MORE PREACHERS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT

Pastor  Greenbean has spent the last three days at the annual gathering of his particular regional denomination—the Northwest Baptist Convention.  One of the things he always enjoys is connecting with old friends, swapping stories, and getting free books.  However, he noticed, there were fewer free books this year.  It must be the economy.  Now we have one more day to go, and the business session is yet to be had, but I would rate this as a very good convention so far.  Here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

The Good

  • The quality of preaching has been very high and it has been done by folks who minister up here.  In years past we’ve tended to farm out the preaching to people from the South, but this year, we’ve taken care of it ourselves.  I think that has been a great benefit.
  • There seems to be less anxiety this year than in years past.  Nothing controversial is up for discussion, no cluster of conspiracies forming, and in general a feeling of joy permeates the group. 
  • The music has been very good.  From what I’ve been able to see, there has been no attempt to “blend” the music.  Instead, what I think we’ve seen is just high quality music being led by people who love Jesus. 
  • The exercise room was sweet!  

The Bad

  •  My hotel has very poor wifi.  At first it was so poor I thought it didn’t exist.  This has caused me to not be able to stay in touch with the worldwide headquarters back home and running up my data usage on my cell phone plan.  I had to get this blog out here on carrier pigeon.
  •  There is a dearth of quality restaurants in the area here around Pasco, Washington—at least that I’ve been able to discover.  I think this area is beautiful; in fact I love the geography.  But there aren’t many great places to eat.

The Ugly

  •  The book store section is pretty thin.  I usually get a chance at the convention, at least in recent memory, to purchase titles I don’t otherwise see.  It seems like the bookstore only brought Christmas trinkets and Beth Moore products.  Is it wrong of me to assume that a convention of mostly preachers, they might want to serve our needs and bring a few more ‘pastoral’ themed books for sale?  I mean, really, I wanted to spend money but just saw nothing worth buying.
  • The worst part about this convention is that there are a lot of great people in this convention, but sadly, I will not see most of theme again until next year.  Somehow our convention must figure out a way to gather us more frequently.  I know that money and schedules conflict here, but we need to worship together more often and maybe without the pretense of ‘business.’ 

LEADERSHIP: GREENBEAN STYLE

On Saturday, September 25 our church held its annual leadership summit.  As always, it was a delightful time with much work done toward building on the future.  Preparing for the event led me to look through my library to think about what I might recommend to our wonderful lay leaders.  Doing so led me to the startling conclusion that I have way too many books on leadership and leaders!  If I never read another book on leadership, I probably would have still more than my quota met. 

I sat and tried to distill everything I believe about leadership and I have come to the decision it boils down to three essential traits.

            1)  A leader must lead out of his or her own convictions.  Focus groups, polls, and discussion sessions may help a leader pathfind out of a difficult place or into a better one, but these tools cannot make a leader succeed.  Only leading from the gut can lead to any kind of success.

            2)  Trial and error is the trademark of great leaders.  A leader who is afraid to fail is a leader who will never quite make the jump to true success.  The caveat to this is that a leader must learn from the failure.  If learning does not lead to learning, then the whole failure was in vain.

            3)  A true leader cannot be afraid to make enemies.  The painful part of leadership in the church is that sometime these enemies will attack on personal grounds and seek to undermine your leadership, authority, or even your livelihood.  Sometimes these enemies are even “friends.”  But the truth remains that if a man or woman is truly leading, enemies will be made. 

Leadership is hard.  It is hard on the nerves and hard on the heart.  No one has ever claimed leadership was easy.  I thought of this as I was watching President Obama on the news this past week.  Regardless of politics, he looks like he has aged 10 years in the 19 months since he took office.  I noticed the same thing happened to Presidents Bush and Clinton.  Now, that is on a bigger scale some would say.  I argue, however, that in church the leadership turmoil is greater—because the work of the church is far more important than politics.