids have taught me so much in so few years. They've taught me what unconditional love looks like. They've taught me what forgiveness looks like, and what Grace truly looks like. I've learned these things because I've made many mistakes with them and they don't look at me any differently, don't treat me differently, they love me the same. I want to take these lessons and apply them to my marriage, to the people I work with, the people I work for, and everyone I encounter. I want to forgive as freely as my kids do and keep grudges as infrequently.
Additionally, as I age, I'll need them to teach me how to use whatever tech comes out in ten years...
Parenting is the most fun, emotional, exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating, and fulfilling journey I have ever been on. My kids and my wife are my favourite four people on this planet. I want to be best friends with them all.
This is not something I’ve done on this platform before but I think you will be able to relate. I have a confession to make: I am a hypocrite! A play actor, a mask wearer, a phony, a fake, and a fraud. The message I’ve preached was not one I lived by or applied to situations in my life. As a leader, I attempted to create a culture in which I, myself, was not willing to participate.
I wanted to create a space where people could be honest and vulnerable, a place where people could come and bear their burdens and encourage one another. At the same time I fell into the mindset of thinking that people around me were expecting me as a leader to have it all together, as if a leadership position somehow meant that you had all the answers to life. How could I expect people to be honest and vulnerable if I wasn’t willing to do the same? How can I encourage people to be open and truthful with themselves and their community if I was faking it?
One day stands out in my mind clearer than any other. I was in a car with a mentee of mine. This was a guy who had poured his heart out to me several times yet I never let him into my emotional world. One day, I did and his response floored me! He said “Man, I am so relieved to see that you can actually have a bad day!” I had spent a lot of time with him but he never saw anything but the mask that I had worn so well. I expected trust that I had not been willing to give.
I share all of this with you because I believe I’m not the only leader who has had this experience. I believe many leaders are weighed down with the pressure of leadership in cultures where not being okay isn’t okay. How many of us have wanted to stand on our platforms and say “I can’t do this anymore! I am going through some shit and I can’t even help myself, how can I even try to help you?” I don’t believe that I’m alone in this!
For the sake of my own internal integrity and emotional health I have resigned my pastorate and stepped away from church ministry. I am perfectly content with being a guy in a pew, just another broken guy with shit going on, safe from the pressures of leadership. For some of you that isn’t so easy. For some of you your livelihood depends on your platform, and I understand. I empathize with your situation, however I also think that if we are living in a culture where we can’t be true to ourselves, the paycheck isn’t worth it!
While I’m not suggesting that you quit your job or that you stand up this Sunday morning and drop a bomb on your congregation. I am suggesting that you take bold action. Be bold enough to share your heart and your pain with the communities you serve. Follow the necessary steps within the context you currently serve. This may mean talking with elders, deacons, and board members. It may mean talking to a senior leader. Whatever that looks like for you, please take these steps with wisdom. Then you can take small steps to open up to the people that you lead and let them see that you have the issues they have, people want to know that they’re not struggling alone! I believe something incredible will take place in the church if we remove the masks and let people into our worlds. As leaders we have a responsibility to examine our hearts. It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright painful but the freedom experienced is priceless!
Over the past few days I have had some difficult conversations with people who depended on my guidance and leadership. Tears were shed and hurt was expressed but truth prevailed and forgiveness was extended. What I lost in a congregation I gained in family as now I can be myself without the pressure of the platform. Now we are free! Now I am free! Now we can truly be broken together!
Anthony currently serves as a co-host on The Alliance Podcast at boldcupofcoffee.com, a public speaker and author.
Anthony had a 15 year love affair with heroin addiction and spent time in prison. An encounter with God, one night, radically changed his life. Since that evening Anthony has had a desire and passion to serve the LORD and spread the message of the goodness of God wherever he goes. Using Biblical insight, his experience, and street knowledge, his heart to reach people in all areas of society. Anthony’s desire is to see those in bondage set free from anything that holds them back from all that God has for them and to build people up into the fullness of that purpose, while manifesting the Kingdom of God in their everyday lives.
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