Friday Discussion: Can a Pastor Be a Politician?

Should a pastor be involved in politics?

or…another question…

Could a pastor be involved in politics?

I’ve often wondered this question…help me think through it today.

Let me explain a little of where this discussion is coming from today.

I’ve been involved in the political process all my life. When I was in elementary school I started following politics any way I could.  I watched presidential speeches, kept up with world, national and local politics, and couldn’t wait to vote.  I worked on my first campaign when I was 16 years old and continued through my twenties to volunteer on campaigns.  I spent a summer interning in Washington, DC for a congressman.

During my thirties I served as an elected official on our local city council and even served as the vice-mayor of our city.  The love of politics has never left me, but my life has changed.  I’ve been called into ministry.  I mostly remain neutral on issues of politics these days.  I still vote, but I’m a silent participant.

While I have no plans to run for anything and doubt that I ever would, the interest in political matters remains in my mind and sometimes I think about what it would be like to be in political office again.  Just to be clear, I’m not asking for permission for me to do anything…I’m just seeking opinions and sharing my story as an example to spur discussion.

I seriously want your thoughts. (I previously discussed this subject in a more general way concerning Christians and politics…read that discussion HERE.)

  • Would it be wrong for me to run for a political office some day?
  • Should pastors stay out of politics?
  • Should pastors be in politics more?
  • What are the advantages?  What are the disadvantages?
  • Could politics be a part of a Christian’s “calling”?

Help me….I’m seriously curious! Plus I love a good discussion…even a politics or religion discussion!

Add your thoughts now!

5 Step Process to Take a Dream to Reality

I like to see dreams and goals become reality. In my personal experience, however, and from viewing the experiences of others, most of us have more ideas than we have reality. Figuring out how to implement our ideas is the hardest part of the process it seems.

I hope this post helps.

Here’s an example of how an idea often become reality in my world. As an illustration for each step, I’m sharing a real-life example of how we made the idea become reality of going multi-site by adding our second campus, which by the way, launches this week.

Idea – The first step is always the idea and ideas are many for me, so at this stage I try to filter through which ones are worth pursuing. The idea for us going multi-site, at least this time, came after Easter last year.  Easter Sunday was huge at Grace Community Church, bigger than we planned for or expected. (God still does things like that!) It prompted an idea that if we continue to grow towards our Easter number in the new year, which has been our trend, then we would be out of room in our current high school. That thought led to another idea that we needed to do something sooner that we could build a building, which led to the idea of multi-siting our church. This was an idea we had previously explored, but decided the timing was not right.

Brainstorming – The next step is to begin thinking through this decision with others. If the idea has merit, in my experience, God is already raising up others with similar thoughts. In the multi-site example, this is where we organized a group of people to pray through this idea, explore the options, and look at the demographics, costs, etc. This process took several months and numerous meetings. Ideas may or may not make it out of this step, but if they survive, the chance of success is much greater.

Experiment – At this step, you want to try out your idea before attempting to launch it. My co-pastor suggested that we do this Christmas Eve. We decided to have our Christmas Eve service at the possible new location, which is another high school across town. As it turned out, the crowd was far more than we expected, which was another good indication that our idea was a good one.

Practice – You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” I’m not sure about pefection, but it certainly makes the idea better. For us, this meant that we had a practice service at the new location, just for the people who had committed to be part of the launch team. It helped us work out the kinks, we learned some valuable things we hadn’t thought about, and we were able to test out our idea.

Product – This is the fun part! The launch! This is the part we all are waiting for and want to see come to fruition. This week our church gets to view the product as we launch our second campus at Kenwood High School. It’s been a long, difficult process taking an idea to the product stage, but I feel confident we are proceeding in the right direction.

(Now comes the fun part…enjoying the journery…evaluation…repeat…)

I realize this is a specific example and may not exactly work the same for your individual project, but I believe the process will help more of your dreams come true.

Is this helpful? What would you add to my list?

One Tip to Help You Meet Your Goals

Do you ever struggle to complete a project?

You have a goal, you may even know what needs to be done for the goal to become a reality, but you never seem to accomplish the necessary tasks that will bring you success. Your dreams remain simply dreams and you remain frustrated with yourself.

Sound familiar?

Let me share a quick tip to help you avoid this scenario.

Many of us, perhaps even most of us, work better under a little pressure.

Earlier this year I wrote about writing a life plan. (You can read that series of posts HERE.) I’ve found that setting a deadline for the specific action steps in a plan like this helps me be more productive…

If I have a major project I need or want to complete I will:

  • Schedule each step on my calendar…
  • Set an alarm on my smart phone to alert me the week the task is scheduled…
  • Set another alarm to remind me the day the task is due…

I still have to be disciplined enough to complete the task, but having the deadline provides me some accountability to complete an action step towards attaining my goals. It brings me closer to realizing my dreams.

You know yourself better than I do. Do you work best under a little pressure?

What tips do you have to help you stay on target towards reaching your goals?

Where My Best Ideas Come From

Where do you get your best ideas?

I love ideas, so I’m always trying to create new ones.

Here’s where some of my best ideas come from:

Brainstorming with others - I love to surround myself with creative thinkers…they expand my thinking.

Running – When I run, my mind races quickly…much faster than I actually run.

Outdoors – When I take a walk along the beach, or sit on a hillside watching a sunset, or staring at the stars…I think big thoughts!

Shower – I remember reading research that said there was something scientific about this…but either way, when I take a shower, I think!

Random - I am a random idea guy, so much so that I must, however, keep something handy where I can take notes at any given time.

So where do your best ideas come from?

7 Ways to Ensure Your Email Gets Read

I’ve been having a problem with my youngest son lately.  He isn’t reading all the emails he should be reading. In fact, we almost missed paying some fees he had due for college, which could have made him miss some deadlines for school.  You see, Nate’s a busy college student.  He’s consumed with school work, church activities, and a host of social activities.  If you want to lose his attention quickly…send him a really long email.

I can’t complain, because he’s wired like me.  He is always busy doing something, hates unproductive time, and some emails, if they tend to ramble, simply don’t capture his attention.  I realize it’s ultimately our problem, not the sender, but to us it almost seems a waste of time to process an email that could have been written with the same information in a much shorter form.  Just being honest…I don’t read all the long emails I need to read.  Sometimes I miss details, because the email was too long to process.

That’s my honesty….I’m working on it…but lately it seems I’m getting a ton of chapter length emails and it prompted me to think through this issue.  If you want to ensure I read your email…and people wired like me, here are some suggestions.  In fact, if you simply want to make sure your emails are read, regardless of who you email, consider these thoughts.

Here are 7 ways to ensure your email gets read:

Make sure your name is clearly listed in the FROM line - I am more likely to read an email from an individual than I am an organization.

Make the recipient ME – I’m less likely to read an email addressed to a group…even if the group is summarized by your name.

Write a great subject heading – “Hey” is probably not good enough…It needs to capture the reader’s attention enough to want to open the email.

Get started immediately with the main idea – Similar to the rules of writing a letter, you should instantly begin dealing with the subject of the email.

Give pertinent details but don’t write a book - Bullet points sometimes help.

Consider the length – Before pressing send, look at the overall length of the email.  Would you read it…or would the length encourage you to put it aside for a later read…or skip it altogether?  Remember many may read it on a smart phone and the email will appear even longer.

Give the option to ask questions - Close your email with the opportunity to ask questions if the reader wants more details or information.

The more emails we send and receive, the more important it becomes that we write better emails.  Writing emails that are to the point and condense ensures a greater chance of them being read.

One idea our small group pastor used recently was to have two sections to a longer email.   He had a “just the facts” section at the top with bullet points of pertinent facts, followed by a longer section for those who may want to read more detailed explanations.  It worked well to capture my attention. I read the first section only!

Now your turn to be honest…when you receive a really long email, how do you respond?

What would you add to my list?  What ideas do you have for writing emails that get read?

10 Characteristics of God Leadership

One of my Top Posts of 2010 was a post entitled 10 Characteristics of Good Leadership. As I was typing it into the year-end review I “mistakenly” typed in the word “God” instead of the word “Good”. I decided to let this “mistake” become a post of it’s own. I’ve written before 10 Reasons I Admire the Leadership Principles of Jesus and 10 Tips to Doing Leadership the Jesus Way, but in this post, it would consider ways I should lead if I am leading in a God-inspired way.

Using my Evernote application, I quickly captured the first 10 characteristics that came to mind.  Basically I asked myself, if a person was leading the way God would inspire him or her, how would he or she lead? (I’m hoping you’ll add to my list.)

Here are 10 Characteristics of God Leadership:

  • Seeks God’s will before his or her own…
  • Humble…
  • Servant…
  • Walks by faith…
  • Patient…
  • Considers the interest of others better than his or herself…
  • Submits to authority…
  • Teachable…seeks wisdom from others…
  • Believes the impossible can happen…
  • Empowers others to do what he or she could do…

That’s a start…

What would you add to my list?

Writing a Life Plan, Part 3

This series we are writing life plans for the coming year. If you have missed the first two posts, read them HERE and HERE.  

My desire is that we realize all the dreams and goals we have this year. I’m convinced many of our resolutions — if we make them — are reachable if we are a little more intentional and with discipline. Many refuse to make resolutions, because they have repeatedly failed at keeping them. The purpose of these posts is to help you start the year on a good path towards reaching those goals.

Today we add another step. Let me be honest. This step is not as fun as setting goals — at least for people wired like me. This is a little more difficult and will take a little more time to complete, but it is a vital step to the success of your plans.

Chances are good that if you fail to keep your New Year’s resolutions, not doing this step well is the more likely reason.

In this step, we will write some action steps, which will help us reach our specific goals. The question you should attempt to answer here is: What specific action steps do I need to take to ensure I reach my goals?

Be specific here. The more specific the action step the greater chance you have of completing it. I continue to use the same hypothetical set of goals for illustration purposes. Below you will see the specific goals followed by the action steps.

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert Realistic Date Here) by eating less and exercising more.

  • Exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Limit eating fast food at lunch to twice a week
  • Stop drinking diet soft drinks and drink more water
  • Keep track of calories, attempting to eat less than 2,000 calories per day

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

  • Write out questions for our date nights to answer together…
  • Read one marriage book together and do one Bible study together
  • Attend a marriage conference this year
  • Have a date night every week

Pay off my credit card - I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (Insert Realistic Date Here).

  • Limit eating dinner out to once a week
  • Work to refinance the house
  • Write a realistic budget by Jan 30th. (Set a date approximately 30 days out)
  • Read the book “I Was Broke and Now I’m Not” by Joe Sangl

Read through the Bible - I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it this year, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

  • Use one of YouVersion’s daily reading plan
  • Not check Facebook or email until I’ve read the Bible
  • Follow along with my small group curriculum
  • Get the YouVersion smart phone application

Write a book - I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish. (These dates are for example. You set the realistic date that works for you.)

  • Write a book proposal by January 30th
  • Send out proposal letters to book publishers and agents by March 1st.
  • Outline book chapters by Feb 15th
  • Write a chapter every two weeks beginning March 1st

As I stated yesterday, during this step you may decide to alter some of your goals — or even scrap one of them — that’s okay — they’re your goals. You are far more likely to follow through with goals you fully believe you can accomplish.

Tomorrow we add another step. There’s just a little more to do to ensure success. You’re almost there.