A No-Nonsense Conversation on Calling

This podcast episode from Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman is one of the clearest, most demystifying conversations I have heard on “the call” to ministry. I might tweak one or two of their comments, but overall I think you will find their perspective very helpful.

What about you? What do you think about their assessment of and commentary on calling?

[Source]

Leadership Development in a Nutshell

A major part of any ministry (or work environment) is leadership development. This task can feel quite overwhelming. We wonder where we should start and how we should proceed.

But I recently found a simple description of leadership development that helped clear away the clutter in my mind. This definition boils down leadership development to specific terms and stages I can get my head around. I hope you will find it helpful, too.

Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird (2010) cite this summary of leadership development from Jon Ferguson:

  • I do. You watch. We talk.
  • I do. You help. We talk.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.
  • The cycle now repeats for both people.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

What do you think?

Stetzer, E., & Bird, W. (2010). Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

For How Long

I once asked a sound engineer how loud the volume can get before it damages your hearing.

He gave me an answer I did not expect.

He answered with a question: For how long?

For how long?

I had never considered time to be a factor, but it is. Damaging your hearing is a matter of decibel level and length of exposure. Volume plus time.

What does this have to do with anything?

That simple point made me think about all the times I forgot to ask the “for how long” question in my life. I tend to think in terms of volume, not duration, and this myopia is problematic.

I often think, “Yeah, I could work that much” or “I could run that fast” or “I could carry that load” or “I can be that busy.” But I forget to ask the critical question: For how long?

The answer to this question is so important because it is the difference between the contented feeling of being poured out and the angry dryness of being burned out.

So, this question “For how long?” is one that I mean to ask from now on.

What about you? How might this question change your commitments and schedule?

The Key to Good Style

I have so enjoyed Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style.

If you are writing books or sermons, blogs or lesson plans, you will greatly benefit from his thoughts on good communication.

One particularly poignant section captures the secret to good style in a simple metaphor. Pinker writes:

The guiding metaphor of classic style is seeing the world. The writer can see something that the reader has not yet noticed, and he orients the reader’s gaze so that she can see it for herself. The purpose of writing is presentation, and its motive is distinterested truth. It succeeds when it aligns language with the truth, the proof of success being clarity and simplicity. The truth can be known, and is not the same as the language that reveals it; prose is a window onto the world. The writer knows the truth before putting it into words; he is not using the occasion of writing to sort out what he thinks. Nor does the writer of classic prose have to argue for the truth; he just needs to present it. That is because the reader is competent and can recognize the truth when she sees it, as long as she is given an unobstructed view. The writer and the reader are equals, and the process of directing the reader’s gaze takes the form of a conversation. (p. 29)

I love the imagery Pinker provides. A good writer simply leads the reader to the window and shows him something hitherto unseen.

Come with me. Do you see that tree? Good. Now, go up to the third branch from the bottom. Look to the end of that branch and you will notice a little red bird. That is a cardinal.

This kind of plain, conversational leading is good communication in a nutshell.

Pinker, S. (2014). The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. New York, New York: Viking.

Celebrating Woodlands 2015

Thank you for praying for our fall retreat. We had a wonderful time away.

Woodlands Camp Cleveland Georgia Lakefront Picture

Our retreats are typically a mixture of three ingredients: Fun, Fellowship, and Focus. You can trace the contours of our time along these three lines.

Fun

We enjoyed time playing in God’s beautiful creation. The weather was perfect autumn with blue sky afternoons and frosty evenings. We canoed on the lake. We ziplined. We played ultimate frisbee and basketball. We were thankful for the time to unwind.

Fellowship

A big part of retreat is having extra, unrushed time together as a student ministry and in small groups. This weekend we had time to meet in our cabin groups to connect, to discuss the bible lessons, and to pray for one another.

Focus

Our ultimate aim is to focus on God. Personal devotions in the morning, worship sets overlooking the lake, Bible lessons in the chapel, conversations with friends and leaders…these are all ways to refocus our hearts on what matters most. This year we considered three major parts of our faith: justification, sanctification, and glorification.

We are thankful for this break in our busy fall schedule. We are thankful for the serene weather, for safety as we traveled and played, for extra time together, and for God blessing His Word as we stepped back to reflect on his work in our lives.

Thank you again for partnering with us in prayer.