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”?

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 unhealthy busy 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.

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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The Irrational Decision In (my) Ministry Leadership

For those of us who have committed our lives to serve Christ, we are susceptible to the irrational decision. But, in a good way, right?

We know Christ’s calling and direction for us (or our churches) may not line up with what culture says is rational. And those decisions even among other Christians may be considered atypical. What may completely align with God’s direction for you personally or even the direction of your church may seem irrational to others.

We have a limited view, God does not. God can use all means of people or circumstances to bring about His purposes.

But even knowing that sometimes what we sense as God’s leading still feels irrational. We hope God does His “crazy work” in others people’s lives and not ours. But what happens when after prayer, counsel and scripture reading what you’re discerning still seems disconnected from typical behavior, a little bit crazy?

Resignation and Rationality

Recently, after a decision my wife and I made, even my six-year-old daughter was questioning my rationality. And she went further to let me know if I acted on my decision, I was on my own.

To set the stage and update some of my readers who do not know…I’ve resigned my Executive Pastor position at Brentwood Baptist Church. Just more than six years ago God gave us Brentwood Baptist to call home. A place to serve, and a place to be served. This is a fantastic church to serve and I’ve had an incredible position in which to serve. Thus, the (seemingly) irrational decision. And to make it feel more irrational, well, I resigned without my next place of service determined.

So, back to my youngest daughter. We had told our older kids about the decision a couple weeks earlier, and now we were telling my seven-year-old son and his six-year-old sister Blake. After telling them about the decision to resign, Blake quipped, “Well, you have another job, right?”

After I tried to manage a response to her questioning of why I’d leave a good job without another one to go to, I could still tell maybe they weren’t getting the gravity of the decision. So, I tried to explain that this decision could mean a move away “from here.” She looked at me in the eyes, and said, “Welp, we’ll miss you, Dad.”

So what happens when you or your church feel God’s leading toward a decision that for all rational and practical reasons, just doesn’t seem right?

Safety in the Status Quo?

I’m a status quo guy. I like to have a plan. In fact, I like to have contingency plans for my plans. I’m not afraid of the unknown, per se. But I am afraid of entering an unknown when I don’t have plans to deal with the unknowns (okay, I’ll admit, I’m leery of unknowns).

So, our decision to step away, well, I’m now in an uncomfortable place. A place that will require me to exercise some faith muscles I haven’t had to use in some time.

But I’ve been here before. Both in my own personal pursuit of God and even in my position of serving a church. Things that seemed scary, and too big, and were fraught with “what ifs” ended up being a clearly designed path by a God who sees it all from an eternal perspective.

So, this blog post doesn’t have any “practical takeaways for everyday church leadership.” I’m not far enough into this faith step to try to articulate what I’m learning (but, perhaps in a future blog). Yet, I do know that God’s ways are not our ways and in some cases, God will ask us to trust Him more than our human rationality He created in us.

I encourage all of us who have stewardship of people and churches to lead reasonably, to lead rationally. But in a way that leaves room for God’s prompting toward irrational steps of faith.

A p.s. for inquiring minds: in early July I made a decision to resign. There was nothing dramatic to it. But simply a decision that reflected months of discernment. Since then, I’ve had the privilege to serve in my role as we worked out a transition plan for my work. This plan is now close to me handing off my “executive pastor duties” to other capable people. After that I will continue to serve the church in other ways for a period of time. Some of you may care to know what’s next. The answer, we don’t know. We’re asking God to provide clarity, and in the meantime, courageous faith. I love serving God in ministry and I’m hopeful for what’s ahead.

 

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