I've been listening to Andy Stanley lately. Not the Andy Stanley carefully organized in books and tapes, but the unedited Andy Stanley in an interview with the folks from the Catylst Conference. There were two points in particular that have grabbed my attention and won't let go.
First, Andy says that in the end, leaders look back on the opportunities they chased. We set goals, we plan, but we really have no control over what's coming and it is the opportunities taken that eventually define a ministry. That's freeing.
Second, he says that it is initiative that defines leaders much more than talent or intelligence. John Maxwell used to tell him to watch for staff who took ownership, who were willing to start things. Those were the ones to trust with more. It's about courage.
Which leads me to the real point. We have a little over three years left here. Suddenly, we begin to think about life after seminary. On Saturday, I asked Wendy what she saw next. Do we seek a wounded church looking for a senior pastor? Do we seek a small church ready to hire it's first pastor? Do we come on as an associate and wait patiently? Do we wait for a perfectly healthy church to look for a new pastor? Do we wait to be approached by someone seeking to plant? OR, do we start making plans now--initiating--to help plant or begin a new work....
It's a thought that haunts me. I struggle with the arrogance of those who begin churches by throwing off accountability. And yet, it is the repainting of the church that keeps it healthy and moving forward. And, if it can be birthed with the blessing of a parent church, then health can come quickly and humbly.
So, we begin a new set of questions and a new phase of life. Is there a particular region where we feel burden? Is there a particular group of people? Do we already have a vision and need to flesh it out? Are the leaders we would need already in our lives? When we came to Texas, we came with the vow that we would never again allow fear to keep us from following. My own sermon about Nehemiah 2 helped remind us of that, which is what God often does when we unfold the Word. We're starting to pray new prayers. We're ready to begin dreaming. We're not alone.