There is Sorrow but Peace

I spent yesterday sitting next my friend as she took her final breaths in this world.

I cannot remember a time in my life I did not know her. Virginia was more than a friend; she was a sister.

She was always quick to encourage me, counsel me, and correct me if I needed it. There were times when I made her laugh, made her cry, and times when I completely infuriated her. But I knew she was always proud of me, and that she loved me.

Virginia was passionate about God, her husband and the hundreds if not thousands of students that she taught… more than taught, she impacted the course of their lives.

For the last three years, I’ve had the honor of being on the board of Stonegate Christian Academy, the school she lead and poured herself into. It’s hard to put into words the love and passion she had for that school. Not because she loved running it, but because she loved every single student that was there. She understood that she was responsible for more than their education. She had been given the responsibility to steward their lives and prepare them for the things God created them to do. To help mold them into the men and women God created them to be.

Virginia was an amazing person.

This is not the first time I have had to watch a close friend’s life come to an end. It’s always hard. But as I sit here thinking about Virginia, trying to process this loss, I am reminded of two scriptures that I have thought a lot about this year:

Hebrews 13:14
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

John 16:33
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These two scriptures bring me incredible peace, but they don’t take away the heartache. That is the amazing thing about a relationship with Jesus. Sorrow and peace can live together in the same heart.

There is sorrow because I will deeply miss my friend. But there is peace because I know I will see her again.

Ministry Advice to a Young Leader

Earlier today while doing a live Periscope Q&A for my church with another one of our Pastors, we were asked what advice we would give to young leaders starting out in ministry. The video cut off right before we answered the question, so I thought I would share my answer here. (Hopefully, the person who asked the question will see this answer.)

In short, my answer is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When I was starting out in ministry I took myself WAY too seriously. I thought Pastors were supposed to be serious, firm, and stoic. The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of my personality.

I like to have fun. I’m a goof-off, a smart aleck and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times I can tell you the brand of shoes you are wearing by the taste. That’s who I am. That’s who God made me to be. (Though, I am getting better about the foot in mouth thing. Sort of.)

I take the CALL OF GOD on my life VERY SERIOUSLY. I take my position as a Pastor VERY SERIOUSLY. I just try not to take myself too seriously.

I believe that one of the greatest things a Pastor can do to spread the Gospel is lighten up and have some fun.

The Gospel is literally translated “Good News”, and it is our responsibility to share that “Good News” with everyone we come in contact with. How can we effectively share the Good News of the Gospel, if when we show up, it’s BAD NEWS to everyone around us.

*This applies to all Christians as well.

Misplaced Priorities

In our first year of marriage my wife worked double shifts waiting tables and I made $1000 a month doing “ministry”.

She worked, she sweated, she worried about our bills. She worried about us.

I didn’t work and I didn’t worry. I sat at Starbucks everyday reading books, magazines and my Bible… because I was called to “ministry”.

I put my marriage and my wife’s mental stability aside for my own desires.

Why did I do it?

I forgot that my first call of ministry, every husbands first priority of ministry is his family.

No exceptions.

On Working on a Team

One of the hardest but most important parts of working on a team, is letting go of the need to be right… and in some cases, heard.

Pride must be shelved.

A healthy team is made up of individuals who trust one another, and understand that it does not matter who has the last word, or whose idea ultimately becomes the team’s idea. What matters is the whole team working together towards the greatest result.

Unity rules.

Even if the team results in failure. Failure together can be just as powerful as succeeding alone.

I’m Tired of Being a Leader

When I was younger, just starting out in ministry, I desired to be a great leader. I wanted to command people, lead them into “battle”, and be respected by others for my wisdom and skill.

Leadership became something to attain. Something that positioned me over other people. It drove me to be in charge, to pursue what I thought was right even at the expense of what others wanted or needed. It lead me to become dismissive, cold in my communication, and ultimately alone in what I felt God was calling me to do.

In short, my definition of leadership was unhealthy. It fed my pride and I became a very selfish, very lonely “leader”.

Now, I’m a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and I’m much more interested in being the best team mate, the best servant I can be.

Jesus said it best in Luke 22:24-27:

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”