Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts on mentoring

Right now, part of my calling is to mentor emerging leaders.

It seems strange since I always assumed that offering guidance to younger people would come when I was much older, at least after I turned thirty-five.

Instead, I've been watching a few twenty-somethings hovering around wondering if I might be able to invest a bit of my life in them.

It's part of the reason why I love teaching at the college. It's also part of the reason Erika and I are looking for new ways to get a little closer to some post-adolescents, especially those who are sensing God's call toward pastoral ministry.

So, whether formally or informally, I'm committed to enter the life chaos of those Jesus followers, especially twenty-somethings, who are walking the road toward Christian maturity.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lesson #3

Erika and I are sharing "Ten lessons in ten years" with the 55+ group at our church tomorrow.

We'll be telling stories from the first decade of our life together.

Here's #3:

Don't wait for the perfect time. The first few verses of Ecclesiastes 11 talk about not waiting until the right circumstances before planting, reaping or taking risks. There will never be a perfect time. You will never have enough money. Your ducks will never align themselves or stay ordered in the row of your choice. So, take risks. Be crazy. Take a road you've never travelled. Eat another cinnamon bun even when you feel full.

Forget that last one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Staff turnovers aren't like apple turnovers.

It feels like our church is losing staff members at a record rate.

Four pastors/directors (plus another one this June) and two support staff in three years. They've either stepped down or moved on to something else.

I find it hard to say good-bye to people who have mentored, supported, and shared the same wild path of ministry with me.

Yet in the midst of our transition folks have been asking our staff how we're feeling. Here's what I think: we're reeling. Not because the load is heavy (which it is) or because we're lacking vital skills and gifts to pastor our church (which we're not). It's because we have to say good-bye so often.

There is a bright side: people are stepping up to serve and work alongside us without expectation of payment; our staff team is having fun playing to our strengths; and we're working and praying together in a spirit of unity.

I just can't help but wonder something: did my coming have anything to do with the staff goings? Weird coincidence or am I missing something?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Shack, eh?

An older, church-going friend of mine has been bugging me to get my hands on a copy of The Shack for months. So, I finally set some time aside and read it this week.

Although I would have taken a slightly different angle, William Young illuminated some of life's greatest mysteries--from horrendous human loss to God's Trinitarian relationship.

It was great.

Want to know my favorite part?

It's Jesus' response to Mack's query about why he doesn't command the two foot long trout to bite his hook or jump in the boat:

Jesus says, "But what would be the fun in that, eh?" (p. 177).

The Shack confirms it; Jesus speaks Canadian.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Church History vs. NHL Hockey

Bad news.

My Christian Worship through the Centuries class was supposed to spend Friday morning at Christ the Saviour Antiochian Orthodox church in Waterloo. The priest was going to spend some time filling us in about the liturgy and worship practices of the ancient Eastern church.

Unfortunately, the he landed some last minute hockey tickets for him and his kids to a Thursday night Sens game.

We'll try again next week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Big Decisions

A former student in my Owen Sound youth ministry recently queried me about knowing God's will. He is finishing university and is thinking about going overseas. The possibility of entering a new culture is a huge decision and he's not sure what to do.

Here's what I told him:

1. Ask God. It's so obvious: but finding out what God thinks is not usually our first response. Take some time to sit, relax, and ask God what He wants you to do. A pastor friend of mine told me about a time when he finished school and wondered what opportunity God had for him. There were 3 churches that were looking for pastors and each of them would have gladly welcomed him. He spent time praying and reading the Bible. Then stumbled upon the text in Joshua that reads, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9). At that moment he realized that God was inviting him to choose. Either way God promised to go with him. Maybe God will give you a similar revelation.

2. What is your life producing? When the Spirit of God is leading, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident. Ask yourself, does the thought of where God is leading produce a sense of peace, love, gentleness, patience, goodness...? Or does it produce fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness...? If it's the latter then God is not likely in it. That's not to say you won't occasionally experience those feelings when God is moving you in a new direction but if they are constant and nagging--beware.

3. Ask a mentor/spiritual director for insight. I remember the time when I realized it was time to leave my first ministry context. My mentor would often tell me to hang in there when things got tough. One day he said, "I think it's time for you to leave." I don't know how but that day he sensed that our time in that congregation was drawing to a close. His words came as a confirmation of what we had already been sensing. So, find some trusted counselors and friends and invite them to ask you hard questions and pray with you. Friends and mentors are invaluable in the discernment process.
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