Time to Lead

After Bishop T.D. Jakes' sermon at last week's C3, it hit me: We all read the same Bible, but he sees things that the rest of us don't.

When he dissected "The Order of the Bread" (Jesus took it, blessed it, broke it, and gave it), Laura Parker of our team said something really insightful: He must spend the majority of his time alone.

The most important work any leader does is the work that no one else sees. For us pastors, the most important work we do is when it's just God and us. In our prayer time, Scripture reading and gleaning. After that, it's in the time that we spend preparing to preach and lead.

Those two are different but they're interdependent. I can't ever substitute sermon preparation for my private prayer life, but they do feed each other. I think every leader has to learn (and re-learn) to set aside work time for thinking, praying, strategizing, seeking counsel, brainstorming, and all manner of work that may not produce immediate, tangible results. But, over time, that work will produce thoughts and insights and moments of clarity that will ultimately yield significant fruit.

How and when do you carve out time to think and brainstorm and pray and scour Scripture?


C3, Pt. 3

What an amazing 3 days God gave Julie & me at C3. The encouragement, conviction, teaching, friendships new and old...on and on and on. It was truly incredible.

I'm still processing the whole thing, but I do know this: I love God, I love Julie, I love the ministry, I love Ed & Lisa, I love our staff and church-- I love all of them more today than I did when I left Austin on Wednesday because God let me be there.

All of that came out of something that was birthed when one man decided to leave the comfortable confines of his dad's church and go to a struggling mission church as their first pastor at 28 years old in his first pastorate. In some ways it would've been much easier for Ed to stay in Houston and walk in his dad's wake--and in some ways, not. But he took that risk and that step of faith, and so many of us have benefited so much from it.

I thank God for Ed and Lisa. What God has built into my life through them I'll never be able to repay but investing it in other people is part of why I can't wait to get up and go every day. Lake Hills Church has its own identity, its own flavor and personality, but it's good to know that we come from such incredible stock and have such a heritage.


C3, Pt. 2

We're heading out for C3 this afternoon and I'm really jacked about what God's got in store for our team, for me personally, and I know for everyone who'll be there this week.

One of the really cool things about C3 is reconnecting with really cool friends in ministry from around the country. It's funny--but as our church has grown, my acquaintances have grown exponentially. But, the number of true friends I have in Austin has decreased while the number of friends I have elsewhere has grown. Most of them will be in Dallas this week and I love getting to see them and steal ideas from them.

This isn't a bad thing, it's just an it-is-what-it-is thing. There are a lot of reasons for it, some of which are bad, some aren't. Craig Groeschel pastors LifeChurch which is one of the strongest, most Kingdom-minded churches on the planet. His blog this week speaks directly to the friendship-ministry challenge. I really appreciate his candor and knowing that our situation is common.

I'm curious: is this a phenomenon unique to ministry or do leaders in other arenas experience it as well? Comment back and let me know.


Good Sports & WYSIWYG

In the last 48 hours, three stories from the world of sports have dominated the ESPN.com front page:


In the interest of fairness, all of these sordid stories are alleged and not proven as of this moment. But, taken together, they’re incredibly unsettling and so disappointing.

Not because sport was pure prior to yesterday. Cheating and competing have gone together ever since Abel went toe to toe with Cain in the first-ever Offering Olympics. But, this confluence of competitive controversy continues a definite trend. From Barry Bonds and baseball’s version of Don’t ask-Don’t tell to the prison term of Olympian Marion Jones, arguably half of all sports stories in the media have nothing to do with what happens between the lines.

As I listened to the Congressional testimony of Clemens and McNamee yesterday, I found myself returning to the word mis-honesty. It's a word I made up defined as follows:

MIS-HONESTY: the intentional misleading of someone to make an inference without technically lying.

Anytime we have to get technical with our language, we've crossed the line of mis-honesty. It was rampant in Clemens' and McNamee's ping-pong accounts of what transpired three and five years ago, and it’s epidemic throughout the sports scandals currently swirling around.

Swirling…like what happens when you flush. Hmm.

I believe in the power of sports. Wholeheartedly. Competition is good and healthy, it makes us good and healthy, and it frequently brings out the best in us. But, the big business that is major sports can also flush out the worst in us.

Personally, I’m going to miss Bobby Knight. Not the tirades, the profanity, or the condescension. But, at least we knew with Coach Knight what you see is what you get.


C3, Pt. 1

Next week a large contingent of LHC staff is going to be attending the Creative Church Conference (C3) at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. It's an exciting time as so many of our staff will get to see LHC's roots, share and grow through the people who'll be speaking, and we'll get some valuable time away outside of our normal routines and patterns.

C3 is one of the few conferences that I make it a point to attend. It always encourages and empowers me to do what we get to do in ministry, at the same time that it challenges and convicts me to change some of the ways that we do it.

I'd love to hear from you: Comment back and let me know where do you go to learn, grow, and recharge?


Not So Gently Into That Good(?) Knight

With the announcement of Bobby Knight's retirement in mid-season, I remember a conversation Julie and I had about him. About 4 years ago, she asked me if I'd let our son play for Bobby Knight. For fun, let's just assume that he overcomes the huge paternal genetic obstacles that stand between him and a major college basketball scholarship. I'd have to say that I would love for Joseph to learn from arguably the greatest teacher the game's ever known (other than possibly John Wooden).

I know, I know: He'd "learn" a lot about anger mis-management, profanity, and other really not-so-cool things. But, you know what? I think by the time Joseph's 18-19 yrs. old, he ought to be able to filter through all that and take the work ethic, the commitment to excellence, the expectation that he graduate, and all the other things that the whole Bobby Knight Experience entails.

Should players have to filter? No. Some of Knight's antics are just that: antics. There is no excuse for the chair, the choke, or any of the myriad tirades he's inflicted on the media and officials. Period. And there's the rub with Coach Knight. For all the good--and there's a lot--there's a noticeable amount of junk to have to wade through.

How much better could he have been without the unnecessary weight of all that garbage?


Hit by a Bus

Last week in our staff meeting, I challenged everyone to serve and lead their areas out of the Hit-by-a-Bus philosophy of leadership. That is, everyone has asked and addressed this question: What would my area look like tomorrow if I got hit by a bus today?

The clearest measurement of a leader's effectiveness is what happens when she's not there.

Little did I know that I would have to live it out so quickly. The "bus" that hit me was the flu--or at least flu-like symptoms last Thursday. I'd gone to bed Wed. night feeling bad, woke up Thurs. a.m. feeling achy but no fever. By lunch, I had a 101.5 and was facing the prospect of not being able to preach Sunday.

I called Chris Larsen to prepare him for the possibility that he would be teaching. Jon Jennings and Mark Groutas got on board with the fact that our service was going to change significantly from what we had planned to kick off the Spur message series. And by dinner on Thursday, everyone was ready to go if I couldn't be ready to go on Sunday.

Fortunately, a shotgun protocol of a Z-pack (God's favorite antibiotic), Tami-flu, Gatorade, and sleep got me back on my feet and we rolled Sunday just like we had planned.

Do you have a hit-by-a-bus plan?


This Weekend

It's Friday morning, and Sunday cannot get here fast enough. As we kick of the SPUR message series this weekend, God is going to use the next few weeks in a powerful transformational way--in our individual lives, in our life as a church, and in our city at large.

This series and the principles we're going to unpack are for everyone. Period. But, there are two groups of people that I especially want to make sure are poised and postured for what God has in store for them: moms and managers.

If you're a mom--working mom or stay-at-home mom--then your influence is absolutely immeasurable. God is going to use this series to encourage, challenge, and empower you in a profound way.

If you're a manager or executive in the marketplace, God is going to give you a clear picture of how to expand and extend your influence in a way that honors Him and fits your God-given personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Again, this is a perfect opportunity for all of us to invite someone we know to encounter God in a fresh and eternity-altering way. Thanks in advance for being that kind of church.