Monday, March 26, 2012

Everyone Loves Back-Up QB's

I heard an NFL commentator make a profound statement on ESPN the other day. He said, "The most popular guy in a town is the back up QB." He was asked, "Why is that?" "Simple. He doesn't make any mistakes (as in interceptions) and gives the city hope that it can be better."

I have served as a back up QB most of life. Not in the NFL but in ministry. I held the clipboard and watched. And criticized. And dreamed that I could do better. When I had the chance to preach once every six months I looked pretty good. I heard the fans saying that the back up may do better.

Here is the reality. It looks real easy until you get in the game. I watched the NFL NETWORK'S biggest QB busts. Most of the busts were back up QB's who played good in a few games and signed for a big contract as a starter only to fail.

So, here are the takeaways:
1. If you are a back up QB be patient and understand that practice is easier than the game.
-Go through preparation and be supportive. You have NO idea what pressure the starting QB is facing; ex. Lead Pastor, CEO, etc. Don't believe the hype. There are always a group of people that will walk up to you and tell you that they wish you would preach more.

2. If you are a fan then don't create a QB controversy.
-He is the back up for a reason. It may not be better with him and realize that ALL teams or QB's have a bad streak. If you preach twice a year then you should look pretty good. If he plays one game a year, he should look good. Why? The starter throws 500 passes and you throw 20 a year.

3. If you are the starting QB then prepare the back-ups, work with them and ignore the fair weather fans.
-The greatest work you can do is mentor and train someone to take your place. Teach the back up QB. Give him opportunities.
-Ignore the fair weather fans. There are always those people who think a new QB will solve all their problems.
Granted, it may take a new QB, but it is the way it is handled.

Monday, March 19, 2012

When Expectation Meets Reality

As many times as I have tried to introduce these strangers called, "expectation" and "reality," they never seem to get along.

I have the privilege of coaching some church planters as well as doing life with pastor friends of mine. Somewhere along the line this conversation happens, "I thought we would have been a lot further along by now." This pertains to the number of people attending the church, finances or leadership.

When someone is preparing for ministry, things are pretty linear. There is a starting point and finishing point. The prime example is going to school. You have assignments and success is pretty easy to calculate with those assignments. You work toward a goal and achieve it through grades. You also are interacting with professors and students who, for the most part, think logically.

The hard part is when you leave the linear, logical method of expectation meeting reality and come to a place where you are playing a new game. Goals may be met or not. People may interact logically or not. There are no graded papers to tell you how you are doing. There is no "finish" line in site. This can apply to marriage, a job and ministry. Most people during this transition begin to experience depression and loss of focus. The main reason is because their dreams/expectations of something does not match the reality they are facing.

A marriage is a great example. I have seen dear friends experience divorce. I guarantee that one part that led to the divorce was their expectations did not meet reality. There are arguments. There are dishes. There are bills. There are bad days and good days. It is not a walk in the park. Working at a job is similar. The interview goes great. They really NEED someone like you to help their company. You discuss the salary package, sign the contract and the company is elated to have you as their new employee. About six months into it you find out that expectations don't meet reality. You are not appreciated as much as you thought you would be. You work longer hours than expected and you are not the great savior or asset you thought you would be.

A good example from Scripture is when the disciples were in the middle of a lake and a storm arose. They had left the shoreline under Jesus' command. They weren't at the shore anymore, but hadn't reached their destination either. They were in the middle of two realities. In the middle is where the storm arose. That is what happens with us as well. I don't think they expected a storm to rise up in their journey. The great news is that Jesus showed up in the middle of that storm.

This week you have probably said to yourself, "Man, in the beginning, I thought we would be a lot further along right now and not fighting the same battles." Be encouraged. You launched out at Jesus' call. You are not where you used to be. You have made progress. You are on route (even in the storm) to the destination. And realize that Jesus is in the boat with you. Be content with how far you have come and be courageous on moving forward.

In life, expectation hardly ever, IF EVER, meets reality. We are all thinking the same thing. We are all going through it. Today, take some quiet time and invite Jesus into the boat with you. He is with you on the journey and in the storm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Key to Destroying a Movement

I heard this the other day from a "Volunteer Central" blog. It is something God has had to work on in me.

Have you ever been part of a church where there is constant drama? Where no one can trust each other?

I have. I hate it. I refuse to entertain this anymore. Where does it come from?
-Assuming negative intentions in everyone's actions.

For instance, someone challenges you, the leader, at a meeting on a plan you have. You leave and tell your spouse, "Yeh, I bet he is trying to vote me out."
Or, someone doesn't come through on a task and you immediately think, "They never liked me and wanted to destroy me."

Here is the key: Assume positive intentions upfront. Never assume negative motivations in someone's part. Take time to dialogue and find out why this happened. Then, you have to trust them and assume positive intentions on their part.

All negative actions are not from negative intentions. Sometimes we intend well, but it doesn't come through like it.

If you want to stop drama in your ministry then:
-Speak highly of others
-Think highly of others
-Assume FIRST they had positive intentions
-NEVER get into the questioning of motivation. Just ask them WHY and then believe them.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Finding Purpose

Jesus told him (the blind man), “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! (John 9:7 NLT)

This man found his vision when he went to a place called sent. Many leaders lose their vision along the way. Our vision deteriorates when we are trying to build man made institutions and impress people. We begin to score our effectiveness on the wrong scorecard. There are many leaders in church ministry who feel blind, helpless and hopeless. This happens many times because of stress. Stress is formed when you are misaligned with the wrong purpose. So. What should be my purpose?

The key is not to "discover" your purpose, but to plug into the mission of God. God desires that people surrender their lives to Him and grow in the Gospel of Grace. (there is much more, but this is a blog- not a novel)

When you "wash" in the pool called SENT, you plug into God's mission. This man found sight when he submersed himself in SENT. We find purpose when we live our lives on mission. Everything becomes an adventure. Pick up basketball games become a "God-mission." Going to Wal-Mart becomes a mission field (which I hate.....Wal-mart that is).
If you are looking for purpose in a job or building a church, then you will always feel like life doesn't matter.

Go today and wash in the pool called SENT and find your vision again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lessons from Restaurant Impossible

Okay, so possibly my new favorite show is "Restaurant Impossible." Chef Robert Irvine comes into failing restaurants to revitalize them. He has only 48 hours and 10,000.00 to turn the restaurant around.

He comes in and identifies the problems. He acts with an extreme sense of urgency and confronts all issues that are causing the failing culture.

The major issues, among many, are:
-The Menu
-The Customer Service
-The Decor/Design
-The Leadership/Management

As I was watching the show one night, I thought, "Wow, what if he did this for churches?" First off, 99% of failing churches wouldn't allow someone to confront these issues. However, here is what Restaurant Impossible has taught me about church "checklists:"

1. The Menu: Is your menu tasty? When a first time guest looks at your menu, do they see great food? How is your chef? Is it prepared professionally or thrown together?
-Grade your messages, worship experience and kids ministries. Would Irvine tell you, "This can't be served to human beings?"

2. The Customer Service: Are guests met by a cheerful hostess? Are the wait staff cordial and informative? Do they know the menu?
-For a church this is your guest services. Would you consider these front door folks cheerful and informative or lethargic and lackadaisical?

3. The Decor/Design: He brings in a design team and totally redoes the WHOLE restaurant. Does your church look up to date? Do you still have banners from the 80's? Is there trash and garbage piled up? Is media and lighting up to par? Still using cheesy clip art and boring lighting?

4. Leadership: Chef Irvine confronts the leadership. He sits down with the owner and management team to see if they are COMMITTED to lasting change. He lets them know how bad off they are. Are you committed to leading change? Will sustain the changes? Do really believe that you need to change?

Take time to grade your ministry. Yeh, and take time to watch Restaurant Impossible!!!