This edition of "The Pastor's Coach" is highly personal. I'm going to share with you my own current transition, and a few thoughts that come from that experience. But first, let me thank you for reading "The Pastor's Coach." I know you have a nearly unlimited supply of "stuff" to read and a very limited amount of time in which to read it. It is with that in mind that I attempt to write fresh material each month that is practical and relevant for today's church. My heart and life's work is solely focused on and dedicated to God's local church. I believe that, (we) are the expression of the gospel message (Jesus is the Savior) and therefore the hope of the world. It is with that motive and passion that I look forward to writing this mentoring newsletter for years to come.
There are times when God begins a "stirring" in the heart of any of us who are His followers.
This stirring usually precedes change and therefore ushers in a time of transition. I love hearing the stories of God stirring in the hearts of His people and no doubt you can think of many times He has stirred your own heart. Perhaps you are in such a time right now.
A little over a year ago, God began such a stirring of my own heart. At first I really didn't understand what He wanted, but knew He was up to something. All I knew for sure was that my heart was drawn toward the local church in a strong and undeniable way. I sought the wise counsel of my friend and mentor, John Maxwell. As we walked and talked in his backyard I remember him saying, "Let's just keep talking and praying - soon enough God will make himself clear." Then John said: "But Dan, throughout this process you must be honest about what you are thinking and feeling, and about what God wants to do in you."
I began to sense a calling back to the local church but couldn't imagine not being connected with INJOY and the incredible ministry to churches and pastors across the country. I prayed for about a year without any sense of a clear answer; if anything, God seemed to bless my work with pastors in an even greater way.
One morning, in my prayers, I sensed the Holy Spirit guiding me to pray differently. Rather than praying for guidance about what I was to "do," I was to pray first about who God wants me to be. My first thought, being the spiritual giant that I am, was "what the heck does that mean?" (OK, so I'm slow at times). But it became clear that I was to back off what I call the "bless me Lord" prayers and begin to pray, "Lord, make me a man that you can bless."
Then I remembered what John said about being honest, and was I ever in for a ride! God walked into areas of my life that I thought were just fine. It's one thing for God to look into a messy closet of your life and start a cleanup job, but to look into a clean and well-organized closet and say "we're going to redo this place;" Well, that's an altogether different matter. Hey, I liked my closet just like it was. After all, my closet was obedient, faithful, and mature! But He had other things in mind. I will leave this by saying to you that when you begin to pray, "God make me a person you can bless," hang on for the closet cleaning of your life.
Well, this article was supposed to be short. Sounds like most sermons I preach. Let me get to the point - especially for you bottom liners who are thinking, "Dan, would you find a runway and land this plane!"
As of October 1st, I have accepted the position of Executive Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Lawrenceville, GA. It's a strong and growing church under the capable leadership of Kevin Myers as senior pastor. I wish I could tell you all the details of how this partnership between Kevin and I blossomed, but if you'll allow me to use an overused term, it was truly a "God thing."
John Maxwell and I are excited about this transition, and we know it's the right thing. We look forward to continuing ministry together with me serving more as an INJOY "associate," based out of a local church. I will continue to write "The Pastor's Coach," consult with churches as time permits, and teach in an occasional conference or two. And who knows what other ideas John will come up with!!
I promised a few thoughts about personal transition from my experience.
* Be honest with yourself and God about your life; and give God permission to unfold His plan. To do that you must first give up your own agenda. For me, I needed to give up my own agenda about being a senior pastor. That was a good thing, but not God's plan.
* When you pray, begin by praying, "God make me a person you can bless," before you ask Him to bless you.
* Seek wise counsel from a trusted friend.
* Do not expect God's answer to make sense in terms of the world's economy.
* Don't rush the hand of God. Give Him permission to operate on His time line, according to His agenda.
* Enjoy the journey. The Father loves you and has your best interests in mind! You can trust Him.
I have referred often to this wonderful quote by Charles Spurgeon: "God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart."
This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter 'The Pastor's Coach' available at www.injoy.com.