sometimes we don't get the job

Sometimes we don't get the job.

I'm putting this out there - perhaps someone who comes across it one day will need to read it.

I read a post in an online group I'm a part of where people in ministry share life and stories to get perspective from each other.

Recently, someone shared this:
Really frustrated: just got a text from a potential new church after we flew down to interview and they offered the position to someone else. That being said I had asked what we did wrong or could do differently.

My wife and I are a team and we both have a lot of different strengths that make us a great team. That being said the pastor pretty much said they only pay one person and my wife needs to back off and let me do my thing. I'm frustrated and my wife is devastated and has told me she is done and it's all mine now.

She is a huge part of the our ministry and now she is done and doesn't want to be apart of it anymore. Thoughts and prayers appreciated. 

Throughout the years of being in ministry, I've been there.

Here's what I wrote back.


Grieve.... just grieve.... it's okay.

Because you will replay this scenario over and over in your mind as you each dissect what you could have or should have done differently. You'll begin to believe that if you were just more _____ and less _____ that you would have been accepted...

wait, "accepted?"

Because you'll then realize this has become unexpectedly about acceptance. You'll be surprised at how you didn't see that sneak into your hearts. It'll feel like this getting this job was a matter of validation and security. "God, I really wanted this. We both really wanted this. We've served you so hard and hoped that this would be a sign of a fresh start."

And then, wow... pretty soon you'll then realize you're thinking this is how God works - that if you only would have fasted one more time or not said that "one thing" in a message that maybe you would have been found/seen/felt to be faithful. You'll each feel like the "dirty one" in the relationship - your wife will feel like she let you down somehow, while you will feel like you let her down somehow.

Meanwhile, life will demand you do something... go grocery shopping... pay bills... navigate the awkward silences in between watching your favorite TV show or brushing your teeth. You'll bump into the remnants of your trip, too - perhaps paperwork you grabbed that has the church's name on it, or your bank statement that shows all the restaurants you ate at on your trip wondering what you might get the "next time" you stared at their menu.

The clock will still tick as it always does - 60 seconds in every minute; 60 minutes in every hour. Only it'll feel more like 600 seconds and 600 minutes. To compensate, you'll hit refresh on your internet browser about 600 times a day hoping for an email or update on a church job posting website.

This will go on - with one of you being "up" while the other is "down" (and then vice-versa). You'll get ticked off. You'll wake up ready to cry. You'll tell God what you think of Him.

Which will somehow create this weird on-ramp to honest prayer. In fact, you'll rediscover ways to pray that you haven't prayed in a long time... prayers that involve lamenting, an often forgotten spiritual practice.

Maybe this will prompt you to look through old journals of times in your life when you were just as confused and didn't know what was going to happen next. It'll speak volumes as your "older, wiser self" wishes you could tell your "younger, naive self" that whatever you were sweating years ago will all work out in an unplanned way...

and then somehow you'll realize that by remembering the journey your "younger, naive self" was on with God back then you have perspective today. Perhaps you can't confess that you know what'll happen next, but you can confess your certainties in the Lord. Somehow that in itself will feel like a breakthrough.

Over time - maybe a day, or perhaps days, or even weeks - you'll start to clarify your "creed" - what you believe about the Lord and your calling. And you'll as husband and wife reconnect through intimacy, remembering that you are on this journey together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in want and in plenty and so on.

Pretty soon you'll own that you can actually take "the hit."

Wow, that day actually will come.

You can take "the hit." You'll say it out loud a few times - "I'm okay, now. I can take the hit."

But letting the hit overshadow the amazing, phenomenal calling that God has put into you? The idea of not standing up to find a new way to pour forth what's in you? That'll kill you.

So you'll then worry a little less about the future and instead begin loving the next person in front of you.... because... it's in you.

Wow, that's actually in you.

Sure, you'll be diligent in putting your resume out there again and realizing that the same thing may happen all over one more time... and then again, yet again. But you'll be making a difference today.

Because this is ministry. We're not being called into heaven just yet where everything makes sense, but into a war zone where spiritual battles happen inside and outside of the church; where people (even those in pastoral leadership) are flawed and careless without intending to be that way; where you don't get the La La Land ending you want, but get called to make a difference on the mission field before you today. The reason it's called "ministry" is because there are real needs in the world that need "ministers." To quote Jesus, we are not fed by what is given to us but our "food is to do the will of Him who sent me."

And then you'll grab your wife's hand, and she'll grab yours, and you'll somehow realize that you're able to do this because God has first each grabbed you. He loves you.

And He loves lots of people. Not just the ones in the church you had plans to go to, but people who are before you today.

It'll take time. It'll take Jesus. It'll take each of you. It'll take a community of people who won't just commiserate but who will help you cultivate, ventilate and formulate.

Maybe you're not there yet, but maybe you will be.

So in the meantime...

Grieve.... just grieve.... it's okay.

is it this simple?


What if the opportunity to L.E.A.D. others is just this simple?
  • Listen
  • Encourage
  • Adapt
  • Develop 
Ya think?
"...to equip people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." (Ephesians 4:12)

giving up the struggle

In Exodus 25 there's a real interesting thing that happens.

God asks the people to take up an offering for Him... meaning, whatever would come out of that would belong to Him and not the people. He didn't ask for cheap stuff, either. What was collected ended up becoming the Tabernacle, the Ark and other tangible things that let the people better connect with Him in that era.
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

We often struggle with giving without having full knowledge of whatever that offering would be used for. It's why we pause when someone on the street asks us for a dollar or when a "certain" family member or friend hits us up for a loan. Especially in today's information-overload, we're tempted to only be generous when we know everything.

On one hand, it's wise. We only have so many resources to go around and need to manage them well. It's good to know the story behind the ask to realize that the opportunity and impact are real.

On the other hand, sometimes God wants you to give. When He moves your heart or asks you for something costly, don't hesitate... let your relationship with Him trump your desire to ask Him for a spreadsheet.

The world would be a much healthier place if you and I didn't resist being generous.

To stop struggling with giving, start giving up the struggle.

go crazy

You're a little crazy.

That's what you'll hear, at least.

That innovative idea you have that you fear trying because of the peanut gallery commenting on it?

It just may be the "crazy" idea that all the "sane" people need to hear.

You know how when people are driving along on a road and see a fire burning off in the distance they slow down and pay attention to it?

What if you could light the right fire so that people will slow down and pay attention to it?

Consider the perspective of Charles Spurgeon on this:
"All those who have done wonders for Christ have always been called eccentric and fanatical. Why, when Whitfield first went on Bennington Common to preach, because he could not find a building large enough, it was quite an unheard of thing, to preach in the open air. How could you expect God to hear prayer, if there was not a roof over the top of the people's heads? How could souls be blessed, if the people had not seats, and regular high-backed pews to sit in! Whitfield was thought to be doing something outrageous, but he went and did it; he went and broke the alabaster box on the head of his Master, and in the midst of scoffs and jeers, he preached in the open air.

And what came of it? A revival of godliness, and a mighty spread of religion.

I wish we were all of us ready to do some extraordinary thing for Christ - willing to be laughed at, to be called fanatics, to be hooted and scandallized because we went out of the common way, and were not content with doing what everybody else could do or approve to be done."
It's time to do that crazy thing.

It's time to get your family back into church.

It's time to get your church back into being a family.

It's time to reach out to new people who are not like you in any way.

It's time to be reached out to by people whose phone calls and texts you've been avoiding.

It's time to step up and reveal the greatness inside of you that blush about.

It's time to blush about the not-so-great things you've gotten used to happening in the world.

Go crazy.

And if the elevator tries to bring you down... go crazy (Punch a higher floor!)
I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  (2 Samuel 6:22)

one

What are you known for?

I've been spending some time this year reading about the various people in the Bible. None other than Jesus were perfect, but each was known for something. One that has its own unique summary takes place in an era when everyone else had become notoriously corrupt:
"Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation." (Genesis 6:9)
Still, when we think of Noah our mind quickly jumps to images of a ship packed with animals or a smiling man next to a rainbow. These are images we see in baby nurseries or church coloring pages, but there is more to the story of Noah. The biggest lesson comes at the beginning story—the lessons of a man who stood alone for God.
One song can spark a moment.
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest.
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship.
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea.
One word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation.
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness.
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey.
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits.
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom.
One heart can know what’s true.
One life can make the difference.
You see it’s up to YOU!
-Anonymous
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

So can you and I.

Noah was thought of as blameless.

So can you and I.

How? Noah walked with God.

So can you and I.

Be the example.

Be that "one." 

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

come clean

Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover up their inadequacies/insecurities before God.

We use accomplishment and good deeds.

Come clean.
"Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the LORD "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the LORD. ( Jeremiah 23:24)

jump anyway


When the "hits" just keep on coming and you want to jump into your Father's arms, remember:

There's a great difference between trusting Him for what you want Him to do... 

and trusting Him for who He is. 

They do overlap, but He may spin you in a different direction as you embrace Him than what you planned for.

Jump anyway. He's your Father.
"O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name." (Isaiah 63:16b)

rethinking our mission statements and values



Richard Branson is nothing short of a Type-B conundrum in the world of Type-A leadership gurus. I'm working through his book "The Virgin Way" right now. This quote caught my eye:
"Before anyone tries to come up with a mission statement... there is the little matter of actually considering your company's commitment and ability to live up to it. If neither of these conditions is present then there's no point in trying to 'put lipstick on the pig' by means of a fanciful, pie-in-the-sky mission statement."

What values in your life do you swear you hold to...

but your commitment and ability to follow through on them don't seem to be growing into those values?

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.(1 John 4:20)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)

why prayer matters right now


Prayer is one way to honest with your foundation, but also with your opposition.
 
It allows your circumstances to overlap with a larger story, and a larger Story to overlap with your circumstances.
"I know I am anchored, but the waves are thick today."
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." (Ephesians 6:18)

the balance between confidence and humility

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully piloted Flight 1549 to safety in the Hudson River saved more than 150 passengers in the process. He exemplified a balance between confidence and humility as few could, attributing his courage through poise to his training over the years.
“One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”


The balance between confidence and humility... 

comes from being a rooted person who is faithful in the everyday moments.

"Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unfaithful in very little is also unfaithful in much." (Jesus, via Luke 16:10)

colored perspective

Every day. you and I take a risk.

We either risk something to be proactive and intentional, or we risk what it means to be reactive and passive. Each decision reflects this.

That's why I appreciate Richard Branson's metaphor on this:
It's like painting. You start with a blank canvas. You can paint anything – anything – and there, right there, is your first problem. For every good painting you might turn out, there are a zillion bad paintings just aching to drip off your brush. Scared? You should be.

You start.

You pick a colour. The next colour you choose has to work with the first colour. The third colour has to work with the first colour and the second. The fourth colour...

You get the idea. You're committed now. You absolutely cannot stop. You've invested. There is no reverse gear on this thing.
People who bad-mouth businessmen and women in general are missing the point. People in business who succeed have swallowed their fear and have set out to create something special, something to make a difference to people's lives. Are the colours just right? Are the planes polished? Do the crew look good? Are they comfortable? Are the seats OK? What's the food like? It costs how much...?

And whether you're a surrealist or a CEO, there are always bills to pay and money always arrives later than you ever dreamed possible. In the teeth of a downturn, petty financial hassles can turn into major, life-changing crises, and tough decisions often have to be made. This is the side of business that journalists like to write about – but it's the least exciting, least distinctive part of business. It's secondary. It's dull.

What really matters is what you create. Does it work or not? Does it make you proud?

- Richard Branson, Business Stripped Bare
Whatever opportunity God has invited you to seize, seize it. Be of courage. 

Start painting. The colored perspective you can offer the world just may be exactly what it needs.

"In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good." (Ecclesiastes 11:6)


the danger of momentum



We all like momentum, but it is deceptive.
When you have momentum, it makes everything look better than it is.

When you don't have momentum, it makes everything look worse than it is.

- Andy Stanley

It's why one of your roles in any arena of momentum -

be it life, work or play -

is reminding people what reality is and isn't.

The best way?

Celebrate actual momentum when it happens.

And if it doesn't happen?

Point toward somewhere it is outside of your circle and humbly ask, "What can we learn from that?"

How?
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2)

wild partnerships

Some things don't seem to belong together, but somehow end up together.

For example, did you know that you can now eat food at office stores?

Wild.

One of my friends happened to realize this.


I imagine the conversation there often goes something like this:
Guy #1: "I heard you have food. Can I get a chimichanga?"

Staples employee: (looks confused)

Guy #1: "How about Won Ton soup?"

Staples employee: (still confused)

Guy #2: "I'd like some milk, eggs and bread."

Staples employee: "Coming right up."

Guy #1: (looks at Guy #2, confused)

Guy #2: "Staples."
Wild.

God's wisdom in this world can likewise seem somewhat out of place.

We seek power and recognition.
God calls us to become servants.

We seek dominance in a professional field, recreational activity or relationships.
God calls us to cast aside our reputation to befriend those who are outcasts.

We seek happiness and satisfaction.
God calls us to holiness and sacrificial living.

And then there's God Himself who chooses to live among us as the "Sovereign, Savior and Spirit" Trinity. He could eliminate us, and yet He pursues justice and compassion. He could set creation into motion and abandon us, and yet He is intimately involved in everything. He could partner with the best of the best of the best, but invites the rest of the rest of the rest.

Wild... what a wild partnership.



How does that inspire you to relate or lead others today?
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:1-5)

what success requires

Success is not an accident.
Success is a choice.

That's a powerful thought that's floating around.



Consider the example of Steph Curry:
"I’ve always been a believer that the Lord has put whatever talent in you, [and] whatever gift He has put in you, He wants you to get the most out of that. He wants you to succeed; He wants you to pursue and work and be passionate about it. It’s not about getting any of the glory for yourself; it’s all for His [glory]. That’s where you have to keep perspective. Work at it and do all you can so you get the most out of yourself, but do it for His will." - FCA interview


What are you doing with the opportunities in front of you?
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

the remnant of pain

I have friends who hurt.

There are people close to me who hurt.

I see strangers who hurt.

I ache to give each person a word or a thought that will make this better, but I've come to realize that pain doesn't work that way. I'd even go so far as to say that even those who experience healing at a core level will probably remember this wound certain wounds the rest of their lives.

People who assume we can just move on from such a hit have probably never been hit that hard.

I do know, though, that life can get to the point where the pain doesn't define our day. It can be tough, because sometimes we are all afraid to "continue on" because it may seem to cheapen the loss.

I'm reminded of a man I once knew who served as a custodian in a church I was in. He was an older guy, and we'd chat about this or that. One day during the Halloween season he spontaneously told me about the way his son years ago happened to dress up like Charlie Chaplin. It felt like he was describing a ten-year old, and yet he shared it like it all happened yesterday.

So I asked a bit further about his son, since I'd never heard him mention him before. His face changed from a smile to am almost-controlled sob... almost. He shared that his son had died in Vietnam. Just like the Charlie Chaplin story, it seemed as if it had happened yesterday in how he told it.

Of course, he then moved on to his job and duties after that moment...

but that moment was there.

Sometimes that moment doesn't go away.

It is the remnant of pain.

And yet... it is not the end of the Story.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)

everybody

"Everybody's been saying..."

"A lot of people think..."

"I've heard many people who..."

A big mistake you can make in managing input is believing a handful of opinions is everybody's opinion.

And... remember...

everybody's opinion is not God's conclusion.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

we didn't start the fire... so what?

Blame is spelled "B-lame."

It's an escape mechanism we use to get out of awkward situations we should stay in and work through, like using a parachute to get out of a plane because we're afraid someone will hold us accountable for taking one too many bags of free pretzels.

What feels like a way out of one situation only makes matters worse and forms new situations.

 
This is especially true if we never get caught, for if we get away with our choices now we'll assume that will always be the case. One day we will stand before God in a final judgment over our lives, and we can't in that moment point fingers to blame others for our own choices.

Then again, we didn't start the fire.
"The man said, The woman you put here with me‑‑she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the LORD God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Gen 3:12-13) 

Then again, not starting the fire doesn't mean we should keep letting it burn everyone.
"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Romans 14:12-13)

doctoring up social media

True story:

I was at the doctor's check-in desk last week, sharing private info in a moderately quiet voice. I ended with, "Hey, one more question - where's the bathroom?"

A lady sitting behind me in the waiting room started loudly answering my question.

Social Media is kind of like that some days.

You have to choose to either lean into certain conversations you intended to have or embrace the audience around you and increase your engagement.

True story.
"To answer before listening - that is folly and shame." (Proverbs 18:13)