Monday, March 31, 2008

Open sharing

Last weekend (Easter) at MVPC, we asked for questions from anyone who attended and they submitted questions before they left. The questions could be able anything regarding faith and life.

This morning, the topic for the sermon was "Being Real and Embracing Doubt." We featured a panel of the head pastor and two other pastors on staff instead of a regular sermon. Our outreach director asked the questions and the format was wide open. He asked some of the questions that were submitted but he also added additional questions based on text messages during the discussion and questions he felt led to ask.

I thought that I was going to be uneasy about the format but I truly enjoyed responding to the questions and discussing the points with the others on the panel. In many ways, I felt free to be a witness to Christ through the format. I didn't give the "right" answers and I know that I would respond differently to some of the questions if I could go back in time and do it again. However, the beauty of the panel format was I was able to speak freely and be open without trying to be perfect or overly calculated in my responses.

The primary topics were dinosaurs, evolution/creation, the Bible as literal? and homosexuality...

MVPC tried something new this morning and I was honored to be part of the experience.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God's Guiding Hand

Years ago, I noticed a pattern that many of my mentors and friends were moving from the New York City area to Seattle. I thought to myself, "I wonder if I will ever follow in their steps." The list is a solid list:
- interim pastor of my home church in New Providence, NJ
- youth group intern (from PTS) during my senior year in high school
- Young Life area director from high school
- numerous friends who currently live in/near Seattle or others who lived here at one time

Two months ago, I found my former Young Life Director on Facebook and we set up a coffee meeting. We had not seen each other in 13 years. We talked about life, family, faith and Seattle. He mentioned that a Leadership Development Network met every month in north Seattle and he invited me to join them in March. He mentioned that the group was composed of leaders from his church (Sanctuary) and church planters in the Seattle area. Despite feeling exhausted, I drove in the pouring rain to Seattle last Friday to attend my first meeting. I arrived and felt right at home with numerous other leaders in their 20s and 30s.

The speaker was Ron Carucci of Mars Hill Graduate School (not to be confused with Mars Hill Church). He spoke on "The Inner War of a Revolutionary" and his words and the discussion awakened me to some of my greatest dreams and biggest fears. He described the forces that are at work in a leader - agency and ambivalence. He said that unfettered agency leaders to recklessness while unfettered ambivalence leads to paralysis. He shared that leaders often go back and forth between the two and that the struggle composes the "inner war" that leaders face. He made it clear that this battle will never end because leaders must constantly push forward and they will often encounter disappointment when plans and movements do not turn out like they envision.

He shared numerous other insightful thoughts such as most leaders are "Idea ATMs" that spit out ideas like money from an ATM. The primary challenge for these types of leaders is that they have to come to grips that a majority of their ideas will not come to full fruition and that they have to discover an outlet to record the ideas. He then stated that leaders must learn to mourn the reality that many of their ideas will not be implemented and move on. Otherwise, he said, resentment will set in.

I can go on and on with the wisdom that Ron shared with the group but I will have to let it come out in my life and leadership going forward.

Why did I share all of this? I found myself last Friday sitting in the presence of greatness (both the speaker and the group) and I realized that it all went back to a high school friend who invited me to a Young Life club in the Fall of 1990. I met Jim Caldwell, the area director, and 17 1/2 years later I reconnected with him and experienced what I experienced at the Leadership Development Network meeting.

Life is great!

I remember thinking 10 1/2 years ago at Gas Works Park that there was a special opening between heaven and earth in Seattle and I am not seeing anything to refute that hypothesis.