Church Leadership

Hit Me with God’s Hammer Today

A few weeks back I wrote about something I call, the Pastor Man Up Movement. (PMUM) There’s something about PMUM that annoys me and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is.

  • Is it that its mostly men and I have a strong desire to see women lead? Maybe a little.
  • Is it that its mostly racially homogenous? Maybe a little, but I’m a white male too. So what do I know?

While both of those things annoy me a tad about PMUM speakers/writes I can’t say that its contributing to the distaste I get when I hear one of these people talk about leadership.

I’ve been trying to search myself so I can articulate it. (And I want to be careful that I use words like “annoy” and “distaste” so people aren’t thinking I’m just some bizarre hater of well-known PMUM leaders.)

But here is one thing that I know doesn’t resonate with me when I listen to them talk about leadership:

Leadership isn’t about celebrating yourself.

Leadership is about moving people to do something or go somewhere they couldn’t go on their own.

Ultimately, one thing that bothers me so much is the celebration of self. You hear introductions that laud how much they’ve accomplished. How much money they raised. Where they went to school. How many people go to their church. That they are the founder of their congregation which is larger than yours. How often they meet other famous leaders. And why you should believe that every word flowing from their mouth is like little leftovers that the Holy Spirit forgot to include in the canon saved especially for you, as if it were milk and honey saved just for you… this one time.

Want to know who I want to admire? I want to admire a person who leaks transparency. I want to hear from a person who doesn’t want the microphone. I want to admire a person who doesn’t know how many books he’s sold or how many people go to his church or how many staff members he has.

I want to hear a speaker who stands up and tells the audience as her into, “Want to know why people follow me? Me too. I haven’t got a clue. God is doing it through me. I’m just a knucklehead. Know that I’m a sinner and it’s by grace that I’m standing here today. My husband and I argued about me making this appearance, but I guess we just need the money. And the message I’m about to deliver this morning– don’t get hung up on it. I have a staff who helped me and I have delivered it for 14 times. I call this my $22,000 sermon. After today, it’s my $22,500 sermon. Don’t be impressed with me today, be impressed with how God is using me to minister to you today.”

I know that isn’t exactly inspiring to most. But its the kind of leader I like to follow. (And its the kind of leader I aspire to be.) I don’t know if people would spend $100 to listen to a series of speakers talk like that. But I do know it’s worth $100, for me at least, to hear the truth over and over again.

Just hit me with the hammer God has gifted you to hit me with.

Honesty preachers to me.

Transparency preaches to me.

Humility preaches to me.

Checking what I assume against what is clear in Scripture preaches to me.

Chest-bumping doesn’t.

Christian Living

Best of 2008

Note: I’m on vacation this week. My family has a rule for daddy– It’s not a vacation if daddy brings a computer. Each day this week I’m highlighting my favorite post from the archives. These are oldies but goodies.

“Who Are You Anyway?”

Confession #1: I’ve gotten wrapped up in being called a leader. I fall into the mistake of thinking people want to know what I think. Instead, a true leader defers to the ultimate source of wisdom, thinking, and counsel. The most appropriate thing I can do as a leader is point someone to ultimate truth found in the Bible. And I recognize that sometimes I do that and sometimes I depend on my own talent, experiences, and personal preferences. I used to be so good at saying, “This is what the Bible says: _______. And this is what I would do if I were in your position: ______________.” It seems that the more people want to recognize me as a “leader” the more I want to emphasize the latter instead of the former. The result is that I’m not always the best leader I can be. Ironic, eh?

Confession #2: I get wrapped up in being called a pastor. I’ve never been comfortable with that title. But as the year’s have gone by I’ve gotten much less diligent in blushing it off when people call me “Pastor Adam.” I don’t know if it’s that I’ve gotten comfortable with what God has done and others recognize that in me or if I just like being called a pastor? Now, it’s true. That is what/who I am. And I am not ashamed of the title. I am not ashamed of my position. And I am not ashamed of my church. It’s not about shame. I recognize that its a sign of respect for my position yet I’ve always been uncomfortable with being labeled any title. Since I entered full-time ministry I’ve always self-reflected and laughed at God’s slapping me… ME… with the title of pastor. Sure… since I was little… even before I was a Christian… I always knew I’d be in ministry. But I also know who I am. I am biblically qualified to be a pastor and yet I know who I am.

  • Above reproach? As far as I know
  • A one woman man? Heck yes!
  • Temperate? I do my very best to not lose it
  • Self-controlled? To the best of my knowledge
  • Respectable? You tell me
  • Hospitable? Check
  • Able to teach? Check
  • Not given to drunkenness? Been good on that one since early teens
  • Not violent but gentle? By the grace of God
  • Not quarrelsome? Not my thing
  • Not a lover of money? How could I be?
  • Manage his family well? Could always do better
  • Not a recent convert? Check
  • Good reputation? Let me know, OK?

Confession #3: I want to get more wrapped up in my identity as a daddy and husband than as “Pastor Adam.” Closing in on 6 years of working in churches full time and I know well why some denominations don’t let their pastors marry. The demands on the position are over-the-top hard to balance with a family. People think nothing of about calling me late at night or early in the morning to talk to me or ask me to do something. And I’m always tempted to work every day and most nights for youth group, small groups, meetings, and other stuff that lands on my schedule. I really don’t think this is biblical and I should be more disciplined about saying “Can we talk or do this tomorrow?” In the past 6 years we’ve had countless family meals interrupted, countless dates disrupted, dozens of movies put on pause, play time put on pause for other people so many times my kids hate it when I take a call, times with daddy missed for this and that. Spending quality time with other people’s kids while missing the same with my own. Honestly, I hardly ever noticed. But my wife and kids did. It’s tough being married with kids and being married with kids to a church. Only recently have I been doing some studying in the New Testament and I realized… “Wait a minute! These guys weren’t nearly as available as I am and God still thought they rocked as pastors and leaders.”

Read the rest

This is one of those blogs posts that has stuck with me. For the last two years I’ve been unwinding myself from being “Pastor Adam” to going back to being “just Adam.

I’m thankful for my new life and friendships. And I’m thankful that most of those people know me as Adam and not Pastor Adam. I still don’t know/think that I’m done with being on church staff… but I do know that if there is a next time, I won’t let people call me Pastor Adam. You can have a title with your job. But you can’t ever allow yourself to be that title more than you are yourself.