Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's your Worth?

If you had to give yourself a price, to value yourself what would you say?  I know that as I wake up and look at myself in the mirror, I would value myself as an item at the dollar store.  I am pretty average, I've experienced a lot of rejection, I have been blessed with some great things, so I'm not all bad, but I'm nothing special either.  Just a guy in a sea of people.  The last year or so I've been through some things that make me feel like I'm not really that important, and I can just be tossed aside.

Our world values certain things.  You need to accomplish and produce, you need to look a certain way and act a certain way and dress a certain way.  I have actually had people critique me on the way I look and the way I dress, because the world is focused on the things on the outside.   To put it another way, the world is self-seeking.  People want to know what you can do for them, if you can make them happy.  If you are nice to look at or get the things done that they want accomplished, then you have worth.

So what is the basis of worth?  What gives a person value?  Is it social or economic contribution?  Is it performance and production?  Maybe it's beauty or talent or skill.  The reality is that none of these things are yours without them being endowed upon you by God.  God made you, gave you the looks, brains, talents and abilities you possess.  God created you for the works that He prepared before hand.  Now the world will put a value on the works or the tasks, but God thinks they are important.  He created you for those things He's called you to do.

Today, I am not going to focus on what the world thinks I'm worth.  I am not going to worry about the rejection, the hurt and the criticism of the world because I have a job to do.  I don't have extra time and energy trying to please the people who can never be pleased.  I can't spend my time trying to give to those who will never get enough.  I have work to do, I have a job that has been given to me by God.  It may not have a cool title, I may not have a nice office or wear a suit and make a big salary, but those are worldly things.  Those don't last and really carry no reward.  Live your calling, stop worrying about your worth.  It's God's job to give you value, and He has valued you beyond all creation.  Let's just live.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Conviction on Leadership and challenge

I have been learning about leadership for the last 10 years in the church culture.  I have taken classes, watched podcasts, heard lectures and speeches, read books and heard it talked about ad nauseum by individuals who believe leadership is next to Godliness.  I have come to the conclusion that leadership is a great thing that often becomes an idol.  Here is what led to that opinion.

Biblical leadership is not glamours.  It's hanging out with people while speaking truth, but not really being anyone important.  It's helping and serving and washing nasty feet.  It is without title or position or recognition.  It's simply doing the will of the Father in front of others.  It's following in the first position, following God and having others follow you as you follow God.  You don't get to make the rules, pick the direction, make the vision or the purpose.  You simply follow the Father.  Sometimes you have no place to lay your head.  Sometimes you are without honor among your home town.  Sometimes the followers abandon you and those in charge throw you to the dogs.

Biblical leadership is not always by the book.  Sometimes you are a king or a fisherman or a religious leader, a traitor or a kid or a carpenter from a hick town.  Sometimes you are a respectable person in a place that is disrespectful, sometimes you are a disrespectful person suddenly respected.  You are seldom if ever up for the challenge, you don't have a resume and you are seldom prepared lest you take the glory for yourself.  You may be rejected, dejected, even ejected.  Man rejects you but the Spirit empowers you.  You are definitely not on the cover of Time or Forbes and not on the top 100 of anything.  Those are the people God uses.

Today in the church, however, I see something different.  It's a model that didn't come from the Bible, it came from the cooperate, secular world, the government and from the private sector.  It's the idea of being in the top chair and commanding the troops beneath you.  It's being out in front leading the pack.  It's casting vision, sharing purpose, writing strategic plans and doing what you think is best.  It takes charisma, personality, charm and guts.  You have to be smart and tough and sometimes mean when needed.  It helps to look good, have nice clothes and smell good, have a good smile and a good looking spouse.  You are measured on your success and how big your office is, your library, your vocabulary, your education and your congregation are.  You have more Bs than anyone else (bucks, Baptisms and bodies in the pew) and you are on the radio, television, news stands and best seller lists.  You can sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves and Eskimos are lined up to buy ice cubes.

So, here is my challenge, my call, my conviction and my invitation.  Lets be Biblical Leaders.  Toss out the purpose and vision and mission statements you painfully crafted, because Jesus already gave them.  Give up the lead seat and give it to Jesus.  Don't just say you follow the Bible but then make decisions based on your judgement or your experience or your great ideas.  The Bible tells us how to do church, so why do we constantly reinvent and reevaluate.  We strive for and fight for and work for leadership, let God choose His leaders.  We become leaders and we stop following, we stop learning, we stop being accountable.

Will you be happy if God takes away your title, your position, your income and your congregation and you are in a tent somewhere sharing with tribal people?  Will you be content if your ministry becomes to those who have nothing and no one and no way to thank you?  Will you be ok if you are not admired, respected or even listened too?  Are we willing to be Biblical leaders even if it means being led into captivity, tending sheep for 40 years or being beaten and pelted with rocks?

It's time to lead out of our lack and lead as we follow.  I am willing to be the last and the least because Jesus tells me that is what is required.  I am willing to be a nobody like a small child that no one pays attention too, speaks too or reads his blog.  I am willing to become less and let Christ become more.  It won't be easy, it contradicts everything my prideful human flesh tells me to do.  It has been something I have given lip service to in the past and said "ya, I'm humble and willing to be nobody" but I am not sure my life can give testimony to that.  It's time to be authentic and walk the talk instead of just talking a good show and acting like a company man.  I want to be a new man instead.  Care to join me?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Big choices

So I am facing decisions about important things like my job.  I have found myself totally outside my area, my calling or career or whatever.  I'm a minister, a pastor, a missionary by calling, my training and in my experience.  I can't get away from the fact I need to be in ministry.  I have thought that I would get a job and work bi-vocationally.  I feel called to start the house church network and do so without taking a salary from the house church.  I want to have a network with a plurality of elders, and we can't do that and all get paid, it defeats much of the purpose of organic, low overhead, high ministry and mission church.  I feel called to do the RI ministry, but there is so much work and so little time and I can't even put together the $300 for the non-profit status.  I would need to do fund raising and I am not sure I am there.  There is also the Youth for Christ idea, but that is self supported, causing me to need to raise support and I have to have income in the meantime.  The economy is bad, and outside of the church world, I have little in the way of marketable skills.  It's a struggle to find a job that pays enough to provide for the family, even working two jobs I come up short.  Elaine and I were both working two jobs, but the one with the most income is the one that laid me off.

This is the time that I trust God, so I am walking without seeing.  I am praying for wisdom and guidance because I have no idea what to do.  I came to Sioux City for one reason and that was taken away and I am not sure what to do next.  I don't really want to leave, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity for the house church network.  I just need the resources to do it, and I am not sure how to provide those and still have the availability and opportunity to do the other things I feel called to do.  I wonder if Paul felt like this when he was making tents.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The American Church, a baby book

I picked up this book with high hopes as a house church planter in progress.  While I don't disagree with many of the points, there is no carrying of the burden of proof. The book says "this is wrong" and then drops a few Bible verses without any real exegetical work.  Much of the material is based on the author's experience and opinion.  While I agree with a lot of what he said, in many ways this book seemed to be a personal opinion which is then assumed to be Biblical truth.  There is much that needs developed and a few points that just seemed to be arrogant.  To write a book and then expect churches and pastors to read it and say "oh, we should change" after hundreds of years of working in this way is extreme.

A better approach would be to call out the issues and give practical tips to how to begin to make the change.  Calling for every church to change it's name, throw out all denominational ism, fire the pastor (after he finds a job) and appoint elders and revamp everything on Sunday is a bit extreme and pretty unhelpful in the ongoing dialogue as a whole.