12 Random Things I Learned from My Time with Rick Warren

I had an awesome opportunity a few weeks ago to spend a couple hours with Rick Warren and a dozen or so other pastors. Rick was in town to speak to a conference and Ed Stetzer arranged for him to meet with us. Obviously, this man is a mega-influencer just because of the book, the publicity he has received, and the impact he has in the church world and society. He is becoming a statesman for the church around the world.

It was a humbling experience. I didn’t choose the seat of honor (I promise), but I ended up sitting next to him in the meeting. Rick talked randomly and conversationally with us and I took notes as fast as I could. There are so many principles I took from our time, but here are 12 random things I gleaned from him: (Some are quotes…I put them in quotation marks…some are random points of information I heard from Rick’s talk.)

“We need to be reproducing churches. We need to reward multiplication of churches, not size of churches.”

“The model of Saddleback is to take people from “come and see” to “come and die”…as Jesus modeled.”

“You only listen to people you like. Be likable.”

Rick has the gift of faith. He sees things God wants to do that others can’t and has faith that it can happen. (That’s what leaders do!)

Until a few years ago, Rick read a book a day. He is a consummate learner.

Rick Warren is passionate about equipping pastors and leaders for the next generation and wants to spend the rest of his life equipping pastors.

“The ministry is not hills and valleys, but like a railroad passing through two extremes all the time.”

When he wrote “Purpose Driven Life” God told him “It’s not about you”. He never knew how many times he would be tested by that word from God.

Rick’s prayer every Saturday and Sunday before he preaches is, “Remind me that I belong to you…not this church…and this church does not belong to me”

“Jesus hung out with lepers…today that would be people with full blown AIDS”

“If you want your ministry to last, pastors need integrity, humility, and generosity.”

“Satan tempts us to use the strengths and gifts we have in a way that gives us glory instead of God.”

I realize Rick has his critics. Honestly, until you’ve sat where I sit and had a chance to hear his heart, I wouldn’t judge his ministry. He has some incredible plans for the next phase of his ministry and the influence of Saddleback Church in the years to come. I left more impressed than before I arrived. He’s the real deal.

Has the ministry of Rick Warren had an impact on you, your ministry or church?

Knowing Your Identity Helps Establish Your Influence

I once wanted to be known as the life of the party. I’m funny, quick-witted and actually kind of silly at times, but these days people seldom see the real me. My family does, and often the people I work with gets to see who I really am, but except for occasional bursts of randomness the rest of the world thinks I’m always serious, always thinking about something purposeful or profound. (Social media has helped with that some.) I had to come to the realization that I’m an introvert and, in crowded settings, I most often shut down the wild side.

Knowing who you are is the first step to becoming a person of influence. Knowing yourself, strengths and weaknesses, passions and goals, helps form your life direction. People that try too hard to be someone they are not end up living with disappointment.

I know now that, unless I am on stage or in a controlled setting, where I have time to prepare, I cannot wow a room. My influence will be used in other ways. That’s one reason blogging works for me.

The key for you to establish influence may be for you to stop trying to be everyone else and be who God created you to be.

Who are you? Have you become comfortable with how God has wired you?

How do you see your identity being used for influence…for a greater good?

Criss Cross: Our Newest Staff Member at GcomChurch

We have a new staff member at Grace Community Church. His name is Criss Cross. He started in the office this morning (and thankfully I’m out of town).

Criss Cross is our children’s ministries new mascot. We realize churches usually don’t have mascots, but we are passionate about reaching children for Christ. It amazes me to watch children get excited about a mascot at a ballgame. Sometimes they don’t even know a game is in progress if the mascot is nearby. I love watching their excitement interacting with a mascot.

Our goal for children is to get their attention, so we can share with them the love of Christ. Honestly, in a sea of entertainment, that’s much harder to do these days. We are hoping Criss Cross will help us attain our goal.

Welcome to the team Criss Cross! Stay out of my office!

What are you doing creatively to reach people for Christ?

Ben Arment’s Dream Year: I Love This!

Ben Arment is a bright, energetic, do-something young leader I admire greatly! He’s a former church planter, so that got me interested in following him initially, but then I attended his Whiteboard and Story conferences and admired how he was encouraging the church to think more creatively.  Ben’s Dream Year project is perhaps my favorite of all that he does.

I’m a proponent of dreaming big…I’ve written frequently about it here and even did a series of dream posts once.  Dreaming keeps marriages healthier, it builds careers and dreaming gets us closer to realizing some of the glory of the great God that we serve. No dream could ever be too big for our God. Ben is empowering others to live out their God-given dreams!

What’s your dream?  Maybe Dream Year is for you:

Dream Year Trailer from Dream Year on Vimeo.

If you are reading this in a reader you may need to open the post to see the video here.

Encourage me…inspire me…What’s your dream? Share it here.

Happy Labor Day Survey

It’s great celebrating Labor Day actually having a job from which I’m resting!

I’ve been out of work for a long period of time wondering what I was going to do and how we were going to survive financially. For those who are looking for work…I’m praying for you today.

If you are off today…rest well and be thankful for the job you have now.

I am curious though, on a day where we celebrate labor, what was the worst job you ever had? What was the best job?

Also, what’s the hardest thing you have ever done on a job?

One Piece of Advice for Want-To-Be Church Planters

One of my best rules (suggestions) for church planting is don’t try to be a lone ranger. That may work in western movies, but not in church planting. (And even he had Tonto…which makes me question his name…but that’s another post…)

If God is birthing a vision in you, the chances are great that He is birthing the same or similar vision in the hearts of others.

Find those who share your passion for reaching the lost and as you share your vision with them….after you’ve prayed together tons…then, if God is in it…form a team…  To be successful you will need buy-in from other people.  You may even need to give your vision away to people you trust.  (Read a post about that thought process HERE.)

I hear from those claiming to be church planters with a vision who say they have no one to help them plant.  My best advice would be to wait until God reveals those people who are ready to share the burden with you.

There will be lonely nights out on the range of church planting…you’ll be glad you have others around to encourage you to stay the course….

Church planters….do you agree?  How did you find those who were willing to support your God-given vision?

Are You an Extroverted or Introverted Listener?

I’ve talked much about extraversion and introversion recently on this blog.  It’s a subject that comes up much in my leadership and one I think is helpful in understanding how people relate to one another.  Communication is not just verbal, however, and recently I’ve been paying more attention to its other forms. Introversion and extroversion preferences appear to show up in written correspondence as well.
For example, I know some who appear extroverted in their writing styles.  They tend to ask questions which require an answer. They tend to add personal information about themselves in emails, in addition to the pertinent facts of the email.

And then there is the issue of listening…. I see introverted and extroverted preferences when it comes to the listening side of the communication process also. Do you know any extroverted listeners?

As an introvert, when I’m watching a movie, or listening to a speaker talk, I tend to process alone. My wife and oldest son, however, are extraverted listeners.  They prefer to listen “with” other people.  When I’m watching a movie with one of them, they are continually looking to see my reaction.  They especially want to know my emotional response…whether I laugh or shed a tear. To them, part of the experience is listening with me, not just beside me.

What about you?  Are you an extroverted or an introverted listener?

Do you think extroverted listeners are the same people who are extroverted talkers?

Help me process.

Let My Marathon Training Help Plan Your Life

Are you feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Over-worked? Like you can never complete everything you are supposed to complete? Do projects never seem to be as good as you want them to be?

Here’s an illustration I hope will help.

I’m training for a marathon. I didn’t start with a 10 mile run. Actually, I’m a consistent runner and try to stay in good enough shape to run a half marathon anytime I choose to run one, but when I started marathon training, the first day out I only ran 3 miles. Why? Because I’m running a marathon, not a sprint.

Take a look at my first few weeks of training (I use a Hal Higdon Training schedule):

Now consider my last few weeks of training:

Do you see how this works? It takes time to train for a marathon. This plan includes 18 weeks of training. I can’t instantly start running 26.2 miles…or even 15…sometimes even 10. A couple weeks before I actually run the marathon, I’m not scurrying to get last minute training in…I’m resting up for the big day. After many weeks of endurance training, I’m ready to finish the big day with excellence!

Here’s where you may come into this blog post.

Some people try to complete a marathon project in church or in business by starting at the last minute… They start planning for the big events just a few days or weeks before the event is to occurs and they run out of time to get everything accomplished they hope to complete. The project overwhelms them and fails to be as good as it could be.

Many try to run their life that way… They sprint rather than pace themselves through life and before they finish their goals they wear out or if they finish they achieve less than desired results.

Allow my running plan to help your life plan.

Spread out the load…discipline yourself….write a plan….schedule out the key assignments…put timelines and benchmarks on paper…get the proper training and coaching….buy the right equipment…pace yourself….work the plan…

Then run the race strong to the finish…

The idea is not to create an elaborate or sophisticated document. The idea is to get something on paper that will be a workable and realistic plan to get you to your desired goal with excellence!

Do you need to better pace yourself so you can accomplish more and better results?

Often being “overwhelmed” with work is not a matter of having too much work as much as not having a plan by which to do it.

Why not spend a few minutes today writing a few goals, then back out a plan over a reasonable time, with benchmarks along the way, to achieve your goal with excellence?

Just curious, what tips do you have for pacing yourself, what calendar system/planning tools do you use?

Increasing Creativity and Innovation on a Tight Budget

Here’s a way to discipline yourself to increase creativity on your team or in your organization…especially during times when money is tight.

When you are ready to make a purchase, ask yourself this question:

If you didn’t have the money, and it was a need you had to address, what would you do?

Recently we had this scenario. I was asked to consider a non-budgeted purchase. I delayed in answering the question, somewhat for this reason and some because I got distracted from answering the question. (The thought, however, was that my delay was intentional.) A few weeks later, I was presented with a different request. They had found a way to accomplish the same need, for one-fourth the cost.

Will this work every time? No, but the use of creativity and innovation can often be avoided if there is enough money in the budget. Tight budgets cause us to look for ways to accomplish our mission for less. When this happens…everyone wins…as there is more resources available for other projects.

What are some ways you have had to be creative because funds were limited?

7 Ways I Protect My Family Life in Ministry

If a pastor is not careful, the weight of everyone else’s problems will take precedence over the issues and concerns of his immediate family. I see it frequently among pastors I encounter. There have been seasons of my ministry where this is the case, especially on abnormally stressful days.

I decided years ago when I was a small business owner, serving in an elected office and on dozens of non-profit boards that my busyness would never detract from my family life on a long-term basis.

Here are 7 ways I attempt to protect my family from the stress of ministry:

Down time. Saturday for me is a protected day. I normally work 6 long (up to 10 hours and more) days a week. (I’m wired to work and to take a true “Sabbath”, according to Exodus 16:26 at least, it seems one would have to work 6 days…just saying…Ha!) This also means I agree to do fewer weddings or attend other social events on Saturdays. There are only a few Saturdays a year that I allow this part of my calendar to be interrupted. Pastors, it doesn’t have to be Saturday for you, but there should be at least one day in your week like this. If you are wired for two…take two!

Cheryl and the boys trump everything on my calendar. I always interrupt meetings for their phone calls. If they are on my schedule for something we have planned together it takes precedence over everything and everyone else. There are always emergencies, but this is extremely rare for me…extremely!

Scheduled time with my family. If I’m going to protect time with my family then they must be a part of my calendar. I’ve been told this seemed cold and calculated, and maybe it is, but when the boys were young and into activities with school, those times went on my calendar as appointments first. I was at every ballgame and most practices, unless I was out of town, because it was protected by my calendar. It was easy for me to decline other offers, because my schedule was already planned.

I don’t work many nights. Now it’s just a habit and my boys are grown, but when my boys were young, I also wrote on my schedule nights at home. The bottom line is that I’m a professional. You wouldn’t want my time if I weren’t. Have you ever tried to meet with your attorney or banker at night? Of course, there are exceptions, and life has seasons that alter this somewhat, but as a rule I work 6 full day time hours a week and that’s enough.

I’m not everyone’s pastor. This is hard for members of my extended family or friends to understand sometimes but, I pastor a large church, so if someone is in a church elsewhere I’m not their pastor, simply their brother, son or friend. Obviously, if someone doesn’t have a church at all then this is a different story, especially since our church is designed to reach unchurched people.

I delegate well. We have a great staff. If something is better for them to do, I let them do it. Every event doesn’t require me to be there, nor my wife. I try to support the activities of the church as much as possible, but not at the detriment of my family. I realize smaller church pastors struggle here, but part of your leading may be to raise up and trust volunteer people and entrust them with responsibilities. It also may be to lead people to understand that your family remaining strong is just as important as other families in the church and that part of having a healthy church is having a healthy pastor and family.

I try to stay spiritually, physically and mentally healthy. It’s hard to lead my family well and engage them when I’m always stressed by ministry. This is a constant battle, and requires great cooperation and understanding by my family, but I recognize it as a value worth striving to attain.

Pastors, I hear from you…and sometimes your spouse…often. Some of you are drowning in your ministry and your family is suffering. Many are going to say they have no staff or a small staff, but I would challenge you that I encourage this same approach to ministry for every person on our staff. I would expect no less of a commitment to their family than I have to mine. Ask yourself this question: How healthy is your family? What are you doing to protect them?

Help me help other pastors…Share how you protect your family.

You might also read 7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry from an Affair