Andy Stanley was the first session speaker.
Andy began by saying, “My favorite pastor is present today. He was my pastor the whole time I grew up.” He was paying tribute to his father Charles Stanley. I love when he does that.
Keeping with the theme of Catalyst this year to Be Present, Andy challenged leaders to consider their presence with these statements:
The more successful you are the less accessible you will become.
Andy contends this is not a bad thing. To continue to be effective in ministry, we have to learn this principle.
Then he said:
Refuse to face this reality and burn out by trying to be accessible to everyone.
Andy reminded us that we can’t be fully present except with a very few people. It’s impossible to be fully present with everyone, as much as a pastor may want to be.
He then warned us that:
Sometimes people use their success to become more inaccessible than necessary.
Every conversation begins with “I know you’re busy…” so people give you an excuse you can take advantage of if you choose to do so. Over time, these people become no longer present to anyone.
Andy admitted the burnout that pastor’s naturally feel from being pulled in so many directions and feeling the weight of so many people’s burdens. Sometimes, Andy explained, “unawareness is bliss.” It would be nice if we didn’t have to know all the burdens, but our desire to be fully present keeps us striving to be engaged with people.
Andy encouraged us from Scripture:
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
Andy said, “You can’t shut it all out…but…you can’t take it all on.” Don’t hide out in your office…but don’t think you can handle it all either.
We must manage the tension. We will never solve it. If we solved it then our heart has grown cold.
Andy coined a phrase that has helped him manage this tension in his life:
Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.
To do this, Andy suggests we:
- Go deep rather than wide.
- Go long-term rather than short-term.
- Go time, not just money.
This is definitely a message every pastor needs to hear to maintain the health of their ministry. You’ll need to buy the DVD of this one when it’s available and keep it in your library. Andy shared some personal and very practical illustrations to illustrate his points.
This is a challenging message to me, because I feel the tension of a growing church in a world of accessibility. The larger we become, the more discipline I have to place in my life to continue to be effective. I never, however, want to lose the passion I have for people and meeting personal needs.