What is a Leader?

leadershipI’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately and specifically the question of what is a leader.  This is a many-faceted answer, so I don’t intend to give an all consuming definition in this post but I have been chewing on something for a few months that has been helpful to me in thinking through what a leader is.

Several years ago I lead a mission trip to Baja, CA.  We built a Sunday School room, conducted several VBS programs and held night services, so it was a pretty busy time.  As I was planning for the trip I realized that there were more tasks to be accomplished than we had people to accomplish them, so I was greatly tempted to assign myself an area of responsibility (i.e. running VBS) in addition to leading the team.  Thankfully I resisted the temptation, found the right people to do the jobs and allowed myself the luxury of simply leading the team.

When we arrived in Baja I realized that there were a thousand things that I either hadn’t been aware of or hadn’t thought of which needed significant attention.  Fortunately, because I hadn’t assigned myself any major tasks (other than leading), I was able to give attention to all of the various obstacles that came up and the trip was a big success.

So, what is a leader?  In a word, “available.”  Part of the job of leadership is simply being available to deal with unexpected situations, crisis, and people.  But in order to be available leaders must be very careful not to overschedule their days or overcommit themselves to the point where they are no longer available.  In short, leaders must build in “margin” to their lives which allows them to be available so that they can lead.

October 11 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on What is a Leader?

Final Mexico Thoughts

Well we got back to Mt. Vernon yesterday around 4:00pm. It was a long day of driving (12 hours), which started with a very early morning (3:00am) but it was all well worth it when we pulled in to see our family and friends waiting for us.

I woke up this morning around 10:00am and have spent most of the day trying to unpack and get the house back together for Amy, Micah and Cody who are coming home on Tuesday. I forgot to mention earlier but everything went great on Thursday when I saw Amy and Micah. As soon as Micah saw me, he ran to me and laid his head on my shoulders and stayed like that for the entire 45 minutes that we were all at Starbucks. I had a hard time fighting back the tears when I saw them, being without family is pretty tough.

I’ve had about a day to think about some of our experiences in Mexico, so I wanted to post a couple of things that have really stuck out to me.

1) We have amazing young people at our church. Throughout the entire two weeks there was hardly any complaining at all. Everyone stuck together, supported each other, prayed for each other and had outstanding attittudes.

2) We had an amazing team of leaders for this trip. This trip could not have happened without such a godly, dedicated team working so incredibly hard.

3) I have an amazing wife! Amy really made much of this trip possible, by staying with our two children and freeing me up to go and do this ministry in San Carlos. I am truly blessed.

4) Proverbs tells us, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s will prevails.” I saw this verse lived out time and time again in Mexico. We went into this trip with a lot of good intentioend plans, but at nearly every turn it seemed that the Lord’s plan was different and far better than anything I could have come up with. The goodness of God is clearly seen in the stopping of our plans for the fulfillment of his far better plan.

5) Tears are a very good thing. Throughout the trip we shed a lot of tears, but none so much as the day we left. Hearing the testimonies of the students who went and the testimonies of the members of the church, I simply couldn’t help but shed tears for the grace of God in transforming our young people’s hearts and allowing us to minister to this sister church.

There’s a lot more that I could write about, but these seemed to be some of the big things for me. Here’s looking forward to Mexico 2012.

July 06 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Final Mexico Thoughts

Mexico Update #24 – The Last Two Days

The last two days have been great here in Southern California. We ended up deciding to stay at The Master’s College, so that we could be closer to the trailer as it was being repaired and to avoid having to relocate our stuff to another location. The kids have loved it here at the college, in the evenings they go out to the soccer fields and play for hours.
Yesterday we went to Hurricane Harbor, which is connected with Six Flags Magic Mountain for the day. Everyone had a great time going on all the waterslides, hanging out in the Wave Pool and floating along on the river. I’ve really started to notice how dark everyone is getting b/c of the sun, we should all come back very tan this Friday.
Today we drove down to Huntington Beach and spent the day in the water and walking around the town. It was a lot of fun. Several of the students visited the “Vintage Clothing” shop where they found jeans, shirts, etc. A whole bunch of them ended up getting tatoos, including Luis P.!!! Fortunately, these are Henna tatoos which will fade away in about 2 weeks or so. We did have one throwing up incident on the 405 this evening, but she at least ended up getting it into the trough of the van, rather than on the seats (Bernie would be proud).
In other news, the trailer got fixed!!! Nick and Caryl picked it up this afternoon and it’s as good as new, so that means that I don’t have to rent a U-Haul (yeah!!!).
We’re planning on packing up tomorrow morning at 5:00am and leaving at 6:00am for Redding. If all goes well, we should be in Redding by 3:00pm where we’ll have our last Team Meeting. I’m reallye excited about tomorrow, because we’re going to stop in Tulare so that I can see Amy and Micah for a little bit (yeah!!!).
Friday, we’re going to try to leave at 4:00am and hopefully will arrive at 5:00pm in Mount Vernon. If you’re a parent with a kid or kids on this trip, I’d plan on being at the church around 4:00pm just in case we make good time. As always, we’ll be sure to call ahead and let you know where we’re at.

July 03 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Mexico Update #24 – The Last Two Days

Christ Supremely Precious

I read this just before our last church service in San Carlos and felt that it was so good that I have to share it with you. It’s by John Fawcett’s book “Christ Precious“. It’s a little bit of a longer quote, but it is well worth the read and will bless you tremendously.

If Christ is truly precious to us–we shall prefer Him above every other object; He will have the chief place in our affections. The love which a Christian has to his Savior, penetrates and possesses his heart. This distinguishes it from the pretended love of hypocrites, which is only in word, or in some external actions, while their hearts are full of sinful self-love; so that it may be said of them, “This people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.”

We may possibly delight in some objects of an inferior nature, as they contribute to our health, our ease, or our comfort. Our homes, our food, and our other temporal enjoyments are dear to us, because they minister to our comfort and convenience in the present life. But true love for Christ, does not allow any other object to hold the chief place in the heart. This chief place is for Jesus, whom we ought to love with supreme ardor. The choicest affections of our souls ought to be supremely fixed upon Him.

As it is impossible for any man to love an unknown object–so it cannot be expected that Christ should be supremely precious unto us, unless we know Him to be excellent and desirable, beyond whatever may be compared with Him. We shall not esteem Him above all things–if we have not elevated views of His transcendent worth. Our esteem of Him rises in proportion to the knowledge we have of Him. Godly men therefore ardently desire to increase in the knowledge of Him–that their affections may be more intensely fixed upon Him.

That love, which has but created things for its object, is degrading to the soul. It is a cleaving to that which can neither give happiness to our souls, nor repose to our minds. For to love any object ardently, is to seek our felicity in it, and to expect that it will answer our desires. It is to call upon it to fill that deep void which we feel in ourselves, and to imagine that it is capable of giving us the satisfaction we seek. It is to regard it as the resource of all our needs, the remedy of all the troubles which oppress us, and the source of all our happiness. Now, as it is God alone in whom we can find all these advantages, it is a debasing of the soul, it is idolatry to seek them in created objects! “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!” Philippians 3:8

If Christ is truly precious to us–we shall be induced to devote our souls and our bodies, our talents, our abilities and our faculties–as a living sacrifice to Him. To contemplate His adorable perfections will be our highest joy. We shall be ready to obey Him–in opposition to all the threats and the solicitations of men. We shall rely upon Him, though all outward appearances seem to be against us. We shall rejoice in Him, though we have nothing else to comfort us. If we enjoy health and plenty, friends and reputation, the Lord is still the object of our earnest desires and our supreme delight. “Whom have I in heaven but you? There is none upon earth that I desire besides you! As the deer pants for the water-brooks, so longs my soul after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!”

July 01 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Christ Supremely Precious

What Saves Me???

I was reading “Morning and Evening” while in San Carlos the other day and these words fell on me with great conviction as I thought about what I think saves me.
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument – it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.

July 01 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on What Saves Me???

Mexico Update #23 – Traveling Mercies

By this time I’m sure that most of you have heard that two of our four vehicles were involved in car accidents yesterday. I wanted to write a post as a testimony to God’s grace and kindness in the midst of what could have been a horrible tragedy.
Yesterday, as we made our way up the I-5 I began to doze off a little bit (yes, Dave was driving and I was in the passenger seat, not the other way around). After a few minuts I looked up and noticed a sign saying that we were leaving the 5 and getting onto the 101 freeway. The Freeways change pretty fast here in CA, so it’s easy to mistakenly get on the wrong one. Scott and Luis ended up following me, while Mark and Angel ended up following Nick and staying on the I-5.
Mark immediately called me (Todd was driving) and asked what was going on. As I began giving him directions, all of a sudden I heard a crash in the background and screaming kids (this is a Pastor’s worst nightmare). Mark told me that they had been hit and that he would call me back. After several hours of phone calls and logistical wrangling, this is where everything ended up: The car in front of Nick slammed on their breaks, this caused Nick to slam on his breaks and swerve the truck and trailer into the right lane. Nick’s truck barely missed the car in front of him but the trailer hit their fender, causing some minor damage but breaking the axel of the trailer. Todd hit his break in order to avoid hitting Nick, which caused a Semi-Truck behind him to slam on their breaks. The Semi was able to stop, but not before just barely bumping into the back drivers side of the van, causing some minor body damage. EVERYONE IS OK!!! NO ONE WAS HURT AT ALL!!!
Mark and Angel’s van (driven by Todd) took care of the insurance information and continued heading to Master’s. Nick stayed behind with the trailer. Me and my two vans went to Master’s dropped off our kids, took the seats out and went back to the trailer. We unloaded the trailer, put everything in the vans and got the kids all of their stuff so that they could shower, sleep, etc. Nick and I ended up staying behind and waiting for a tow truck, which came and took the trailer to their tow lot.
Whene everything was said and done the only real damage we have is a broken trailer and some body damage to Nick’s truck and to the Chevy van (praise the Lord). You can be praying for us right now as we’re trying to figure out how to get the trailer fixed, how fast we can get it fixed and what the rest of our options are for getting the stuff back home.
I can’t help but see God’s tremendous mercy in this whole thing. The fact that two vans were on a completely different freeway for no real reason at all; the fact that a Semi Truck ran into a 15 passenger van full of teenagers and no one was hurt and the fact that we were able to unload the trailer and get everyone their stuff are all testimonies to God’s mercy in the midst of tragedy. He is good and he always does that which is good (Psalm 119:68)

June 30 2008 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Mexico Update #22 – The Outhouse


Update: I wrote this post while we were in Mexico, but didn’t get the chance to post it down there. Ironically enough I woke up this morning from a nightmare of having to smell the outhouse. It was truly terrifying.
There’s really no way to adequately describe what it’s like to go to the bathroom here in San Carlos. It’s something of a mix between a Friday the 13th Horror Movie and coming home from a 2 week vacation to find that your freezer was unplugged and is now full of rancid meat.It all begins with one of the most terrifying moments that a human being can experience. It is that moment when you realize that nature is now calling and you just pulled back into the church parking lot. Nature could have been much kinder and called when you were at Wal-Mart, but sadly Nature is cruel and has chosen to wait and to let you leave your deposit here in San Carlos.

During my first excursion into the Outhouse I nearly suffocated from the fumes arising from the gaping abyss. Lately I have taken to wrapping my sweatshirt around my head several times in an attempt to create a vacuum seal around my nose. For those of you who are wondering, no this does not work.

The whole experience begins by creating a makeshift toilet cover out of several pieces of toilet paper. This process would normally be fairly easy, if it weren’t for the fact that the toilet paper roll has a wet streak across it and you’re not sure if it’s from the bleach that was used earlier this morning…or something else. The rest of the experience is a little blurry right now. It involves flailing arms, nearly passing out, praying that it will all end soon and finally resorting to breathing through the mouth. As my experience came to an end nature game me one final blessing, standing up I looked behind me just in time to see a cockroach scamper across my makeshift toilet cover.

June 30 2008 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Mexico Update #21 – What’s Coming Up

Here’s what we’re planning on doing for the next couple of days.
1) This afternoon we’ll be going to La Buffadora for some shopping and sight seeing.
2) Tomorrow morning we’ll be going to the Beach to go swimming.
3) Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be going back to the Oasis to clean up.
4) Tomorrow night the ladies of the church are making a gigantic traditional mexican feast for us.
5) Sunday we’re going to church. Pastor Ernesto changed Sunday’s Church service times so we can spend less time waiting at the border. The next border crossing is definitely our next major prayer need as the lines can take a very long time and we will have a lot of people who will need to use the bathroom. Please pray for a speedy crossing and strong bladders.

June 27 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Mexico Update #21 – What’s Coming Up

Mexico Update #20 – Ernesto

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how Pastor Ernesto seems to define himself. He only makes $10/week from the church, which isn’t even close to enough to support himself on. Because the church can’t afford to pay him a real salary, he ends up spending the majority of his time doing electrical work or plumbing work. It would be very easy for him to say that he’s a plumber or an electrician who happens to Pastor on the side, especially in light of the fact that the church barely pays him anything. But this man is a pastor before he’s anything else. He’s a good shepherd who takes care of his sheep and who happens to do electrical work and plumbing to pay the bills. It’s really just a matter of priorities for him, while he must spend most of his time making money to take care of his family, he’s a Christian and a Pastor before anything else. I guess the best way to say it would be that his faith is what defines him.

June 27 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on Mexico Update #20 – Ernesto

Mexico Update #19 – Tears

It seems that everywhere I look lately people are crying, while that may sound bad at first it’s actually a very good thing. All of us are having our hearts broken down here as we minister to and alongside this church. Whether it be the poverty, the passion of their prayers, or the power in their preaching, we are being changed and it’s a wonder to behold.

June 27 2008 | Blog | 1 Comment »

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