I make decisions all the time. My work requires it. Life requires it. And I seem to be pretty good at it (as long as it’s not Linda asking where to go for dinner).
Some decisions are important – vital even. Most are not. Some affect me alone, while some touch other lives. Some decisions have import far beyond what we might imagine. Some decisions take deep reflection and prayer before they are made while some decisions are trivial and can be made on the fly. Sometimes I need to decide how to decide, and other times it is obvious what is required. Some decisions I want to avoid and others bring nary a hesitation (did I just write “nary”?). And once made, no decision is beyond God’s ability to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
I’ve been dealing with all kinds of decisions this month. I’m glad I’m not alone.
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
This quote, and this scene, from Gladiator is one of my film favorites. Maximus has been betrayed and his family has been murdered. He has suffered the danger and humilation of being made a gladiator. Yet he never forgets who he is wimpy Commodus demands to know who he is (behind his mask) he courageously speaks the truth of who he is.
As John Eldredge reminds us in Wild at Heart, we Christians need to remember well who we truly are. Maybe not a commander of armies … but certainly children of the King called to courageously and dependently carry out a mission.
Calling us to accomplish great things for God is part of the hype that constantly burns out millions of professing Christians.
I believe that Michael Horton is very much correct in this assessment (from Christless Christianity). Unfortunately I have been guilty of some of those passionate callings. I can only trust that the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of God’s people overruled some of my passion. Sometimes I just want to challenge the seeming commitment to mediocrity that so many Christians seem caught in. What is often heard is that we need to be “great” or “extraordinary” in our faith. And that may lead to some kind of sense of working to please God. What God has done (to paraphrase Horton), is to call many of us to ordinary but fruitful lives built on the most excellent amazing grace of God. Of course our cultural values may fight against that. You know the value that says that everyone is special, gifts, a superstar, etc.
It is as we live ordinary lives in Christ that the gospel is of God’s grace to sinners works it way into the ordinary lives of those around us. It’s worth thinking about.
Leadership Network commissioned a study of Executive Pastors written by Warren Bird and Colleen Pepper. This is of interest to me because I am the Executive Pastor at Crossroads Bible Church. I’m pretty sure that few will actually be interested in the download (free, but you have to register), but it’s nice to see that I’m not alone in the joys and frustrations of this emerging position. The title seems to be applied to ministry staff in several different ways by different churches but in most cases it refers to someone with a high level of oversight and broad responsibility, most like a COO, or Chief of Staff, which is probably most like my position at Crossroads. It is interesting to see some common threads coming together among those holding this relatively new position in the church. By the way, I did participate in the study along with 554 others.
While most people in the pews are familiar with the roles and duties of a teaching pastor or a worship pastor, executive pastors are a relatively new addition to contemporary church culture. Often seen only infrequently in a weekly worship setting, the executive pastor role is one that is still misunderstood amongst many church members-and for that matter, even among other church staff.
I certainly wouldn’t use this study to analyze any one XP (shorthand for Executive Pastor) – especially me, but there are points that I think are dead on. For example, Bird and Pepper write about spiritual gifts. I think mine fit right in there.
When executive pastors are asked to identify their top three spiritual gifts, the results are surprisingly similar, regardless of church size. Among churches with 2,000 or more weekly attenders, “leadership”, “administration” and “teaching” come out on top, followed by “discernment”. For churches drawing 500-1,999 attenders, the ranking varies only slightly, with “administration”, “leadership” and “teaching” topping the list, followed by “discernment” and “wisdom”.
OK, enough about me. Time to read another blog. Mark Wheeler always makes me think.