Over the past year I have been asked repeatedly, if you could start over what would you do different?
What would be the thing you would like a mulligan on? What would you do over?
I think the list is much longer than 3 but here’s my top 3:
1) – I would find time for sabbath rest
Church planting is tough. It is exhausting, challenging, and far more difficult than anything I have ever done. Everyone told me to take care of myself & I didn’t. I think here is where we get it wrong, I felt like I could push through it. I could work an extra few hours on Saturday, I could take another appointment in the evening, I could stay up a few hours later working on that sermon for Sunday. I got it wrong when I believed that the only one who would be effected by my “extra hours” would be me. I checked in often with my wife to make certain that my family would not suffer because of the new church. So I believed that I was simply “manning” up & going the extra mile for the ministry.
The problem was by overextending myself, by not operating in the rhythm of life that God designed for me, I hadn’t disconnected myself from my family or my church family, I had disconnected myself from my God. I was often left powerless, discouraged, tired and clueless about where to go next. I leaned into my talents & giftedness but they could not sustain me or lead me. I disconnected myself from the God who could meet my needs, give me wisdom, guide & direct me and give me real rest.
In year two, one of my big year end goals is sabbath rest, I have large amounts of accountability, a plan for every week, month & for the year to enjoy sabbath rest.
2) – I would delegate less and coach more
I did far too much delegating and far too little coaching with our staff, leaders & launch team. If I could go back & do it again I would say to our strong leaders “You do I’ll help” and just as Jesus did with the 72 and with disciples as he sent them out I would send them out then on their return gather them together for more coaching and discussion. I would have more dinners in my home, more fires in the fire pit, more breakfasts in the morning & more heart to heart discussions with our leaders. I could easily spend less time on sermon prep & fund raising and more time walking beside our staff, missional community leaders and future elders. A great method we have learned (from the New thing network) and one we saw in Jesus is to simply take your leaders through a four step process of leading.
- I do you watch (You do the leading the teams you are leading watch & discuss)
- I do you help (You still lead but you begin to give away small pieces to your team)
- You do I help (You begin to give away large pieces of ministry but you still help make that happen)
- You do I watch ( You set free your leaders when you are confident in their ability to reproduce)
Coming from a mega church where the style of leadership was rarely any style other than you do I watch, I needed to learn to change my leadership style considerably so that more young leaders were coached, developed & discipled. It was painful and at times I was disappointed when leaders failed to rise to the challenge, but as leaders we need to constantly balance the invitation into relationship & challenge to become all that God has for you.
This year I am leading 3 huddles of leaders & they are my biggest priority & investing in them will take up around 70% of my time on any given week. Our staff, our elders and a group of young leaders who are called into ministry.
3) – I would balance my apostolic nature with the patience to let God work
I have been forced all year to balance expectations that I have for myself, that others have for me, and that I believe God has for our church with the knowledge that there is no template for church planting. Many books and organizations lied & told me if I did these 5 things or if I followed these practical steps then everything would succeed. The reality is God is going to work in His people in His time. There is no template for church planting, there is no 5 step plan. There is a mysterious God who moves & works in His people in mysterious way. I had to learn that as much as I expected from myself and as much as others expected of me, I was called to be faithful not successful.
I was called to plant the church with the dream that God had given me, in the way that he had revealed to me, with the people he had given me. Planting on a college campus is amazingly challenging, students don’t commit, there are never enough resources, and there is an enormous amount of young believers who have only been consumers of the faith & have never known or been called to a lifestyle of discipleship. I was told very early on that my first year as a planter would reveal if I was a priest or a prostitute. There were many shortcuts I was tempted to take along the way, to bring up the numbers, to make it look prettier & more flashy to our donors & the outside world and we got very close to abandoning the vision God had given us. Praise God we stayed the course and never sold out for success but continued to seek faithfulness. His plan is beginning to work, people are coming to know him, being discipled to him & changing the world for him! Never allow your expectations or others expectations of you to destroy what God is doing in your life. Be apostolic, dream big, pioneer new things but always be aware that God is driving, he is the visionary not you, he will work out his plan in his people in his time. You be faithful & let God work out success!
How about you?
What would your three do overs be for this last year?