Falling in Love… Again and Again…

The other day, Jeannie brought an unpleasant truth to my attention. I forget the details, or rather, I choose not to include them, but let’s just say she had to use a firm tone to make her point. I told her, “I liked you better when you were nice.”

Falling in love again

When I first met Jeannie, she was one of the nicest people I had ever met. She still is. She’s just more selective in how and when she shows it. She’s changed.

She had to. When Chris and Craig were born, she became a bionic mother—complete with child-seeking radar, hyper-sensitive hearing, and x-ray vision. As the boys grew, she grew to read their most subtle gestures, hear things in their voices, and see things in their eyes that I could never figure out. She learned to go grocery shopping with a couple of bucks and a handful of coupons. She was an amazing mother to our boys.

Now, we’re in the empty nest, and she’s changing again. Now, she’s cultivating her cooking, baking, and decorating skills…

She’s very different than the girl I married over 35 years ago, and I love her more for it.

I’m sure she would say I’ve changed too, and I guess that’s the point. One of the overlooked joys of a committed marriage is the safety you have in facing necessary changes of life. None of these transitions has been easy. Each one had its share of trial and error. But we found a good place and settled in there until another change was required.

And each of these changes has been intriguing, fascinating, and curiously fun to watch. Each time, with each change, I’ve fallen in love with her all over again.

Jeannie is a different person than the one I married. I guess I’m different too. Our lives are certainly different than when we first started out. Our love is different as well. It’s deeper and stronger than I ever thought or knew it could be.

I have fallen in love with her over and over in our 35 years together. What surprises me, I guess, is how much deeper I have fallen every new time I fall in love with her all over again.

What Kind of Leader Am I? Well, It Depends

When people hear that I’ve been the pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church for twenty-five years, they want to know how I’ve managed to stay at one church that long. My honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I went into work every day, and there was always something to do. We just did the next thing we knew to do, and before I knew it, twenty-five years had gone by. It’s not quite that simple, but almost.

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In reality, I’ve have been the pastor of about five different churches and all of them have been at the same address. I came to a community church and now, I’m the pastor of a multi-site megachurch (just going by the definitions of the “experts”). Each “church” I have led has required a different type of leadership. Sometimes, I was very hands on. Sometimes, not. Sometimes I was deeply involved in the pastoral care expressions of our church. Now, we have a highly trained counselor and a deacon ministry that handles most of our pastoral care ministries.

Each time the church grew and changed, I had to grow and change. If I hadn’t, one of two things would have happened. Either the church would have stopped growing, or I would have had to leave and let someone with the necessary leadership skills come in. The process wasn’t always smooth. Sometimes I’ve been ahead of the curve and anticipated the necessary changes in the church and in me. Other times, things got a little rough because I was clueless to the new realities of the church, and therefore, the new leadership that was needed from me.

The irony of all of this is we’re going through another transition right now. In the last two years, we’ve gone from 2 campuses to 6. That’s a lot of change and of course, another change for me. We’re still working through the process of trying to understand this new reality and the appropriate response from our campuses and our leadership.

Being a pastor is lot like being a parent. I love being a dad. When my boys were little they needed me in one way. As they grew, they needed me in different ways. Now, they’re grown, and they need me in even different ways. They still need me, but they need me very differently now than they did when they were little. Good parents adapt.

So do good leaders. Every day, another book on leadership comes out and promises that if we learn to lead in this way or that way, we’ll be able to lead our church from now on. That’s only true if our churches don’t change. The world has a word for things that aren’t growing or changing—dead.

But if you’re serving a growing, thriving church, change will be the only constant. That means your leadership will be constantly changing as well. Great baseball pitchers always have more than one pitch. Great leaders do as well.

Forgetting The Future [Podcast]

Today on Creating Real Marriages that Last, we talk about the importance of not forgetting about the future. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the never-ending list of things we have to do right now, that we literally forget there’s a tomorrow. You also have to balance looking ahead at the future with investing in your relationships now—especially with your spouse. We also discuss how to bring up conversations about the future (finances, funerals, etc.) with your spouse.

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You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

All of us have had that moment. You know the one. Some important event is coming up—a birthday or anniversary—and we want the moment to be perfect. So we think and think and we plan and plan and when we can’t get things done exactly the way we want, we give up and don’t do anything.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

If we can’t do it right, we say to ourselves, it’s better not to do anything at all.

No, it’s not.

Your spouse won’t hear that you couldn’t get it done perfectly, they will only know you didn’t do anything at all. Something is always better than nothing.

Here’s a little secret most of us overlook: your spouse knows you’re not perfect. They married you anyway. If the birthday cake is one candle short, it won’t matter. If the restaurant turns out to be overrated by the “experts,” no one will really care. In fact, you’ll look back and be amazed at how an evening that starts out that badly ends up being one of the best nights ever.

You know the old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” Well, not exactly. It’s the “thinking” that counts. The fact that you were thinking—a lot of thoughts lined up one after the other—is what will say all that you want to say. It may not be perfect, but it will be close enough for love.

Don’t let trying to be perfect freeze you into inaction. Do something. Love, even imperfectly expressed, is better than love left unsaid.