Somewhere Between Work & Rest

Work when you work.  Rest when you rest.  And get rid of everything in between.

As simple as that sounds, I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in my life as a leader.  So many times I would make it to the end of a day, be absolutely exhausted and completely unsure of what I had accomplished.  Or worse, sometimes I would be completely sure I had accomplished absolutely nothing.

I wasn’t getting anything done because I was resting when I should have been working.  I would take personal phone calls.  I spent a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs or surfing the web.  Personal conversations with co-workers that start with a quick hi but somehow turn into a 45 minute review of your entire weekend were another trap.  Or there were the times when I was just too tired to concentrate.  Any of that sound familiar to you?

I’m not saying all of those things need to go.  If you never have personal conversations with co-workers, people are going to assume you aren’t very nice!  But I am suggesting they should be limited.  You’re there to do a job – so, get after it.  Work.

If you do that, you’ll actually be able to rest at the end of the day.  And that’s the other place where I would get myself in trouble.  I wasn’t at the office, I was technically done for the day but I still wasn’t really resting.  I was chronically checking email on my phone.  I was taking calls from the office or texting people from the office with random things I forgot to mention during the day.  I was mentally outlining sermons.  I was thinking through meetings I had coming up even though I was allegedly watching a movie with Laura.  It was a mess – I was doing all of the work I should have been doing during the day at night when I should have been resting.

Ever feel like work and rest are blending together into one giant, chaotic swirl in your life?  Then maybe it’s time to get really focused on working when we work and resting when we rest.  You’ll be amazed the difference it makes.

Tuesday Prayer Post – 10.22.13

I turn thirty-six years old this Friday.  No, I’m not saying that so you will go buy me a gift (except for you, Mom.  You need to get busy!)  I’m saying it because it’s what’s on my mind this week.  For some reason, this birthday has caused a lot of introspection for me.  Last year I hit 35 and didn’t blink.  But this year it’s different.

The good news is I’m not feeling all that old and I don’t really feel bad about turning 36.  I will admit when the treadmill asks for my age, that seems like a very big number to punch in but I’m not depressed about it.  I’m grateful.  At 36 years old, I’m married to an incredible woman.  I have this crazy little son who I love more than I ever thought possible.  I’m leading a team of people planting a church.  Honestly, I realize how blessed I am.

That thought shapes how I want to ask you to pray for us this week.  Each of those blessings causes me to wear a different hat: husband, father and pastor.  There’s some similarities between those roles but they’re definitely distinct.  Could I ask you to pray the Lord would empower me to carry each of them well?

Pray I would be the kind of husband who loves Laura like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5).  Pray I would be the kind of Dad who raises Jack in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6).  Pray I would be the kind of pastor who is a good example to the flock (1 Peter 5).

Those are the three requests that mean the most to me and the three things that are closest to my heart this week.  I would love it if you would pray for those requests.

A Lot Behind The Scenes

I’ve never built a house or had one built for our family, so I’m no construction expert.  But I do know there’s a lot of prep work before the visible part of the house gets built.  All of that stuff (getting permits, digging the foundation and whatever else they do) takes a really long time and everybody watching wonders, “when are they going to start building?”  But a contractor knows how essential those first steps are and how relatively quickly the project goes once it gets above ground.

Planting a church is a lot like that.  For months it seems like nothing is happening – at least nothing visible.  But those prep times are essential.  It’s when vision, values, mission, name, launch team strategy, fund raising strategy, etc… are all getting ironed out.  We’ve definitely been in the prep work phase since August and we still have strategic work to do that will carry us through the Spring of 2014.  But we’re nearing a turning point in the project.

We’ll be above ground soon – announcing a location, recruiting a launch team, working on fundraising and casting vision.  To be honest, I can’t wait!  That’s the point where I get to start sharing so much of what God has been doing in us these past months and years.

As that anticipation grows, so does the weight of getting this right, honoring Jesus and planting a church that is healthy, biblical and focused on loving the community.  At this point, I would simply ask you to pray for wisdom and divine direction in brining the church Jesus is calling us to lead to life.  More than anything, we want to be faithful to Him.  So, please, pray He will guide our every step.

At the end of next week, I’ll be able to share much more about what this is all going to look like.  In the mean time, keep praying for us!

Leading Without Resting Is Like Swimming Without Breathing

I’ve spent more hours in a pool than you might believe.  I started swimming year round in eight grade and kept at it all through high school and briefly into college.  As a teenager, I was constantly in the pool and like any competitive guy was constantly looking for ways to go faster.

One of the ways to swim faster is to limit the number of breaths you take.  Every time you turn your head to breathe, you are using energy and breaking a little bit of momentum.  So, breathing every two strokes is a really bad idea.  It’ll slow you way down and everyone will blow right past you.  On the other hand, if you don’t breathe enough you run out of the air you need to swim.  Sure, I could bury my head and not breath for 8-16 strokes when I really needed to and, yes, it really did shave off some time.  But it’s not sustainable.  It’s the kind of thing you do right at the end of a race.  It’s not the normal pattern.  For me, I needed to breath every 4-6 strokes.

Many of us lead like the exhausted swimmer who doesn’t take enough breaths.  We don’t allow ourselves to rest frequently enough to sustain our pace for the long haul.  Yes, I have met some leaders who breathe way too often but they are rarer, at least among the people around me.    I’m mainly in touch with leaders who try to see how little rest they can allow themselves.

You can get away with that for short seasons.  But leading isn’t a short term game.  It’s a long term commitment and to sustain that commitment, you need time to breathe.  Rest isn’t a sign that you are a wimp.  It’s a sign that you are smart, know your limits and trust God to work through you as you follow Him.

I want to lead a team that swims longer and faster than any other.  And for that reason, I want to lead a team that breathes well and enjoys the rhythms of rest.

Great Weekend In DC

This past weekend, Laura and I got the chance to be back in DC for a few days with old friends.  It was so good to be back and so good to connect with people we love so much.  We scheduled the trip around the wedding of two friends I have known for the last 10 years.  It was awesome to be at their wedding and great to build a weekend in DC around that time.

But now we’re back in Raleigh-Durham and pressing full speed ahead with the church plant.  While I don’t have any specific requests related to the church plant right now, there are two things in Summit world that I would love to have you praying for this week:

1.  Small Group Leader Training.  For the next four weeks, I am going to be leading a training time on Wednesday nights for potential small group leaders at the Chapel Hill campus.  I’m really looking forward to this time, to pouring into these leaders and seeing what God does through their groups. Please pray I lead the training well and the leaders are equipped to lead life changing small groups once the training is complete.

2.  ServeRDU.  Every year, Summit blocks out one weekend to mobilize the entire church in serving the community.  It’s a massive outpouring of love for our community and one that makes such a significant statement about Summit’s desire to see the gospel bring restoration to all areas of our city.  Please pray these projects bear spiritual fruit.  Yes, we want to get a lot of work done.  But we want to see lives changed by the gospel even more.  So, please pray with us to that end.

Thanks for praying into what God is doing in RDU this week.

Growing Anticipation

God continues to bring this whole church plant to life and we’re so grateful for all He is doing.  We’ve really been pressing into mission, vision, values, names and locations and have seen the Lord do so much to bring clarity in all of those areas.  We still have a way to go but the blueprint is starting to take shape and I’m loving it.

Along the way, I keep having two thoughts:

1.  I’m incredibly grateful for The Summit Church and The Summit Network.  We really love this church and are so grateful for the spiritual encouragement it has been to both of us.  We feel loved, cared for and very much at home here and that’s a massive gift to us.  I’ve learned so much about leading, pastoring and church culture and can see how so much of Summit is going to work its way into our plant.  All of that is a long way of saying the Lord is phenomenally gracious and has been so kind to us.

2.  I need to blog more.  I’m not going to make any grand promises here but I really want to be better about this.  There’s just way too much going on in us to get it all out in one or two posts per week.  So, be praying that I am disciplined in making the time to write more.  I guess that assumes you would like more posts…if not, feel free to skip that prayer request!

The other thing I would like to ask you to pray for is wisdom.  If you’re tracking with this blog, you’re probably getting the sense that we’re closing in on some major decisions and that’s true.  By the end of this month, we’re going to be able to share a lot more specifics.  All of that means I need tremendous wisdom over the next few weeks as I pray through launch teams, fundraising, locations, names and possible staffing options.  There’s a lot going on and I just need wisdom from the Lord.  So, please, be praying the Lord continues to provide the wisdom He promises.

Thanks for your willingness to pray for us.