Posts in Leadership

drove my daughter Ella to Cleveland last weekend where her high school golf team was competing with 21 others in a tournament that involved 122 girls. Ella was the sixth player, the alternate on her team that could play only five.

Saturday when we got to the course, she pulled out her clubs and started hitting practice balls along with all the other players who were getting ready for the tee.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked her. There was no need to warm up since she wasn’t slated to play

“Because we’re a team, Dad,” she answered, a little indignant that I had to ask.

Just then her coach called me over. “Ella’s playing,” he said. Because one of the teams for the tournament didn’t show up, hers could field six golfers, even though Ella’s score wouldn’t count for her team’s total.

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In some circles today it’s cool to criticize the church. Search social media and soon you’ll find someone upset because they say the church has failed them. Some have even walked away. In fact, most readers of this blog know at least one person who has decided to leave church altogether.

Obviously, the critics are not totally wrong. Attend church long enough and you’re sure to bump up against adultery, jealousy, lying, or just general unpleasantness among folks who are supposed to be redeemed.

I get it. Sometimes someone will say to me, “It must be wonderful to work at the church, doing God’s work all day every day.” Well, it certainly is gratifying to partner with God in his activity on earth. But it’s not for the faint of heart. Spiritual healing is like physical healing: sometimes it means cleaning messy wounds, draining ugly infection, watching for many months (or years) while disabled people slowly hobble along until their brokenness has mended. 

So I could tell you plenty of reasons to criticize the church. But I’m committed not to join the critics, for at least three reasons.

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I’ve discovered my life will be richer and my ministry more effective if I set goals for myself. I’m talking about personal goals, in addition to the goals leaders are setting for our congregation.

But setting the goals is just the beginning. Checking myself against my goals is key, of course, and June 1 prompted me to look again at the goals I set in January. Let me share them with you and tell you why each one is important to me.

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I answered my cell phone’s ring and heard a longtime friend on the line. He asked me, “Are you sitting down?”

“I’m driving,” I answered.

“Well, pull over. I have something to tell you.” I did, and he said, “My wife has taken our daughter and left me. I had an affair, and she just found out about it. I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”

I got on a plane the next morning, and when I saw him, I said, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to restore your marriage?”

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