Today I enter the world of blogging by being proactive rather than reactive. My first introduction into this cyberworld of communication came earlier this year. I was to be nominated to be president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas so I decided to see what was being said about me on the web. I “googled” my name and was surprised to see mention of me on a number of blogs. Over the next several months I have enjoyed the connections I have made with people all across the nation.
I decided this week to begin being proactive and putting my ideas and thoughts on the web. I am new at this, so don’t know where to begin. I decided a good place to begin would be to share my heart with those who might drop by.
I am 47 years old. I am married to a wonderful woman who teaches English at a local university. I have four wonderful daughters. My youngest is 13 years old. I have been a pastor of a Baptist church since I was 22 years old. I currently serve a county seat First Baptist Church in the Panhandle of Texas.
A couple of years ago while studying for my Doctor of Ministry degree I wrote a personal mission statement. I have used this simple statement to be a guide to my ministry. My statement simply states:
“I am called and gifted to love and to lead the people of God through seasons of change”.
In this statement I try to capture my heart for ministry. I believe ministry and leadership begin with love. If you love your people they will know it. If they know it then in time they will follow you. Love is the key to relationships. However as I have matured as a leader I have come to realize that loving people is not enough. When I err toward simple sentimental love I fail to fulfill a primary role of a leader.
Not only am I called to love, but I am also called to lead. Leading demands risk, relationships, and vision. Leading demands stepping out and speaking out. Early in my ministry I was much better at loving than leading. I realize for the health and vitality of the organization I work with that I must be balanced in my approach that I must “love and lead”.
As a leader I must also realize that I am leading “the people of God”. These people under my charge are not mine, but rather I am a steward of these people. The people are God’s people. He assigned them to my care and I am accountable to Him for every last one of them. This accountability creates in me a fear and a great sense of responsibility. I need to keep up with them. I need to care for them. I need to teach and equip them. I need to lead them by following Jesus as closely as I can.
As a leader I have been often given assignments to lead through “seasons of change”. Leadership often revolves around change issues. It seems that every church I have served was in transition. I have lead three churches through the “sea change” of the “worship wars”. I will write much more about this over the next few months. My doctoral thesis was on “Corporate unity in a multi-congregational church”. I began my study looking at the implications of the worship wars in church life, but my lead professor challenged me to look deeper and I am so thankful I did. I discovered the worship wars are often signs of deeper problems that need to be addressed. Leaders do not create the seasons they lead through, but rather they adjust to the realities of the world around them and seek to lead the people in a healthy productive way.
This simple statements has helped me to stay the course over twenty-five years of leading, and I hope it will help me to finish well.