Archive for March, 2012

10.8 MINISTRY IS LIKE Mountain Biking – The Thrill

Alejandro Paz – zona de piedras Casta


When ministry goes bad, it hurts.  A wise leader once told me, “If you are never dissapointed while building disciples, you probably aren’t trying very hard.”  If the rider in the video would have made a wrong turn, it would have really hurt.  Yet, if he would have just stuck to a paved bike trail, he wouldn’t have had an incredible ride like this!  It’s obvious to infer that he IS trying hard.

Every now and then you can stand back and look at what is going on and marvel at how God is blessing.  I stumbled upon this video today, and immediately was impressed at how the driver maneuvered at a high speed.  If it looks like he is on roller coaster, that’s because it’s the same (or better) rush to experience flying down the side of a mountain after a long climb.  That is similar to ministry.  When you are in it for awhile, now and then it’s good to look at how God is using you, and stand back and marvel.

When I first started mountain biking, there was no way I would have taken on a descent like what is shown in the video.  However, now I would gladly strap on my helmet and try riding that hill from the video!  I’m more experienced, thus I can do more with decreased risk for injury since I know better how to avoid it.  I must still be careful, but I’m able to do greater things.  Those greater rides are a thrill!

Ministry is the same.  After being faithful in being a kingdom builder for years,  I get to be more involved with great kingdom building things after being faithful and getting better at it.  Just last week I was invited to participate in a mission trip into a closed muslim nation where proselytizing is illegale.  I don’t know if God is going to make this happen for me or now, but I’m excited at the prospect of it.   Ministry is a thrill!


Not to us

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (Psalm 115:1 ESV)

We have churches and leaders in particular who are full of pride. They are positioning themselves to take credit, and receive praise in “leading” those they don’t even have influence over. It’s creating a stir in the unity of the body of Christ in our region of Northwest Arkansas. Its disgusts me, infuriates me, and makes me want to fight.

Instead, I’m praying. God, will you please break down the barriers? Will you please cause their eyes to see the damage they are doing. Will you please give words of wisdom to Garris and to Wade. Will you please cause them to have ordained confrontations, where those being corrected will have teachable hearts? Will you bring not only healing, but growth among the leaders? Father, we can only truly be united under your love and glory. Please move without discretion, and give your name glory for “the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

My Reading Is Changing

If you would have asked me two years ago, I would have told you that the bulk of my reading happened on a computer.  Wow has that changed.  With the development of e-readers, and my personal enjoyment of technology, I currently barely touch my computer except for when I’m working.  
What happened?

  • Twitter Happened!  I follow people whom I think are interesting or at least intellectually stimulating.  If I follow you via my normal personal twitter account, the odds are high the I will at least check if not somewhat read through any links you post.  The back side of that is that I regularly stop following people with that account, if they aren’t producing something of interest (or aren’t a close personal friend).
  • iPhones Happened!  I am one of those people who wishes he didn’t buy the latest greatest technology, and often don’t.  However, as I don’t have a place to regularly write or work, I believe in being able to produce and communicate on the fly.  My iPhone is my primary modus operandus for engaging with twitter which leads to…
  • Read Later Happened!  Twitter articles that I link into sometimes are much larger than a quick 400 word speed read.  I’m busy and don’t have the chance to read it it all, but I can click a button and a software/app will automatically save it’s location for me for personal use later when I have time to do more reading on my…. 
  • iPads Happened!    I use Read Later, later, in my day or in the week.  It’s nice to snuggle up in bed later in the evening and instantly have interesting articles to read quick available at my fingertips.
  • YouVersion Bible Happened!  Best App Ever.  I love using it’s reading plans.  I even have my small group of 8th grade boys using the same app.  It’s a game changer for organization!

Of course there are other apps and technology things available as well.  But an amazing mix of hardware and software has helped caused me to read more than ever before.

What does it mean to be a leader?

Inspired by questions for writers for upcoming YWJ Issue:


Being a leader can be difficult to define.  One of my favorite examples of this is a theoretical situation:
A lady is with a group of people standing nearby her in an open field.  Due to dangerous reasons that only she is aware of, they all need to collectively move to a different physical location in a short period of time. She realizes she needs to lead others to safety.  Yet when she goes, they don’t come along with her.

Was she a leader?  She may have been right to want everyone else to join her, and they may have really needed to go where she went.  But they didn’t.  Technically, she was right and they were wrong. Yet, they didn’t follow.  She was forward thinking enough to realize a need that everyone else had. But was she a leader?

Her realization of danger that would impact the group was different from her ability to have actual influence.  Whatever the situation was that caused others to not move with her, the end result was that she didn’t have the ability to help them. Perhaps they were scared.  Perhaps she spoke too quietly and they couldn’t hear her.  Perhaps she jumped up and down and waved her arms, but those she was supposed to be leading were blind, so they couldn’t see what she wanted.  Perhaps she only attempted to communicate by speaking Mandarin, but those around her all spoke Russian.  Whatever the reason, she was not successful as a leader.  She lacked the ability to significantly influence change.

At the heart of leading is influence, which is the capacity or power to be a compelling force that produces effects on the actions, behavior, or even the opinions of others.  This can frequently happen through verbal and non-verbal communication.

I can think of a boy in my kindergarten class named Joshua, who was very good at leading, though the end result was frequently lost recess time for himself and our peers.  Was Joshua a leader?  Definitely.  Yet being a leader is not always a good thing.  Most people would agree that Adolf Hitler was an evil leader.  He was a master at influence.  Similarly, most people would agree that Winston Churchill was a wonderful leader.  He too, was a master at influence.


…out of time

10.7 MINISTRY IS LIKE Mountain Biking – Sabbath

As I have been learning how to be more of a serious mountain biker on legitimately challenging trails in the Ozarks, I have noticed many situations that have principles similar to what would be applicable in ministry. This series highlights some of the things I am learning along the way.

When the weather is right, even a casual mountain biker can get almost addicted to to riding.  What does this look like? The trails are dry, but not dusty. The weather is warm but not hot.  The sun is shining, and continues to for days.  These are almost perfect conditions.  It’s so much fun that you want to ride daily.  You might try and squeeze in a ride before work or over the lunch hour.  You might even figure out a way to get others to go with you while you put off some other tasks that probably need to be done.  It’s similar to any addiction in it’s early stages.  You don’t think you need it, but it’s becoming a near non-negotiable activity in your life.

A friend of mine shared that last fall he had gone mountain biking daily for nearly two weeks, and his body started feeling constantly tired and achy. Tom owns his own business and though he works very hard, he has the ability to tweek his schuedule to allow for mountain biking at prime times. So he did.  Over and over, day after day.  He couldn’t wait to go ride again, and continue to experience the breeze and the thrill of catapulting down the side of a mountain while you steer carefully to protect your life.

One day he realized something, his body needed rest.  It was tired and hurting. His muscles and back were aching far more than usual, and not getting better.  So, on a day with perfect riding conditions when he didn’t need to be working, he stayed home instead.  He may have taken a nap or tooled around the house.  I remember him using the word “restored” to describe how much better his body felt afterwards.  He gave it a sabbath. The result that he was able to start riding again the next day, and enjoyed it even more.

As ministry leaders, we usually love the bulk of our job duties.  So much so that in many cases we are working far above and beyond what might be expected in a secular job where hourly wages or total sales are calculated.  Yet sometimes, we can be just like Tom and his mountain biking.  We enjoy serving Jesus so much that we are guilty of not giving our minds (and bodies in many cases) a break from the grind.  We know better, but we sometimes don’t acknowledge our need to stop and sabbath too.

There is a big difference between leisure and sabbath.  When you take days off from ministry work, make sure you don’t fill all of them with busy leisure activities. To rest, one must slow their pace.  By taking a true day of sabbath each week, you will likely be a better leader, spouse, and parent.

Make sure you make time to take a sabbath each week, and rest.

NNYM #3 TIPS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in your local network

2 TIPS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS in your local network.

Networks that flourish and thrive will typically need to overcome a couple of simple yet significant issues that go beyond geographical or denominational differences. Without fail, youth leaders are are busy people. They have duties to perform, people to see, and tasks to add to their calendar. When they show up for a network meeting, their focus and reasons for being there can vary. Every youth leader can benefit from building stronger relationships with other area youth leaders. However it is not going to be the result of Facebook interactions or sitting in the same room talking about the weather. It takes intentionally moving towards deeper discussions.
Here are a couple of “self-focus” issues to overcome in order to build depth into your network member’s relationships:

1. Overcome being too self-focused to personally care. One tip to make sure that a network stays connected relationally, is to STOP the idle chitchat. Early in a network meeting, before other agendas are announced, take time to share with each other, care for each other, and pray for each other. This does not need to take a long time. Break up into groups of only 2-3 people. It will bless everyone involved. Challenge all to briefly share a burden and share a blessing in their life, and then for the person sitting next to them to briefly pray for them and about what they shared immediately. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes max, and everyone benefits. A possible follow-up is to ask the leaders to follow-up with each other’s prayer requests within the next week. A quick note or message to remind each other that you are praying can be significant.
2. Overcome being too self-focused to work together. Another tip is to help network members take the focus off of their personal ministry and onto sometimes doing ministry together. Establishing common ground can be a bit of a process, but chances are high that you and the other youth leaders in your community have more in common than not. Finding needs that should be met in the community could potentially lead to sharing some ministry events that fit many ministries vision and planning needs. In fact, this can be an opportunity of focused corporate prayer that can lead to a great amount of unity and shared inertia of activity, furthering unifying the body of Christ. Along they way, relationships among the leaders in the network will be strongly enhanced as a healthy byproduct of time spent serving Christ. It’s a win-win because local needs get met while youth leaders from different ministries collaborate together!

Building relationships can happen on purpose, but that is less likely then it happening almost on accident as you go. Using these tips to help remove “self-focus” can help you to do both while you work together to further the kingdom of God. It takes a little bit of intentionality, but the benefit is beyond measure.