I started back to class last night and had a great experience once again. This class is going to focus on Relationships and Vision in Leadership – the horizontal parts of the leadership compass. I’m excited about it ’cause these are the areas I’ve stressed over my years in ministry. It’s hard to lead people anywhere if you don’t have some sort of relationship with them. It’s also hard to lead them, if you don’t have some dream about how things should be. I’ve always seen myself as an adventurer and really enjoy experiencing new things (except when it comes to food). Anyway, because of this, vision is fun for me.
We’re supposed to do a group movie project and I got voted to be the leader. When everyone was deciding which part of the leadership compass (Character, Skills, Relationships, Vision) they wanted to work with, I got the leftovers. I guess that’s how a leader should do it, but the good news is that the leftover point was “vision.” It’s the one I would have chosen anyway. God is good! We’re going to analyze Patch Adams’ through this leadership model.
Whoa! Last night, I had class – it was the second of our 5 Gospel Literature classes at College for Biblical Studies. Anyway, there’s a guy in my class (Justin) who was going to sing a song for the group ’cause it went along with our discussion on Matthew 1. ( Andrew Peterson’s song “Matthew’s Begats” on Behold the Lamb of God – By the way, you should all check out Andrew Peterson – He’s an amazing writer. www.andrew-peterson.com )
Anyway, he had a guitar player who joined him, named Tim Dillon. I would never have recognized him, but Tim was one of the students who came to a youth program I was a part of in Tomball called “The Wave.” It was a skate ministry and by God’s grace there were lots of youth who came that were not from our church. For that matter, I’ll just be blunt and say they were really “rough” kids with drug problems and all sorts of issues. Some of the people in our church, wouldn’t let their own children come ’cause they didn’t want their kids around “those” kids. Anyway, come to find out, Tim was one of “those” kids. He said that he came every week just to skate, but most of the time he was stoned when he got there. I certainly knew that we had quite a few who were coming like that, but we still had the opportunity to let them know they were loved and to tell them about Jesus so I figured it was a good thing. Anyway, I’ll never really know a whole lot about what God accomplished during those days with those students, but I feel confident that there were seeds planted which with God’s help will grow and produce amazing fruit.
Tim has come to know Jesus now. Interestingly enough, he is a pastor’s son and it was after watching some friends die, that he became serious about knowing God. He plays guitar for an artist named Jimmy Needham now too. (Check him out @ www.jimmyneedham.com) It’s great to see that God is still at work among us all even when we don’t have a clue.
I’ve been thinking alot about “comfort” lately. I’m not real sure why, but here are some of my thoughts:
Matt Redman wrote a song quite a few years ago with one line that really stuck out to me – “I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross.” When I first heard the song I thought about this guy I had seen when I was in college. He was one of those crazy preachers who traveled around yelling at people. He was yelling at all of us students between classes and asking if we were “saved.” etc. I think he meant well, but he wasn’t getting very far with most of the students. Anyway, he was carrying a cross and said he was traveling across the United States with his message. But here’s the interesting part: the cross he was carrying had wheels on it. Did Jesus’ cross have wheels? Were they there to help make the journey? I mean, you can’t really put wheels on your cross if you’re trying to be like Jesus – can you? Anyway, it was just like Matt Redman sung – a “more comfortable cross.”
I worked with a speaker named Jeremy Kingsley a few years ago. He had a strange practice I remembered as I’ve been thinking about comfort too. When the youth that I work with would go on trips, they’d always yell “shotgun!” to get the front seat. You know the game. Right?? Jeremy would yell before they even thought of it “I get back seat!!” Strange, huh?? But cool!! Jeremy is that kind of guy. He’s great at taking the normal things we do and making you think about them differently. Anyway, as he worked towards “discomfort,” he served the Lord and our youth.
I wonder how I have made my cross more comfortable? It’s true – I’m comfortable in the ways that I serve. We Christians are uncomfortable whenever we get out of of normal routines. We have our own Christian subculture that we’ve created so we can be comfortable all the time. I mean we have Christian music, Christian toys, Christian clothes, even Christian candy. I guess it’s important not to eat any of that secular candy. (By the way – Christian is a label that can only be used on people)
Anyway, where would Jesus be in all this? I’m pretty sure He got accused of hanging out with the sinners and the prostitutes. He even had fun and turned water to wine at a wedding. Why am I uncomfortable in these party situations? If Jesus was comfortable there, why am I on my guard when someone starts drinking around me or says a cuss word?
What if the cross I carried wasn’t supposed to be comfortable? What if I worked at being uncomfortable? What if I tried to hang out with people who make me uncomfortable? When it comes to money and what I give to the church, if I was uncomfortable, I’d probably be giving more to the Lord. If I wasn’t so concerned about my own comfort all the time, I bet I’d be a better husband and I’d do more things for my beautiful bride. If I worked to be uncomfortable, I’d probably do a lot more physical labor and help out my friends with things they needed done. If I worked to be uncomfortable, with the way I eat, I’d probably lose weight. If I was uncomfortable with the sin in my life, maybe I’d repent and be more spiritually healthy. If I was uncomfortable in the ways I serve the Lord, maybe I’d find myself serving in places I never imagined. (By the way, watch the movie “The Second Chance” someday.) Maybe I’d live in another town or country. Maybe I’d have a different job. Maybe I’d buy more things to give away and fewer things for myself. How much does my own “comfort” really drive my life? Probably more than I’d like to admit.
Anyway, you get the point. “Comfort” might just be right where Satan wants us. It’s when we’re uncomfortable, that we learn to lean on and trust in the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, I hesitate to even pray this prayer, ’cause I know it’s gonna mean changes for me, but I wanna be the man You’ve called me to be. So help me to step into uncomfortable situations more often. Help me to give myself away more often and teach me to seek comfort for others over comfort for myself. Lord, I don’t want to be comfortable in this world (well, admittedly, part of me does) because it’s not my home. I’m an alien here. As Andrew Peterson sings, my home is the “Far Country.”