Yesterday, I shared honestly about the painful irony of my family experiencing so much hardship and heartache over Thanksgiving week. How did Jesus have so much joy amidst his own tremendous suffering?… How can I find joy amidst the reality of the presence of pain? I choose to believe that the writer of Hebrews was hinting at Jesus’s bigger vision of the cross. Yes, the cross was real pain and suffering, but it was also real redemption and hope.
I want to “get in the spirit” of this Thanksgiving season, but there’s just so much bad news that it’s just harder for me this year… As our churches prepare for Advent, I can’t help but think of the name, “Immanuel.” God with us. God in our skin. The Suffering Servant. So I will consider him this Thanksgiving week and trust that gratitude will find its way out of my broken heart and toward my lips in due time.
When you focus on a few, there are going to be some who are disappointed that they weren’t chosen. But good leadership isn’t driven by pleasing people… If we study Jesus’s leadership, we will see that his investment in a few key people was a core strategy for his short three-year ministry.
Why does [Jesus] leave when there is so much momentum in Capernaum? At the very start of Jesus’s ministry, he is disappointing followers by not doing what they want and not meeting legitimate needs… Apparently the greatest leader to ever walk planet Earth understood that fulfilling his calling perfectly would leave many people disappointed.
Leaders do not only regularly disappoint those we lead, we can also disappoint ourselves. When we don’t hit benchmarks, when we let down a parishioner, or when we fail to reach a goal, we not only have to contend with the swarm of people disappointed in our leadership but also with our own self-criticism. Often, we are our own worst critics.
In my twenty-plus years as a leader in the non-profit sector, I’ve found that much of leadership involves disappointing people. When I got into church leadership, I assumed I would spend the majority of my time inspiring people with my vision, comforting people with my pastoral skills, and instilling God’s Word through my preaching. Little did I know that in every one of those areas (and more) I would disappoint people.
I believe God values coherence (integrity) of his followers as they express God’s goodness in their work and lives. The most logical thing for the Christian is for their leadership to express love for God and love for others, leading to a joyful life that is deeply coherent.
This past summer, my church blessed me with a sabbatical, which allowed me to rest, study, and prepare to lead my church with renewed energy and purpose… One of the books I committed to reading during my sabbatical was Dave Evans and Bill Burnett’s Designing Your Life, which challenged me to reflect on my workview and lifeview.
Yesterday we talked about how we spend the majority of our lives working in some way — whether paid or unpaid — and that our work should glorify God. But we all know that our work is not the totality of our lives and it makes sense to evaluate our work within a broader context.
Defining your work is very specific to your context. Using my work as an example, that means 75% is church, 20% is home and 5% is other. Your work proportions will look different, but the important thing is to not limit your understanding of work to only that which you get paid for or have a title.