I’m a Toys R’ Us pastor

With our move to Legacy I’ve had to rewrite my thinking. We came from a small church to a growing church.

In a small church it was easier to just say “I’ll teach it myself.” In a growing church I have to be able to instead write curriculum and deploy it to others to teach.

In a small church I accepted that it was too hard to get volunteers (especially to teach kids) and stopped trying. In a growing church I am constantly recruiting. I can never have enough volunteers and doing it all myself is no longer an option.

Ultimately I think I’m a Toys R’ Us pastor. I don’t want to grow up. I want the church to grow, sure, but changing my methods and leadership is hard. It’s easier just to do things myself. I’m coming around now, though, and praying for many other leaders to come in around the Legacy Kids department. Growing is hard. But if we can’t grow as leadership in our methods alongside the rest of the church, it creates a bottleneck that eventually kills growth.

Someday (Part 2 of 4)

Yesterday: Discovering who you are
Today: But my butt likes being lazy

Yesterday I talked about the unhappiness people have with their lives and trying to discover the dreams God has for you to follow. The things we desire most are often what we should be doing. Instead we busy ourselves with something that “pays the bills” but leaves us hollow. Today I want to talk about obstacles to following our dreams.

Fear
Usually, following what God has for us requires sacrifice and faith. These are two things that often cause fear. Often we fear losing things. God’s dreams for us almost never go along the lines we think they will and often that journey requires sacrifice of something to get there. I’ve had to give up a lot since starting the studio. I’ve given up financial safety. Certainly we pay the bills, but I’m constantly reminded that is only because of God’s grace. I give him credit for every new client and every dollar that comes through the door. My fear came from the fact that I would have to lean entirely on God for everything. When we are employed by someone else, we tend to lean on them. We trust that they will do their part and the paychecks will keep flowing. I had to give that up and lean on God. The benefits? It’s all God’s money anyway. If it’s his will, he can take care of you far beyond what any employer can. I still battle with fear, even after following God’s steps for me. The only way I’ve found to combat it is being close to God.

Lazyness
God’s path for you often requires very hard work. Despite hating their place in life, most people are not willing to work their way out of it. They have fallen into the trap that it’s too hard or even impossible to follow their dreams, so they do nothing. I’m not going to lie. I work harder now than I ever have in my life. The hours are insane and the stress high. However, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now. For some reason I’m happier now than when I had a comfortable eight to five job. Most people look at what must be done to achieve the dreams and don’t truly trust that God will get them there, so they never start.

Debt
This is probably the single greatest reason people never get to follow their dreams. We’ve been taught by the world that our dreams are new cars and HDTVs. We follow after those things and often go into a lot of debt to get there. I’ve done the same thing many times. Once you have those things, though, it’s just one more thing to have to take care of and ultimately doesn’t bring you true happiness. Those things aren’t bad, but if they are the ultimate thing you work toward, you will be disappointed. I know people who have no restrictions to their lifestyle that would stop them from pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately they are so saddled with massive debt that following anything other than a paycheck is out of the question. Debt keeps us from achieving what God has for us.

So what do you do if you are in debt? Start working on it. Pray about it constantly. Stop adding more debt and begin chipping away and the mountain in front of you. Even if it’s only $10 a month, do it. The other thing is to make changes. Sell vehicles. Cancel cable. Get rid of cell phones. STOP EATING OUT. Whenever we’ve hit tough times the first thing we do is stop eating out. You’d be amazed how much money that saves. The point is, do something. Don’t just stare at the pile of debt and assume you’ll never get out of it. Start working on it. The sacrifice required to erase debt will be great experience for what comes later when following your dreams. If you are in covered in debt and think there’s no way out, I’d start reading this guy.

Tomorrow: Timing is everything

Disconnected

My e-mail and website have been down since about 2:00 today. If you’re trying to e-mail me, please send it to my other address.

On a side note I’m really thinking of changing host companies. I haven’t heard a word from them today despite phone calls and e-mails.
UPDATE: The e-mail appears to be back up.

Someday (Part 1 of 4)

“‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.” — Timothy Ferriss The Four Hour Work Week

Tony Morgan posted that quote last week in his recap of the book and it perfectly sums up what I was going to write here. Last week I asked a question. If you could do anything right now, and money was no obstacle, what would you do?

Discovering who you are

This series of posts is inspired by the fact that I know so many people that hate their jobs. I’m not talking mildly dislike. I’m talking hate. I would venture to guess that the majority of people out there don’t like what they do for a living. I would also submit to you that the majority of people probably haven’t truly asked God what he thinks about the whole thing.

There’s this thing we all have in our hearts called desire. I think every person is created for a purpose and buried in their heart is the desire to follow that purpose. In this instance I’m talking about a career. So much of what we do defines who we are. There’s no way to avoid it. If you spend eight plus hours a day doing anything, it is going to have a huge influence on your life outside those eight hours.

So the first thing is discovering what God has for you to do. That’s why I asked the question. If money was no object, what would you do? If your answer was sit on my butt, or buy a house on the beach and sit on my butt or really any variation of sit on my butt, I don’t think that’s what God has for you. However, if what you want to do involves hard work and a dream you’ve always wanted to achieve, pray about it. Focus on it. Seeks God’s will for that specific thing. I think God calls us to do crazy, life-changing things every day. I also believe we ignore him every day so as to not disrupt our familiar if unremarkable lives.

So we all have these dreams. Usually, however, those dreams rest on a pedestal in our mind labeled “Someday.” Those dreams are relegated to the corner where they can only happen if everything in life falls into place and you win the lottery.

This week I want to spend time talking about those dreams and how to make them happen, instead of just sitting around staring up at the pedestal and wishing.

Tomorrow: But my butt likes being lazy

It’s ALIVE!

Since August of 2006 (wow that’s been a while) we’ve handled the art direction and photography for The Business Journal out of Stephenville.

After a couple of rocky on-again-off-again months, The Journal is back with some new investors who really believe in the project. We’re knee-deep in a small redesign of the publication to streamline it and make it even better than it was before. The next issue will be out the first week in March. Can’t wait for you to see it.

DCifFPC Week 7: The one down, 36 more to go edition

Diet Coke is for Fat People Challenge Week 7

Week 7 starting weight: 237 pounds
Week 8 starting weight: 236 pounds

Total Challenge weight lost: 5 pounds in 7 weeks 

This should have been the “hey, where did that pound go?” edition. I really didn’t expect to lose any weight this week. For the past four days I’ve pretty much eaten Burger King as I’ve run all over creation for work. I’m not going to complain, though. Jared has the Subway diet. I have the Burger King diet.

Drinking Diet Coke? Offended? I don’t really think it’s for fat people.
Read the history behind the name here.

Almost there

Part of my weariness these days (besides the unending hours of work, church, everything) has been a feeling that something isn’t quite right. I’ve spent some time praying about it and trying to figure it out. I know that we’re physically exactly where God wants us. He wants us right here in Austin. So what is it? It’s almost like there’s a small piece of something missing that will make clear what he has for us here and now. Until then, something just isn’t clicking perfectly.

It’s like when your car develops a strange new sound.What does that strange sound mean? I don’t know. So I wait. And I pray.

And now, a moment of transparency

I have an entire series of posts ready to go next week about following your dream. About how if it’s in your heart, it’s there because God probably put it there. It’s a rather inspiring series if I do say so myself.

Let me preface all those posts by saying following what God has put in your heart is hard. We take something he has for us and we twist it because we are less perfect than his plan. My life is crazy right now. Business is growing steadily. It takes an amazing amount of hours to pull off this business I am the exclusive source of that production. But I continue to add on because I’m not content with just paying the bills. I want to create something that will support my family for decades to come and provide a lasting legacy for my kids if they want to do the same thing. We’re also new to Legacy Fellowship and it needs a huge amount of work to get the Legacy Kids program to what I think God is calling it to be. Somewhere in there I also have the greatest family anyone could ask for. A beautiful wife I don’t deserve and three truly incredible boys that I don’t spend near enough time with.

I take all this each day and I bury it under my facade of “having it all together.” You need something done? Of course I can do it. I’m Superman after all. If I bury it deep enough, it doesn’t bother me. But sometimes I’m forced to give voice to my doubts. When I admit out loud that I can’t hold this weight I’m carrying forever it scares me. I can handle this pace for a while longer. I’m young, after all. This is what youth is for, right? I’ll sleep when I’m old. But I’m under no delusions that I can do this forever.

Then I look at my calendar and realize every hour of the upcoming weekend is booked. Literally. I always get great advice from people when these times come. You have to take off. You have to relax. Heck, the Bible even says to relax. When would that be? It’s not during the Monday through Friday, eight to ???? grind. It’s not very many Saturdays due to many upcoming weddings and usually getting ready for Sunday teaching. Sunday mornings are good but definitely not relaxing. Sunday afternoons are usually my only respite from the rush.

I think it’s because two of my biggest time-consumers in life are in awkward stages. The business is growing but it’s not nearly to the point where it can support any other employees to take the load off. Likewise with Legacy. It’s growing but it’s not to the point yet that there are enough service-minded people to take any of the load off. The joys of awkward stages. I thought I was done with those when I finished being a teenager.

This is my day today.

Three ways to avoid inducing guilt in your church

See the post below for my thoughts on church and guilt. Now, three ways to avoid guilting your church into showing up.

1. Vision.

2. Vision.

3. Vision.

In a word: vision. Casting vision for things is so vitally important. A person’s reason for showing up for a program is not “because the doors are open.” I think we can often think that in ministry.  We put something on so why don’t people just drop whatever they have in their lives at that time and show up? It’s easy to fall into that trap.

Everything we do as a church needs to be centered on vision. I don’t care if it’s sweeping the floors. What’s the vision for sweeping the floors? Vision will motivate people to look beyond themselves and push into new areas of ministry. Vision will motivate people to sacrifice parts of their lives for Jesus.

If you tell me to show up because we’re having something going on I’m probably not going to make the time for it. If you tell me to show up and show me through clear vision how it’s going to impact not only my life but others as well, I’m there.

So let’s review.

Vision.

Got it?

Church induced guilt

I love the fact that the more I’m connected with God, the more my view of what church should be changes.

I’ve been very guilty of looking at people in church and wondering why they aren’t connecting with a particular ministry when it’s obviously so perfect for them. I mean come on. We go to the work to put the ministry out there. Why don’t they just jump on board?

This all occurred to me this morning at about 8:00 AM. On Fridays we have Men’s Prayer at 6:30 in the morning. This revelation of people versus ministry didn’t really occur to me as I was leaving Men’s Prayer so much as it did while I crawled out of bed feeling guilty for not going to Men’s Prayer at all.

It hit me at that moment. Some ministries just don’t fit in a person’s schedule or lifestyle. My work week goes like this. Monday through Friday I get up at about 8 and go to work. I’ll work anywhere from eight to 16 hours that day. Even on an eight-hour day, I usually don’t get to bed until midnight or after. Somewhere in there I also have to find time for my family, writing lessons for church and coordinated the Legacy Kids. Because of this crazy schedule I never get enough sleep. My body is really kind of worn down from doing this for a long time. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make Men’s Prayer on Fridays just doesn’t fit. At all. And it’s not even that I don’t want to go. I set my alarm last night for 5:30. It’s that my body has the magical ability to turn my alarm off and I never even wake up enough to realize it. I’m really not making that part up.

So where does the guilt come from? God isn’t about guilt. He’s about freedom from guilt. It doesn’t come from our pastor who’s made it very clear this is an optional meeting and not a requirement for the staff. So where does it come from? My guess? The way the “church” has operated for as long as I can remember. I put that in quotes because I’m not referring to Legacy so much as the church in general. I remember growing up a prime tactic for the church to use was guilt. You have to be at such and such program because the church is putting it on. Looking back I realize my prime motivation for much of my church life was guilt. And that was back when I seemed to get nothing from church. It wasn’t until I started working out my own faith with God and seeking His will for me that church started making sense. Up to that point I just took whatever the church said along with my weekly spoonful of guilt and that was what constituted my “God time.”

So I’ve decided not to feel guilty about missing Men’s Prayer. I’m not saying I won’t ever go. In fact, I’ll still try to because I do enjoy it when I make it. But I’m also not going to feel guilty because I still have a lot of time I spend with God. Between my quiet times each day and pretty regular “God please save my butt” prayers throughout the day, I don’t feel like I’m in danger of slipping away because I miss one meeting.

However, this isn’t an excuse for people to not be involved in things we do at the church. I’m just saying work out what is right for you. What programs allow you to grow closer to God and minister to others? Focus on those. You don’t have to do everything just because the church is doing it, but I promise if you seek God he’ll show you what he has for you.

And this definitely doesn’t apply to work days. Everyone needs to come to those. Like this Saturday. 8:30 AM. Not too early and we desperately need your help finishing out the building. Just one last Saturday.

Note: Yeah, this will probably be one of those posts I have to clarify later because I’m sure there’s some point here that hasn’t occurred to me yet and will need clarification. Being a pastor and telling you you don’t have to go to church every time the doors open, that’s bound to happen.