Solitude

Interesting question came across my radar last week. Ashton was in a room full of worship leaders for a nationwide series of summer camps. For 8 weeks they will be leading the same songs, doing the same things, week after week. Her question:

What advice would you give to us on how to remain renewed and refreshed every week? How do we not get into a cycle? Even when it is week 4 for us and we have sung the same songs every week… how do we fight that?

It’s a valid question, and the Fuge worship leaders aren’t the only ones who face it. The truth is, everybody in spiritual leadership has the task of “handling the holy things” week in and week out. Ashton’s “holy things” may be music and microphones. Yours may be a Bible or a lesson plan. Someone else’s may be the routine schedule of meetings you attend or lead. Regardless, Christians gathered in the name of Christ for any reason have an occasion to invite and expect His presence.

Until we don’t.

Until we drift into a routine or rut – what Ashton calls a “cycle.”

Now it’s time for this. Next – that. Then back to this. Then the other.  Before long, not only can we get bored with the whole thing, we telegraph that boredom to the very people we’re supposed to be leading.  As a result, the “gospel” no longer feels like “good news” and we lose our sense of wonder and gratitude.

(If that sound a lot like your Sunday morning experience, I’m sorry. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to remain that way.)

My response to Ashton was one of those things that startled me with how fast it came. (That’s usually a sign that I didn’t originate the answer.)  The key to avoiding the rut:  Play, Stay, Away, and Pray. [click to continue…]

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SAMSUNG

There’s no arguing that you’re busy.  No question that whatever you do or don’t get done today, plenty will be waiting for you tomorrow.  Yet somehow you can’t help but feel a little like Rip Van Winkle.  At least a part of your life has been asleep at the wheel, and you’re wondering how you got left behind.

Maybe it was your finances.  Maybe your relationships.  Maybe it was your professional life, or your grasp on what’s cool in the culture.  Regardless, you can’t help but feel alone, isolated from the pulse and vibrant sensations of a life of awareness and relevance.

You’re busy, but suddenly awakened to the fact that you’re living in obscurity.

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You have the restless sense that something is broken, and you’re called to fix it.  Something’s missing in the church and/or the world.  The church and its message seem choked of life and the world and its values are increasingly hostile.  And there you stand, somewhere in the middle.  You have a sense of calling; a fire of truth burns in your belly and you’ll die if you don’t get it out there.

And yet, despite the confidence you have in your place in God’s plans, nobody’s giving you a chance to actually live it.  Nobody’s interested in what you have to say; nobody’s taking what you’re offering.  You’re reaching out in love to anybody who will listen, and they’re responding like birds to a scarecrow.

So there you stand, heart and arms outstretched in desperate obscurity.

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Working Alone(Inspired by and dedicated to a great group of leaders I have had the privilege of working with over the last 12 weeks.)

It was a lonely life, but Jesse’s baby boy made the most of it.  His brothers probably learned the same way he did, but had gone on to other exploits.

David?  He was confined to the idiot patrol.  He was his father’s shepherd.  And it was there – alone with the dumbest animals on the planet – that David learned to be a leader.

He was alone when a lion came and seized a lamb from his flock.  He was alone when a bear did the same.  He was alone when he delivered those sheep from the valley of the shadow of death.  And the passion, courage, and wisdom he gained there – alone – forged pathways of leadership in Israel that were still in place years after his death.

Goliath?  That was just mop-up duty.

It’s true that leadership is on display when everybody else is looking.  It’s also true that leadership is being forged when no one is.  You may feel you’re in a wilderness, stuck making up silly songs to sing to the sheep.  In fact, you may assume that your solitude or lack of position means you’re no leader at all.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Here are eight ways to influence an entire generation, even when nobody is looking to you as the obvious solution to their leadership needs.  [click to continue…]

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It’s a common church house scene.

In baskets, bags, plates or boxes, churches collect money for something they call an offering.

The functional reality: congregations can’t offer what they haven’t first collected.

Same goes for individuals. [click to continue…]

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