Wednesday, August 12, 2009

what's on tap

Here's the second installment of "What's on Brian's whiteboard?" I think this exercise is quite pretentious, but with that said I still plan to share.

- Welcome Weekend (Sept. 12 & 13) plans for creating three unique environments for kids, students and adults
- Building layout plotting radio communication points on the weekend
- Channel breakdown for the different ministries using the headsets
- Diagram of the Children's Wing for All Stars and Religious Ed check-in
- Diagram of the new CN Backstage and ideas of how to improve its functionality
- A random leadership thought: Life cycles of creating a ministry (bad cycle) idea, to responsibility/accountability, to implementation, to people. And (good cycle) idea, to people, to implementation, to responsibility/accountability.

Things are really picking up around here as we're gearing up for three awesome fall message series, making some physical changes to the building, and preparing for the kickoff weekend right after Labor Day. As things get busier and busier, I have to constantly remind myself why I'm doing all these things and what it's really about. Church of the Nativity exists to bring people to Christ and his Church, leading them to knowledge of their faith and service for the greater glory of God.

Lord,
Teach me to labor and not to ask for any reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

more caution tape

I talked about "red flags" in my last post. These are things that bring my attention to the fact that I'm not exactly in the right place. Thoughts like "What will make me happy right now?" and "You deserve it." are huge ones. But it's not all about thoughts, there are other indicators too.

As I've talked about before, we live in a physical world and, for now, our souls are connected to our bodies (check out 'allergies'). Back in May and June, Fr. White preached a series about the Catholic Mass and why we celebrate the Eucharist. One of the weeks was dedicated to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the part of the service that ends with Communion. He said that our ability to be present to God during that time in Mass is linked to our frame of mind, which is linked to our posture. Remember your school teachers telling you to "Sit up straight, and pay attention!"? Those two commands were given together for a reason...

Just like Fr. White talked about, another indicator of my spiritual fitness is my posture or physical state when I pray. Am I lying in bed at night while I rattle off a few prayers? Am I sitting up straight or kneeling? (There's also a reason why kneelers and lying prostrate are parts of the Catholic tradition too.)

It occurred to me a few weeks ago as I was in the middle of the 'lie in bed while praying but really just falling asleep' style of prayer, that I did have the ability to get off my back, sit up, and actually pray. You would have thought that the Spirit had prompted me to jump off a tall building the way I resisted. I really didn't want to kneel because I didn't really want to pray. Feelings like this one, and general physical feelings of discomfort are red flags that wave "Whoa, Brian. What's really going on here?" Think about the difference between bumping into someone and saying "sorry" versus muttering under your breath as they pass by? It's not the actual degree of pain in your body or even the person who collided with you. It's your own spiritual condition. Pay attention to your body, it knows what's up, even when you may not...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

leadership summit

I've just come back from the Willow Creek Association's 'Leadership Summit 09' (trend #TLS09 if you twitter). Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor at Willow, kicked off the summit with a talk entitled "Leading in a New Reality." He referenced the economic crisis that changed lives so drastically starting last fall and how in turn that changed the way Willow Creek held their church services. He ended with some of his personal struggles over these past months as he explained the disciplines he exercised in order to increase his own margin, to fill his personal bucket up, so the he could continue to minister to others.

In light of my last blog post, I'd like to a note or two considering Bill's last point about filling his own bucket.

He talked about a time where his staff, his family, and even his dog were walking on thin ice when Bill was around because he was stretched so thin. He struggled to have quiet time with God and his daily routines fell by the wayside in order to make time for more hours in the office. All of these things added up to a bottom that he described as a powerlessness over work. This is not what God wanted for him, and it's not what God wants for us.

I think self care often gets a bad rap. Self care can be looked upon as selfish, even undeserved. How untrue! We constantly need to be taking care of our physical bodies (by working out, eating well), our personal relationships (by having quiet time, holding boundaries), and our spiritual lives (by praying, listening to G0d). We need to do these things to function properly, and, yes, we function so that we can serve others. Surrender is not a sacrifice of our own needs but a willingness to follow Christ through adversity despite our own will.

Remember how Christ worded the greatest commandment? Love your neighbor as yourself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

monday, monday...

I just left the video review meeting where the staff re-watched Fr. White's message from the first week of Greatest Story Ever Told! It was all about the story of Joseph at the end of the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. The takeaway was a line repeated throughout the story: "And the Lord was with Joseph." How would you act knowing that God is always with you?

I woke up this morning feeling pretty lousy. I had overslept, which is easy for me to do on Mondays, still felt exhausted, and didn't want to get out of bed... at all! I eventually wandered downstairs, made a large cup of coffee, and then my brain started churning out all these negative thoughts: "I feel awful. I just want to sit here and do nothing. What's wrong with me? Why do I always feel like this?" And this went on and on... until the thought entered my mind, "What can I do that will make me feel happy?"

That's a huge red flag for me! (Another is, "I deserve this.") When I'm actively thinking about/wishing for things that will make me happy, I've reached the top of my self-centered scale. When I'm there, I quickly become resentful of others, angry over little things, and depressed about my own life. I don't know if you can relate to this particular line of thinking, but I have a feeling some of you may... The point is that I need to catch myself in this downward, selfish spiral and remember that I am here to serve others. God is always with me, and only when I am being of service to others am I positioning myself to receive God's blessing.

Heavenly Dad,
Teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost.
Amen.