Why HERE is always less acceptable than THERE.

20130520-194048.jpg We are at an interesting point in the life of our little church family.

We are tipping on the edge of around 150 regular members on the books. Coming up for 3 years old since planting from the "mothership".

Kids work is central. Worship is getting more "professional", youth are arriving and we have kicked out a cool little "edgy" evening service.

And this weekend we welcomed our new pastor to take the reigns for the next "season".

If you picked up on all the above jargon well done. You passed the "been around church for a while bingo game". I need a catchier title for that.

Anywho - we are at an interesting place. And you could say all is GREAT. And it is. You could say we are doing all the right things. And we are. But unfortunately. I don' think that's going to be good enough.

A few years ago whilst travelling in the US I spent 8 hours in the back of a pickup truck eating chicken out of an old apple crate, wearing an Oklahoma U. Baseball cap and listening to some of the most amazing country gospel you have ever heard. Why all of this was happening is irrelevant, but helps paint a picture don't it?

Along the way we hit a good stretch of road on the outskirts of the Oklahoma pan handle crossing into Texas that was so deserted by man, animal, mineral and vegetable that you would swear you had just walked on the set of a Lee Child novel.

Road out front.

Road behind.

But either side - Nothing but land, the odd scrub of a tree, and them more land.

We were having a great time. I was travelling with 3 guys, one of which my best friend and two who I had known for a sum total of 24 hours.

We had all we needed. But with nothing out there to look to or behind at, even in that crowded loud little Ford steel death trap - you could feel pretty alone.

You see thats sometimes the problem with being on track, out there in the middle of the road. It's usually out there in the middle that we can feel the most alone.

The middle is always the hardest part of the journey.

You are at your most vulnerable and most tired. You have lost the beauty and mystery of the path leading out in front of you. But yet you don't have that motivating sight of the finish line drawing you ever forward.

The middle of the road is where dreams come to die.

As we instated our new leader this past weekend at the church, I felt a true burden for him. Something really heavy and tangible. A burden of not wanting us to get stuck where we are.

Which is odd really, because like many of our little band of "history makers" (bonus points if you get that one) - I love where we are. I love our people, our building, our music, our prayers. I love it.

And I think that was just the reason that burden is so heavy is because from the outside looking in you could think we are on track and that our pastor, he's landed in just the right place. And he has. But in the very same moment you know there is more to do.

We always have more to do.

To see the world changed.

To drive our visions to completion.

And we know we have not yet reaches ours. But how do you take people with you to that new place when everything we have HERE seems so acceptable, comfortable?

Bill Hybels, the leader of Willow Creek, speaking at last week's HTB Leadership Conference spoke to just this and I share it again with you because it struck us so as we heard it.

The goal to getting people to go with you to THERE is to explain that HERE is unacceptable.

You see just casting a vision of how great this church, company, project is going to be when we get to completion is only casting half the vision. Because we naturally as Christians and human beings, default to what we know, what is comfortable, what is HERE.

So, Hybels says (and I agree) the only way to move to THERE is to explain why we cannot, under any circumstance, come hell or high water stay HERE.

If you are stuck in the middle of journey, or about to cast a new one, and need to take, or keep carrying people with you - then grasp this little truth. It is a life-changing, company moulding, church progressing truth.

Here may be great, comfortable, wonderful and delightful, but AT THE VERY SAME TIME - it can be unacceptable.

Because we are called to do greater things than even this.

Next time you find yourself out on the road with nothing ahead or behind, look down at the dirt beneath your feet. Thank God for it and then step on out.

Because you can't stay here.

Inspiring leadership

Thought you may like this quote I came across today on leadership from JackWelch the former CEO of General Electric- He said that there are times that come when a leader

"cannot be this thoughtful, in-the-corner guru. You cabot be a moderate, balanced, thoughtful, careful articulator of policy. You've got to be on the lunatic fringe."

We all know that sometimes there comes a point when things have been processed into oblivion and you as a leader have to take charge and make the tough decisions. Decisions which affect the lives of those around us and the futures of those we lead.

The past two weeks at the church I attend here in London we have been exploring this theme of leadership through the eyes of the apostle Paul as he handed over leadership of his early church to Timothy - you can hear the sermons here.

As John (our church leader) so helpfully explained, the mantle of leadership is on a constant cycle of passing on the younger generations, the men and women who will lead the church/office/country in years to come. I find myself in such a position now, as I seek to train and lead in some capacity a team in the work environment, and also find new places to lead and explore in a church context.

On the work front as I seek to train a team of highly credible and swithed on individuals, I begin to feel pangs of what I like to call the Moses syndrome- the symptoms of which are highly unpleasant, however they manifest themselves differently in all of us. You may know it yourself, that feeling that you are called and chosen for a task, but in many ways feel wholly inadequate to take it on.

When Moses found himself upon mount sinai and heard God himself tell him that he would lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, i think two things were happening in his head. Firstly he felt crushed with the weight of the task ahead, and secondly he was being confronted with a calling from God, an undeniable calling.

This is difficult to comprehend, as we read in Genesis Moses wrestled mentally and spiritually to get his ear in the place where he could walk into the courts of the Pharoah and command him to let his people go. However any leader who has ever felt that call to lead will at some point or another feel that pang of moses syndrome, as they face what seems to be their own mount Sinai moment.

The crunch of all this (as John so helpfully illustrated last night) is that we who are called as leaders should be able to stand with out heads held high when we acknowledge our gift and call to leadership. We do not need to apologise for this, and it is in no way un-Christian or boasting. Because the point is our leadership (or perhaps the best kind of leadership) is to SERVE. It is only in servanthood that our leadership life can truly thrive and grow.

So whether you are leading a team in the workplace, the church, the factory, the home or the hospital, seek to serve those whom you lead. No one likes to be led, but we love to be served.