I am thankful for the chances I have to mow my lawn. Yes, you heard me right! I’m thankful because it provides opportunity to multitask and listen to leadership podcasts. Most people listen to podcasts in their car, but when your commute to work consists of a short walk, you have to find alternative times.
This past week I listened to a leadership podcast from Craig Groeschel titled, “Institutionalizing Urgency”.
In this podcast, he makes the case that we need to:
Learn to declare war on complacency and embrace urgency, because we cannot change what we’re willing to tolerate.
See, for many organizations, complacency is hard to see. Unfortunately, urgency is not always the default mode, complacency is. The greatest threat to future success is current success. Success feeds pride, and pride kills urgency: nothing fails like success.
Now, while Craig was sharing from an organization church leadership perspective (with hope that churches would not get complacent in their mission), I began to also think about urgency in terms of sharing the Gospel from a personal perspective. Whether as a church, or personally, my hope is that we will have a culture of urgency when it comes to sharing the Good News!
At Calvary, our mission (and hopefully your mission as well) is to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. Now, understanding that Jesus could return at any time (Matthew 24:36-44), it makes that mission all the more urgent. We might have 24 hours to accomplish that mission or 24 years. We don’t know!
The danger is in becoming victims of complacency - willing to ‘tolerate’ our current commitment to the mission. Over time, our bias for action becomes a bias for discussion. We sit around and talk about the mission but we’re no longer productive in accomplishing it. Yes, I understand it really is Jesus who accomplishes the mission by drawing others to Himself, not us. The goal is not activity, busyness, or doing ‘more’. The goal is that we’re faithfully following the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20), that is productivity.
Here’s a short illustration from William Booth’s - A Vision Of The Lost to help us see the importance of urgency:
“I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with it’s summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to "rescue the perishing." And I hardly know which gladdened me the most - the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.
As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different "sets" or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.
But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care - that is any agonizing care - about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes . . . many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children.”
As God has laid this on my heart, it’s been personally convicting. I am far from being the best disciple maker. What I am though, is committed… committed to becoming a better disciple maker and not getting complacent (or distracted) in the mission.
Take a moment and think about your own life.
What are you willing to tolerate (because you cannot change what you’re willing to tolerate)?
As you think about your own life and journey, what are you doing that’s ‘busy’ work but not ‘productive’ work when it come to making more and maturing disciples of Jesus?
What are you most distracted by?
If Jesus was coming back tomorrow, how would your to-do list for today change?
How uncomfortable would you allow yourself to be in order to see others come to know Jesus?
My prayer is that this would be an encouragement to you - and that we, the Calvary family, would embody a culture of urgency when it comes to sharing The Gospel.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.