Five Things I’m Doing in My Pre-Retirement

Casey Graham of the www.thechangegroup.tv is one of my best friends in the world.  We do a lot of life together.  There’s seldom a week that goes by that we don’t talk a half-of-dozen times and hang out at least once on my deck.  In other words, when I say we are best friends, I’m not blowing smoke, we really are.  Recently Casey asked me a question that caught my attention, “What do you do?”  What he was saying is what is it you do since you transitioned out of MLC.

Drinking Tea with Friends in Istanbul

That’s a great question.  When I resigned my position I did so to “follow”.  I had just written “Detox for the Overly Religious” and I guess you could say it was time for me to do a little detoxing of my own.  Back in January I was preaching a message at MLC when I had one of those moments.  Toward the end of my message I asked the question, “We BELIEVE, but are we willing to FOLLOW?”  As I made my point I knew that this point was directed mostly to me.

Within a few days I did something sort of wild and crazy.  I resigned my position in order to “follow” Jesus.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t be a follower and still be Executive Pastor at MLC, but I felt God calling me to something more radical.  I sense that God was leading me to put myself in a vulnerable position of dependency.

When I say follow that’s exactly what I mean.  Each day I get up and I spend some time reading scripture, usually the Gospels.  I especially like the Sermon on the Mount and the chapters leading up to it.  I ask Jesus to “Show me his way!”  A lot of days I put two copies of my book Detox in my bag and I take off.  Usually I have some things plan and some things I have to do, but now that I’m not attending a lot of meetings and running a church from weekend to weekend I have more margin in my life.  I usually give the copies of my book to someone during the day.  I never know who they will go to.  I just ask God to lead me to the right person or persons and I give them my book.

What I like most about giving away my book is beginning my day this way allows me to be more sensitive to what God is doing in and around me.  At the same time that’s not all I do.  There are five things that I am focusing on at this point in my life.  I wouldn’t exactly call this my job description, but it’s the closest thing I have to one.

Grow – I hesitate to use the word grow.  I’m not sure why?  I thought of the word “morph” or “transform”.  I like the word “follow” as I’ve used it above.  At www.churchplanters.com we call it “Nurturing Vitality”.  It’s a little of all of these.

Making this transition has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done in years.  At the same time it has been really challenging.  When I began the journey I felt that God was calling me not to commit to doing any one thing for an entire year.  I’m four months into it and my constant temptation is to build something.  I think all of us have in us a need to build a tower.  It may take the shape of a team, a church, a business, a non-profit or whatever, but we need to build something.

Eight months from now I may be building something else, but for now I sense that God wants to be the builder and he wants to build me into a more complete follower of him.

Write – I’m also writing.  I’m not sure what I will ultimately call my next book, but for now i’m writing on this idea of “Radical: Becoming an Ordinary Follow of Jesus.”  This came out of a conversation I had with my daughter shortly after resigning my position.  When I told her I was resigning she couldn’t believe it.  She said,”Dad, you are Radical.  You don’t only preach about this stuff you really do it.” At the end of the day I hope to have a honest look at what it looks like to follow Jesus.

Speak – I love to speak about the things I feel passionate about.  For me that is anything that relates to “Rediscovering the simplicity of Jesus and his ways.”  Jesus gave us all the same mission, “…go make disciples…”  That’s what I’m talking about.  I love talking about our mission and calling us back to it.  Unfortunately I’m afraid that we have made it all about the weekend.  While I understand the weekend is important, it’s got to be about more then getting people to attend a religious service.  One of my warnings for church planters is “be careful what you plant, for when it grows up you will have to live with it.”  Helping churches and leader find their way back to this disciple making mission is my passion.

Coach/Consult – I have always had a passion for leaders, especially pastors.  While at Mountain Lake one of the things I enjoyed most was being close to the Lead Pastor helping him make critical and strategic decisions about the future.  During my transition I made a commitment to continue to invest in pastor’s through a coaching and consulting role.  At any given time I have 3 to 4 pastors that I invest in through an official relationship.  These relationship usually last approximately 6 months.  I love the idea of investing in hundreds and even thousands of senior leaders over the course of my lifetime.

Lead – God has wired me to lead.  I’m really good at vision and decision making.  I spend about half my time leading a church planting organization that I co-founded with Shawn Lovejoy called churchplanters.com. Our goal is to give church planters permission to do what it takes.  To me to do what it takes to make disciples out of irreligious and overly religious people.

If any of you are like Casey Graham and wondering what I do, this is it.  More then likely you are not asking this question, but it does afford me the opportunity to answer it for myself.   Who knows you may even find the need to answer the question for yourself.  That’ is “What do you do?”

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