Here are just a few thoughts that keep coming back to the surface in my brain on life, leadership, church, and the world in general:
- Just because it's hard, doesn't mean it's wrong. Just because it's easy, doesn't mean it's right. This is something I have to constantly remind myself of as a man, a husband, a father, and a pastor. The easy choices are so attractive to me, and the hard conversations, hard questions, and hard choices look so unappetizing. I do know (from experience and observation) that the easy choice leads to a path that looks easier for a while, but which will eventually land me in a position where the right choice will be even harder to make. If you're wondering about that, just take a look at the whole situation with the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. If just one person along the way had the courage to make a hard choice, imagine the kids whose lives might have been altered. But the more you hide, the more you take the easy way out, the harder it becomes to get back on track. Big scandals don't happen with one bad choice, they happen because people or organizations get in the habit of making the easy choice rather than the hard one.
- At our last Catalyst meeting with leaders from our ministry network around Southern New England I was reminded of an idea that comes from the author, Jim Collins. The most important question is not "what?", but "who?" The most important choice is not your strategy for climbing the mountain, but who your climbing partners will be. I'm very grateful to be making the climb from a good to great church with some great people here at New Life.
- I've also been reflecting quite a bit on Andy Stanley's talk from the 2010 Catalyst Conference, where he said that not every challenge you face is a problem to be solved, but that sometimes you are seeing a tension to be managed. The longer I lead, the more I realize that there are always tensions to be managed in church life. Among others, right now at New Life we're trying to manage the tensions between being accessible to new and young believers and providing enough in the way of teaching and opportunities for more seasoned believers to keep growing and serving. We're also trying to manage the tension between having freedom in our worship and having order to our service that allows un-churched and de-churched people to have a clear understanding of Jesus and the gospel. These aren't easy tensions to manage, but they're necessary ones. I'll always hope to have your patience as we try to navigate through them in a way that allows us to do our best work.
- When I don't read enough I get stale in my thinking. I feel a large, book-buying binge coming on.
- We made our first significant hire here at the church about a month ago when we brought on Sally Genest to manage all of our communications at New Life. Over time I've realized that while I'm good at communicating in a teaching environment on Sunday morning, I'm not great at communicating thoughts, ideas, and important details outside of that realm. Sally was already doing so much work in this realm that it made sense that we would hire her to keep doing what she was already doing. I'm so glad we made this move for so many reasons, not the least of which is that after 12 years of essentially being a one-person staff, it's really nice to have someone around the office during the day.
- I love my new iPhone. Siri-ously love it.
- I wish that stores would allow us to celebrate Thanksgiving before we celebrate Christmas. Maybe as I get older I get more crotchety about stuff like this, but it really annoys me that Thanksgiving gets no play culturally while Christmas dwarfs the whole two months of November and December. Call me crazy, but I wonder if part of the reason that we're losing the soul of Christmas as a true season of generosity is because we've forgotten how to be truly thankful for what we have received. I wonder if the church could be a refuge from that. In fact, that's what we'll be talking about in both the current series of messages and the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
- Speaking of Christmas – this year it falls on Sunday so we'll have both Christmas Eve service at 7:00 PM on the 24th and Christmas Day service on the 25th at 9:00 AM. Looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior with the best church on the planet!