Perry Noble – In the Process – Catalyst 2012

Today I just want to talk to a certain group of people. The only group of people I think I'm really going to talk to today is the frustrated leader. If you're not frustrated, you're either lying… or you smoked crack right before this session.

You're frurstrated. You're frustrated with this session, with your people, with the leader who didn't come here. You're frustrated with your position because you thought you'd be further along in the process.

Some of you look at me and are like, "You're a megachurch pastor. What you're frustrated because your lasers didn't work on Sunday morning."

I worked as a youth pastor and was part of the problem of great van controversy between the youth group and the senior adults. The problem was that the youth group never cleaned the church van. 6 kids got saved on Wednesday night, but I'm being called into the pastor's office and he's like the senior adult director is breathing down my neck because the van isn't clean.

So I decide I'm going to clean the church van like it's never been cleaned before. I took the van to the car wash, took all of the seats out, hosed down the inside. I was like, "Let the senior adults say something about that."

They did. That was like a Saturday. On Tuesday, they went on a trip. Do you know what happens when Armor All gets really hot? It get's slippery. So they went on this trip in the mountains and their like sliding form one side to the next.

I remember going into my office and being like, "God, I can't make your people happy." He said, "Me either."

No matter what you do, there will be people who aren't happy.

1 Samuel 16-18

I think we can all agree that David is one of the greatest leaders in Israel. But I think there's some stuff that applies to every leader who is frustrated.

Jesse was told, "Go get your sons because one of them will be anointed king." What happened to David? He got completely ignored.

Maybe you're somewhere and you feel completely ignored. David learned in the sheep pen where no one paid attention where he learned a skill, how to use a sling, that propelled him into leadership.

If we want progress in leadership, there is no progress unless we embrace the process of leadership. That means sometimes we do some hard work, some difficult work, some unbelievable work, and no one is going to see it but God.

We've got to get passed wanting to get discovered and start worry about being developed. When we stop screaming at the world, "Discover me!" and start screaming at God, "Develop me!" That's when we'll reach our potential.

God's anointing comes off of Saul, and David plays the harp, so he gets a job as a part time worship leader. He goes and cares for the sheep and then puts on the skinny jeans and goes and leads worship.

David kills the giant. HOw did David get to the battle lines in the first place? His dad had him take bread and cheese to the front lines. YOu know what David didn't say, "I'm anointed. Why don't you take the bread?"

I'm all about anointing, but that doesn't mean you don't have to go through the process.

You know what, if you're gifted, you don't have to say you're gifted. You just have to use your gift and people will notice.

David was available. The Bible doesn't indicate he was mad about taking the cheeses and the bread. David sees Goliath and a tremendous opportunity, so he starts asking about him, and what happens, his brother gets mad at him.

I worked for a church one time where they told me, "We just want you to reach students, and we don't care what you do." You know what I found out, they cared. It was a Baptist church. I decided to teach them the electric slide. I got to attend my first deacons meeting.

That happens and either they don't like the way you're reaching people or they don't like the people you're reaching.

Saul pulled David in to full-time service, but David was working for a leader who was very insecure, who did not quite recognize what God was doing in the next generation.

Several years ago I had a guy on my staff come in and say, "Have you seen my Twitter?" I'm like, "You want to run that by me again? No, freak, I have not. I don't know what you're talking about right now." So he showed me what it was, "And I said that's the dumbest thing I have ever seen." My staff showed me a video of me in a staff meeting saying Twitter is the dumbest thing ever and I'll never do it.

You know what, those of us in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, it's not our job to reach the next generation. They'll reach themselves. We can either be a part of it or resist it and get passed over.

David worked for a leader that asked for ridiculous things. David had to bring Saul 100 Philistine foreskins.

For those of us who are complaining about what we have to do… at least you're not David. We complain that we have to do things we get paid to do that other people have traditionally given their lives to do.

David doesn't get 100. He gets 200. He is a good steward of where he is. If God can't trust us with where we are right now, how do we expect him to use us for greater things in the future.

So Saul throws a spear at David. You know how you know when it's time to leave the church? When the pastor pulls out a Glock. You know when it's time to go. But it's not time to go when you're having a tough time, it's when the leader is trying to destroy you.

You know what a church plant is, it's David in 1 Samuel 22. He was surrounded by the distressed and the dire and the in trouble. Normal people don't show up to a church plant. If you plant a church, every freak in a 50 mile radius is going to find you.

You know how you know David is a leader? He went somewhere and people would follow him.

David never dishonored Saul at any point.

There are some people here who are frustrated, and the easiest thing to do when you're frustrated is talk smack about a leader. If you want to embrace the process of leadership, instead of talking smack about your leader, talk to your savior. Say it doesn't matter if I'm here for the next 10 minutes or the next 10 years, I want you to make me.

BUt your'e saying, "But you don't know my story."

And I would simply ask you back, "Are you any better than Jesus?" Jesus embraced the leadership process. Jesus lived in obscurity for 30 years, swinging a hammer, being a carpenter, working in the family business. If you think nobody recognizes you, nobody understands you better than Jesus.

"But you don't know the clowns I'm working with." How would you have liked Peter on your staff? Or James and John who asked to be seated on the right and the left right after he talked about being crucified.

But Jesus took those people and launched a movement that has brought us to where we are today.

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion." He's bigger than your biggest enemy, greatest fear, and biggest dream, because he is always faithful to people who embrace the process.

Perry Noble – Catalyst 2010

This is my “Oh Crap” moment because I’ve been coming to Catalyst for years and every year they start out with Andy Stanley, Andy “Freaking” Stanley. He has said some of the most brilliant things. The other year he started out with “Leadership is stewardship. You’re accountable.” Francis Chan, every time I hear Francis, I’m not sure I love Jesus anymore. He sold his house and is moving to India. Beth Moore, Beth Moore hugged me yesterday. All of these geniuses and Godly men and women who have spoken at Catalyst, why me? And God said, it’s about time for a dumb redneck to get up and tell people about Jesus.

1 Kings 17

My wife and I take 2 trips a year. We take a Presbyterian trip and a pentecostal trip. The Presbyterian trip is a family trip. So the Presbyterian trip means that everything on that trip is predestined before it happens. My wife plans it. Then there’s the pentecostal trip. It’s my favorite, because the kids don’t come on the Pentecostal trip. What about the Baptist trip? All you do is eat.

We went to St. Lucia this year for our 10th anniversary, our Pentecostal trip. I’m not a tour guide person. I don’t like to travel in group. So we hired a guy. He didn’t tell me he was going to charge me $200. He took us to the botanical gardens. I’m not a botanical gardens guy, but my wife likes them. This guy Gabriel came over to me to give us a tour of the gardens. He looks kinda funny. Our guide told us that he detected the smell of something funny on Gabriel… opium. So I’m with Gabriel, who’s named after an angel and is as high as an angel. I’m in a foreign country with my wife with a guy who’s hopped up on opium. This guy’s picking up plants, and I don’t know if he’s going to smoke it or talk about it. He had the biggest bag of weed in his back pocket that I’ve ever seen in my life. It could have serviced a whole Dave Matthews concert.

The whole time I’m following this guy not sure that I should be. I’m walking around scared because I don’t know if I’m in danger. Have you ever felt that way about God? If you follow God long enough, you’ve had this thought run through your mind.

I’ve been in ministry 20 years and planted a church 10 years ago, and I can tell you God will often lead you to places you don’t want to go but when you get there you’re glad they went.

Three points:

Invitation

God sends ravens to feed Elijah. Have any of you in this room ever been fed by a bird? No. That’s miraculous. God supernaturally provided.

So he did what the Lord told him. That’s the best ministry advice I can give you. Do what the Lord told you.

Some of you have spent more time at the booths around this place than on your face before a holy God. Spend more time on your face than on Facebook.

Isn’t it easy to follow God when birds are bringing you food by a brook? All of us have had those moments at some points in your ministry. There are some Sundays you could go up and read a Dr. Seuss book and 15 people would get saved and raise $100k for missions.

In 6 months we went from 500 to 1600 years ago. And we still don’t know why. I’m not smart. I made a 790 on my SAT. I told this to Francis Chan the other day. He asked if it’s verbal or math. I said Francis, it’s the freakin test.

If something in our ministry is explainable, then God didn’t do it. If you can explain what God is doing in your church, then God didn’t do it.

But most of us aren’t wrestling with that, are we? Most of us didn’t get a call this morning from a guy to tell us that he’s loving his wife and has decided to start tithing 20%.

Things don’t always go well when we follow God. Sometimes desperation follows invitation.

I’m about 10-15 years older than my nephew, so I’m playing the game where you throw the baby up in the air. I never saw the ceiling fan… He’s fine. He just walks to the left and can’t say the number 3.

Doesn’t it seem like that in ministry? Some days God is throwing us up in the air and it’s like Woo Hoo! And all of the sudden it’s like du du du du du.

If you’ve been in ministry longer than a week there have been days you’ve driven by Home Depot and wondered if they’re hiring.

You know why that happens? Sometimes that happens to us because we’re following Jesus.

Verse 7 – Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

Don’t skip this verse. The brook dried up. If you’re Elijah are you okay with this? No, that brook was your source of water, refreshment, nourishment. Do you think Elijah started to freak out as he saw the brook drying up? Absolutely. He’s gettin’ his Chik Fil-A from the ravens and notices the brook dries up. Do you think he’s saying to himself that thing we always say but have trouble believing, “I serve a powerful God and am just believing for a miracle.” And one day finally he goes to the brook and there’s no water. Do you think he asked God why he let that happen? God, you led me here and this dried up.

That’s what’s happening in some of our ministries today. The brook dried up. You thought God called you and recently all hell has broken loose. You ask why God called you. Is your church plant failing? God, why did you call me here for this to happen?

Have you ever been at a place where the brook is dry? Here’s the beautiful thing about this story, most of us understand 1 Kings 18. Here’s what I believe with all of my heart. I don’t believe God brought Elijah to the brook to punish him but to prepare him for greater things that would eventually blow his mind. Because this is 1 Kings 17. But in 1 Kings 18, Elijah goes on top of Mount Carmel with the 450 prophets of Ba’al, and God burns up the prophets. And then he goes and prays for rain and God brings it, and God brings revival to the Israelites. And it was all done by a man who a chapter before who had been by a dried up brook.

So if you’re here today and the brook is dry, I believe with all of my heart that God is not punishing you. He is preparing you. Don’t give up when you’re by the brook.

I believe God had to teach Elijah something that he has to teach us as leaders today. Elijah believed that brook was his supply. God had to teach him that you don’t rely on that brook. You don’t rely on that brook because I am the grave-robbing, water walking God. When you’re by the brook, I always come through. Jesus was in the grave 3 days. Everyone had given up. They had all gone home. They had their committee meeting to decide Christianity was over. And then God blew the doors off the freakin’ tomb. When we’re by the brook. We don’t give up when the brook is dry.

My 3 year old girl is awesome. Charis loves to feed the ducks. We have a duck pond. But there are geese by the duck pond. These geese are mean as church people. We went there one day and my little girl is throwing bread while I’m holding here. And this goose goes crazy and starts chasing me. Now, I’m about 6’6″, 225, and running from this goose. I know God’s watching this with a sense of humor. “Look at that idiot.” I’m running from this goose freaked out of my mind like, I’ve got to protect my daughter. Then it hit me, Perry, you’re running from a goose. So I stopped right there and turned around and said, “In the name of Jesus, I will punt you.” You think I’m kidding. I did this. Some of you are animal lovers. You think I’m so mean… I will punt you too. That’s the kind of Jesus I serve. Some of you serve hugging Jesus. I serve the Jesus who made the whip in the temple.

I got in my car and drove home, and I’ll never forget thinking that night, “I ran from the goose…” Some of you are by the brook right now and you’re getting ready to run from the goose. You’re going to run from the situation that God reigns over.

A study came out that there’s a 10% success rate in ministry. They quit or get disqualified. You know why you shouldn’t quit? God reigns over your situation. Don’t you dare give up on the God who has never given up on you.