right bus, wrong seat

Can you answer these two questions?

  1. Are you on the right bus?
  2. Are you on the right seat of that bus?

Our church staff read a book written by Jim Collins and I can still see multiple correlations between the ideas presented and the issues that we face in ministry (and life in general).  If you haven’t read it, it’s worth your time – but please note – if you aren’t 100% business minded, you might need a dictionary close by.

goodtogreat

One of the chapters that I loved in this book, talked about having people in the right place within your business.  If you think of your business (or ministry) as a bus, everyone on that bus is bought-in to the mission and headed in the same direction.  However, often times we have people sitting in the wrong seats and they become Debbie-Downers.  They make the ride miserable for everyone else.  

You’re probably already nodding your head because you can think of someone immediately who is the fit-throwing child within your organization.  Collins recommends that we simply help them find the right seat on the bus and boom — they turn into a Fred Flintstone, picking that bus up and RUNNING toward the goal. (Why do I think in movie lines? Forrest Gump, anyone?)

running

I was quite shocked when God first led me into ministry.  I was the mom who struggled with the f-bomb.  What in the world was I doing in ministry???  The position that I ultimately landed in was about 50% the right seat and 50% the wrong seat.  I love people, their stories, and helping them find their right seat on the bus.  But keeping up with them and refining their skills turned out to be a real deal breaker for me.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t made to.

I believe that God gives us talents, dreams, desires, and even Spiritual Gifts that we are meant to use to do His business here on earth.   

1 Corinthians Chapter 12 RDT (Red Neck Translation <– that’s a joke, please don’t go looking for that translation) goes into all the details of how each of us is given something different than someone else – so that – we can work together to git’r done.  The Apostle Paul even says that we can’t have ALL the gifts because that would make it pointless to need other people.

If you think about a bus again, it needs things that appear similar to do very different jobs:

  • It needs wheels and tires.
  • It needs an engine and pistons.
  • It needs oil and gas.

If we could ALL dream big, nothing would ever get done.  If NONE of us could dream big, we would never invent anything new.  Different gifts for different roles.  (Did anyone else just sing the Different Strokes theme song?)

My ministry position only nailed 50% of the gifts I was given which meant I was the teeter-totter in our group.  I was fired up half the time and the other time I was dragging the anchor and whining.  Ultimately, an illness forced me to leave my position on staff, but I finally had the courage to start having conversations on my way out about how I didn’t feel like that job was the right fit for me.  No one argued with me on that, probably because they could see it too.

Because God is gracious and He pursues us, I have been added to the church staff a second time – and THIS time my role utilizes 90% of my gifts.  10% of my job is dealing with stuff I don’t feel gifted to do, but it’s necessary and it pushes me to think outside of the box – which is a good thing!

So what, Ann.  Yay you.  You have a job you love and I hate mine so …whatever.  I’m glad you found a job you like.

No.  Not “yay Ann” — YAY GOD for being smart enough to give us specific gifts.

Do yourself a favor.  Take a Spiritual Gifts Assessment.

I like the Spiritual Assessment tool at Lifeway.com.  You can download the PDF here.  It is easy to read, understand, and answer.  It has a simple scoring tool, AND it includes descriptions of all the gifts.  This is not an end-all, be-all test that will show you the path you must take.  This is a tool to help you assess why you’re dragging anchor.  It’s meant for you to use as a brainstorming tool to figure out how God has specifically gifted YOU.

Google your gifts, talk to your co-workers about them, talk to your family about them.  Maybe it’s time for you to have a courageous conversation with your boss.  Maybe it’s time for you to lead a ministry at your church.

Maybe it’s time for you to appreciate where you are planted because you’re gifted and meant to be there.

http://www.chairmeninc.com/index.html
http://www.chairmeninc.com/index.html

So back to the beginning we go.

  1. Are you on the right bus?
  2. Are you on the right seat of that bus?

If the answer to either question is “no” — then it’s time you do something about it, because Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for you and if you know you’re on the wrong bus or even the wrong seat — God hasn’t been able to use you the way He needs to.

Git’r done.

 

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when pictures come alive

I’m in a theology class right now and we are reading through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God.  I about came unglued when I read through chapter 4 — because he started to go down a path in which he summed up that all art and all crosses and statues and whatnot are forms of idol worship.  I kept my seat-belt on long enough to read a few pages into the chapter and then momma had to take her seat-belt off and “go there.”  (who else just heard your mother in your head say “don’t make me come back there!”) 

As it turns out, Packer was just writing from a time and place with which I couldn’t necessarily connect.  He was kind of an absolutist, and I’m … SOOO not.  After our fearless and amazing teacher walked us through where he was coming from and what he meant — I understood it better and put my seat-belt back on.

As it turns out – he has a point.  We can turn just about anything into an idol that takes the place of true learning about Jesus and God.

  • the mom who checks her cell phone every 1.4 minutes for any kind of adult social connection she can get so she doesn’t go postal on her kids — maybe she should be checking her bible every 1.4 minutes
  • the Christian who plasters her house with decorative crosses but hasn’t cracked her bible since….. ?
  • the Christian who fixates on a drawn picture of Jesus <— this is a not-so-subliminal message about what’s to come in this post

Why am I even “going there” you ask?  This is why…

Last year, I attended a women’s conference and got to listen to and worship with MercyMe.  They sang The Hurt and the Healer — which was written for me.  Ok not really, but really.   You can read about my entire experience during this song, here.  In fact, please go read it before you continue.

You didn’t go read it.
Go read it.

Are you ready for this?  My amazing friend Meena captured Jesus reaching for me — she took my words and turned them into a sketch.  Here it is:

http://meenamatocha.com/

http://meenamatocha.com/

You can see what other cool things Meena has created on her website — she’s simply amazing!

So for me — this isn’t idol worship.  For me this is a moment in time when I could feel Jesus’ presence so tangibly that my mind created a picture of Him reaching for me.  This picture hangs right above my sewing station in my office — not so I can praise the picture, not so I can fixate on the idea that Meena’s interpretation is exactly what Jesus’ hand looks like…

This picture hangs where I can see it to remind me that it’s my job to stay connected to Jesus … to learn all that I can about Him so that when I am  moved by worship music, or an awesome testimony, all of those details about Him come together and move me spiritually in a way that only He can do!

So yes – I fully admit that I got all defensive when I read Packer’s words about idol worship.  I might have even stood up, banged my chest a little and hollered, “you want a piece of this?!?!”… but I can see now that it was all because Meena’s drawing means SO much to me and I was ready to go to blows with anyone who was going to try to tell me that having this drawing was wrong.

As it turns out, J. I. Packer wasn’t trying to tell me I was wrong in having this sketch.  He was trying to tell me that the sketch should always lead me to read MORE about Jesus instead of letting the sketch and that moment in worship be the end-all-be-all.  Packer is concerned that people let their faith end with the crosses on their walls — or the crucifix their grandmother’s gave them back in the day — or the picture of Jesus they saw in a book.

Ok Packer… I get it now.  And I apologize for going all chest-thump on you.

Do you have something in your possession that either keeps you stuck at a fixed point in your faith or pushes you to want to learn more about your faith?  I would LOVE to hear about it!

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – a review

7

From Jen Hatmaker’s website:

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.

I don’t LOVE to read.  My husband can read a book in an entire day, and that’s soooo not me.  I can read a sentence and then think about what I need at the grocery store, check the fridge for milk, see the coupon on the fridge for that cake place downtown, look it up online to see when they close, notice I have 2 new emails, remember I need to make that change in the database at church….  I think you can see where I’m going here.  I hear there is medication for people like me but that’s a different blog post entirely.

When I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, I forgot that I even have a family, that food and water are required to survive, and that school gets out at 3pm.  I seriously could not put this book down.  But there’s a major warning I must give before you read this book… ok, two warnings.

  1. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
  2. If you’re Catholic, you will feel guilt— wait — even if you aren’t Catholic, you will feel guilt and then IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Jen and her family go through 7 major areas of their lives and figure out how to make changes that will last.  We live in the United States, the land of the free, home of the excessive purchasing plague.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you have ever stepped foot in Target, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Amazon?  They have everything you would ever need, and hey since you’ve already attained the free shipping you might as well get those other three things on your wishlist too.  Yeah – I think you know what I mean.

(Dear Catholic readers, it’s ok —- embrace the guilt.)

What areas do Jen and her family tackle:

  1. Food
  2. Clothes
  3. Posessions
  4. Media
  5. Waste
  6. Spending
  7. Stress

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before – you can already fWiEgEuKr4e out with which week I had the most trouble.  But instead of telling you how each of these chapters effected me, let me tell you that I didn’t test drive with the experiment the way Jen did.  I read this book and the accompanying Member Book  with a women’s group at my church.  We were all nervous and excited to read it, and we only did each experiment for a week instead of for an entire month like Jen did.

She doesn’t sugar-coat things in her book, y’all.  And you know what?  Good for her!  I think we have grown too accustomed to  everyone trying to play nicey-nice with each other that sometimes we don’t stick to biblical truths or God’s standards for our lives because we don’t want to seem weird or offend anyone.  (and this is where I felt the most guilt)

Jen tackles each section with honesty, HILARITY, and donchaknow, scriptural references.  Yup.  God’s rules and guidelines. Dude… just … dude.  This book rocked my world and helped me realize how petty and selfish I can be in regards to several of these 7 areas.  I didn’t have too hard of a time with the food section – tho I am a foodie and I love food (all the WRONG foods – just for the record), and the clothing section was eye opening for me but didn’t necessarily rock my world because I don’t typically buy a lot of clothes and shoes.  The possessions chapter beat me over the head as I looked around my house and through closets and gasped, shut doors and stood in front of them so no would else could see my excess.

But the media chapter — ouch.  You can read more about that here.

My conclusion is this… every family who has labeled itself as a Christian home can benefit from reading this book.  I guarantee there is a sweaty armpit chapter in there for everyone; there will be a chapter that makes you uncomfortable and nervous because she’s pretty much describing YOU in her chapter!  I love the biblical references and her call to action – that things must change in us, in our personal walks with Christ and what He calls each of us to do in our lives, and for the reputation of those who call themselves Christians.  To believe in Jesus is pretty cool, but to LIVE IT OUT is stinking inspiring and leads others to want to know what your secret sauce is!

I would love to read this book again but together as a family this time.  I am eager to know how my 10 year old son would interpret Jen’s words, and what kinds of life change would result from those interpretations.

Have you read 7?  What section left a bruise between your eyes?