Monthly Archives: August 2010

“Who Am I?”–Leadership Question

In Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges book Lead Like Jesus, they pointed out that a vital part of being a leader is leading yourself.

In order to lead yourself one must ask the deep personal question “Who Am I?” Or as they stated in their book:

The second question–“Who Am I?”–deals with your life purpose. Why did the Lord put you on earth? What does he want to do through you.

This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem. It demands that one look deeply into his or her design. For me answering this question demanded an honest evaluation of who I was–not who I want to be or even more importantly who I wanted to be like.

Hero worship is a trap for many of us on this journey. It often starts with mom and dad, and then moves to others which could even include a celebrity or two. For me it began with my father who was and is my hero in many ways.  One of the struggles in my life was realizing that one of the best ways I could honor my father was to be myself. God did not make me to be a clone of him. God made me to be me.

A bit later in my journey I wanted to be like a good friend of mine named Bob. Bob was the pastor of a growing thriving church in the Metroplex. Each week God used him to touch the lives of  people in amazing ways. I even asked Bob to mentor me and to teach me (to be like him.) There was only one huge problem, I was not Bob, nor could I duplicate his personality, skills, and traits. On this journey to be like Bob another good friend in passing said something that shaped my life. He said, “David, just be yourself–you don’t need to be like Bob to be successful.”

You see the fact remains that if you become like your hero–you rob the world of the blessing God created you to be.

“Who am I?”

A few years ago I chose these words to bring clarity to my professional life when I wrote:

“God created me to love and to lead the people of God through seasons of change.”

This simple statement has been a guiding star to my journey. It has helped me to be me. I hope it has helped me to glorify the one who created me.

On the ancient Temple of Apollo, the Greeks carved the words “Know Thyself”. These great thinkers and philosophers realize the power and potential when one came to grips with who they really are.

Jesus summed up his mission simply when he said:

The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost–Luke 19.10

Remember to begin your journey of leading by looking deeply into your own heart and answering the questions:

Whose am I?

Who am I?

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“Whose Am I?”–First Leadership Question

Recently I was reviewing Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges book Lead Like Jesus. These two leadership writers took a hard look at the leadership style and principles of Jesus.

At the beginning of the book they noted the importance of “Personal Leadership”–or in other words–before you can lead others you must learn to lead yourself.

Blanchard noted:

Effective leadership starts on the inside

One of the key questions as one takes a hard long look in the leadership mirror is the question: “Whose am I?” or “Whom are you trying to please?”

Much of my early success in ministry revolved around my “people pleasing skills.” I tried to be everything to everybody to my own personal demise and to the limitation to the churches I served. When the many voices around you give cadence to your steps, you will find yourself stumbling around chasing after purpose that slips through your fingers. You will also struggle with finding love, because you will be haunted with the question of whether people love you for who you are or simply for what you do for them.

Jesus had this issue settled from the very beginning. In John 4 when His disciples returned with lunch to find Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman. The disciples urged him to eat, but Jesus replied,

“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

As usual the disciples missed the point thinking Jesus had already had lunch. So Jesus emphasized the point by saying:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Jesus knew “Whose he was?” He served His Father. We would be wise to follow His example. His voice and His voice alone should set the course of our lives.

In your struggle to lead…especially leading yourself. Never forget “Whose you are?” You belong to Jesus. I can think of no one better to serve. May His smile light your path.

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Response to David Montoya

Below is my reply to a blog posted by David Montoya. Over the past ten year David has had his eagle eye on the work of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. I may be blind, but I believe David sincerely wants the BGCT to be at its best, but he has been deeply troubled by much of what has happened in recent years.

I have had numerous conversations with David and have sought as president of the BGCT to look into many of his concerns. Often this happened behind the scenes.  As president of the BGCT I have sought to represent all the diverse factions and groups without our convention. Leading the BGCT is not for the faint of heart. Our unity is defined by a “holy tension.” The BGCT has sought to keep the tent big, and the vision bold.

This week David Montoya suggested Randel Everett was seeking a way out and was a lame duck leader. Below is my personal observations that I posted on Montoya’s blog.

Dear David,

In fairness to Dr. Everett and Shelia I want to weigh in on your observations. I don’t know who your source is, but I believe you have been misled.

First, Dr. Everett is not by any stretch a lame duck. He is passionately seeking to lead our convention into the future. He inherited a troubled organization and has sought to cast a bold vision for our future. A vision rooted in our foundational values of evangelism/missions, Christian education, and advocacy.

Like any leader he is concerned about the convention’s financial situation, but he is trying to keep his eyes on the future. Although cuts had to be made to the staff he is calling us to take the gospel and to be the gospel to Texas and the world. God called Everett to this post for this time. I believe he is tough enough and determined enough to see us through. I believe in Everett, and I will work with him in the years to come.

Secondly, Shelia Everett is a good godly woman who loves Randel and loves the BGCT. Shelia has challenged us to pray more not to change the decorations. She has a heart to touch our state with the gospel. I realize I am not in the Baptist Building regularly, but I have rarely ever seen her there. Her influence is in how she loves the LORD and loves her husband. She is a strong leader, but I believe that is one of the way she helps Randel to be at his best.

Thirdly, Jeremy Everett is a bright light among Texas Baptists and a friend to the poor in Texas. As recently as this week I had a conversation with Jeremy about how he can pull together key church and government leaders to come to El Paso to help us address the plight of the poor in our city. From Austin to Washington the name Jeremy Everett is linked to creative hard work on the behalf of the hungry. I too had had a well known pastor as a father, I suspect being Randel Everett’s son has helped him along the way, but not in the ways you might suspect. Jeremy had in Randel an example to follow, and someone to look up to, someone to inspire him to be his own man.

Granted some may argue that I am now an “insider” and that I have been blinded by the culture of the Baptist Building. Each one has the right to make the own judgment of my motives and my perspective, but as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, I can tell you that Randel Everett is the real deal. He loves Texas. He loves our churches, and he is laying down his life for the sake of the Kingdom.

David, I believe you sincerely want what is best for our convention, but attacking Randel and his family will not get us where we need to be.

For these two years as president I have worked hard to help us change the conversation and to move into a new day. I believe those who are leading us  have a new sense of passion and urgency not driven by trying to save jobs, but by seeking to bring hope to Texas.

I would challenge those who care about the BGCT to come to McAllen and let your voice be heard. Get involved at the local level. Call or email Randel or one of our staff leaders in your region. Share your concerns. Share your visions. Help us. Now is the time for a new generation to step forward.

Sincerely,
David Lowrie
President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas

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Filed under BGCT, BGCT Presidential Journal

A Word of Encouragement

A few days ago I receive a card from a fellow pastor. Jay Smith serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Clifton. He noted in his card that I had recently moved to El Paso. He also promised his prayer support during my transition to a new assignment on the Border.

As I read the card it was so encouraging to know Jay was praying for me. I am learning more and more that we are all in this together. However it was his closing comments that struck a deep chord with me.

Jay wrote:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”

Little did Jay know that it was these very words that God used to turn my heart toward El Paso and Juarez. When I read the card, I had to put it down as I marveled at the hand of our LORD.

I am learning God oversees every detail of my life. I am secure in His hand, and He has thousands upon thousands of His loyal followers who are ready at a moment’s notice to bless you if you will just keep your eyes on Him.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jay, and to my LORD.

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Bullets over El Paso

El Paso: Again this week stray bullets from a gunfight in Juarez struck a building in nearby El Paso. This time the stray bullet hit the door of Bell Hall on the campus of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Although it cannot be conclusively confirmed the bullet was from the gunfight across the border all the evidence seems to point in that direction.

Needless to say this event shortly after the bullets hitting city hall has created a buzz in El Paso.  El Paso Mayor John Cook acknowledge the situation on the Texas side of the border by saying:

There is nothing we can do about it

Texas Governor Rick Perry made this statement:

“For the second time in two months, bullets from a gun battle in the escalating drug war in Juarez have struck a building in El Paso, and I’d like to commend the swift action taken by local and state law enforcement in the area. By the grace of God, the stray bullets from these incidents have yet to injure or kill a Texan. It is unconscionable that the Obama Administration is gambling with American lives, betting that escalating violence from these cartels won’t eventually shed the blood of innocent people on U.S. soil.

“We must ensure El Paso and other border communities remain a safe place for people to live, work and raise a family. It’s time for Washington to stop the rhetoric and immediately deploy a significance force of personnel and resources to the border to protect our homeland.”

As a recent citizen of El Paso who moved here on purpose to try to make a difference, I would strongly encourage believers to pray “no mas violencia” or NO MORE VIOLENCE. Pray that the Prince of Peace will move to stem the tide of violence and that presence and power of the LORD turn the hearts and minds of those behind the increasing violence toward good.

As citizens of El Paso we must come to grips that our lives are intertwined with our neighbors across the river. We must stand as one if we are going to stop this tide of vengeance and hatred.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a]

2 I will say [b] of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

I realize now more than ever he was not speaking in symbolic terms. He declared God as a refuge and fortress in the world of senseless violence we live in.

Today as always my trust rests completely in the LORD.

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Chesterton Quote

As I was reading “Orthodoxy” by C.K. Chesterton I came across this great reminder.

Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot

Bill Wright, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Plains used to enjoy calling the young men he mentored and trained–“idiots.” At his funeral one of these young pastors asked Bill’s son “What did it mean when your dad called me an idiot.” His reply was “My dad loved you.” In reply the young pastor said “What did it mean if he called me stupid.” His son laughed and said, “It meant you were STUPID!” I miss Bill.

Chesterton got it right. We were never meant to go at it alone. Pride and isolation leads to mistakes and failures on a grand scale.

The writer of Proverbs put it this way:

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.  Proverbs 15:22 ESV

I hope and I pray I will heed this advice. Great leaders are great listeners and learners. Together we can do more!

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262

Last week I was in Dallas at the Baptist Building for a couple meetings. During my visit I had the opportunity to visit with Randel Everett. Our conversation went in a number of directions. We discussed the state of our convention and the financial challenges we continue to face. In the course of the meeting, Randel shared with me that last year we as Texas Baptists started 262 new churches.

In the surge of disappointing news, I wanted to celebrate success. One new church is a milestone, but 262 is an achievement to celebrate. Paul Adkinson and his team have done a remarkable job of making the BGCT church starting division one of the finest such enterprises in our nation. Adkinson has led our convention to create a strong partnership between the local church, the local association and the state convention. “Ownership” by the local church has been a key to their success. Conventions encourage and support the start of new churches, but “churches start churches.”

One of the keys to the success of this movement has been the focus on connecting healthy gifted church planters with enthusiastic sponsor churches who are in it for the long haul. I was a church planter back in the late 1980’s. We learn many hard lessons during those days. The mortality rate of our church plants was sickening, as we sent wave after wave of young church planters out to start new works without the strong support network needed for success.

I have been the pastor of churches of all kinds of sizes and locales, but I can say without doubt that being a church planter is by far the most difficult task in the kingdom. The church planters moves and acts on faith, lives on a shoestring budgets, and offers a dream to those willing to listen.

As Texas Baptists we should celebrate 262 new churches that have taken their place in our ranks. The Kingdom is moving forward. Praise the Lord of the harvest that He keeps sending His finest to the front lines.

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