Next Steps

Step one was hard. It required faith muscles that had become atrophied in me. And as I wrote previously, step one could be described as an irrational step. Our next step will again be a faith step, but it’s one my wife and I felt God has given us clarity about.

Our family’s next step is actually closer to three million steps. Or, 1,684 miles west back to my wife and I’s home state of Arizona. We each loved growing up in Arizona and we love our extended family who lives there. Yet, we never really thought we would end up back there (our other two moves had us move 1,000 miles and 600 miles east away from Arizona each time). So a desire to “go home” was not the draw in this decision. Probably because our last two churches had become “home” because of the people who loved and cared for us there.

I’ll be joining the staff of Wellspring Church in the “West Valley” area of Phoenix, Arizona (meeting in the city of Goodyear). Wellspring Church was planted just over four years ago. Wellspring has already seen some pretty cool things happen in its short life, and we feel called to come alongside them and serve with them.

In most ways, the staff position will be pretty different from the position I’ve most recently had at Brentwood Baptist Church—maybe figuratively as different and as far as Nashville is from Phoenix. I will continue in many executive pastor roles but also have broader engagement in other parts of Wellspring.

In these recent months of determining what’s next, unbeknownst to us God was reconnecting and re-energizing relationships that began 22 years ago (when I joined the staff of North Phoenix Baptist Church). One of those relationships was with fellow staff member, Chris Stull. And now Chris is the Lead Pastor at Wellspring.

Through the year Chris and I have stay connected. And now what I can see were serendipitous moments, we’ve connected personally at important moments of my life. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve gotten the privilege to serve great pastors (my dad, Stephen Hatfield, Mike Glenn), and now I’m excited to serve with Chris.

Wellspring has a strong staff and a lot of committed and called people in their congregation. People who have a commitment to have a church in the West Valley that reaches the lost (Phoenix is the 12th most “unchurched” city in the United States). Couple that with Phoenix being the fifth largest city in America and a lead pastor who is uber-gifted in faith and leadership; and I get excited for the challenge and to see what God may do in the West Valley of Phoenix.

(More personal note: There’s a lot of details to be worked out, including the selling of a home. But if the timing works as we’d like it to, we’d let the kids finish their semester here locally and make the move late this year. We’re grateful for prayers, especially for our kids.)

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The Pride In Our Busyness

What if busyness is caused by our pride?

The Killer P’s are a part of pastor and author Kevin DeYoung’s reason behind the state of busyness most of us live in. Reading his book Crazy Busy would be worth your money and time (it’s cheap and “mercifully short”).

DeYoung first points out there are no “quick fixes” to busyness. Especially as Christians, because “We ought to know better [than quick solutions] because we understand that deep down that the problem is not just with our schedules or with the world’s complexity—something is not right with us.”

And in the “Killer P’s” chapter of his book, he argues that typically the “thing not right” with us is a manifestation of pride. He says “Our understanding of busyness must start with one sin that begets so many of our others sins, pride.”

In a brief two pages, DeYoung names twelve manifestations of pride related to busyness. But to even be briefer than he, let me do a Dodridge-download on just four of “the P’s” that tend to manifest in my life (and perhaps yours).

4 Killer P’s

Pats on the back. This is living for praise and DeYoung says it’s often motivated by a “desire for glory.” Now, must of us would not say we’re doing things to pursue glory. But can you hear yourself saying this sentence DeYoung wrote, “If I take on this extra assignment, I’ll be a hero to everyone in the office.”?

But we often look for pats on the back at work, which often means our glory-seeking has a deficit effect at home. If we’re glory-hogs at work, well, that will mean we’re too busy to be our best in other places.

Pity. If we let everyone know how busy we are, well, they’ll feel sorry for us…they’ll take pity on us. If our busyness generates sympathy and pity, then that means we’re getting attention. Because of the sinfulness of pride, for some reason someone saying to you, “You work so hard, I bet it’s really hard to find time for yourself” seems to create a buzz for us. Rather, it should be a shock effect to say “Get out of that rhythm!”

Power. DeYoung’s associated statement for power is, “I need to stay busy because I need to stay in control.” The lie we tell ourselves is that in order to fully control something and get the desired results, we have to control every part of it. And to do that, well, we keep everything under our watchful (busy) eye. This leads to becoming an indispensable person (I’ve written on the dangers of that before).

Position. When I read DeYoung’s associated statement I knew he had named one of my Killer P’s. It’sI do too much because that’s what people like me are supposed to do.” Can you hear yourself saying that?

This is where our intentions can sound good, even God-glorifying. But ultimately it’s a prideful way of recognizing our own contribution to something. You may be the responsible one in your workplace. You’re the person who goes the extra mile. You’re the execution ninja! But each of those good qualities have a shadow side, and these good qualities become manifestations of pride quickly. And once you start these prideful expressions, it further perpetuates the feeling of you needing to keep up the standard of busyness.

Busyness can become an identity. It may be how you’re known. We hear people say to us, “Oh, you’re always so busy” and we feel both a sense of pride and sense wanting anything other than busyness for ourselves.

Be brave enough to name the “killer P’s” you’re prone to.  Name it (them) and then ask for help with your pride. Ask God to speak to you his version of what busy looks like. Ask a friend to call you out when they see you manifesting the killer P’s.

Busyness doesn’t have to be wrong or sinful, but if pride is the source of that busyness, well…

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Title-less Leadership

If you didn’t have a job title associated with your name, what changes?

What changes if there’s no longer a title to give you purpose? If there’s no title to give you authority? If there’s no title to give you prestige…what becomes of you?

For several years, the sign pictured in this blog has been outside my office door. And as I write this, that title will soon not be mine. (If you need some context, you can read my last post, The Irrational Decision In (my) Ministry Leadership). So, I can’t yet fully answer the questions I posed above, and therefore this is an aspirational post.

Yet, I felt like while I will be the one living title-less, it could be helpful for you to at least consider title-less living, even if theoretically.

Title-less Influence

A review of history often tell stories of people who did great things and led effectively before they ever assumed positional leadership. They had influence before they had the title, and usually that leadership contribution got them a title. Quality leadership typically indicates a positional title is coming.

So here are a few reminders for me, and perhaps you…

Lead with or without your title. Don’t make them put a sign outside your door before you begin to lead effectively. There’s nothing magical about a title or nameplate, and in some cases, it can actually be a hindrance.

Don’t equate title with value. I believe with all my heart that God loves (me) you before you did anything. There’s no earning, and God is certainly not waiting on you to get a title to show His love.

Surround yourself with people who love you (and don’t really care about your title). For every person you direct in your titled job, make sure you also have someone present in your life who you don’t direct. You need people in your life who don’t need your titled-self and what comes with that title. When you lead, you’re often needed by others. And that’s great. But it’s also taxing. You need people who when they see you, don’t come with a need or agenda, but come to you because they like you (with or without your leadership acumen).

(Life hack: if you try to use your titled-self amongst this group of people, well, hypothetically, you might be told, “Brian, I don’t need an executive pastor in our kitchen.”)

Maintain a title that’s a match. Sometimes our ego wants a title that reflects our accomplishments and tenure. We want it to match the hard work we’ve done. But to do this, the job often has to change. To have the more impressive title, you have to modify your role. And now you have a great title, but no longer a role that matches your desire or skills. You become susceptible to the “Peter Principle.”

God called you to lead. He gave you skills to do that well. And with or without a title, you’re valuable to God, you’re valuable to others, and your contribution is needed, even if it’s title-less contribution.

We know God’s Kingdom work is not only accomplished through titled-people (and pretty often He operates outside of that), and we need to work toward what He has for us whether we wield a title or not.

If you have a title, great, I bet you earned it. But could you still find value and purpose without it? It’s a road I’m walking, and might be good for all leaders to consider the theoretical title-less test.

 

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