Friday, May 20, 2016

The Why...

I can be a stubborn and prideful guy.  I never intend to come off that way.  I'm also very passionate about the things I love.  Things like, my wife, my kids, my friends, and my church.  I tend to act with a sense of urgency.  I see something that needs to be fixed or made better and I want to move on it quickly.  I tend to think my decision is the best one and right, not because I'm coming from a place of arrogance, but because I care deeply about whatever "it" is and I want it to be amazing.  I want it to be amazing because I want it to reflect my passion and love.

That's how I am with most things surrounding church.  Worship, sermons, production, student events, you name it.  I want them to be incredible because I want them to reflect the love I have for our people and most of all for my Savior.  I think all of us as church leaders would agree to that statement.  We pursue excellence, ultimately because God deserves it.  Excellence inspires people and it eliminates distractions.

I'm going to give all of us as church staff and ministry leaders (occupational and volunteer) the freedom to be honest for a moment.  At times, it is so easy to be so focused on working on things and working toward excellence that we can forget the whole reason for why we were pursuing it in the first place.  We can become so distracted with the what that we can lose sight of "the why".

"The why" is what inspired us to move.  It is what grabbed our heart of stone and transformed it into a heart of flesh that then enabled us to freely choose the amazing, life-giving grace of Jesus Christ.  "The why" is what moved us to want to share the Good News with our family, co-workers, and neighbors.  It is the reason that many leave lucratively paying jobs in order to devote their time and energy to the work of ministry and seeing people become fully devoted followers of Christ, true disciples.  "The why" is the overwhelming feeling that first caused you to lift your hands in worship and be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit to the point of tears because you were so taken a back at Jesus' crazy intense love for you.  "The why" is the key reason we are in church leadership at all.

"The why" simply put, is God.  God is the reason that we gather.  He is the reason that we sing.  He is the reason that we host community outreach events so people will be drawn to our churches and be able to hear the Gospel preached and sung.  God is the reason that we sing, to know Him more fully and to make him known.  God is the reason that we spend hours working through ministry strategies to most effectively help our people grow as followers of Christ and to empower them to do the work of His ministry.  He is the reason that we as worship leaders, musicians, and artists spend countless hours rehearsing and creating so we can most accurately reflect his glory to those we lead and so we can experience it ourselves.  God is the reason that volunteers gather at your church every weekend to get marker, glue, poop, paint, and goldfish all over them so children can know the love of Christ and know more about His Bible.  God is the reason that your teaching pastors spend hours praying and combing over notes and Scriptures in order to fully relay to us the power and knowledge found in the Holy Word.  God is the reason that there are meetings to discuss what worked and what didn't in the weekend services.  God is the reason that our executive pastors stare at numbers, spreadsheets, and construction drawings, so more people can know Him fully and so we can be good stewards of the resources He has entrusted to us.

All of us start with the foundation of God being "the why".  In reality, He never stops being "the why".  It's just in all of our work on the church it is easy for us to lose connection with the reason we started doing whatever it is you do in the local church to begin with.  It's the reason there are so many burnt out men and women in ministry now.  It's the reason so many leaders (volunteer and vocational) in church take a step back from ministry and never return.  It's a sad truth.

I don't believe that loosing our way in this is sin.  Our motives are pure and our desire is to see people grow in their faith and take a next step in their journey.  We want to see God high and lifted up.  It's just easy to get distracted.  In the book of Revelation, chapter 2 verses 4-5,  the church of Ephesus was told to "return to the love they had at first".  "The why" is what started all of us on the road to salvation, much less church leadership.

The best way for us as church leaders to combat this issue is to be sure that we are not neglecting our personal relationship with Christ.  It is easy for us to use our work as the means to our relationship.  However, we can not show up on the weekend hoping for a meaningful encounter with God when we haven't pursued him during the week.  Pursuing the works of God is not the same as pursuing God himself.  When we pursue the work only, we will end up burnt out and frustrated that we aren't feeling God move in our ministries and churches.  It is important for us as church leaders to lead from the overflow of our hearts and spirits.  We must continually be spending time in prayer and studying the Bible with intentionality.  When we are growing personally in our walks with Christ, "the why" is at the forefront of our heart and minds and makes staying on our foundation much easier.

For the church leader, thank you for doing the work of ministry and working hard to train the church in holiness and righteousness to pursue our Great God.  Thank you for your diligence and devotion to excellence for the sake of God's glory and making him known.  I encourage you to pursue Him with your heart, mind, and strength, knowing that it is only by His power, will, and favor that we will accomplish the great task that lay before us.  Lead from the overflow of your heart and spirit.  Pursue a relationship with the Almighty and we will fight the burn out of ministry and distraction of loosing focus of "the why".