My family and I moved to Maryland in 2008 to start a church.
This weekend, that church celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
A few things I’ve learned:
1) Faith and fear are next-door neighbors.
Faith and doing things based on faith involves stuff we can’t see. Yet. And what we can’t see yet tends to make us anxious. So if you’re a little afraid about how it’s all going to work out, that’s OK. And normal. Confidence and concern hold hands. Be OK with that.
2) You gotta think, you gotta plan, but then you just gotta jump.
Take your time with any big decisions. Seek counsel. Listen. Think. Plan. Pray. Then think and pray some more.
But then, act.
Water-walking is possible. But only outside the boat. It’s on the other side of your comfort that you’ll experience the trust that’ll make you believe in the impossible.
3) Struggling with insecurities never stops.
Perfect leaders don’t exist. The first people are first, people. And that means things will happen that will call upon every reserve of strength: emotionally, morally, financially, spiritually, every way. The struggle is part of the story. An ongoing part. It doesn’t cancel out leadership, it clarifies it.
4) Go back to what first motivated you.
Sometimes you wanna give up. Before you do, go back to what you were thinking when the dream was young. Not the feelings back then (because feelings are a lousy foundation), but the what and the why. What jazzed you from the start? What compelled your risk? Why did one day you say yes? Only you can answer those questions. And then answer one more. Are those things still alive inside?
5) Never forget the power of consistency. Ever.
Flashy speaks. Consistency shouts.
Do what you do, well. And then repeat it about a million times.
The biggest long-term impact is made by humble, genuine, consistent people and organizations. Imperfect people who plant themselves amidst imperfect people and work to spread an influence that can only be achieved through consistency.
6) Borrow ideas, not identity.
Who are you? It might be the most important question you ask and answer. It’s not contemplating how-we-do-things (because methods are seldom entirely original), but it’s the pursuit of what makes you, you. Your niche. Your voice. Your skin. And then getting comfortable in it.
This takes time. But don’t avoid the asking and answering process. People need you. Not a reflection or echo.
7) Public celebration is created by private effort.
Work hard. Really hard. On stuff that 99% of the time only you will know and see. If you’re OK with that, and not having to get the credit or hear the applause, you’ll change the world.
8) Ask for help.
It might be the hardest lesson to learn. For me at least. But our influence is meant to be greater than our ability. And the only way that happens is teamwork. Outsource as much as you can. It’ll provide buy-in from others, it’ll multiply your impact, and it’ll lower your blood pressure.
Fellow control-freaks, do it.
9) People are beautiful.
In the last ten years, I’ve met hundreds upon hundreds of people. Probably thousands. And here’s the best part, none of them are the same. Different backgrounds, families, experiences, ethnicities, attitudes, hang-ups, abilities, expectations and dreams. And in the variety dwells a beauty that’s astonishingly attractive to me.
People matter. Not because of what they do or give or because of some transactional purpose. They matter because, well, because.
Every single one of them, stamped with the fingerprint of God. Innately important. Intrinsically worthy. Inherently valuable. And when I remember this, love happens.
10) God is real and answers prayers.
Some people don’t believe in God.
For others, it’s faith at a distance – a concept assumed, but inconsequential.
I’m neither one of them.
That’s not because of some faith-gene or moral superiority, but because I’ve experienced God.
And if that sounds weird, here’s what I mean:
It’s when I asked God to help me find friends in Baltimore. And he did.
And when I asked God to help people come to our church. And he did.
It’s when I asked God to forgive me for blowing it. Again. And he did. And when I asked God to help the money stretch. And he did.
It’s the thrill that comes when answered prayers match my preference.
And the peace that comes when they don’t.
A God who’s real, and who answers prayer.
But put me in the convinced category.
Happy Anniversary, Life Church. I love you.
Let’s keep loving God and loving people.