Sunday, June 27, 2010

To Entangle, Enable or Empower

Why does it matter? Enabling keeps us in ruts, wastes time, drains energy and, ultimately robs life of our direction.

If you answer yes to most of these you may be more of an enabler:
  1. Do I do for others what they can and should do for themselves?
  2. Have I reminded them to do what was their responsibility?
  3. Have I commented even to myself on how another has fulfilled a task?
  4. Have I tried to change someone's feelings?
  5. Do I often find it easier to just say yes when I really need to say no?

Enabling others prevents people from knowing God's will and using their spiritual gifts. Being "entangled" with others does sap your energy, verve, and purpose. If you are functioning too much as an enabler, it may be a struggle being your own person, to stand on your own two feet. You may even "love too much" or try to get from others what you really need to give to yourself: respect, patience, and self-acceptance. Clergy are especially susceptible to wanting everyone to like them.

Equipping and empowering others is different than enabling. Empowering others frees and supports others to do what God is calling them to do and be. It encourages us to use our gifts rather than to deny them. We aspire to fulfill the highest vision, not just to please others. The courage to be your own best self is connected, on the deepest level, to be a faithful steward of what God has given you, in love, to be and do. That in itself requires strength, clear thinking, and attention.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is "Tilting" Enough?

In Tilt: Small Shifts in Leadership that Make a Big Difference, authors Erik Rees and Jeff Jernigan describe the difference between being managed by change and leading it. By choosing the later, we can become part of the process of transformation instead of blocking it. A significant theme throughout the book: too much management and control leads to burn-out. And that deadens all forms of leadership, volunteer as well as professional.

The best chapters were on "Becoming an Empowering Leader" and "Value-Driven Behaviors." The importance of inviting new people and investing in them is the first step in empowering others, especially if Christ's ministry is ever to be replicated and multiplied. The strength of the book is the emphasis on behaviors or fruits. The authors do a good job of identifying what they mean by values- driven behaviors, a popular topic in the corporate world. As you begin to establish value-based behaviors, you actually have a good chance of limiting toxic relationships.

The best quote was found on page 133: "If visibility is something you need, you need to be in theater, not ministry." You might also find the Appendix, Value-Driven Behaviors Card-Sort a useful exercise for any group or team you lead.

The authors tend to lump everyone under the catch-all "ministry." The leadership issues are not the same. Clergy have responsibilities that parishioners do not, for example, in the areas of setting and maintaining healthy space, time, energy, and rest boundaries, both for self and for others. Too, I could have seen fewer grids, graphs, quizzes and inventories, and few more metaphors, biblical and otherwise, developed.

Because growth and change is messy- and not just the cause and effect manipulated or "driven"- a more helpful approach would be to focus on the organic, grass roots aspects of transformation. Vision can strangely diminish the more we dissect its parts, rely on general formulas, and ignore the one and only movement of God's Spirit in our midst. That's why I think Tilt falls short as a guide for encountering the Holy One in Christ's ministry. As such, it's more of a leadership manual for the 1990's. More of a last gasp of the purpose-driven technique than a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beginning Second Half Ministry @ Chapelwood

I'm a second-half pastor with ministry to second-half adults to be added to my official responsibilities July 1. I will continue equipping Chapelwood in the areas of Reaching and First Impression Ministry.

As the youngest of three brothers, I grew up looking up to my elders, literally. In a number of ways, I've sort of lived out that boyhood experience. As a college student, I participated in the "pioneer" older adult group as a leader in training. In my last year in college, I assisted the county in developing a legal assistance-peer counseling program for seniors. And in the course of ministry, I have directed retiree events at Mt. Sequoya (Arkansas), was chaplain for a Christian retirement community with continuing care, and trained as resident advocate, or an ombudsman. For the past three years, I've volunteered with the Houston Alzheimer's Association's conferences.

Throw in my own experience with caring for family members, which, in itself, changes your life and your outlook. About my family. There are three generations of attorneys., and my mother was an R.N. and birthing instructor. After growing up in the same town in Ohio, I left home and family to attend Trinity University in San Antonio. While there, I met my future wife, Mary Mann from Ft. Worth. We married while I was a student at Duke Divinity School. We have two children, Marianne, who's a second grade teacher in Spring Branch, and Alex, who is a junior at UT, Austin. My family are wonderful to me and I love being there for them.

I have been in full-time ministry for 27 years. I have served churches in North Carolina, Odessa, and Houston before coming to Chapelwood in late 2003. I love learning and sharing ideas, so I keep going back to school! In 1997 I completed a Doctor of Ministry and last year, I graduated from the Cenacle's 3 year Spiritual Direction Institute here in Houston. I've been a blogger since 2008 at and for most of this June, I will be in Dallas taking some study leave under the direction of Dr. Elaine Heath, who teaches evangelism at Perkins (SMU).

I love Chapelwood. In many ways, coming here has been a coming home to what I was meant to be as a person and a pastor. I consider serving and equipping the "second-half" adults here to be a wonderful invitation to grow more fully into God's love, as well as in ministry. For me, and I believe for all of us, that means learning to be grateful for the life we have here and now.

What a wonderful foundation The Reverend Mopsy Andrews has built with the Bolder Adult Ministry! This group is so vibrant and forms a really impressive hub of service throughout the church and community. That is a tremendous gift to all of us and especially for me as I step into this new leadership role. Because strong leaders and programs are already in place, we can spend a little more time getting to know each other in the weeks and months ahead.

I look forward to our ministry together!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Old Idea Looking Better

What if the mission record of the church has been poor, regardless of the vast array of clergy appointments made to said church? How in the world can it be concluded that everyone of those clergy were just ineffective, especially when they had proven themselves otherwise before or after their tenure at the resistant church?

While some have forwarded the corollary of the guaranteed appointment repeal (that is, refusing poorly performing churches a clergy appointment), there may be several other options short of stiffing the congregation an ordained pastor:
  • These instances are opportunities for bishops with exceptional pastoral skills to shine. Show the rest us how what it looks like to turn a church around!
  • In an area bishop's tenure, pastor a turn-around once every quadrennium. That would put an entirely different spin on the teaching function of the episcopacy.
  • Choose cabinet members on their demonstrated ability and willingness to turn a resistant church or churches around. They, too, could be "challenged" to select one maybe two, churches to pastor during their six year tenure.
  • Saving $ is often the rationale for getting a student or part-time local pastor. Even though churches across the connection could potentially save in overhead and apportioned expenses, The goal is equipping all pastors, especially younger clergy, with both the Spirit and the gifts.
This is not new. Appointing District Superintendents to churches is already common practice in different parts of World Methodism. Different rules are needed for different situations. In the U.S., this can be a time of peeling away overhead. It requires a new level transparency for pastors AND churches to be sure. Look at where we are now. Lay leaders and pastors hear tedious, theoretical, droning lectures on appointment making rationale. Or, how to complete reports. Uninspiring. Unconvincing. Ineffective.

Pastors and churches are commissioned to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It's time for conference leaders to let us see how it's done.

Oldies but Goodies