I spent this past week in Dallas, TX for round 2 of 4 in Leadership Network’s Next Generation Pastors Learning Community. The learning community consists of 13 younger (under 40) senior pastors in larger churches with 4 seasoned mentor pastors of larger churches (Larry Osborne of Northcoast Church, John Jenkins of First Baptist Church Glenarden, MD, Bruce Miller of McKinney Fellowship Bible Church, & Charles Anderson of University United Methodist Church). It’s a time to learn, to be challenged, and to glean wisdom from guys who have walked the road before us. Here are the top 3 questions I took away from my time in Dallas:
1. What is it that only I can do? I am the only one who can live in and live out my relationship with Jesus. I am the only one who can be married to my wife. I am the only one who can father my son. No one else can do that. In ministry, the needs and expectations are many and often overwhelming, but if I constantly remember what only I can do, that helps me prioritize. The question also applies to my role as senior pastor. Out of all of our staff and congregational leaders, what are the things that only I can do as the senior pastor? I’m in the process of learning how to answer this question. This leads me to the next question.
2. How can I live in the rhythm of life vs. living a balanced life? This was one of the most personal “ah-ha” moments of the week. We often strive for balance, which I am discovering is impossible and according to Bruce Miller unbiblical. Bruce shared the basic thesis from his book Your Life in Rhythm. We need to embrace the seasons and rhythms of life and seize the opportunities that each season holds versus trying to precariously balance all of life and ministry (as if everything could actually be held in balance). This is crucial as a husband and father. I don’t want to miss where He has me in my marriage and parenting because I’m giving it all on the “altar of ministry.”
3. How will I/we develop leaders? This has been a personal and pastoral quest for a long time. Conventional wisdom says, “find 10 people, they find 10 people, then they find 10 people…” With this model, you’ve developed 1000 leaders. The problem is: it rarely works out this way. It’s like the “whisper the message to your neighbor” game. By the time it comes around full circle, the message has often changed. Everything is not going to translate as clear and concise as we’d like. A realistic goal a leader developer should be spending more time with fewer people who have the calling and capacity for higher levels of leadership. It’s much more organic than liner. Another leadership development moment came as Larry Osborne said that the content is often irrelevant (i.e., books, tools, etc.). It’s necessary, but it’s there to foster conversation. Leaders often get overly excited about curriculum and miss the moments of what the curriculum creates in conversation. The goal is application and engagement in leadership and ministry.
Many thanks to Leadership Network (especially Linda Stanley) and the mentor pastors for investing in young dudes who are trying to love Jesus, our families, and the church with all that we have.