Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A pat on the back

I really just wanted a pat on the back.

Several years ago I attended an appreciation luncheon for pastors. I had been to a similar event hosted by the same group the previous year, and I really enjoyed it. The previous year they gave away some nice prizes, and we all left the event feeling encouraged and valued.

I knew the main speaker before the event and I had been looking forward to his encouraging words. As soon as he started his address, I knew that it was going to be a difficult lunch. He began asking us probing questions about our prayer life and our personal relationship with God. He continued pressing us to evaluate sin in our life and called us to turn from our sin. I could not believe it. How could this guy do this to us? I came here to be encouraged not attacked. His assignment was simple. All he had to do was talk about how tough ministry is and let us know that he has been there. He could throw in a few funny stories and everyone would leave happy. The longer he spoke the more uncomfortable I became. What a waste of time. I said a weak prayer and I left the event feeling horrible.

On the inside I was dying because I was holding onto unconfessed sin. The challenge from the luncheon that day continued to grow in my mind and heart until I spent time with God praying for His holiness in my life.

I needed the message that day far more than I realized. I am so thankful that our speaker was faithful to proclaim what God had placed on his heart. As I have thought back about that day, I have wondered how hard it was for him to preach that message. It isn’t easy being a prophet. It is much easier to give everyone a pat on the back.

“One of the greatest motivating factors is the pat on the back, although with some individuals, you have to make the pat a little lower and a little harder.” -John Wooden.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This world has nothing for me

I received notice this morning that a friend who serves with the IMB is entering into a closed country today for two weeks along with two other men. The prayer request came from his wife.

It is an incredible privilege to pray on behalf of others as they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that my friend’s wife and children are praying for him as he serves brings me a deep since of awe about the power of God in a broken world.

As these three men enter this country today, they do so at great risk and cost. They had to say goodbye to everyone and everything.

Knowing Jesus is worth more than anything. Nothing compares to Him. Having Him makes everything and everyone else fade to the background. He is the One who speaks and the whole earth trembles. He has been raised. He is sovereign. He is Lord. He is worthy.

Following Him is the highest honor. Only God knows how many people will enter the kingdom because these three are willing to risk it all.

I enjoy what God has given to me. But, I am reminded that my stuff is still just stuff. I will leave it all behind - someday. It is much easier to follow God if I hold my stuff loosely now. I may not be called to give everything away today, but I must be willing to do so at a moment’s notice. When we can truly let go, we find real freedom.

"So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cockroaches, Steak Sauce, and Giant Frogs

When I checked my email account at the office yesterday, I had 21 new email messages. For some people, 21 email messages would be a major relief. For me, 21 messages is about 18 more than I need. If someone sends me an email, I must respond. I was raised that way. Isn’t it disrespectful to ignore someone?

About 18 of the emails weren’t really personal. Half of them were marketing emails letting me know things such as the latest deals on video clips for my sermons to interest rates for church construction loans. Those emails are easy enough to ignore. At worst, I will miss a great bargain. The other half of the emails are email forwards. Can I really ignore these emails? What if the person who sent the email asks me about it later? What if they ask if I could see the face in the clouds? What will I say?

Ok. This blog is actually about time management, but who wants to read a blog about time management? So, let’s say this blog is really about getting more out of life.

How do I get more out of life? Stop killing cockroaches. Tony Morgan’s book, Killing Cockroaches, provides great advice for ending the tyranny of the urgent. Tony describes the urgent tasks that come our way every day that sap our time and energy, but aren’t really worth our time. He likens them to the task of killing cockroaches. Sure, you feel like a hero when you save the office from a cockroach (copier jam, leftover food in fridge fiasco, etc.), but is that really what you want your legacy to be?

Add, steak sauce. Dave Ramsey advises leaders to put steak sauce into our days in his book, EntreLeadership. His favorite steak sauce is A1. A level tasks represents the tasks in our day that are actually important. 1 represents the task that should be done first out of all of the important tasks. If we accomplish the A1 task, our day has substance. Everything else can probably wait.

Eat the biggest frog first. “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain. My advice would be don’t stare at the frog too long either.

What can we say if we get quizzed about the all important email forward? “I am sorry I didn’t read the email. I was putting steak sauce on a frog while avoiding cockroaches.” Works like a charm.