My Eighth Year As Pastor

Time flies. Next week, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, I will celebrate my eighth year as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church and enter into my ninth year of ministry. When I accepted the pastorate out here on the prairie, I said, “I promise to love you and lead you.” I am more committed than ever to loving and leading this incredible congregation here in southeast Iowa. For better or for worse, I’m here. I’m committed. I’m ready, by God’s grace and strength, for another year of life and ministry.

However, as I type this report out, I have such schizophrenic feelings. So much good is happening in our church family! Our church services are full of people hungry to hear the Word of God, Growth Groups is in full swing, our kids’ ministries are dynamic and exciting, and our building improvements have been nothing short of amazing. Indeed, with a pavilion project and sanctuary renovation project behind us, we are currently in the throes of a new siding project and a new church sign project. Exciting stuff! God is truly better to us than we deserve. On top of these things, several of us on the Leadership Team are engaged in a leadership development program called the Leadership Journey and we’re learning so much from the Word that will sharpen us as leaders in the home, church, and community. Time fails for me to fully explain all our plans for a South Africa Missions Trip in March of 2022, our Pastoral Internship Program for the Summer of 2022, and our ongoing Church Constitution Initiative. See what I mean?! So many good things are happening out here on the prairie!

But at the same time, the world, the flesh, and the Devil continue to make their dark and sinister advances. Yes, sin and selfishness are always percolating, even out here on the prairie, trying desperately to overtake our people with sweet lies of joy, peace, and freedom in living life independently of God and His Word. Indeed, some of our folks are so disconnected from the body that their drowning in the deep, icy, shark-infested waters of sin and selfishness. I fear for them. I pray for them. I’m pleading with them to take our hand, trust the promises of God, and take the narrow path towards true joy, peace, and freedom. At some of them, I’ve literally shouted, “You’re in deep sin. Watch out! ‘Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.'” Some listen and humbly repent and make the bend towards change. Others scoff and say, “No. I hear you and I know you’re simply doing your job, but I’m not going to listen. I’m not going to change.” In fact, just recently, I wept in the home of a man who kicked me out of his home after he confessed to sexual immorality and a deep desire to continue in it. As I turned to leave, I read from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous.” His response? “I know I’m in sin. I know that I’m not following Christ. But I’m not going to change.” Tears streamed from my face as my body began to shake…See what I mean? There are truly some sad things happening out here on the prairie…

But we continue on. We trust our sovereign Christ. We remain committed to Scriptural truth. We fight our feelings with facts. We love on sinners. We offer the forgiveness of Jesus. And we always say, “I love you”, even as some people we say it to are ripping our hearts from our chest cavities. And then, we scarf down some food, work out, hit the sack, and then get back up to fight another day. Indeed, life and ministry is war. It’s a battle. It’s a fight. So, strap your armor of light on and beat back the darkness by representing truth, wisdom, and the beauty of grace amidst ashes. This is what we do as Christians, whether in the big city of Des Moines, IA or out in the rural prairie land of Washington, IA.

So, yeah, yay for another year of life and ministry. Cheers to year eight being done; and may God bless the ninth year in front of me. I usually give a list of lessons learned, but “ain’t nobody got time for that.” I got to get back to work. I got to get back to the fight. And so should you. Tired? We’re all tired. Need a break? We all need a break. Just keep going and let me encourage you…Mount up, shout truth, and try to enjoy the ride…To God be the glory.

From the Desk of the Associate: Redeeming the Time for Practical Discipleship

A lot of ink has been spilled in the church world around this idea of discipleship, and for good reason too. After all this was our Lord’s final admonition to his disciples, that they should make disciples. If fact in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I want underline that word “Teaching.” We are to make disciples by teaching. As someone focused on discipleship and especially as a pastor, it’s easy to consider Sunday school, Youth Group, Sunday morning church, and numerous other Bible study venues as the place we do that teaching. All of those things are great tools for teaching what Jesus commanded us to teach, but some of the most effective opportunities come in the most surprising of forms.

Every Thursday our church’s secretary/custodian comes to do her assigned work. Along with her she brings her four children with ages varying from 10-17. This provides me with the unique opportunity to spend time with these young people on an extra day each week that I would not normally get to do. Now I’m sure that most pastors have certain days that they get interrupted more than most. These interruptions can be frustrating when you have a long list of work that needs to be done. But as our lead pastor will frequently say, “interruptions are the ministry.” I would whole-heartedly agree with him. As stated above, its easy to consider your regular teaching times on Sundays and Wednesdays to be the appropriate time for discipleship. If we think though that this is the case we will miss out on some of the choicest times that can be presented to us. Take today for instance. I have a long list of things I needed to accomplish today. As I was retrieving an item from the printer, I noticed the secretary’s 10 year old son working on multiplication tables near the printer. I could have continued on with my task as I would most days, but today I stopped to comment on what he was doing. He said “my mom is making me do this because I didn’t finish this at home.” I proceeded to ask him if he had any tricks for these multiplying numbers like this. He then showed me the unique method he used for multiplying by eleven. I was then sucked down a rabbit hole and began exploring with him new ways to multiply by eleven. His demeanor quickly changed from annoyance and frustration at his school and he became excited and interested in this activity. I was excited for a very different reason. See unlike his 3 older siblings, I have struggled to connect with him and therefore he was never really interested in the things I try to share with him. This very random and simple connect over math problems was the very thing that allowed me to connect with him on a personal level that I believe God will use for him to be able to hear wisdom from me in the future.

You see often times its not about the content of your message but about the relationships with the person you are trying to reach. So many of us truly desire to disciple and be discipled but we struggle to find others who have the time or desire to carry out that mission. Many of us will make time for that on Sundays, but how many of us are intentionally doing this throughout the week. I could easily have ignored this kid and gone on about my day completing my “important” tasks, but this time for whatever reason, God caused me to stop and enter into his world for just a few moments. I wish you could see the excitement of this young man as we worked together to figure out his math problems. In fact, later on that day his dad stopped by to bring him home, he had to be pulled away from my desk. I was thankful that I could get back to work but more thankful that God had given me this connection point.

Two real quick application thoughts. Number one, make time to have those basic every day connections with the people God has brought around you. I get it, you are busy. You have a million things to get done and cannot get distracted by everyone along the way. However, you may be struggling to connect with the people you want to connect with or that God wants you to connect with because you are so busy with the other things. People are usually not lining up to “be discipled or disciple you.” You have to be opportunistic with these moments. Secondly, if you are a parent, try to set your children up to be discipled by you and others in the church who will play a vital role in building up their faith. Most parents want the most for their kids and therefore try to put them in so many things so they have all kinds of opportunities. More often than not, these activities are the very things that prevent them from receiving what God would have for them. You have to teach them how to say no to good things for the sake of great things. God does not care how good an athlete, musician, or student your child is. He desires their heart. And if all of those good things are drawing their heart away from God, than its time to lay them down for the sake of the greatest thing, God himself.

Drop The Excuses: You Don’t Go To Church Because You Don’t Want To Go To Church…

In nearly a decade of pastoral ministry, I have heard it all in terms of why people don’t go to church. “I have to work.” “I’m sick.” “Covid.” The list of excuses that people generate for why they habitually skip out on a church service is nearly endless. Like the gushing waters of Niagara Falls, the excuses keep coming and coming and coming.

I’ve called church members who have missed months (even years!) of church, and the excuses pour forth. I’ve invited dear friends to a special event or program at church, and the excuses are many. As a local church, we’ve helped and counseled countless folks in our community with their bad marriages, addictions, and child rearing problems, hearing afterward that they’re so grateful and will be attending our awesome church. “We’ll be there this Sunday!”, they say quickly and with great excitement, but the following Sunday, they’re a no show. Gone. Absent. Not there.

And the excuses keep coming. “Oh, I forgot!” “I overslept.” “I’ll be there next Sunday!” As a church, we call, text, and visit in order to reach out and love on such people. And do you know what’s interesting? People tend to have no problem spending an hour or two at a coffee shop just shooting the breeze with us…People have no problem going to some church outreach event where hot dogs and burgers are being grilled…But an hour and fifteen minute church service (where we sing the truth, hear the truth, and try to live out the truth) is seemingly untenable to some of these folks. They kinda, sorta want to be there. But they’re not there.

Why?

I think the answer is drastically simple. THEY don’t go to church because THEY don’t want to go to church. Perhaps, as you read this short blog, this describes you. Let me be clear, gentle, and blunt. YOU don’t go to church because YOU don’t want to go to church. It’s really that simple. We all have the same amount of hours in a given week. 168 hours. In general, we choose how to use these precious few hours. Out of your 168 hours in a given week, a local church service will cost you between 1-2 hours a week. But the excuses keep coming and coming and coming…

Now, certainly, there are legitimate reasons to miss a church service. Sometimes we have to work. Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes covid is a real and deadly concern. I get it. There are legitimate reasons to miss church. But for anyone who habitually misses church, they need to seriously evaluate their hearts and lives, especially if they’re unable to attend church for an extended period of time (with a legitimate reason), but they’re not even tuning in online, or reading their Bible, or keeping up with their prayer life.

Friends, if you call yourself a Christian, but you don’t go to church, something is off and very wrong. Do you know there is not one single account in the New Testament of a Christian who wasn’t connected to a local church? Not one instance of such a “Christian”…Not one. Research for yourself…To be a true believer in Jesus Christ is to love the Bride of Jesus Christ, the Church. Do you love Jesus, but disdain His Bride, the Church? What does you church attendance say to this question?

So, will you miss church this week? What’s your excuse? As you grab your go bag of excuses, let me remind you of the Bible…Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” So, will you miss church this Sunday? What’s your excuse this time? I would kindly ask you to drop the excuses…But the choice is yours.

Four Types of Church Attenders…

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for nearly 8 years. During that time frame, I have encountered so many different people with a variety of different perspectives. Indeed, different is not always bad. Sometimes different is just different; and that’s ok. But when it comes to church attendance, I have noticed that, in general, there are four very different types of church attenders. I like to think of these people as follows:

  1. Church attenders who treat the local church like a grocery store. These types of people are always shopping for the best deal for themselves, and especially their kids. These folks are highly uncommitted and fear joining any church because…”What if the church goes bad?” And “I want to keep my options open.” These folks might go to the church down the street on Sunday morning because they like the music there and the preaching is tolerable, but on Wednesday night they’ll take their kids to another church in town because (“Well, come on now!”) they just have a better kid’s ministry or youth outreach event. These folks view their local churches like they view their local grocery stores and are always hunting for the best deals in town.
  2. Church attenders who treat the local church like their favorite restaurant. These types of people have honestly fooled themselves into thinking that they are faithful and loyal to their local church because they only/exclusively attend just one local church. Some of these folks have even taken the plunge into full blown church membership, but they are rarely seen and, because of their lack of attendance, don’t give of their time, talents, and treasure with ease. No, they don’t hop and shop around for the best deals in town like the first category above, but because they view their local church like their favorite restaurant, they rarely show up and step up. Why? Well, you don’t eat at your favorite restaurant every week, do you? No, you reserve eating at your favorite restaurant for special events, date night, or whenever your schedule is free and uncluttered. This is exactly how these category of church attenders view their church experience.
  3. Church attenders who treat the local church like their local gym. Now, I’ll be honest, this is by far my favorite group of church attenders because these folks don’t merely attend their local church, they’re all in. These folks have joined the church by giving credible testimony of their salvation and baptism and have plunged themselves into all of the “one another” commands of Scripture. These folks love well, serve often, and are truly committed to Christ and the local church. And they rarely miss a Sunday unless they’re puking their guts out or are out of town on business or vacation. Why don’t they hardly miss a Sunday? Because they view the church like their local gym…They take their fitness (their spiritual fitness) very, very seriously. They work out on their own nearly every day (i.e., reading their Bibles and praying) and then on Sunday they converge at their local church to work out. Yes, they are fed the Word by the singing and preaching, but they are also greatly interested in lifting some serious weight as they love, give, and serve in a variety of ways.
  4. Church attenders who treat the local church like a gas station. Ha! Just had to throw this category into the mix. Who are these folks? This is the online crowd. They view things (many things – great praise bands, great preachers, and great churches) from the comfort of their devices with no intention of ever actually, physically attending a local church. They consume, and consume, and consume. It’s so easy! It’s so convenient! “Why go to church when I can worship God anywhere?”, they think to themselves. They get their fill of knowledge from online sources and get extremely fat on the Word. Why? Because they merely eat and consume without working out and giving back. In treating church like gas station food they have gorged themselves to being extremely full, and extremely unhealthy. Gas station church attenders…Gotta love them! And yeah, some of them scream, “Covid! Covid! It’s all because of Covid!” But I doubt many of them are truly sincere…But I digress.

There you have it. Four types of church attenders as far as I see the current church going landscape. What do you think? Which church attender best describes you? Do you truly love Christ’s Bride, the Church? Do you truly love the individual expression of Christ’s Bride, the LOCAL church? Are you fully bought in and committed, eating the Word and exercising your faith?

The 2021 Annual Election of Officers Timeline

Our 2021 Annual Election of Officers is fast approaching! All church members, in good standing, who are 14 years of age or older, are kindly invited to nominate and then vote for individuals in the following categories: Deacon, Clerk, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, and Sunday School Superintendent. Below you will find the church’s timeline of events:

Sunday, October 31 – Nomination of Officers Commences (Clerk mails explanation letter, membership roll, and nomination ballots the week prior)

Sunday, November 14 – Nomination of Officers Closes (Nominating and Election Committee meet on Sunday, November 14 at 2:00 PM to discuss results)

Monday, November 15 – Wednesday, November 24 – Contact proposed nominees to see if they’re interested in serving (These individuals must reply by 5 PM on Wednesday, November 24)

Sunday, November 28 – Official Posting of the 2021 Officer Nominees (Posting of nominees will be done by email, the church bulletin board, and via our app…Two week notice of special member’s meeting to elect officers will be given)

Sunday, December 12 – Annual Election of Officers (Election will be held by secret ballot)

All elected officers will take office on January 1, 2022. Please be in prayer concerning who you would have serve and if God is leading you to serve!

An Army Veteran Turned Pastor On COVID & Vaccine Exemption

I remember many times, as an Army paratrooper, standing in line on some big military aircraft. My parachute would be on my back with my reserve chute firmly tucked near my abdomen. As I would stand in line, waiting to jump, I would breathe in the moment…The adrenaline surging through my body was so electrifying as I meditated on the loud swooshing air rushing through the open side door of the aircraft. As soon as the light turned green and the Jumpmaster said, “Go!”, we would all jump (or fall out gracefully) from the aircraft. What a rush! I miss these types of Army days, but I get close to such an adrenaline rush as I enter the jungle of covid protocols and whether or not one should get the vaccine or not. So, right, wrong, or indifferent, here is my take on COVID and Vaccine Exemption…

First off, I understand that covid is real and possesses a real threat to people, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing negative conditions. My heart aches for those who have (and are now) suffering from this dreadful virus. I also have a huge heart for those who have lost friends and family members from covid. What a relief to know that one day disease, destruction, and death will be no more as King Jesus assumes the throne of His eternal Kingdom. How I long for that day…

Secondly, please understand that I am not an anti-vaxxer. Indeed, I’m an Army Veteran who has been poked and prodded more times than I can remember. In fact, during a recent doctor’s visit, the nurse who was taking my initial vitals exclaimed, “Wow! You must have been in the military because your chart shows that you have had a lot of different vaccines that most people never get.” Indeed, she was (and is) correct. I am not an anti-vaxxer by any stretch of the imagination, either ideologically or experientially.

But thirdly, and hear me when I say this, I am firmly against anyone, and I mean anyone (pastors, doctors, or so-called professionals in other fields) needlessly binding the consciences of people. It especially breaks my heart to hear some of my fellow pastors say things, like, “By invoking the name of Jesus to claim exemption, you are using the Lord’s name in vain and therefore sinning.” Others are saying things that ooze of emotional blackmail, like, “If you don’t get the covid vaccine you are selfish and unloving.” Such talk is the emotional equivalent and reasoning of a teenager who shouts to his parents, “If you don’t get me this item, you don’t love me!” Such statements are certifiably false.

Pastors especially should be very careful to bind the consciences of their people. Indeed, the Scriptures are clear on doubtful things (such as the covid vaccine). Paul in Romans 14:20-23 states clearly, “Do not, for the sake of food [or the covid vaccine], destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean [such as the covid vaccine], but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats [or puts in his body in terms of a vaccine]. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have [in either getting the vaccine or not], keep between yourself and God [i.e., don’t blast your vaccine status to the four winds – keep it private]. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves [like the covid vaccine]. But whoever has doubts [about the covid vaccine] is condemned if he eats [or gets the vaccine], because the eating [or vaccine] is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Wow. There you have it. The Scriptures are clear. End of discussion. The Bible says, concerning the grey area of getting the covid vaccine or not, that it’s up to you and your conscience, specifically your faith-based conscience. What does that mean? Simply put, the Scriptures state that if you get the vaccine, then praise the Lord, just be sure it is done with faith (or trust or confidence) in God. That is, for those of you who opt to get the vaccine, just make sure that your ultimate trust is in the Lord and not in the vaccine. But if you can’t get the vaccine with full faith (or trust or confidence) in God, then praise the Lord, don’t get the vaccine. Again, “Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves [or disapproves]” (Romans 14:22b). Make sense?

In other words, the starting line, and the bottom line, and finishing line of the Christian life is faith. So, as you contemplate covid and whether or not you should get the vaccine, consider your faith. Does your faith allow you to get it? If so, get it with faith in God. If not, don’t get it with faith in God. It really is that simple.

One final thought, I feel so impassioned by this issue, namely, that no one should bind the conscience of individuals with poor Scriptural interpretation or emotional blackmail, that I am open to helping you (the dear reader of this blog) with writing a religious, faith-based exemption letter or statement for your place of employment. Perhaps you just have a difficult time articulating why you’re opposed to the vaccine. I can help. Indeed, I’ve already helped a couple folks and both individuals had their exemption approved with absolutely no problems. To be clear, I do not argue science or statistics, I argue for exemption purely based upon religious beliefs and faith. Reach out to me at pastordave@prairieflowerbaptistchurch.org for further guidance and help.

In The Beginning…

In just a couple of weeks, on Sunday, Oct. 3, we will launch a new mini-series entitled, “In The Beginning”. This series will focus our attention on seven unique attributes of God. I can’t wait to dive into this series with all of you!

But why have a sermon series on the attributes of God? Well, simply put, God is amazing. He’s the great God – the eternal God – the incomprehensible God!

Incomprehensible? Yes! So, why study God when He’s beyond our reach to fully understand? Because what has been revealed about Him is amazing and the rest, well, we just stand back in awe…Check out the video below from the “Stranger On The Road To Emmaus” series that explains just how grand our God is…

From the Desk of the Associate: The Spirit of Fear

We live in a day of fear. We all know it. We all experience it. I am not talking about acute fear like when you almost step on a snake, or when you see your toddler fall in a pool, or when you have to slam on your brakes to avoid an accident. All these things are what we call “healthy fear”, and it helps us react quickly and properly to an immediate danger. No, the sort of fear I am talking about is a fear of a potential future that is very unpleasant.

The kind of fear that is permeating the culture around us, and is being pushed by our media and politicians, is basically this kind of fear. There is a virus that has a high likelihood of killing you or someone you love; therefore, you must submit to all sorts of measures that we (the government) could never get you to submit to if you were not terrified. This fear has led people, who would have been completely normal and reasonable just two short years ago and changed them into people who fear to be in public, people who fear their neighbors, and people who fear that their death from the virus is imminent. I expect many of the people who read this article will agree with me that the response of these people has been largely overblown. To be clear, I know that this virus has killed a large number of people, but I also believe that the response and the fear that has been triggered has largely outpaced the actual danger of this pandemic to the average person…

You see, many of you reading this little blog post probably look at the double and triple maskers and scorn and roll your eyes at their level of fear. You can correctly see that these people have succumbed to the message of the mainstream media and politicians. What you cannot see as clearly is the spirit of fear that has snuck its way into your own heart and mind. Many on the right (from which I am writing) see that the left has overblown this pandemic in many ways to push their agenda. What they miss is that they themselves are driven and controlled by a different fear. For instance, I believe that most conservative Christians are influenced by the same fear that drives me…The fear of government overreach, the fear that churches will be persecuted, the fear that Critical Race Theory and the radical sexual agenda will be crammed down on society and on our children, and the fear that our country will be lost. Now from my point of view, all of these fears are completely legitimate. In fact, I myself struggle with thoughts of all of these things, but I think when we look around us and identify all the challenges and dangers that confront us, I think that our fear has blinded us to the response that God would desire from us.

Christian, in these times of fear and doubt, remember, God has not called us to spend our life in comfort and luxury. I think in America we have taken for granted that we have basic human comforts and freedoms that have not been the norm for God’s people for the vast majority of history. So much of the theology in the American church is so weak and shallow because it has not been tested in the fire of persecution. Only in America could the idea be born that “God wants you to have your best life now.” Or that “we are David, and our boss is Goliath and God will give us victory to get that big promotion.” And only in America could it be said that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” means that I can win this football game. By the way, that verse was about Paul being able to withstand suffering through Christ who strengthens him, not winning a football game!

Christian, you have forgotten in these times of fear and doubt that God gave us a spirit “not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Just for context, when Paul wrote this, he was in prison and about to be executed. Over and over again God commands his people not to fear. Is this because he promises that there is never any danger or discomfort? No, it’s because that for the Christian, “all things work together for good.” Bad things work together for good. Persecution works together for good. Covid-19 works together for good. Critical Race Theory works together for good. Cancer works together for good. Why? Because all of these things that the Evil One means for bad, God twists them around and turns them for good. How frustrating it must be for Satan to do all he does only for God to thwart his plans!

Christian, so what should our response be to God’s command not to fear, and his promise to turn all things to good for those who belong to him? Read Deuteronomy 4. Moses was reiterating God’s law and promises to the people before they faced the biggest challenge of their lives. He says this in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only take care and keep your soul diligently, lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.” We are commanded to take care that we not forget God’s Word or cease to believe it. How do we do that? We keep reading it and studying it with a heart of belief so that we constantly remember to do it. What else should we do? Look at the second part of verse 9, “Make them known to your children and your children’s children…” The world and the Evil One are not neglecting to teach our children and grandchildren. Christian, how can you neglect to actively teach and remind your young people about the commands and the goodness of God? How about instead of wringing your hands and bemoaning the fact that our children are going to face hard times and suffering, we begin to intentionally teach, model, and equip them to live out their faith in the midst of a lost and dying generation. And lastly, how about we get down on our knees and lift these fears to our Father in Heaven who has promised to walk through the floods and the fires with us…

Christian, stop pointing to the people who are controlled by the spirit of fear of this pandemic without realizing that you too are being influenced and controlled (often times) by your own spirit of fear. Start sowing to the Holy Spirit and walking in his power by prayer, and by the Word, and by his Church. I will leave you with this thought from Hebrews 10:23-25 as we face these dark days in our nation, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

To Live & Lead: My Personal Leadership Principles…

Over the years, I’ve exercised leadership in a variety of different settings…I’ve been an Officer in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, a Grocery Manager at Winn-Dixie, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, a Student Officer at Faith Baptist Bible College, and (now, currently) a Lead Pastor here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church…I say all that to say this: For the last 20 years, since the time I was 14 years old, I’ve been fascinated and immersed in pursuing and perfecting (or at least attempting to perfect) the art of leadership.

So much could be said about the art of leadership. Indeed, I believe leadership is more of an art than a science, but that’s a topic for another day. But below are some of the leadership axioms – my personal leadership principles – that I’ve picked up over the years. These are the principles by which I try to live and lead. To be sure, none of these statements are unique with me, but (over the years) they were repeated over and over and over again (by those in leadership over me) to the point that I adopted these principles and made them my very own…Yes, these statements encapsulate my pursuit of excellence for the glory of God…

  1. Don’t Be A Slow Poke: “Move with a purpose.” -Learned In The Civil Air Patrol
  2. Don’t Be Messy Or Disorganized: “Pick it up. Don’t pass it up.” -Learned In The Grocery Store, Winn-Dixie
  3. Don’t Make Changes Quickly: “Slow is smooth. And smooth is fast.” -Learned In The U.S. Army
  4. Don’t Be A Simpleton Or Generalist About Life: “It’s complex. Learn to appreciate nuance.” -Learned In College
  5. Don’t Assume Everyone Knows: “Communicate early and often.” -Learned In Pastoral Ministry
  6. Don’t Be Satisfied With Just Being Ok Or Average: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” -Learned Over The Years From Excellent Leaders In Business & Ministry

Yes, no one is perfect. Yes, there is always room for grace. Yes, we need to be kind and considerate to those who can’t keep up. But these are good leadership principles to bind yourself to…At least I think so…But what would you add to this list?

A Chicken With Its’ Head Cut Off…

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “So-and-so is running around like a chicken with its’ head cut off.” Kind of a disturbing idiom, but it carries the idea of a person who is haphazard with their schedule, aimless in their organization, or frantically reacting to life instead of proactively planning and responding to life. Does the chicken with no head expression describe you?

I’ve been in leadership long enough to realize that far too many people struggle with scheduling, organization, and general life planning. In fact, I am deeply disturbed at how many Christian leaders struggle with these basic leadership skills. It seems to me that far too many of us are flying by the seat of our pants, overstressing ourselves and frustrating the people around us, when we could carefully and smoothly get our work done.

In fact, let me talk directly to those of you in leadership positions. Maybe you own your own business or lead in a non-profit, let me speak to you very plainly. If you fail to schedule, organize, and plan your business or non-profit, you might find yourself very busy (and reasonably productive) as you constantly react to situations and people, but you will fail to achieve what you originally set out to achieve and your long-term goals won’t get met in good time (if ever)…Make sense?

I first became keenly aware of the importance of proper scheduling, organization, and planning while deployed in Iraq with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). I served as one of their Intel Analysts. Our plan/objective was simple: Kill and capture high value Al-Qaeda targets in Iraq. But here was our constant challenge/chaos: Angry villagers and tribal leaders who wanted clean water…I mean, there were constant riots. “Clean water! Clean water! Clean water!” Now imagine if our operators only focused on the chaos in front of them without ever addressing the underlying chaos enablers (i.e. the terrorists)…No good to dig new wells in these Iraqi villages if they’ll just get poisoned or blown up by insurgents. Gotta stay on task…Gotta stay on mission…Gotta stay on plan/objective…Kill and capture high value Al-Qaeda targets in Iraq and (in time) the clean water will come!

What’s my point? Well, as leaders in your field, you gotta become Masters of Chaos…Controlling the chaos or (inevitably) the chaos will control you. If you allow chaos to control you, then as a leader, you’ll be nothing more than a chicken with no head…And you’re the leader! So if you have no head, guess what happens to the people following you?

Well, what’s the why behind the what of this issue? Here are five of the hidden culprits of improper leadership administration (i.e. scheduling, organization, and planning)…

  • Lack of Passion – You won’t find any motivation to administrate well if you hate what you do. Do you LOVE what you do?
  • Lack of Focus – You won’t administrate well if you have developed poor habits of distracting yourself with entertainment, vices of various kinds, etc. Are you willingly A.D.D.?
  • Lack of Planning – You won’t administrate well if you don’t plan to administrate. Indeed, “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance” (Army phrase). Can’t administrate something you don’t know needs to be administrated…Write it down…Plan to administrate…Plan to plan!
  • Lack of Discipline – You won’t administrate well if you don’t discipline yourself to keep on keeping on even when the going gets tough. You gotta be CONSISTENT with your administrative system. Get this…Administration is the essential, but unattractive oil of a properly functioning business or organization. You have to discipline yourself to stay on task, on target, and on time. Yeah, it’s boring. Yeah, it’s not fun. But, yeah, “administration won’t make your business, but it can certainly break your business!”
  • Lack of Gratefulness – You won’t administrate well if you aren’t grateful for the limited time you have here on earth. I am utterly convinced that so many people struggle with administrative skills because they lack basic understanding of, and respect for, time…You don’t have much time left on planet earth, and some of you are living (and working) like you have all the time in the world…A healthy understanding of your incredibly short life and a healthy fear of your impending death are strong motivators to get your junk together and administrate well…

And just to be clear, poor administration has nothing to do with a deficit of intellect, vision, or charm…In fact, some of the smartest, most visionary, and charming people I’ve ever met are just plain bad at administration because they lacked either passion, or focus, or planning, or discipline, or gratefulness, or some combination of these hidden culprits…

So, do you struggle with administrating your life and work? Are you just plain bad at scheduling, organization, and planning? Do you allow the chaos of your life and work to control you too much? Here’s two practical tips to be a better person and leader…1) Buy and use a paper planner…“A paper brain never forgets!” And 2) Buy and read the book, Mastering Life by Robert J. Morgan…Excellent book and easy to read!