Catalyst 2011 Highlights

In our staff meeting this week, the National Community Church team reviewed some of our personal highlights from Catalyst 2011: Be Present. There's some good stuff in here that I thought was worth sharing. Most of these are my paraphrase of someone else's paraphrase of a speaker.

  • Being present often means being broken before God with and for people.
  • Coupling “Jesus is sufficient” with fear.
  • Are you welcoming people into your church the way you would welcome them into your home?
  • Confidence in who God has created me to be and what He has created me to do.
  • It’s okay not to be typical. -Bob Goff
  • Are we really seeking God’s presence or are we seeking his hand? -Francis Chan
  • The best I’m going to be is a redeemed sinner. -Cornel West
  • Jesus’ prayers were heard because of his reverence for God. -Francis Chan
  • Katie Davis is a child herself but is a mother of fourteen. Her faith is simple yet so profound. She loves her Jesus and follows as she goes.
  • Being present means dwelling with Him. -Francis Chan
  • Opportunity is attracted to excellence. -Dave Ramsey
  • Nothing is moved unless it’s shoved. -Dave Ramsey
  • Pay attention to the people who are willing to pour out what they have. -Andy Stanley
  • The never-ending line of people in need is not a problem to solve but a tension to manage. -Andy Stanley
  • You can’t be there for everyone, but go long with the people the Lord puts on your heart.  -Andy Stanley
  • It’s almost like there’s a thin place every year at Catalyst where the Holy Spirit is present and at work.
  • Inconsistency yields mediocrity. -Jim Collins
  • Define your 20 miles. -Jim Collins
  • Don’t be alone when you’re doing anything. -Andy Stanley
  • When is the last time you’ve wept for the people in your life who are hurting?
  • Know when to stop and when to push forward. -Jim Collins
  • Even though some mercy ministries aren’t completely merciful, sometimes it’s more convenient to do them anyway. Be truly merciful even when it’s inconvenient. -Robert Lupton
  • Interruptions are divine interventions. -Priscilla Shirer
  • Call out of people what you want to see in them. Call out of your ministry what you want to see in it. -Priscilla Shirer
  • Innovation and creativity are nothing without discipline. God created the world in all of its facets over a period of time. -Jim Collins
  • We have the fullness of God’s glory revealed to us through Christ, and we still don’t think it’s enough.  Moses did so much, and he only got to see the backside of God. -Judah Smith
  • If brokenness and humility don’t have a place in our worship, God won’t have a place in our worship. -David Platt

Thanks to Mike, Steph, Chris, Juliet, Jennifer, Sarah, Matt, Andy, Heather, Christina, Jeremy, Joel, Dave, Maegan, Amanda, Amanda, Emily, Jason, and Kurtis for sharing their hearts and to Pastor Mark for opening up the dialogue.

Hope you found these helpful.  If you want to take a look at what the speakers said, I've got notes from the main sessions and labs.

Andy Stanley at Catalyst (Session 2)

I think this is one of the most important things as it relates to leadership, especially as it relates to church leadership. And it’s overlooked because it’s intimidating. And the younger you are the more intimidating it is to you.

It’s something that the last generation of Church leaders and maybe the current generation of Church leader hasn’t done very well./Je

The Church is the hope of the world.

Pop Quiz

Luke 5 – How did Matthew get to be one of Jesus’ disciples? Jesus selected him.

Luke 6 – Jesus calls his disciples to him and chooses the apostles. So how did the rest of them get to be apostles? Jesus selected them.

Some of you would be tempted to say, “That’s not fair.” But I think Jesus would have said, “That’s not fair.”

If we’re not careful, we’re going to make the same mistake the previous generation did.

I want to talk about the word apprenticing.

We started North Point Church several years ago, and we spent hours and hours and hours talking about what the values of our church would be. We asked what our strategy would be for developing leaders.

The single focused strategy for developing leaders in our congregation is “intentional apprenticing.”

You can be an accidental apprentice, but our whole leadership strategy was going to be intentional apprenticing.

  1. Defining terms.
    1. Apprenticing: Selecting, modeling, and coaching for the purpose of replacing yourself.
      It is that first word we have the most problem with.
    2. It seems unfair. And even among the 12 there were the three, and there had to be times when they said, that’s not fair.

    3. The New Testament Term is discipleship.
  2. Jesus’ Approach
    1. He began with succession in mind.
      We wait too long. We think “I’m 25, I can’t think about apprenticing.” And then we’re 35 then 45, then 65, and we’re tired.
    2. He handpicked those to whom he would entrust his ministry. He didn’t ask for volunteers.
      We think in terms of classes and training. He didn’t think in terms of volunteers at this level. Obviously there’s a place for that, but there has to come a point where we decide there are people we will spend more time with.
    3. He rarely did ministry alone. But…
    4. He gave his disciples opportunities to do ministry alone while he was still around to debrief.

      Jesus decided he wanted to be around to see it work without him. Even if you started the church, you’re not going to be around forever. Someday, someone is going to take your place, your job. Most people say, “No, I’m not going to be around.”

      That’s a perfectly good answer in the marketplace, but not in the church. If Jesus did it, I think that’s something we should pay attention to.

      Churches almost always ignore this principle. W’ere too busy to apprentice. We’re too insecure to apprentice. And when you’re young, you think the people who are younger than you are too young to do what you do.

      And we completely miss the idea of handing off what was handed to us in better shape than it was handed to us.

      We do lots of training. We do lots of leadership training, but this is different. This is, “I want you, and you and you, and I don’t want the rest of you.”

      This is not a talk about succession planning. Jesus picked his successors. He only had three years, and he was the son of God. I’m not finding the next person to have your actual job. I’m talking about being intentional about pouring into the leaders coming along behind you.

      At every point along the way, if you are a professional church person, your responsibility and my responsibility is to look behind us and point to specific people and pour into them, not because some day they will have my job but because at some point they will be in a similar place.

  3. But Removal

    1. But I’m not an expert.

      This is what kills apprenticing. If you wait until you feel like you’re an expert, you will never, ever do this.

      If you ever get to a point you feel thoroughly equipped, you’re arrogant. Leaders are constantly learning, and if you’re constantly learning, you’re always aware of what you don’t know. There’s something on the inside of you that says you are not ready.

      1. You will never, never, never feel like you are adequately prepared to apprentice another leader.

        Which means if you are in this room and feel that way, you are prepared. If you wait until you feel like you’re ready, you will never, ever do it.

      2. You are not responsible for the following
        1. Knowing everything there is to know about your field.
        2. Knowing more than everybody else in your field.

        This is where we get hung up.

        This is what the current generation hasn’t done for some of you.

      3. You are responsible for passing along what you know to somebody else.

        Your responsibility is to empty your cup. We think our responsibility is to fill someone else’s cup. You’re not that good.

    2. But what will I do?

      If they become as good as I am or better than I am (which is actually the goal), what am I going to do?

      1. In a healthy organization, if you replace yourself, you will always have a place.

        Do you know how it lights me up as a leader and pastor when someone pours themselves out to the point that their apprentices can replace them.

      2. In an unhealthy organization… Why would you stay in an unhealthy organization?

        If you’re worried about being kicked out if you pour into someone who replaces you, put your resume out.

  4. Two Outcomes
    1. You’ll be a multi-site leader.

      Suddenly your impact will be felt in new places.

      We started group crazy. We spent tons of money on it.

      People are always volunteering to be in my small group. I handpicked people and said, “This is what a small group is supposed to be like.”

      And then after 8-12 months we helped them form their own groups.

      It’s amazing to see how many of those leaders that we apprenticed are now leaders in community groups at our church.

      The same with our communicators. I love meeting with our communicators. I love pouring into them. When they’re preaching, it’s like I’m preaching at 3-4 locations without the use of video screens.

    2. You become a multi-generational leader.

      You know why our churches are so full of old people? Nothing against old people. I want to be one. Old people complain there are no young people. The problem is they wouldn’t let young people do anything. You know why? Because they’re not ready. Well whose supposed to make them ready.

      Anytime someone blames the next generation, they’ve abdicated leadership.

      We have three teenagers. The best thing we’ve ever done in our church is a program called Student Impact. It allows 6th graders to volunteer in a children’s small group. The great thing about 6th graders is that no one has told them they can’t do it. No one has told them they’re not an expert. When you put them in a circle with children, they don’t know any better but to show up and lead a small group. When the little kids are promoted, we just promote the middle schoolers with them, and suddenly they have a relationship with those kids. And our high school students help lead the middle school groups. And they haven’t been told they’re not mature enough. Last year 101 students in high school left our student ministry who had been with their kids in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade because no one told them they couldn’t do it. And now the first thing they do is go off to college, find a church, and want a group.

      You know what we’re teaching high school kids in our church, it doesn’t matter how old, mature, or smart you are, if you are one step ahead, you have something to offer.

      I am overwhelmed.

      My mom is over for dinner one Saturday, and she has a medical emergency, and I’m not preaching the next day. So we decided I’m not going to church the next day. So my kids get dressed for church and tell us they’re going because they have to lead their small groups. I looked at Sandra, and said, I love my church. Don’t tell them they’re not ready.

      I don’t have to be an expert, and I don’t have to know everything.

  5. Application

    There is no curriculum. If there’s a curriculum, it’s not apprenticing. It’s a class.

    You don’t even have to tell someone you’re apprenticing them, it’s often a bad idea.

    1. Hire for the future

      hire young, and hire smart. You need to hire people who are smarter than you, who might intimidate you a little bit, who will blow past you in no time, because the Church is worth it.

    2. Don’t work alone.

      This is almost the whole thing. This is incredibly important.

      Invite people to participate with you in tasks that are part of your job description even if they don’t work in your department or don’t share your job description. Just make sure whenever possible you don’t work alone.

      If you’re interviewing someone, don’t interview them alone. Invite someone younger. It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at it. You don’t want to expose your weakness and insecurity.

      This generation is afraid of engaging in the local church, because we’ve made it big and spooky.

      Don’t budget alone. Invite someone into that. Find the brightest person.

      Don’t produce alone, plan alone, design alone, create alone. Do things alone as little as possible. Invite people in.

      This is where preferential treatment is preferred. You can’t do this with the whole church.

      I have a friend Tim who is a federal judge. A federal judge is like a mini-God. I went to lunch with him the other day and walked into his office. There are these three twenty-somethings in his office sitting on the couch with notepads. He’s talking to these attorneys who are about to bring a case before him. And there’s a stenographer taking notes. So he finishes up, spins around, and asks the kids on the couch what they learned. They’re interns.

      In the church, here’s how we do it. We send them outside and whisper to each other.

      I bet there are opportunities to pour into the lives of your staff and the people around you because we work alone.

    3. Remember your MEDs
      1. Model – Here’s what I do.

        Show them what you do. It may not be the best way. They may have a thousand other ideas.

      2. Explain – Here’s why I do it.
      3. Demonstrate – Here’s how I do it.

    Here’s your assignment, it’s simple: Replace yourself.

    Who’s the sharpest young leader on your staff? What could you begin doing to empty your cup into theirs? You look at them and know they’re sharp. What can you begin to do now? You don’t need to set up any formal relationship. What can you begin to do now to pour into their lives.

    Success is not measured by how capable you are at handling your responsibilities. Success is measured by whether or not you leave your responsibilities in capable hands.

    Someday, somebody is going to be doing what you’re doing. Wouldn’t it be fun to be around to see it?

    Leave the next generation more equipped than you are.

Priscilla Shirer at Catalyst

A couple of Decembers ago my mom and dad called myself and my three siblings and said, “None of you live here any more, but your stuff is still all over the place. And you need to do it by December 9, because on December 10 we have someone coming over to get your stuff.”

Being the kind of kid I’ve always been I waited until December 9 to do it. I expected it to be a chore, but it was quite engaging and amazing because I was going through my life in boxes.

There was a box full of old journals. I am not a serious journal keeper. People who do are especially holy. I buy one every year, but I don’t journal every year, but it might only be 3 or 4 times a year when something significant happens.

But I found this box of journals and sat down and read them all.

There was something that happened when I was 14. I shared a room with my sister Crystal. Mine was underneath a picture window that looked out into a quiet cul-de-sac. One evening a small home where no one lived that caught fire. No one knew why, but 6 or 7 fire trucks raced in. The entire neighborhood was awakened and went outside in their robes. My sister got up and came to the window by my bed and looked out the window. My mother did the same thing. Both of them were hanging over me looking at the entire thing.

I slept through the whole thing. The told me about it in the morning.

It occurred to me that it wasn’t just that night I slept through. As I read those journals I realized as a pre-teen I was just waiting to be a teen. And as a teen I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. And as I was in college and a young single woman I couldn’t wait to get married. And then I got married, and that was a lot of work, but I hurried through it because I couldn’t wait to have kids.

And if I’m not careful I’ll hurry through this to because I’ll hurry through wanting to change dirty diapers and finding another way to cook chicken for dinner.

It occurred to me that I’d not just been sleeping through that one event but through whole seasons of my life.

I wonder how many of us are there but not there, not fully present.

As I sat in that attic, the Holy Spirit began to work on me and tell me that if I didn’t shape up I was going to miss out on gifts that God had for me in the present.

There are several places in Scripture where people were with Jesus, and they were completely unaware of the presence of God in their life.

In Genesis 28, Jacob wakes up having conversation with God and says, “Surely the Lord was here, and I missed it.”

Mary Magdalene can’t make out that the guy she’s talking to is Jesus and not the gardener.

Their life has been what I like to call interrupted. They’re discouraged and disillusioned, and so they’re missing out on the fact that God is right where they are. You had a plan for life or marriage or ministry or this kid.

How do we stay fully present so that we can be fully aware of God’s activity right in the middle of this interrupted life, because I don’t want to wake up one morning and say, “God was there.”

Luke 24 – A couple of guys are pretty distraught because their plans have been interrupted. The Jesus they were hanging their hopes on has been crucified on the Cross of Calvary. When we meet these two gentlemen, they are completely discouraged because life has been interrupted.

“And behold…”

That word behold is an important marker that was used by an author when they wanted to call attention to a specific point. It was like saying, “Look!” because they wanted to call attention to a specific detail. It was far more significant in the Hebrew than in English.

All of the disappointment, delusion, and hardship you have faced… God is getting ready to invade in spite of that. It doesn’t mean that the circumstances will change.

They were in the midst of a behold moment even though they were frustrated with their circumstances. They didn’t know everything was about to change.

There is a secret to beholding. The secret is in knowing that our eyes can be opened to God’s activity even in the midst of discouragement.

There was a turn in the circumstances, and they couldn’t see it. Often we can’t either.

God may want to reveal himself in the midst of the circumstances. We’re so distracted we don’t realize we’re in the midst of a behold moment.

The only reason why the Lord would gather you here over the course of these days is if you and I must be on the precipice of a behold moment in our lives. When you go home would you not think that everything is exactly the same. Yeah, everything might be the same, but you won’t be.

I have three boys. Jackson is a giant. He is 8 years old, and he wears a size 9 shoe. We have a 7 year old, and a surprise 3 year old. One of the things my boys like to do is swim. So we got them goggles. My husband noticed that they would put their goggles on and go underneath the water and swim, but they would keep their eyes closed. So my husband told them you can open your eyes underwater with the goggles.

For all this time they had the right equipment to see when their head was underwater, but they didn’t use the equipment. We have been equipped to see hope and peace when were in over our heads. Even in the midst of this discouragement we have the ability to see hope.

I don’t know how people without this hope make it without it.

It is the secret of beholding, keeping your spiritual eyes open even when you may prefer to shut them.

There is a second secret for us in verse thirteen. These guys are headed from Jerusalem because they had been at the Passover. They are now travelling the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

They’re unaware that the third person in their party was Jesus. There is not only a secret in beholding. There is a secret in going home. Some of us believe the pinnacle of our Christian experience is supposed to be in rooms like this one, and while this is important,

The pinnacle of your Christian experience is supposed to be when the things you learned in the pew of your church becomes real on the pavement of your every day experience.

Jesus is the glory of God. Everything we need has been clearly shown to us in Scripture.

Anything you are going back to, He is everything you need to deal with it. You take what you learned and apply it in your everyday circumstances.

He is something to us in every book of Scripture.

Can I challenge you with just one more secret.

They were conversing about everything that had transpired surrounding Jesus, but they don’t recognize him. The first thing Jesus says to them is, “What are these words that are coming out of your mouth?”

There is a secret of silence. There are about 7-8 verses where these guys are doing all of the talking. They actually say to Jesus, “Are you the only one in town who doesn’t know what’s going on?”

If I’m with God, I want to be quiet because I want to hear everything He has to say.

Don’t keep going over old history when you’re talking to God.

There is power in our words. What is coming out of your mouth about your ministry, your family?

These guys missed out on Jesus’ presence because they were focused on their circumstances.

God has gone before you to prepare a path, regardless of the struggles you are facing on it. And if the path is not prepared for you, maybe it’s because you’re not actually headed to the place God has for you.

David Kinnaman at Catalyst

Q (Reggie Joiner): We've been talking about people drifting away from the church for almost a decade. How is this research going to make any difference?

A: I really wanted to understand the why and the way behind their leaving.

Q: Give us an example of what that means.

A: I went into this assuming people all leave for the same reason. But they don't There are three types of young people leaving the church.

  1. Prodigal - Someone who leaves the faith
  2. Nomad - Still calls themself a Christian but leave the Church

    This would be someone like Katy Perry. She still believes in Jesus but is not active in church.

  3. Exile - Person who feels lost from the safe, cultural Christianity

    This is someone who works at Abercrombie & Fitch, or media or politics, and feels lost from the faith they grew up in.

Q: Tell us why people are leaving the church

A: There are six reasons.

  1. Overprotective

    When I grew up we didn't even have seatbelts, but this generation is sheltered. But the world is small. Everything is closer now. They want to engage the world but feel they take too many risks for their faith. People are leaving the church because it's too safe. They don't see people in their churches taking the risks they see people in scripture taking.

  2. Anti-science

    More than half of all church-going teenagers are interested in scientific careers, and they feel that many churches are either silent or antagonistic about science.

Q: You are technically saying there are people groups we are losing based on those six reasons.

We're losing young artists, designers, and musicians because the Church is overprotective.

Q: How does this help us change things?

A: It gives us handles, opportunities to think about and understand the real spiritual journies young people are undertaking. I think we can start conversations about the real things that separate us as generations.

Q: This is personal, some of the people in this room have sons and daughters who will walk away if we don't figure this out.

A: My challenge to us as the church is how do we respond to this? How do we mentor and disciple this generation? What can we do to show them what is in the Scripture and how it is relevant to our lives.

Q: This is why it's important to continue having these conversations. We don't just want to talk about it. We want to do something about it.

Dr. Cornel West at Catalyst

I had a Robin Hood mentality in school, so if someone in school had a bit too much, I’d help distribute it.

I had to learn that having a hatred of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, isn’t the same as love. I had to learn that love was about going on the offensive. I had to learn about the costly grace that Bonhoeffer talked about.

(something about the cross…)

Shiloh Baptist Church is part of who I am. The love of the people at my church is part of who I am. If I can be true to that love that was given to me and to the gift of grace that I received as a young gangster, and I’m still a Christian with gangster tendencies.

It’s great joy to be redeemed, to have your life fundamentally transformed in that blood at the cross, not Kool-aid, a lot of people preach kool-aid these days.

The benchmark for me of a Christian and Christian pastor is a recognition that this world is not your home, and thus you are suspicious of all forms of idolatry: wealth status, stature, position, all of these things that are huge in our culture.

It’s a gift to give, not to be enamored by. You go into a community and ask, where is the love for the children, strangers, those in prison.

A lot of it has to do with learning how to love ourselves. A lot of us are so emotionally terrorized that we don’t know how to receive love. We’re supposed to love others AS ourselves.

We’re asking if people really love us. Or are the just manipulating me or lusting after me.

This is the real thing with Jesus. This is real love, but we can’t take it. We don’t believe it.

The distinctive thing about MLK Jr. as a minister, which is what he was first and foremost, what did he say at the end of his life? He said, “People never really knew me.” In our language what he was saying is, “I am never up for sale.” Therei sno price that can buy me. I will never sell out, I wll never cave in. I will never give up.

You actually are part of the kingdom activity, whatever it is you do for the Kingdom.

We must always move toward the cross, because Martin was assassinated, but he was not crucified. Martin would be the first one to say, without that Jesus, I couldn’t make it.

Blake Mycoskie at Catalyst

Q: We did this about 4-5 years ago at Catalyst, major déjà vu for us.

A: Brand didn’t exactly tell me how many people came to catalyst. I was stuttering a bunch.

Q: Blake wrote a book, “Start Something that Matters.” Why did you write this book?

A: The last 5 years have been a an amazing journey. I’ve learnedso much and had the opportunity to speak. So many people asked me how do I get something started.

I realized not only have I learned a lot from Tom’s, but from these entrepreneurs out there. And I was as inspired by them as much as what happened at Tom’s.

So I wanted to create a working handbook for someone who wants to start something. We all want meaning. So I wanted to lay out the very practical steps of what we did and some things I learned from Scott Harrison who started charity:water.

We decided to take 50% of the proceeds from the book and give it back to the readers and people who want to start something big.

Q: This really is a field guide if you got a big idea that you’re not sure how to get going. Give us a practical challenge from your experience, something you share in the book.

A: One of the important things we talk about is starting small. My goal starting Tom’s was to help 250 kids. I didn’t quit my job or go out and raise a bunch of money. I realized these kids were completely dependent on donations.

We started really small. 250 became 1000, then 5000, and something that started out really small has given 2 million children a new pair of shoes.

Q: In your offices is the word “Give” depicted in all sorts of ways, and your slogan is 1 for 1. Why is that?

A: Toms was about helping kids. It felt so good to put shoes on those kids feet. Giving feels good. Everyone who has given their time, energy, financial resources, you know how good giving feels.

But what I’ve learned in the past 4.5 years is that giving is good for business and building your personal brand.

I was in this airport in NYC a few months after I started Toms. At this point I had never seen a stranger wearing them. So I was excited when I saw this girl wearing a red pair of Toms. So I ask her about them but don’t want to let her know who I am.

So, I was like, oh, that’s cool. But she’s like, “no, you don’t understand…” and she proceeds to tell me my life’s story with passion. What gave her that passion to tell that story was the fact that we were giving.

Q: Our theme is be present. Your faith has been huge for you. Speak to us about how God sustained you in those early days. How has he helped you?

A: Tom’s has been influenced by many Biblical principles, but one of the first ones I go pack to is in Romans where it says, “Give your first fruits, and your vats will be full.” For the first couple of years at Toms we were giving away shoes, and we weren’t profitable. It would have been much easier to say, “We’ll give when we become profitable.” I think that really brings that verse to light.

Q: You start this thing in a garage and end up with global reach. What are some of the challenges, pitfalls, and things you’ve learned along the way.

A: One of the things that’s really challenging about building a community is as the community grew, it also grew much more diverse, and I found myself trying to lead a community and movement with a group of people who are diverse in their backgrounds and beliefs. A lot of them disagree on a lot of things.

So I’ve been trying to figure out what my role in that. In the last year we’ve come to realize that we’re about putting shoes on kids’ feet and helping people with their eyesight. We’re trying to use Toms shoes to bring people together.

Q: You relased and eyewear line this year.

A: That’s one of the most exciting things to me. We want to take that 1 for 1 model and use it for a lot of different things.

Every time we sell a pair of sunglasses we provide one person sight. That’s through glasses or cataract surgery or eye treatment.

Q: Share a story from the trip you recently took.

A: That was a lifechanging trip for me on so many levels, to see the power of a purchase here to impact someone’s life there. Specifically we were visiting people who need cataract surgery.

Most of them are elderly, but this particular day a young woman with a baby came in. I came back a day later as they were taking the bandages off her eyes. They tested her vision, and she looked down at her baby, and we realized, this was the first time she had ever seen her child. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever experienced in my life.

You can talk about the facts and figures, but once you see the impact on one person’s life, it is transformative. That’s what keeps me going.

Q: Put “Be Present” in context from your journey.

A: Life goes by so fast. We’re all running around a mile a minute. You can be doing a lot of good stuff for the world and still not be present.

It can go by so fast. I was huge fan of Steve Jobs and Apple, and to hear of him passing two days ago really hit me hard. Here’s a man who’s 56 years old who’s had incredible success, but you can’t beat cancer. Our days are limited, and our end is a mystery of why and how.

For me, it’s about making the most of every single day I have, because otherwise it goes by too fast.

Q: We’ve got his book outside. Every time you purchase a book, a book will go to a child.

Mark Driscoll at Catalyst

So what are you afraid of? First things that comes to mind? Heights? For me it’s more widths? Snakes, bugs, spiders? Clouds? Clouds do not scare me, except at night. Clouds after midnight are nefarious.

What about you leaders? Are you afraid of criticism, failure, embarrassment? I just checked my fly 7 times before getting up here.

Some of you flee from clonflict, potential failure, danger.

Fear in the mind causes stress in the body. I can still remember years when I had a nervous eye twitch. Everyone thought I was hitting on them.

A buddy of mine had canker sores on his mouth. We’re like, are you stressed? He’s like, “How could you tell?”

You can’t sleep. How many of you can’t sleep. You need 8-10 hours a night. I’m 40. I need more than that. 40 is the new 80. I’m exhausted.

Then you start getting stomach troubles, sinus infections, headaches.

You start thinking about death, or quitting. Some of you just start reading books on the rapture. Are we done yet? I hate to tell you, we’re going to be here for a while kids.

I started a church, and I was afraid it wouldn’t work. Then people showed up, and I was afraid they were going to stay.

If you have a wife or family. It causes stress.

Twice I’ve messed with my adrenal gland. One time I couldn’t sleep. Another time I couldn’t stay awake. I fell asleep right before one of my own sermons.

I’ve had an intestinal ulcer.

Jesus asked, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life?”

Fear is not always a sin, but it always is an opportunity to fear or trust the Lord.

Who are you afraid of? The first person the Holy Spirit brings to mind, go with that.

Someone other than God takes that position in our life. There’s someone other than God that takes on significance in our life. We need them to know us and praise us and not criticize us. We need to live under their sovereign rule.

We make people functional gods. We are committed to, devoted to, and fearful of someone.

To fear someone you cannot love them, because to love them is to give to them, and if you fear them, you cannot give to them.

You don’t acknowledge them as a real god, but they are a functional God. Paul says that you trade the creator God for created things, and one of the most likely candidates of people.

Proverbs says that to fear people is a trap.

Ed Welch says that fear in the Biblical sense includes being afraid of someone, but it also means holding them in awe.

We’re putting them in a place that only God should occupy. Putting your trust in people. You cannot criticize them.

Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others. In our teens it’s called peer pressure. As an adult it’s called people pleasing.


  1. Whose opinion means too much to you?
  2. Is your appetite for praise unhealthy?

    You need people to praise you. That’s why I’m on Facebook, and I’m on Twitter. You’re waiting for people to come up after service and tell you what a good job you did.

  3. Are you overly devastated by criticism?

    You shouldn’t like criticism, but are you overly devastated by it?

    Rick Warren said the problem criticism today is that it’s constant, global, and permanent.

    Let’s try and get the word out that not everything that’s said on the Internet is true.

  4. Are you committed to things and people that God did n’t call you to?

    Someone asked, you said yes. Someone pressured, you said yes. Someone criticized, you said yes. And so you’re following someone else’s calling on your life, not God’s calling.

Here’s what fear is

  1. Vision without hope.

    Fear is when we see the future in the worst possible case scenario. This is the future, and it’s going to be painful, and I’m stressed about it, and living dread toward it.

  2. Fear is not always rational, but it is powerful.

    You look at someone else’s fear, and you think it’s crazy, but you don’t think that about your own fear.

    Some of you are terrified of being single, married, in leadership, not in leadership, losing your job.

  3. Fear is about not getting what we want.
  4. Fear preaches a false Gospel.

    There is a potential hell awaiting you, and you could have a heaven here on earth.

    It gives us a false hell, a false heaven, and a false savior. A savior that saves from a hell that we through fear have created in our imagination.

    What or who are you afraid of? What is your picture of hell?

  5. Fear turns us into false prophets.

    We predict a future that will never happen, and we cause ourselves anxiety, stress, worry, and it never happens.

    How many of you have done this?

So what’s the solution to fear?

The Bible’s answer is, “Fear not.”

Nice and simple for those of you who went to public school.

This is the most frequently mentioned command in the Bible. It’s a great book, God wrote it, and if it says something a lot, it must be important, right?

This tells us it’s a real problem, a real problem for the leaders in the Bible and for us now.

Now, if I just told us, FEAR NOT, half of you would be like, “YES” because you go to fight, some of you would be leaving because you go to flight. Some of you would just be like, “I hope he doesn’t yell again.” Because you go to fright.

But it’s not so much a command as an invitation. God says over and over again, usually to leaders, “Fear not. I am present with you.” It’s got saying, it’s about Me being with you.”

Adam in Genesis 3 is afraid. He’s hiding, and God comes to him, and he says, “I was afraid.” So what was God’s answer? I’m going to go after him, come along side of him, pursue him. Since sin has entered the world this is how God has operated with us.

To Issac in Genesis 26:24 (?): Fear not, for I am with you.

Genesis 28:15: God says, “I am with you.”

You know why God keeps saying this? Because we forget.

We may know theologically that God is with us, but practically when fear takes over, we feel alone. And it’s a lie.

Truth leads you into freedom, and the lie si that you are alone, that God has abandoned you and all you have is your own resources for whatever comes against you.

God tells Moses, “My presence will go with you.” Moses is asking how he will lead all of those people? He doesn’t know where he is going or what to do. God’s answer is not a map but that he will go with him.

2 Kings 1:15 – God tells Elijah on the battlefield not to fear. If there’s ever a time to fear, it’s on the battlefield.

How about King David? Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear not because thou art with me. It’s right there, the one they make you memorize in Baptist Sunday school. It doesn’t matter how bad it gets, I’m going to be okay because God is with me, even if things aren’t really okay.

Is 41:14 – Fear not, you worm, Jacob. Can you think of anything more defenseless than a worm? Little girls pick them up and mock them. There’s nothing less terrifying than a worm. God says, you people are like worms. He goes on to say, “Israel, fear not, for I am here to help you.”

You feel like that. The circumstances are big, the criticisms are real, the lack of resources is obvious, and God says Fear not, for I am with you.

Jeremiah 1:8 – Fear not, for I am with you. Jeremiah has a reason to fear. He’s written Lamentations. We call him the weeping prophet. He’s more depressed than the indie rockers in my town. He curses his birth. I’m not a doctor, but that guy’s depressed, right? He couldn’t even get married and go home to his wife. He’s depressed, by himself, single, indie rocker, poet. God goes to him and says fear not, I am with you.

God tells Daniel, “Fear not, I have come.”

Haggai 2:4-5 – Says Be strong 4 times? Why? For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty.

Mary, Jesus’ own mother. Luke 1 – The angel says to Mary, “Fear not.” She’s from a small Baptist church wearing a dress that she made with her own hands in her small group co-op. She’s only 13-14, and she’s pregnant. What are people going to think at the home school co-op? How’s that going to look when she’s wearing the choir robe on Sundays, and she’s got a bump but no husband. The angel says “Fear not…” He says later that the Holy Spirit will come.

How about Jesus. Matthew 28:10 after Jesus dies and rises from death. You know what we have to fear more than anything? Death. The resurrection of Jesus conquers death. Oh no, I’m going to die… and be with Jesus. It ain’t so bad. It’s not like going to Detroit. I don’t write the mail. I just deliver it. There’s reason we’re not in Detroit.

Yeah, go Tigers. I tell you, the Yankees lost. Which means to things: God is sovereign, and he loves us.

The worst thing that can happen is you die, and if you know Jesus, you go to be with him. We’ve got to reset worse case scenario. Worst case scenario is you go to Jesus sooner rather than later. Not so bad, right?

Jesus says he’ll be with us until the end.

I really want you to believe that.

The Bible says do not merely listen to the word and deceive yourself, but do what it says.

I want you to always remember that, and when times get the hardest and the darkest and your grief goes the deepest, remember that. Everything may not be okay, but if God is with you, you’ll be okay.

I’ve got five kids. I married my high school sweetheart. When I travel, I love to take my kids with me. The first big family trip was to Scotland some years ago. I was explaining to the kids you’re going to see John Knox’s house and learn all about swords and go to castles. If you’re a little boy, castles and swords are everything. It’s Biblical, Jesus is coming back with a sword. That’s why I let my boys play with swords, because we’re Christians.

My littlest son, Gideon Joseph, is the only one not excited. I tried to tell him about the swords and castles. But he’d get really sad and look at the ground. I’m like what is wrong with this kid, I’ve got a broken kid. My kid don’t work. I tried to tell him that he’d be really tall on the plane, and there’s a button you hit to get endless juice, and you get your own headphones and TV. I couldn’t sell it to him.

So I got down on one knee and asked why he didn’t want to go? He said, “I don’t want to be alone.” So I asked him, “Do you think you’re going alone?” He said, “Yeah.”

So he’s trying to figure out his connecting flights, courtesy exchange, his credit card application before he gets on the flight.

So I look at him and say, “Who am I?” He said, “You’re my dad.” I said, “Who are you?” He said, “I’m you’re son.” I said, “I’m going with you.” His whole countenance changed.

Fear not, your daddy is with you.

Judah Smith at Catalyst

I want to spend just a few moments with you sharing from the Bible. I'm going to start in Exodus 33, and I'd like us to consider the glory of God and its implications in your life as a leader, and most importantly as a follower of Christ.

Ex 33:12-23

John 1:14,18

Jesus is the glory of God. I believe if in fact that statement is true, you will leave here tonight with a surplus, the overwhelming fact and truth that you will leave hear tonight with everything you need for living and leading and pastoring.

Thursday night is the most special night in our family. It's date night. When you've had children, the rhythm of life sounds something like this: date night, blur, date night, blur. I love date night.

I wish someone had told me before we got married that women have rules. And they don't have to share their rules. You're supposed to know them. And if you really love them you will know their rules and abide by them, and then they will feel loved.

My wife Chelsea has rules for date night. And women are under no obligation to tell you when the rules change. So the other days I suggested we do dinner, coffee, dessert, and a movie. Her countenance dropped, and I thought "rule change." She's like, "I don't really want to go to a movie." I said, "Neither do I. They're secular."

Gentlemen, what you have to know about date night is that there is always a score and if you score high enough, you score. And I don't know why you do date night, but I don't do it for the conversation.

Chelsea said, "I don't want date nights to just be movies." I didn't show displeasure, but I'll be honest with you, my perfect date is like, go see a great action flick and go home and make love. We don't even have to talk!

She asked me the other night, "Where do you feel most loved?" I said, "Really, do you need me to answer that question?" But really, when women ask you a question it's just a front for wanting to be asked that question. I couldn't believe the answer. It was the antithesis. It blew my mind. She said, "When you ask me question." For a guy, that does not communicate love, ladies. It's like being interrogated.

My wife's office is right next to my office and we work together, and we go on date nights and she asks me how my day was, and I'm like "You were there the whole time." So I ask about her day, and she tells me about the morning meeting, and I am like, "I was there."

But my wife is smart. She doesn't just want to do stuff for me or with me, she wants to know me. She is good for me. She sits me down and asks me how I'm doing, as a dad, in my ministry, with each other.

Marriage isn't just about doing stuff together or being in each other's presence. You need to know each other.

Moses has experienced the presence of God. And he's kinda on a role with God, so he asks for something he's never seen before: glory. He asks to see God's glory. What a crazy request, a risky request, maybe not even a healthy request.

And I think God must have been so happy. My boy doesn't even want to just do stuff with me, he wants to know me. It's early in the day. I was going to make a new covenant, but he's like, alright, how do I do this. Now, I want you to shimmy in this rock over here, and I'm going to put my hand over you as I pass by. Now don't peak, it won't go well for you. And as I pass I'll pull my hand away. So Moses shimmies in, and God's like, you're not peeking, are you? So God's like, you can look now Moses. And Moses asks, are you sure? And God's like, you're good now.

So Moses' face glows in the dark for days.

Maybe you'll notice that Moses' request was not fully granted by God. Moses got only a glimpse in passing. It was in Jesus that we got the full answer to Moses' request.

Throughout all of the corridors of history and the ages, no doubt Moses' request stood unanswered until Christ came, and we beheld his glory.

People say, "I want to see what Moses saw?" I'm like, "I don't." Why would I want to see God's backside when I can look him full in the face.

I'm singing "Show me your glory." And all of the sudden I get this distinct impression from the Holy Spirit. He says, "I already have. His name is Jesus."

Look at Hebrews 1. I don't do crack, I don't smoke weed, because this is good enough for me. "God has in these last days spoken to us by his son." "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person."

When Moses asked to see God's glory, what he's really asking is to see God's essence, the inner reality of who God really is. He wants to see what makes God, God.

And then Jesus comes, and he's just that. He's the enactment and full form of divine radiance. You don't have to wait for a fuzzy feeling, for the hair to stand up on your nect. You'll have everything you ever need in Jesus.

A couple of years ago my family went through the most difficult period of our life. My father had cancer, multiple myloma. There was not a day in my life I did not talk to my father. They passed leadership of the church off to me, and the elders agreed. I started to play out in my mind that I'm 30 now, and if all goes well, I'll probably pastor this church for the next 30 years. And I started to think about 30 years of weekends, and all of the sermons I'm going to have to write. ANd I began thinking, God, I can't do this. I'm not my dad. You know those guys taht can get up and don't read the Scripture, they just quote it. And they don't have notes, the sermon just flows out of them. ANd I get up the next day and I'm like (in a high pitched voice), "Hey church. I'm pastor Judah." They used the King James, and it sounds so spiritual, and I'm like, "Yo, what's up church."

Have you ever come to an event like this and you don't leave encouraged at all. You're actually discouraged because every single person who gets on stage, you're like, "I've never even seen that in the Scripture before." And you leave with your head hung. The Bible says don't compare ourselves with others, but what (we think) that really means is don't do it in public. And you show up at your church and you're like (in a high pitched voice), "Hey, church."

And so you're looking for secrets, like some special program that you can do and then you'll become super-sermon dispenser.

Or maybe you watch Christian television, and you're like, "Maybe I'll just preach that."

So it was the perfect storm. Daddy handed the church over and then went to Heaven. If and when this day came, he was supposed to be there to help me.

I wonder if I really realize what I have in Jesus.

Where do I get off looking for secrets. There's no secret, no potion, no magic formula. There's no software that can supplement the savior, the King. God is no respecter of persons, no background, no pedigree. He is freely available to every person in this room.

You all remember that story where Jesus breaks down the desperate housewife by the well. She's a bad woman. She's a loose woman. She would make a fantastic porn star. Which is amazing to me because we deify the people Jesus reached out to. But these were scandalous people.

Remember how the whole story goes? Jesus asked how she is, and she's like, "You talkin' to me? I'm a woman, and I'm a Samaritan woman? You want to talk to me and get harrased by the Jews?" And so he's like, "So go get yo' husband." And she's like, "I don't have a husband." And so he's like, "No, you don't, you've had 5, and the guy you're with now isn't your husband." And she's like, "Shoot, you a prophet or somethin'?" Jesus talks about worshipping him in spirit and truth. And she said, "I don't know about all that, but when the Messiah comes, he'll figure it out." And so he says, "I am he. You don't have to look any longer or any further."

If I could apply that to every volunteer, church leader, mom, dad, business leader, etc. Pastor, you don't have look any longer or any further. There's no potion or secret. It's just Jesus. He is the rose of Sharon, the deliverer, the healer, your pastor, your friend. He is everything you'll ever need in your life. I just came to tell you, "You've got Jesus."

I'm starting to figure out pastoring a church wasn't really about me to begin with. I'm starting to figure out God loves my city more than I do. I'm starting to figure out it's his name on the line, not mine.

Can somebody start to paly the piano so I really sound spiritual?

You guys feel that (listening to the music)? It's like the Holy Spirit just came in.

I feel like I cam tonight to ask you the question, "Since when was Jesus not enough?"

Was it the inforamtion age that broupght us to this place? Since when did we have to add to his sufficency.

I have to admit, I started to look further than Jesus. Maybe I need to read that or go here. All the while I felt Jesus trying to get my attention and tell me, "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness."

I don't want anyone to leave here tonight feeling like they're lacking. You have everything you need, pastor. You have everything you need in Jesus. He calls all of us to Himself, all of us who feel like they're in over their head, like they don't measure up. Come to me, Jesus says. I will give you rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Francis Chan at Catalyst

This is my favorite theme ever of Catalyst, thi idea of being present. It was something I was getting really bad at.

There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone who’s not really there. You with me?

I remember several times staff people came into my office, and I wasn’t paying attention to them.

Staff people would come into my office and come for a minute or two and say, “I’ll come back later.”

You guys know what I’m talking about.

So then, I hate to imagine what our prayer lives are like. If someone human is looking in my face and pouring their lives out to me, and I still can’t focus, then what am I doing in my prayer life.

I think I got the best topic of the conference, “Being Present Means Dwelling in Him.” The title is, “His Presence Matters.” I think that’s the understandment of the year.

The question I kept asking myself, does anything else matter? In Scripture, did anything else matter? In the OT, who won the war? Whoever God wanted. In the lions den or the firey furnace, did his presence matter?

Right now if God in Heaven decided to make his presence known, isn’t that all that would matter? He could come down. I wouldn’t have to say another thing, and I wouldn’t have to say another thing, and there would be so much fruit in your ministry. To me that’s all that matters.

Jesus says in Jon 15:5: I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

If I’m connected to him and abiding in Him, there will be fruit, and if not, then this is just another message.

I gotta be honst with you, I was still wrestling with this this afternoon, because it gets tiring to ask for the presence of God and really to be present with him. It’s easier for me to just go, “I know I’ve got some notes that will work.”

Why am I afraid of just surrending to him right now. You may want me to say something that everyone will hate. It’s amazing grace that I’m just standing on this stage. I shouldn’t be in ministry with all of the failures of my life. I should be in hell right now… if you believe in that.

If it isn’t for his amazing grace, who am I to surrender myself to you. You’re God, you’re amazing.

“It is the spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all.” At all? Don’t we have to deliver it pretty well? Don’t we at least have to sing on pitch?

That’s why the Psalmist writes in Psalm 27: One thing that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord…

When I’m in God’s presence, it’s like nothing else matters. Nothing can hurt me. That’s the one thing I ask for.

If I could get a transcript of your prayers over the last month, every prayer you’ve prayed, even the ones where you’re mind wanders, what would I say is the one thing you kept praying for? Was it to dwell in the house of the Lord?

The other day I was reading 1 Samuel 30. David and his men came to Ziklag, and it had been ransacked by the Philistines. David and his men wept. Their families had been taken captive. David was distressed, for the people had spoken of stoning him. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Many people say that’s when he wrote Psalm 40 and waited patiently for the Lord.

That’s it? David waited for the Lord? He strengthened himself in the Lord? Men, think about that, someone took your wife and kids? You’re ready to kill someone. They’re crying because it’s overwhelming. David’s balling, and all of the sudden all of the soldiers blame David and want to stone him.

And that’s when David strengthened himself in the Lord. Wait, just God? When I read that story I realized I’ve lost it over dumber things.

When’s the last time you went through a crisis with just God? When’s the last time I even heard someone talk like that? Yes, there are times we need the body. But when’s the last time you were so close to God. It’s almost like we don’t treat him like a real person. There’s a real intimacy you can have with him.

Everything depends on my connection with God. Satan knows this. He wants to distract me to focus on other stuff. I feel like the NBA player taking a free throw and everyone’s trying to distract me. Everyone’s screaming for your attention, so you’re constantly looking around rather than focusing on God.

If you abide in God, there’s going to be much fruit. If you don’t abide and get distracted, everything falls apart. If Satan can get us to not be present when we pray, then everything falls apart. If he can get us to model half-hearted prayer rather than being completely connected to him.

Hebrews 5:7 – In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers with loud cries and supplication… and he was heard because of his reverence.

I was shocked when I read that. Jesus was heard because of his reverence? It’s about this awe, this holy fear.

If I hadn’t read that verse to you, and I told you to fill in the blank, what would you have come up with? Because he was his son. And yet the writer of Hebrews says Jesus was heard because of his reverence.

God does not listen to all of our prayers. There are times when God says, I can’t even stand the noise of your songs, stop singing, that’s making me sick right now. In Isaiah He says, “You’re going to fast and pray, I’m not listening to that. Take care of the poor first.” He tells men to treat their wives as co-heirs so their prayers are not hindered. God doesn’t listen to Joshua until they stone Achan. What does James say? Some of you ask and don’t receive because you ask with selfish motives.. In James 1, he says God won’t hear you if you doubt.

It’s very clear there’s a posture we take of reverence. There’s a posture we take with other believers. We pray in faith. We take care of the needy.

I moved to San Francisco a few months ago, and we threw together this conference. I preached in the morning, and we had some worship, and then we went out to serve for 6-8 hours during the day, and then I preached again in the evening, and then we went out again in the evening to share our faith. It was just an amazing time. No one wanted to leave. It was a rush. It was so good.

So the Wednesday before the conference, the guy who was leading the rescue mission says, “We have no meat. We’re about to cook 10k meals with no meet.” These people have been fasting and praying all week for this conference. So he goes to his son and says, can I borrow your credit card. About an hour later, Trader Joes calls us and says, “All of our freezers just broke down. Will you take all of our meet.” So there’s this uhaul full of meat that comes pulling up.

Don’t you just love those moments when you’re like, “God, you were there.” It’s when we abide in Him that His presence is there.

Are you present enough in your prayer life that God is there?

I’m doing some stuff in my yard the other day, and some Jehovah’s Witnesses come by, and I ask if I can share some of the things that God has done in my life. The lady says, “God doesn’t hear all of our prayer.” I agree with her and start telling her stories. They start to walk away, and I follow them for a block and a half. I kept talking, telling them, I don’t think you understand my God. It’s like what John says in 1 John 1. I ‘m just sharing these things so that you can enjoy the fellowship I have with God.

Some of you, your eyes light up when I talk about answered prayers. And some of you are going, “What are you talking about?”

I’m sharing with you what I’ve seen and heard and experienced because I’m walking with God. This would make my joy complete if we could come together and share what God is doing.

I’m starting this new ministry. I don’t know if it’s going to work. It just started on Monday. In the inner city of San Francisco, there’s 586 apartment buildings in one square mile in a low income area. What if we had people adopt one of these buildings, get at least 10 of their friends and pray at least 2-3 hours a week. And then we have a grace team that just goes to peoples door and gives people stuff. Anything they want. And then to ask, how can I pray for you. You’re an atheist, then give me something crazy. Alright, you don’t want anything in particular? Alright, I’m just going to pray for you. So the grace team goes back to the prayer team and tells them what they can pray for. So the grace team can go back and ask the next week if anything happened and talk to people about it and give them a Bible and disciple those people. And the prayer is that one day we disciple people so well that they become the elder of their apartment building. And it’s all God. It’s like if God doesn’t answer these prayers, it’s the stupidest ministry in history. I like the things where if God doesn’t show up it can still be awesome. Ah, God wasn’t here, but the band was awesome anyway.

When’s the last time you were completely present with God? When’s the last time you had that moment? Because Satan is trying to distract you, because without that, you will bear no fruit.

Dave Ramsey at Catalyst

We run a ministry that is a business as a way to be sneaky. I got an e-mail from a guy who implemented our stuff as a corporate benefit. He listened to the bonus track on our cd, which is my testimony and accepted Christ.

My goal is to get thousands of those emails a day. That is the underlying missions statement of what we do. It’s why we do what we do in the marketplace. Those of us in the marketplace and non-profit ministry are called to create that.

I’ve been going all over America talking about our new book, Entreleadership, entrepreneurship and leadership. And I got to thinking, what does it mean to be present as a leader.

We’ve been around for 20 years. How did we go from a card table in my living room to 310 people working for us? How did we become the best place to work for the last few years.

We want to take back talk radio, at least our three hours of it. We want to take back publishing for Christ. WE want to be so powerful and moving and excellent at what we do that it’s winsome and draws people so that they want to know who we are and who we follow.

What were the elements that cause this to happen. I went through a moment where I truly surrendered all to God. And we decided in that moment that we’re going to run our business God’s way as best as we can figure out how.

I’m convinced we have survived 90% of my ideas. I’m an entrepreneur. I have an idea every day when I go on a run.

There are five things I want to cover because I am convinced leadership matters. In this setting we throw that word around.

These are the core philosophies organizationally that we have used, that we believe have caused us to win.

  1. In order to be present you really have to understand that people matter.

    You say, “No, duh! We’re in ministry, we think about adoptions and marriages, etc. We’re people with a heart for people.”

    Yeah, we all are, but you’ve got to intentionally stop in a culture of transactions and be with people. The number 1 key to success is your relational IQ.

    I’ve sat in meetings where people were talked about as transactional units. People matter. You’re only going to hear their story if you sit down and do a counseling session. But if you just stop and look into the windows of their soul, you’re going to connect with them and understand them.

    You’ve got to stop and value what’s going on. It doesn’t mean I’m a pushover, I don’t have healthy boundaries, but a core value of our organization is people matter.

    I’ve got a good friend named Daniel Lapman who’s a Jewish Rabbi who wrote a book about prospering. The reason the Jewish people are so prosperous is that they understand that in the middle of the transaction, people matter.

  2. An incredible team in your organization and excellence matters.

    If you say you’re a Christian, you’ve got to bring it. It’s game on. Excellence has got to happen. You’ve got to build an incredible team that demands excellence. What happens in ministry too often is that the very people we were ministering to end up on the team.

    You will not win the Kentucky Derby if a donkey is your entry. You’d better be bringing a thoroughbred. Everyone has a set of gifts and a plan, and when you put them in the wrong place, it steals their energy and the energy of the organization.

    Turns out you can not work for me and still be a valid person. If you’re not supposed to be on this bus, you’re probably a donkey in a stable of thoroghbreds.

    We lovingly guide people through our hiring process. We had 3000 applications for 37 positions last year. We want to be very, very sure you’re supposed to be on here.

    You need to double or triple the amount of time you spend with the people you want to hire. We’ll interview people for 60 days, and then it ends with this genius move. The first 40 people we put on our team went out to dinner with their spouse and my wife and I. Now our leadership team does that. If we go out to dinner and my wife gets one of those feelings, we don’t hire you. Whenever she gets one of thsose feelings, crazy is in the building. When crazy is in the building we don’t get anything done.

    Our goal is to help crazy out there somewhere. You know what makes people crazy? When they’re on the wrong seat on the wrong bus.

    Even with your volunteers, everyone who breathes is not a volunteer. Loves Jesus is not the only qualification.

    When we get ready to hire someone, our first step is, we pray for God to send us exactly who He wants in that position and send the crazy people away. And it ends with the spousal interview.

    Have you ever hired someone who is an excellent person, but they’re married to crazy? They spend all of their time managing crazy? All they do is talk to crazy?

    We don’t want anybody working on our team working a j-o-b, we want people who are bought in, sold out, and your spouse has got to be part of that.

    I want all of us to be on the same team, unified, pulling together.

    I interviewed a sharp guy for a radio position. And he told his wife about the spousal interview. She called me up and started cussing me out. Either he’s going to come to work every morning with his spine ripped out or they’re going to go through a divorce, and he’s going to be worthless for 90 days. We’re going to pay for marriage counseling for them because we love our people.

    There are enough problems with good people who like each other, we don’t need crazy.

    Here’s how we fire people. We tell them we want them to be able to find a position that’s a fit for them.

  3. Slow and steady matters.

    Do not let your ministry, your workplace, your life go faster than your resources. When you’re growing faster than you have money, you have a problem. God’s got all the money, and he’ll send you as much as you need. Either He sends me the money to do the deal, or I’m not going to do the deal.

    I’m not going to take on customers I can’t take care of. I’m going to care well for the ones I have now, as God sends me people for my team, we’ll expand. You’ve got this huge opportunity that you’re afraid you’re going to miss, but you’re going to mess it up big if you take it on and can’t handle it.

    I was meeting with this billionaire a while back. He told me he loves the book “The Tortise and the Hare.” When you’re impulsive, that’s last nights pizza, not the Holy Spirit, you lift up a fool in action. That’s what Scripture says. Proverbs is a book of wisdom.

  4. Financial principles in a ministry matter.
    1. You’re going to live on less than you make.
    2. You’re going to save money.
    3. You’re going to stay out of debt.
    4. You’re going to have a plan.
    5. You need to learn to be and always be generous.

      It’s not just about giving away stuff or money but about how you treat other people.

      The Jewish people prosper because they look at their work as an act of worship. God is inordinately pleased when we are compulsively obsessed with the needs of others.

    Why wasn’t I scared in the middle of all the financial mess in 2008? I don’t have any debt on my house. I don’t have a loan on my building where we work because I haven’t done anything we couldn’t pay for. Guess what I was able to invest in? People, because lots of people were out looking for work. We were able to increase the quality of our talent and are reaping the benefits now.

    God says we’re supposed to be peculiar people because we do weird stuff. Craig Groeschel wrote a whole book about this. We’re unusual in how we handle our affairs.

  5. A higher calling matters.

    Do your work as unto the Lord.

    How many of you work in an organization where you don’t like the working conditions or you’re in a job you wish you could leave for some reason?

    You want to leave that job, let me tell you how to do it. Do your work with such excellence that the competition steals you.

    I was 12 years old, and my parents owned a residential real estate company. We went to a nice steakhouse, and the service was incredible. At the end of the dinner, my dad left a big tip, handed her his card, and said if you want to make 10x what you do now, come work for me. In 1972, she sold $2 million in real estate. That would be $20 million today. She was a rockstar.

    If you’re in the middle of a bunch of donkeys and want to stand out, just stand up, they’re just sitting down. It’s easy to stand out in the middle of a bunch of donkeys.

    You want to differentiate yourself? Show up and be on time. You’ll beat 80% of the people.

    There’s stuff to be done. Don’t take it easy, move it.

    You’ve got to do your work as unto the Lord.

    I walk up behind two guys laying brick. One’s doing a good job, one’s doing excellent work. I ask the good one what he’s doing, he says, “I’m laying brick.” I ask the excellent one, he says, “I’m building a cathedral.”

    Change the tires as if you’re changing Jesus’ tires. If you’re putting a water heater in somebody’s house, do it with excellence. Don’t leave my house a mess and then tell me you’ve got a fish on your truck.

    Put those little bootie things on your feet when you walk in. When you mess up the water heater install, come back and fix it because you messed up. We all mess up. Then put a fish on your truck.

    Too many times I’ve forgotten the why.
    I know you have a higher calling, but I want to remind you to readdress that each morning because it polishes and shines your execution when you get the why, when you understand you’re doing it as unto the lord.

I’m convinced those things are Biblical principles, that you’ll reap what you sow. If you plant stupid, you’re going to reap desperate.

I know there’s going to be a day for each one of you and for me when Jesus calls me home. They’re going to put two numbers on that tombstone, one where my life begun, and one where I wnet home. I’m going to walk straight through the pearly gates under grace, but as I come through, I want that high five from Peter and have someone whisper from the clouds, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

If there’s two numbers there, what are you going to do with the dash?

You’re getting into heaven because of the blood, but what are you going to do with the dash?