AS: Leaning into what your strengths are means you have to give stuff away. How has what you do or don't do changed over the years?
CG: I really believe that the more effective you want to become as a leader, the fewer things you do. In the early years, I was the only staff member, so I did everything. It was the greatest day when someone else cared if the toilet overflowed.
I wanted to do everything and kept my hands in it. For example, we were the campus pastors at the pastors we preached at for too long. People kept trying to free me up until finally I listened.
If I ask you about your church or organization and you can tell me everything, you're probably leading ineffectively.
AS: Someone asked me what my most important leadership lesson is. Recognizing my strengths and delegating my weaknesses. I wish I had done that earlier. I think there was a lot of guilt there. If I don't want to take out the trash, no one should take it out. But when I learned to delegate what I didn't like and wasn't good at.
I used to do all of our small group training because I wanted to get it started right because it was central to what we did. There is something to putting your time into those central place.
The hardest thing for me was giving up the senior pastor of our largest campus pastor role.
CG: It's not that we're not leading, we're leading through people, and that's even harder.
AS: Then you become the custodian of culture. You're not doing a lot, but you pay attention to where things are going wrong.
CG: And you might sense those problems before someone else does.
AS: But I can't go in and re-own the responsibility. I'll go to one of our churches and something will bother me. I'll go to the senior leader and ask if something bothered him. If it bothers him, then it doesn't have to bother me. But if it doesn't bother him, if I think it's a four and everyone else thinks its an 8, then I have to do some retooling and some re-vision cast.
CG: How has your week changed?
AS: As your church grows and your family changes stage, you have to change your schedule.
I used to preach 2-3 times on Sunday and at 1 of our evening services. I generally take Monday off. I might start back in on Monday afternoon. Tuesday is staff meetings all day. It's almost 100% staff. I used to have lots of lunches, I don't do that. I exercise M, W, F. That's important. Our health is part of our ministry. If you're the point leader, your physical health is part of our ministry. Wednesday is nothing but a study day. Thursday is a study day. Friday is the day I will schedule time I want to spend time with, elders, friends, a few people who want to meet. Saturday, my brain is starting to lean into speaking. We have never done anything on Saturday night for 20 years if I'm preaching on Sunday.
CG: I've been to counseling two different times for being a workaholic. I've found a managable schedule now. It changes with the
Saturday, all day soccer games and kids stuff, 1-2 services saturday night, so I get to the church by 2:30 . Saturday is family night at the church, so my whole family comes. The family parties on while I preach. I want them to associate being at church having a lot of fun.
I usually preach on Sundays twice, but if I like the video on Saturday night, I'll let it run on Sunday.
I have two set meetings on Mondays. I do all of the paperwork and everything with my assistant on Monday, and then I shift into sermon prep on Monday afternoon.
Tuesday is full on message prep all day.
By Wednesday I'm finishing up the message and I go into do our videos, and every week I go in and do a bunch of videos for campuses, churches, etc.
Every day I try to leave by 3:45 to go to the gym. Ministry is never, ever done, so if I put an artificial barrier on my day, it forces me to be efficient. I believe I get more done. I'm home by 5:15 every night.
Thursday is the day I meet with whomever I want to.
Friday is usually my day off.
We meet Monday mornings with our key leaders, and we meet with our board or key leaders as needed throughout the year.
That's the template, so people ask, "When are you a pastor?" This guy ended his life, and I called his wife. There was a guy struggling with his marriage.
You can't get too big to just pastor people.
AS: I primarily pastor my staff. We probably feel the weight to pastor a similar amount of people as a single site, single congregation pastor. It's just that we have larger staff.
CG: I was raised that the church come first, but I've found that I have to keep myself spiritually healthy and my marriage healthy.
AS: I used to ask Sandra every now and again, just, "How am I doing?"
CG: I ask Amy all of the time, "What are the three things I do that are the biggest blessing to you? What are the three things I do that could use work?"
It's easy for us to lie to ourselves. When we've lied long enough, it's easy to believe it's true.
When I ask people how many of you battle with significant self-deception, something like 3% raise their hands. But when I ask who knows someone who's a good singer, or good manager, or good communicator, but they're not, all kinds of hands go up.
A lot of us are self-deceived, and many of us are self-deceived to the point we don't realize it.
I want to talk about creating a culture of self-awareness, or a culture of high-feedback.
Those who don't know don't know they don't know.
Many of us are very self-deceived. The higher you rise in any organization, the more difficult it will be to get people tell you the truth, especially in church world, because nobody lies in church world.
In where I come from in the south they say, "Well bless your heart." What they really mean is, "You're an idiot."
The problems you don't know about are the problems you can't fix.
My wife told me after several years, "Craig, put down the box." I was like, "What are you talking about?" When I spoke I looked like I was carrying a box.
Because we're so full of love, we rarely create a culture of truthful feedback.
Three Principles of Self-Deceptions
- We as leaders have a limitless capacity for self-deception.
Perhaps the greatest example in Scripture is with Bathsheba and David. Nathan tells the story about a rich man stealing a poor man's lamb. David is indignant, and Nathan tells him he's the rich man.
- The longer we believe the lies, the harder it is to hear the truth.
Psalms 36:2 - For in his own eyes he flatters himself to much to detect or hate his sin.
I really believed I was good at interpersonal communications. People told me I was warm and friendly on stage but not in person. People over and over tried to tell me lovingly, but I just wouldn't listen. One day, my small group members re-enacted the way I treated people. Finally I saw it. So I got coaching on how to do it better.
There are a lot of you who very likely have had someone in your organization trying to tell you something about your leadership, and you're not listening.
That's especially true in the younger generation. We have not told the emerging generation the truth. You have to work extra hard to be coachable, to posture yourself in a position where you want to learn.
- The leader's lack of self-awareness is the leader's barrier.
I used to think I was good at delegating. I was good at delegating tasks, not delegating authority. Delegating tasks creates followers. Delegating authority creates leaders.
So often in the church world we're quick to issue blame for any of our problems, not enough money, they don't serve, wrong location, etc.
I've trained myself to never say, they won't. Anytime I hear another leader say, "They won't," I stop and correct them and say, "I have not led them to."
Uncovering the Truth about You
Psalms 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.
I used to use a lot of edgy humor in my messages. I kept getting complaints, but I just chalked it up to stuffy, legalistic church people. Finally one guy just asked me to pray. I half-heartedly said I would. I prayed about it, and the next Sunday my oldest daughter had her first Sunday in big people's church. I looked over at her about to tell an off-color joke.
Proverbs 15:31-32 - He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
The more I tend to believe that I'm right, the more likely I might be wrong. Just like Peter says he's never going to deny Jesus like everyone else.
- Build a team that craves and gives helpful feedback.
If you're a senior leader, it starts with you. I get feedback after my first message. I get feedback before my first message. We build this into our entire process. It's in our hiring process. We have people prepare a 10 minute talk for 10 minutes and then give them feedback. We want to see how they receive feedback. We have them give the other candidates feedback.
If you're a senior leader, people are afraid of you. You have to go ask for feedback specifically
- Implement annual 360° evaluations for every team member.
I think we need to have anonymous feedback. It needs to be anonymous, because that's when the truth really comes out. It's so helpful, and it's so incredibly painful.
I had two consecutive years where people said I was disengaged from the staff, that I was more concerns with mentoring other senior pastors. For two years many leaders in our organization said I was distracted. Even though my heart was still in LifeChurch, my head was divided.
It's one of the most painful and most helpful things I have ever done.
James 1:22 - Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
What have others been trying to say to you or show you? What has God been trying to say or show you that you've been too proud to listen to.
Some of the most common things I see:
- You're a workaholic. Give your family some attention. When my youngest daughter was three years old, God rang my bell, she said, "Daddy, you don't live here. You live up at the church." My wife asked if we could have a meal without me typing on my phone.
- Some of you will do what I did years back. I became a full-time pastor, and a part-time follower of Christ. I'd pray when I prayed publicly. I'd study when I was preparing for a sermon. My self-worth was based on last week's numbers.
- Some of you are looking at some things you should not be looking at. You're telling yourself it's not a big deal. You're not telling anybody. But your sin will find you out.
Some of you need to go repent to your spouse or your children. If we build big churches and lose our children, that is a failure. The more I humble myself and listen to God, the more broken I am, the better my relationship with my spouse is, the better my family is, and the better my church is.
There are so many people who continue to fight against the truth, when it's the truth that will set you free.
Personally if there's some part of your life God is trying to show you is not where it should be, don't fight against it, embrace it.
My assignment is to talk to you today about bridging the generational gap. There is very clearly a gap today not only in ministry but in the business world as well. I will speak mostly from the ministry perspective because I am a pastor, but I think you can make a jump pretty easily to the business world.
I would not be speaking to you today if it were not for those who had gone before me. I am here today because of the women and men who have gone before me and invested in me.
I ended up as a regular attender at Pastor Nick's church. One Sunday he said next Sunday is bring a friend to church day. So I thought I'd listen to my pastor. I had just graduated from college where I had been president of my fraternity and still had some influence, so I told them we were all going to church.
Pastor Nick said if you were a friend who was brought or brought someone yourself, stand up. So me and two full rows of hungover frat boys stood up. He said, okay everyone sit down unless you brought someone. So they all sat down and I was left standing. So Nick hired me. And that's how I was called into ministry.
Nick taught me so much. He taught me how to illustrate the Bible with the Bible. How to lead staff meetings. How to do hospital visits.
I was scared to death on my first hospital visit. I was 23. My pastor said, just say what's on your heart. I walked in and said, "Wow, you looked bad." My pastor said, from now on just lie for the glory of God.
He said, whenever you're speaking and forget the next thing you're going to say, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes. He said, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes.
I would not be doing what I am doing today if a pastor hadn't taken a chance on a 23 year old kid.
Tragically, though, there's not enough of that in the world, especially in the ministry world. So what I want to do is talk to the older generation and then the younger generation as someone who stands for a short period in the middle.
If you're not dead, you're not done. God values maturity.
You do not just delegate tasks to the next generation, because if you delegate tasks, you'll create followers. We delegate authority, because then we create leaders.
My pastor hired me on to create a young adult ministry. I asked him how to do it, and he knew, but he told me, "That's what I hired for you for." Within boundaries, he gave me freedom.
To the older generation, especially in the ministry world, I would just implore you, embrace the season you're in. They can smell a fake from a mile away. Don't try to be cool. Authenticity trumps cool every single time. Be yourself. Care, love them. The next generation will line up for miles.
My pastor was like a pastoral father to me, and when I finally hit 40 or so, I still wanted to be the big brother to everyone. But it was when Pastor Herbert Cooper came up to me and said, "You are my spiritual father." I said, "no, no." And we went back and forth. And he said, "Listen to me. I need a spiritual father, and you are mine." And he said, "And I am your black son."
When he said it to me, something switched inside of me and I realized I can be a spiritual father to those who come after me. You can be a coach a mentor to those who are coming after you.
To those in the younger generation, let me talk to you for a moment.
You need those who come after you more than you can imagine.
Dr. Tim Elmore wrote about a survey of executives who were asked about the next generation. There was one word they used to describe them more than any other. The twenty-somethings were surprised to learn it was entitled.
Now you don't even have to win a single game to get a trophy. We protected that generation. Put on your helmet to go potty.
Because you feel entitled, you typically overestimate what you can do in the short run. What Nick said to me was, "You'll overestimate what you can do in the short run, but you'll grossly underestimate what you can do through a lifetime of faithfulness."
I asked my pastor one time, "Why did you let me lead up?" He said it was because you always honored me. Andy Stanley says honor publically yields to influence privately.
I think one reason we don’t honor those around us is because we don’t adequately honor God. Honor values others. Dishonor devalues them. Once we learn to honor God, we will begin to honor those around us.
Some people say, If my pastor, boss, etc. were honorable, maybe I’d show honor to them. Respect is earned, but honor is given. Some of you in the younger generation need to repent because you need to show honor to those above you.
If you ever want to be over, you need to honor those under you.
I want to get real practical and talk about what this looks like in my organization and what it can look like in yours.
For the generations to work together, we have to be intentional. How do you do this?
Create feedback loops between those who are older and younger. Before I teach at our church each week, I sit with those who are much older and those who are much younger. I want to know from a 22 year old single girls perspective, how does this not speak to you and how can I do better. I want to know the same thing for a 55 year old divorced man.
Create specific mentoring moments. Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit with one of the greatest business leaders in our country. I had my pencils out. A few weeks ago I sat down with the sharpest 18-24 year olds in our country. If you are not intentional, it will not happen.
Those of you who are younger, ask someone who is older, “Will you mentor me? Will you speak into my life?” They’ll be flattered. Come and ask them questions like crazy. Don’t try to copy what they do. YOu’re not them, but you can learn how they think.
Create opportunities for significant leadership development. We had what we called a developmental weekend where we wanted to develop new speakers. We said, everyone gets two services on a weekend, and in a weekend we trained 38 new speakers to deliver God’s word. No one got up there without coaching and no one got down without coaching, but it communicated our investment to the next generation.
You create those specific leadership moments where you can develop leaders who can come behind you.
To those who have come before me, I honor you with all of my heart. To those of you who are coming behind me and have served faithfully, I honor you. I honor my mom and dad who sacrificed for me. I want to honor my pastor who took a risk on a kid who knew nothing and literally told the board if you fire him I’m going too. I’m doing what I’m doing today because a man of God invested in a young kid.
Bill Hybels has taken more bullets than most of you can imagine and took them with integrity. For what he did, I honor him, and you should honor him as well.
Those of you who come behind me, I want you to know, there’s one thing I think about you. I’ve been a little hard on you, but that’s because you deserve it. But I will give my life for you because you deserve it. I believe in you more than you can imagine. You are the most cause driven generation in history. You don’t just want a job. You want a calling. When you look at the injustices in this world, you say, “No, not on my watch! I’m not okay with that!” I honestly believe you can do more than my generation can do if you will humble yourselves and learn from those above you.
Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of Lifechurch.tv. His latest book is the Christian Atheist.
Brad asked me to speak about generational tension, a topic I wasn’t quite sure about. My wife left me with our six kids for the weekend. My 3 year old son told me that no one does their hair like that in this decade. I’m like, how did you learn the word decade?
The enemy wants to divide the church generationally.
Craig’s interview with the devil.
Are you on twitter? Yep
A lot of followers? Yep, although you haven’t started following me yet.
What are you during to hurt the church? Causing problems between ages.
How do you keep the generations apart? I throw in technology. I go with the LOLs and the RTFLMOs.
How do you isolate the younger generations from the older? The older generation is pretty easy. Take a guy who feels like he can make a difference and you’re like, look at that kid, you don’t have the goatee or the tattoo.
What else do you do with the older generations? The old way we used to do it is the only way. These seeker churches, they’re all going to hell.
What about the younger generations? It’s so easy. Who doesn’t feel like they have all the answers in their 20s.
What else? Play up the cockiness and ego. Skinny jeans. I’m just bringing skinny jeans in because they’re funny.
Division between generations is bad, but the tension can be good because we desperately need each other. We need both wisdom and passion. What I’m able to do today is because those in the previous generation believed and invested in me. I am standing on the shoulders of great men and women who have gone before me.
Honestly, God will often put people in your life to pave the way for full time ministry. I came to Christ in college and immediately felt called into ministry in the local church, but I had no idea what to do. My pastor who was in his late 50s told me I should bring all of my friends to church on bring-a-friend Sunday. And sure enough 40 hung over fraternity guys came with me. And everybody over the age of 112 was gasped. Then the pastor had everyone who brought someone remain standing and everyone else sit down. The 40 guys around me sat down, and the senior pastor said find that guy and hire him.
Nick invested in me, and that’s how I came into ministry. He taught me how to do hospital visits, not to say, “Man, you look bad.” He taught me how to preach. Whenever you forget what to say next, just repeat the last thing you said and walk back to your notes. I used to be so nervous before I preached I threw up before I preached. I don’t do that any more, now I just throw up in my mouth a little bit.
He invested in me, and I am able to do so much of what I do because of the wisdom of those who have gone before me.
I want to talk to the older generation for a few minutes, and then I want to talk to the younger generation.
So let’s talk first to the older generation and have one thing to say. I would beg you not to resent, fear or judge the next generation of ministers but to believe in them, invest in them. Find as one of the greatest callings on your life to invest in them. Those young guys are not on deck. They are in the church. I’m talking about 11 year olds. Put them on stage and let them lead worship. Don’t resent them. They’re different. Just like you were different.
One of the reasons the older generation finds it difficult to invest in the younger generation is because we feel insecure. When I turned 40, I began to wonder if my best days are behind me, if I could still connect with the younger generation. So you begin to lead from insecurity, you delegate tasks, creating followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders. Many older people don’t feel cool enough. You don’t have to be cool. You have to be real. The younger generation is craving someone who will be real, be themselves. There’s nothing worse than a fat 50-year-old preacher wearing skinny jeans. That is not of God. Just say no!
I want to tell the older generation, if you are not dead, you are not done. Your age and experience is not a liability. It is your greatest asset.
Lyle Shallor is a crazy man. He is one of the best church leadership consultants in the world. He is 87.6 years old today. He told me he peaked in his early 70s. Here’s what Lyle did for me back in the early years. We had three services, considering going to a fourth. Back then, no one did four services. He said to me, all you young guys are alike, you think too small. You should be thinking seven services at your first location and thinking about your second, third, fourth locations. He left me with a splitting headache. Now we’re in 14 locations with 80 services. Why? Because a seventy something hero who was peaking took time to invest in the younger generation.
We bring folks in their 20s to invest in and ask them to invest in our children. We brought in one girl in our 20s. And I could just feel her about to say, “You’ve been just like the older brother and sister I never had.” Of course, she said “mom and dad.” I’ve realized that one of the best things I could do at this point in my life is to be a spiritual father.
Psalms 71:18 – Let me live long enough that I may declare you to the next generation. Give me a shot to live. Let me live long enough that I could declare you to all of the people in the next generation. They don’t know you like I do. Give me the shot at the next generation.
Those in the younger generation, let me talk to you. I love you and believe in you.
Dr. Tim Elmore said in his book that ther’e s agroup who did research on the younger generation of workers and asked employers what the number one word to describe them. It began with “e.” It was entitled. When the younger generation was asked what they thought the word was, no one came up with it.
It’s not your fault. You grew up in an age when you had to wear a helmet to go to the bathroom. We rode 18 people to the 7-11 in the back of a pickup at 90 mph. You feel like things in ministry should come very easy to you. You tend to overestimate what God wants to do through in the short run. When you don’t get it you feel disillusioned. You grossly underestimate what God wants to do through you in the long run. You think in hundreds instead of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions. Don’t underestimate what God wants to do through this generation. Think bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger in the long run.
The problem is we think we deserve this and that. The number one question Andy Stanley and I get at Catalyst One Day is what is your schedule like, which is stupid. The second question, which is great, is how do you lead up? I asked my pastor that, he said because you honor me. The younger generation is one that does not show honor. Andy Stanley says that honor publicly leads to influence privately. You say, “they don’t get it.” No, they’re not your age. They don’t get everything you do. But I guarantee they see tons of things you don’t see.
Mark 6 – Only in his hometown is a prophet w/o honor. It means to dishonor. To treat as common or ordinary. Some of you have been mistreating the spiritual leaders above you. The text says that Jesus could not (not would not, could not) do any great miracles there. Now theologically I don’t understand this at all, but the text says he could not do any greater miracles because there was no faith because their was no honor. The reason we’re dishonoring those above is because Jesus is your homeboy, a 6 pound 8 ounce baby Jesus. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When we truly honor him, we will honor those above us. You want to be over someone, learn to be under well.
What does honor do. The Greek word honor is time – to value, respect, or highly esteem; to treat as precious, weighty, or valuable. Honor values, dishonor devalues.
You say, maybe I would honor my leader if he/she were more honorable. Maybe if you honored them, they would rise to the occasion. There is a big difference between respect and honor. Respect is earned. Honor is freely given. There are some in the younger generation who need to repent because you disrespect the authority God has put over you. Repent because you’ve been dishonoring.
I was called in to consult with the senior pastor and elders of a great church. The whole time the elders were talking over the pastors. They were expecting me to say something about contemporary services or multi-site or something stupid like that. Always look at heart values. Here’s how you dishonored him, you just kept talking over him. The great news is, four years later that church doubled in size. I think at least part of that is that they began to honor the person God put in leadership.
Be teachable, be willing to learn.
Let me speak as one who is in-between.
I honor those who are in the older generation. I honor my mom and dad. I want to honor Nick Harris, my pastor who took a risk on a 22 year old guy, who stood behind me when the board wanted to fire me. I want to honor John Maxwell because he was a man who had a vision to invest in the next generation. We are here today because of him. I want to honor Lyle Shallor. I want to honor Bill Hybels. When you grow a church to 1000 in 2 years, it’s because he paved the way. We can do more today because of those who have gone before us.
Younger generation, your down side is that you really are entitled. You feel like you should have the same standard of living as your parents at the age of 25. Here’s what I want to say about you. You are the most cause driven, passionate generation in modern history. You crave authenticity. If you don’t go authentically, you don’t want to go at all. You ache to make a difference. You are the most cause driven, mission minded generation in modern history, and I want to say to you I believe in you. If you will come under authority, you can be the greatest generation in modern history. I feel called to serve you. I believe in you. There is kingdom greatness in you. Not only do I believe in you and you believe in God. God believes in you. He chose you. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. There is a future John Wesley and Bill Hybels and Christine Caine and Beth Moore in this room. I believe in you. Don’t you dare think small. There is kingdom greatness in you.
I want to kneel down before Christ and give him honor for who he is and what he’s done for me, forgiving me of more sin than you can ever imagine. Taking a man who could never be faithful to a woman and giving him a wife and six children. I want to give Christ honor. And I beg you stand on my shoulders.
Combine the wisdom of those who have gone before and the passion and energy of the later generation. Quit messing around in your arrogance and do something to change the world for Christ.
Reggie Joiner: How do we pray for you? What’s next in your church?
We ask what we do best. What we do best is give things away. We’re trying to posture everything we do to serve the greater church. One of the things I’m passionate about is giving the Bible away digitally through YouVersion. If you e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send you things to help you out with this.
I’m back in Atlanta with the NCC team for Catalyst. Last time I was here was two years ago for the same conference. It was a great experience and some of the things I learned there really stuck with me.
The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility. –Jim Collins
If you’re ever looking at someone else’s situation with envy, think about what it took for them to get there. Steven Furtick pastored a church of thousands in his twenties, but he was stepping out in faith to minister to guys in his dorm in college, guys who weren’t open to faith, guys who he didn’t have a lot in common with, long before God ever gave him a big church. He served in hard and obscure ways before serving in the spotlight.
Some ministries have It, and some ministries don’t. You’ve got to want It badly. You’ve got to strive after It, and pray for It, and yearn for It, if you want to have a ministry that is on fire. –Craig Groeschel
I’m looking forward to what God has to teach me at Catalyst this year. I’ll be blogging (hopefully liveblogging) my session notes and possibly some other thoughts. You can also follow the action at Catablog and Catalyst Backstage.
One caveat about my notes, they’re usually pretty unfiltered. I mostly write down what the speaker says, even if I disagree. Of course, there’s the possibility that I misinterpret or misrecord what they say, so maybe double check my facts before getting too upset about something.
Craig Groeschel is pastor of LifeChurch.tv.
Joel 2:12 – Return to the Lord for he is gracious and compassionate.
Have you ever met someone so full of the love of Jesus, so passionate for the things of God, that you walk away and say, “They get it”?
Have you ever been to a church that you walk away from and say “They get it”?
Have you ever walked away from a church that is dead, that just didn’t have it?
LifeChurch.tv started without any of the cool stuff.
The 13 LifeChurch campuses are all under the same leadership, all have the same feel but with widely different results. Some had it and some didn’t.
What is this it? I don’t know. It has something to do with the Holy Spirit, but it’s not only the Holy Spirit.
You don’t have to have technology or cool videos or whatever. That’s not it.
IT – The something special from God.
You know “It” when you see “It.”
God makes it
You cannot create it.
It is not a model. You can’t simply recreate it.
Upside: Lives are changed because of it.
Downside: It attracts critics. When things are happening, people shoot at you.
For those of you that have it, there’s no guarantee you’re going to keep it
For those of you that don’t have it, you can get it.
For those of you who don’t know what it is, you’ve probably never had it.
For those of you who have it, your spiritual enemy is plotting to steal it.
There is one thing necessary for you to have that something special of God. The most important ingredient is that you have it. It’s not about money, buildings, location, video screens, the right musical instruments. You must be overwhelmed by the driving force of God using you to change the world. If you want your church and ministry to have it you must have it.
Jesus hung out with sinners; I got saved out of bars. If Jesus were alive today, he would hang out in bars, so I went to bars. Drunk people love to talk about God.
I had it, and at some point the ministry started to beat it out of me. It is like a very slow leak in a tire that you don’t notice until time goes by. Things changed. When I looked back I could realize that my motives changed. I wasn’t about building His Church; I was about building my church. It was about me. I had become a full-time pastor and a part time follower of Christ. I had it, and I lost it. And so have many of you.
You have to do something drastic, because if something small would have done it, some little tweak, you would have done it a long time ago.
The prayers that I prayed for God to bring it back were painfully simple. “God, stretch me.” Stretch me again, God.
There is more in you, and don’t let any board talk you out of it. Don’t let anyone who’s complaining complain you out of it.
Before God stretches you, he needs to heal you.
I am addicted to things that are much more acceptable in the church: people pleasing, adrenaline.
Some of you are addicted to progress. Some of you are addicted to looking in the mirror and making your hair look just right. Some of you are addicted to eating. Some of you are addicted to other things.
I submitted myself to counseling because I needed healing; I needed help.
I used to get so nervous before I preach that I would always vomit in a trash can.
I don’t get nervous anymore before I speak because I realized I cared more about what you thought than what God thought. Now, before I speak, I take a step forward. I step out of Craig Groeschel and step into the power of God. I am being healed of this.
I am addicted to adrenaline, and I am being healed of it. I will neglect the rest of the world and give my attention to my wife and my six children because God is healing me.
Some of you are jacked up, and you need to get as open and as honest as you can. Who or what will stretch you? Who or what will bring you healing in your life? You need to get around that person.
People pleasing is idolatry. That is making people in your life bigger than God, and that is idolatry.
Before God can heal you he must ruin you. Return to God with weeping and fasting and mourning.
I used to think I had to be above the pain, separate the emotions. Now I joyfully and willingly step into it. God, break my heart, crush me, make me miserable. I want it back, with weeping and mourning and fasting.
I was listening to a sermon, and I was so far from God. And no one knew it. The message spoke to me, and I got down on my face before going to preach for the weekend and asked God if I was even saved. I knew I was, but at that moment I wasn’t even sure.
I was at seminary the day the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and I should have been in my office. I should have been injured or killed. I rose above it. God was trying to break me, but I wouldn’t have it.
My mentor killed himself, and his wife and two children moved in with us. Still I rose above it. I wouldn’t let God ruin me.
I broke my son’s femur on accident, and I cried for the first time in a long time. I couldn’t do anything about it. I went to another country and held a baby who was going to die after I left, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I’m living this stupid life of luxury with this big church doing virtually nothing. Don’t you dare think it’s about anything outside of you. It is about having your heart break for the things that break the heart of God.
For some of you it’s been way too long. You had it. You wouldn’t have gone into ministry if you didn’t have it.
I pray that some of you encounter the presence of God in your hotel room tonight, and you are never the same again.
Some of you are a senior pastor and you don’t have it any more and you don’t want your congregation to know it. Some of you are student leaders and your students have it and you don’t.