I Can’t Get No …
My days as a Pastor Innkeeper on the stunningly beautiful Northern California coast have come to an end, but the ironies inside the world of managing a top-shelf romantic getaway property are simply too vivid to likely ever escape my memory – perhaps none stronger than the curious pattern that the least satisfied guests were often those who came to Agate Cove via a gift certificate – someone else paid their way towards a weekend of pampering, luxury and rest.
My mind would naturally expect that these recipients of such a loving, thoughtful and generous gesture would stand out as the most gracious and thankful type, but more often than not, these certificate-holders would sour their own B&B escape with a litany of complaints and criticisms . . even smack in the middle of their 25th, 30th or 40th wedding anniversary. Might I add that typically the older the guest . . the more impassioned and bitter was the rant of dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile the other 98% of the guests that trundled through mile after mile of rolling vineyards and giant redwoods to come to the Cove could not have been happier – go figure!
Reasons for the rants you ask? …
Well, rarely were they factually grounded in the quality of the guest experience. I suppose you could chock them up to an all-pervasive consumer culture that is spoiled with endless options, choices, packages where enough is never enough for very long.
But I think it is largely a matter of being uninvested.
When it’s your own hard earned dollar that is funding your memory-making getaway, I believe there is far more motivation to “make the experience a success” so as to thereby justify those $150 massages or those $60 bottles of champagne or those $350 wine and dine limousine tours. But a B&B gift certificate opens the door to traveling with “house money” where one is more easily tempted to be a travel critic, hell-bent on uncovering the sour side of the pillow with as much or more gusto as the sweet side of the chardonnay.
“We as spiritual leaders
are magnetically drawn to the presence of greatness
because we are so personally aware of our weakness.”
– David “JB” Miller –
Questions For Consideration About Our Leadership Lane …
- I wonder – how often do we as Pastors and ministry leaders set up those who serve with us, you know – those who go to bat for us and with us – those who find themselves on either a paid or volunteer basis in a “junior staff” role – how often do we set them up for failure simply because we remain largely uninvested and allow them to dangle in more of a performance-oriented environment than a covenant community under the Cross?
- I wonder – how often do we as Pastors and ministry leaders do disservice to those we are called to equip by personally gravitating more to being in the shadow of success and growing fame and influence vs. a life of camping out and pouring into those who have yet to fully bloom? Easier to associate with the Juggernauts for Jesus than the Ragamuffins and Misfits who are drawn to the Master . . except one problem . . there are no juggernauts for Jesus . . there are no Kingdom influencers who operate at an elevation of the soul which is above grace . . there are no shepherds on your staff (including yourself) who don’t stumble and stagger . . it’s just a matter of when and more importantly, it’s a matter of whether or not they know you will be there to help them stand once again.
- I wonder – how often do we as Pastors and ministry leaders look more like gift certificate holders who default to the corporate convenience of “replace” instead of “repair” or “restore” when a team member fails, falters or loses focus. Our culture has taught only too well (when it comes to relationships) how to “forget you” and move on to “next”. Only a year ago, we couldn’t get enough Jordan Spieth – we lapped him up as America’s golden boy – a home-brewed prodigy of unparalleled success. Today he is the symbol for the greatest collapse in Master’s history. But that’s ok, we have been Curry’d – Steph Curry that is, the over the top Christ-follower athlete that has turned the NBA and the Golden State Warriors upside down. Do you think he has a few million friends today who didn’t even know his name this time last year?
The Cost of Grace
Truth is, we as spiritual leaders (like all others) are magnetically drawn to the presence of greatness because we are so personally aware of our weakness . . even more so when we curb distance and dispense with sanctified appearances and patiently come alongside those who serve on our teams . . on their good days . . and their bad.
While salvation in Christ can only be received by grace, it is simply perverted into a false gospel if we think and act like it requires anything less than a 100% invested life, a mentoring and discipling life that pronounces to those in our our charge and inour greater sphere of influence “you belong to Jesus” and the mission of His church . . even on the day of your greatest failure. It is no coincidence that Ephesians 2:8-9 is directly attached to …
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
– Ephesians 2:10 –
… and the most important “good works” we as leaders are called to fulfill begins first with the caring for and molding of lives who make up our teams, especially when they are hurting in a season of loss or handicapped by short-sighted choices. Jesus found value in and great purpose for disciples who boasted, demanded, doubted, deserted and denied . . can we do any less?
Seeking Restoration Hardware?
A pair of “Towering Jewel” plants (Echium Wildpretii) took a lashing in the Agate Cove Inn gardens during a howling January storm – one did not survive and the other was left listing at an awkward and mostly unsightly angle. My first thought was to have our gardener remove and replace it with something more soothing to the eye . . but I chose to let the massive plant be and over many weeks to follow it surged upward again only with a more beautiful and resilient curve than all the other Towering Jewels in the entire garden.
George Matheson’s fiancee chose differently.
Matheson was born with birth defects that affected his vision, and at age 15 learned that he was actually going blind. Nonetheless, he enrolled in the University of Glasgow where he graduated at age 19 and immediately began theological studies. During this time, he was engaged to be married, but when he broke the news to his fiancee that he would soon be completely blind, she responded by stating she couldn’t see herself going through life married to a blind man and asked to be released from the engagement.
Matheson obliged her request and would never marry but did become a successful preacher before more than 1,500 people every Sunday and was able to fulfill all his duties thanks to the care of one of his three sisters. Twenty years later in June of 1882, his sister got married and the entire family went to Glasgow for the ceremony. All that is, except George. His sole life-support was being taken away and he was crushed.
Alone and suddenly overcome by the memory of the earlier abandonment by his fiancée, George turned to God and that same evening wrote the timeless and powerful hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”.
When George Matheson was confronted with the realities of a soul caving into temptation in a season of pure fatigue, he remembered the love of Christ and penned,
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
When George Matheson felt like his witness for Christ had faltered, he remembered the love of Christ and penned,
O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
When George Matheson was plagued with loneliness and depression over failed hopes and was tempted to turn a cold shoulder towards the very people he was called to serve, he remembered the love of Christ and penned,
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
For Cross, Crown and Kingdom
What we do in this life as Pastors and ministry leaders matters here and now . . and it matters for eternity
What we expect others to do for us in this life will determine the hollowness of our joy.
What we expect of ourselves towards others in this life will determine the fullness of our joy
What Jesus did for you and I in giving up His life was model in love what it means to be a leader who will never be accused of remaining . . uninvested.
What works for you? How do those you lead experience your “mentoring” influence?
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross ..”
Wish to refresh-forward LifeLetter Cafe?