I think Friday is my most difficult day, because the message has to come together by the end of the day, no more excuses. Sunday, though a marathon for us, is actually easier than Saturdays for some reason I can’t quite describe. There is a lot of energy on Sundays so maybe that’s the difference.
This weekend we talked about some difficult topics, like sacrifice and our weekly offering and it was a challenging message to hear…and to give. There was a time, unfortunately, when I didn’t really give challenging messages, I just told people what they wanted to hear. Eventually I stepped up to the plate and started preaching the difficult parts of the Gospel too, but I did so reluctantly. Not any more. A challenging message is God honoring but it is also deeply respectful of the people in the pews. We care enough to want them to grow. I loved when Tom came out at the end and told everyone, if you don’t want to give to us that’s fine…its not about you giving to us, its about you giving.
Spent some time with Maria and Tom on Sunday afternoon. We had a good lunch (I’m not saying where) and a great discussion about getting the right people on board in terms of staff and lay leadership. This was such an obstacle for me for years. There are the people who are just not going where you’re leading and they openly oppose you. Difficult but fair enough. Then there are the people who secretly or passively oppose you. They are a bigger problem that lasts longer, they can be insidious and divisive in ways you don’t even understand. Then there are the people who go along for a while and find they can’t or won’t go any further. They’re a disappointment and sometimes disruptive. Perhaps the saddest of all, are the people who want to be with you, who want to go where you are leading but get messed up by the people who aren’t with you. When they leave it can be hurtful and heartbreaking. At this point, a tipping point, God has given us an incredibly strong, united and mission driven (though still small) staff, who have acres of talent besides. We are also blessed with some lay leaders who are as committed and enthusiastic as the staff. It’s a nice position to be in.