Friday, February 17, 2012


I spent the day today with Central's program staff and Terry Walling, who is serving as a sort of staff coach for the next almost three years. Terry has a real gift for helping Christian leaders make personal and professional breakthroughs. We spent the entire day today with him, with the exception of about 90 minutes late in the afternoon when we took a break.

The first part of the day focused on each of us personally as leaders. We worked through our particular stages of life and challenges facing each of us. We went through some exercises to help us come up with a statement of our "major role" -- that is, how we function best, how God has wired us to work. This is not just about a list of tasks that we need to complete, and then divvying them up to the most appropriate staff person. Instead, these exercises come from the radical philosophy that each one of us should try to function as much as possible in exactly the way God has wired us. So my task is not primarily to look at my to-do list and figure out how to be efficient; my task is to know Jesus, first of all, and then to know myself in and through Jesus, so that I might know how God has created me to function. Once I know this, I have a clear decision making tool that will help me say "no" to the many good things I could do, but should not do.

For example, leading the 11 am worship service is a very good thing, and for a brief time back in the spring of 2011 I did that. But that task, good as it is, is not a best fit for the way I'm wired. So I should probably say no if the opportunity for that kind of leadership comes up. (Thank goodness, we now have other resources in place -- people who are much more capable of fulfilling that need for Central.)

Once I learn to say "no" to the good-but-not-best opportunities, I can begin to joyfully say "yes!" to the best opportunities. The trick is for me to know how God has wired me, so that I know where God's calling on my life is likely to come.

One of the tasks we worked on today, and one I've been working on since just after Christmas, is writing a statement about our "major role." I've worked through a dozen or so drafts of mine as I've read and watched videos and filled out worksheets to help me understand this process. Here's what I've come up with so far, with lots of help from others:

“I listen for and discern kingdom possibilities and teach biblical truth in order to help people make real change. I long to see the church set free and equipped for ministry, growing toward maturity in Jesus Christ.”

I'm not entirely sure I'm satisfied with this just yet. The statement itself might need to be clearer about the fact that for the most part, I build ministry teams more than I work to equip lone individuals. There are times, though, when I invest intentionally in the life of an individual or a couple, so maybe that can be left ambiguous. There's something that doesn't strike me as quite complete about this. I find myself worrying that there's a big chunk of what I do that isn't reflected in this statement.

Terry was quite clear that this statement is like the title on a file folder. Inside the folder you have additional documents that describe in detail the tasks you fulfill -- the what-you-do-and-how-you-do-it part of things. This is designed to be a filter, a way of saying, "No, that's way outside what God has called me to do," or "Yes, that's exactly what God has called me to do."

I should hasten to add that sometimes, you do things that need to be done just because they need to be done. I'm certainly not wired to clean my desk (many of you are grinning at this point, having seen my desk) but every now and then I need to do that task. Same goes for sitting down with someone who needs to vent or caring for someone who can't afford groceries. Even if that's not how I'm wired, sometimes those opportunities just come up and you need to step up to the plate.

What this major role statement allows is some discretion on the big jobs I take on. It's very much a work in process, but then, that's okay. So am I.

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