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Book Recommendation – Jesus In His Own Words
I recently purchased and downloaded a book that has been a tremendous blessing to me in my devotional life. (Yes, I said “downloaded” because I don’t know why anyone would purchase a printed copy of a book anymore with the invention of Kindle, iPad, and all the other electronic book devices. It is convenient, you can carry hundreds of books with you, and it is cheaper! Anyway, for those of you still stuck in the 1800’s you can purchase a hard copy of the book as well.) The book is entitled “Jesus, In His Own Words,” by Robert Mounce. Mounce is a biblical language scholar who was involved in translating and editing such English translations as the NIV, NIrV, NLT, ESV, and the TNIV. Needless to say, he is an expert in his field. What he does in “Jesus, In His Own Words” is quite remarkable. He takes the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and compiles them into one, chronological narrative and lets Jesus be the narrator. It is literally Jesus telling the story of his preexistence, birth, life, death, and resurrection from the Gospels. It is a readable and accurate account. I have read the Gospels many times but never have I read them with such joy, understanding, and emotion as I have in “Jesus, In His Own Words.” I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about the life of Jesus Christ. It is absolutely fantastic!
The Un-Busy Pastor – Why You Should Do Less
In The Contemplative Pastor Eugene Peterson wrote a brilliant and convicting piece about pastors lives. He contends that pastors are too busy because they are either filled with pride or they are lazy. I am filled with pride when I feel like I am so important that I must work my fingers to the bone since, obviously, the church and the world can’t exist without me. I am lazy when I abdicate my responsibility to delegate, lead, and equip the saints for ministry. Often we live in crisis mode because we procrastinate. Our schedules are insane because we are too lazy to plan ahead or do the work required to train others for ministry.
Doing less does not mean accomplishing less. Marcus Buckingham believes that focusing all of your energy and time in your areas of strength and giftedness makes you far more successful. As a pastor you should do less so that you can accomplish more. By less I mean do fewer things. Give away ministry. Spend time on the important things like prayer, study, and leading. Here are a few reasons why you should do less:
It is necessary to grow to another level of leadership.
Your church will not grow if you do not grow. You will not grow if you do not focus on your strengths. To go to the next level of leadership that is required for you to lead a growing church you must simplify and focus.
Your leadership style has to change as the church grows.
This is a hard lesson to learn. The kind of leadership I had to practice when I started Avalon Church with nine couples is quite different than the leadership level I am at today. I had to grow in order for our church to grow. T.D. Jakes has a wonderful teaching on this topic. He shows us how Moses grew in his leadership throughout his lifetime. At first he walked among the people. Then he walked ahead of the people. Then he walked above the people.
It helps you not ruin your church by micromanaging it.
If you are like most pastors you are a bit of a control freak. That is OK. Welcome to the club. You will kill your church if you try to micromanage it. That is not the way God set up the body of Christ to operate. Breathe in Breathe out. You can do this. Now, give away some ministry without micromanaging it and taking it back. Try it. It feels good.
It forces you to prioritize your schedule.
Maybe the reason your schedule hammers you so hard is that you are trying to fit in everything. You can’t do everything. You must prioritize. If you don’t do the important things first you will not succeed.
It empowers you with the gift of goodbye.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The real reason we do so much is that we fear people. We try to meet the expectations of others rather than the expectations of God. We are afraid that if we don’t attend every event and visit every member’s great aunt to talk about her bunions then someone may get mad and leave our church. It is true that some people will leave your church. In fact, everyone will eventually leave it, even you. We all have an appointment with death. What you must learn is the gift of goodbye. When you understand that everyone leaves eventually it empowers you to say goodbye to the soul-suckers, the time wasters, and the Christian consumers that drain all the energy and spirit out of you and your church. It was a wonderful day in the life of my church when I stepped up to the plate, took control of my schedule, focused on my strengths, and learned the gift of goodbye. I imagine it will be a good day for you too.
When you are not connected at Avalon Church you feel lonely. When you feel lonely you accept friend requests from people you do not know on Face Book. When you accept friend requests from people you don’t know on Face Book you agree to meet a pretty dental hygienist for coffee. When you agree to meet a pretty dental hygienist for coffee you are really meeting a 300-pound biker. When you meet a 300-pound biker he takes you for a ride on his Harley. When you ride a Harley with a 300-pound biker you get back hair in your eyes.
Don’t get back hair in your eyes. Come to The Connection, Sunday, May 20th at 9:30 or 11:00 and learn how to get connected at Avalon Church.