Eyes That Can See

I have a friend who is a very gifted visual artist. He uses all kinds of materials to make the most interesting pieces. For instance, hanging over his couch is a brilliant metal sunburst. When you look closer, you realize the sculpture is made from old lawn mower blades. That’s right. Lawn mower blades.

Now, who looks at an old lawn mower blade and sees sunshine? My friend does.

Artists have a different way of looking at things. Sure, they see things as they are, but they also see how things can be. Then, with their artistic work, they help us see. Great leaders have the same ability, just in a different way. They see things as they are, but they can also see how things can be. Then, they help us see the same thing.

Sadly, too many of us have chosen to live our lives at a speed where everything has become a blur. We literally can’t see what or who is right around us. They go by too fast. We just blow right by these people and moments every day of our lives. We never see them at all.

We never see the receptionist in our office.
We never see the server who brings us our food.
We never see the people in traffic around us.
We never see our neighbor who lives next door to us.
We never see our children…or our spouse…

We never see them because we never take the time to look—I mean, really LOOK. We never hear their stories. We never see their pain. We never know what’s going on with them because we’re too busy moving on to the next thing. We’re so busy looking at all of the suffering in the world, we never pay attention to the suffering that’s right around us.

The person who needs you most is closer than you think. The place you’re called to do Christ’s Kingdom work is right under your feet. The only thing we need is for Christ to heal our eyes so we can see. Yes, see things as they are, but also see how they can be if we just add His grace and power.

Team “Us”

I spent a lot of my life playing sports. The seasons of my life were football, basketball, and baseball. I never really thought much about winter, summer, or fall. My life was determined by what sport I was playing. Now, I’m not saying I played any of these sports well, but I was always just good enough to make the team. Even with that, I was able to learn some great life lessons from being on a team. 

The very same things that make a great team also make a great marriage. Such as: 

A great team has a Common Goal. Every player on the team is committed to the same thing—winning the championship. Everyone knows at the end of the season they will be judged by one standard: did they win the championship? In marriage, we assume we’re both committed to the same goal, but we never take the time to articulate the goal we have in mind. Because we never speak it out loud, there’s a danger we’ll each have our own goal in mind and assume the other person agrees with us. Every good team knows what the trophy looks like. Do both of you know what the trophy for your marriage looks like?

A great team has a Common Strategy. That is, everyone knows how the team wants to play the game. Does your team run a wishbone, power I, or a run and shoot? Is the defense based on a 4-3 or 3-4? Everyone on the team knows how the team wants to play the game BEFORE they start the game. Do you and your spouse know the strategy you’re using to reach the common goal? Do you have budget? Clear expectations? No team would win if each player was running a different play. A marriage can’t win when each spouse is running his or her own play. Make sure each of you know HOW you’re getting to your WHERE.

A great team has players with Different Gifts to play different positions. Not everyone can be the quarterback. Someone has to block. Not everyone can be the scorer. Someone has to play defense. No one position is more important than another. Each position has to be played and played well if the team is to win. On great teams, everyone knows their position. In great marriages, each spouse knows how his or her gifts add to the success of the relationship.

Because we each have different gifts, it follows that we have Different Assignments. Play your position and trust your spouse to play theirs. One of the things you learn playing for a good team is you can’t play every position. You have play your position and trust the rest of the team to play theirs. In your marriage, you have certain roles to fulfill. Do your job and/or jobs and trust your spouse to do theirs. It’s the only way a team wins.

And one last thing, a great team celebrates One Victory. When the last game is finally over and the trophy is hoisted high above everyone’s heads, each player knows they own a small part of that trophy, but they also know it’s a team victory. There’s no better feeling in the world than looking at your teammates and remembering all of the hours of practice and now, celebrating the reality of finally being champions. 

I take that back. There is one greater feeling. It’s the moment when you look at your spouse and remember all of the years of sacrifice and know that, together, you’ve won. Maybe it’s paying off the house, or a child graduating. Your trophies will be unique to the two of you. But you’ll know you’re champions. Celebrate this victory. It’s what great teams do.

Why I’m Stepping Down from Kairos

Eleven years ago, a group of single adults took me to lunch to pitch an idea for an evening of worship for young adults. They had demographic studies, growth trends, and model services from other cities; it was a very impressive meeting. Of course, I told them I would help get it started, but I didn’t have time to do it.

Famous last words…

Eleven years later, I’m still spending every Tuesday night teaching several hundred young adults who gather at Kairos. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love these young adults. I love their rawness, their honesty, and their courage. Of all of the things I’ve had the chance to be part of, Kairos has to be one of the highlights of my ministry.

But things change, and Kairos is changing. There is a different and exciting future for Kairos. I can see that future, but I’m just not the one to get Kairos there. There are several reasons for this.

  1. My life has changed. We’ve moved my mom to Nashville, and I’m responsible for her care.
  2. The Middle Tennessee Initiative means Brentwood Baptist Church has 5 campuses, and we’ll be adding more campuses in the near future. This will demand more and more of my attention and time.
  3. There is a generation of Millennials coming into Kairos, and I’m separated from them by almost 3 generations. I don’t understand the world they live in—not like I should to effectively teach them well.

For the last several months, I’ve been sensing Kairos was coming to a necessary time of transition. I talked with friends I trust, and my thoughts were confirmed. Confident of God’s leading, I asked the leadership of our church to initiate a search for the new Kairos pastor. I’m glad to write that Chris Brooks joined our staff in December. He’s going to bring a lot of good things to Kairos.

And he’s different than I am. Of course he is! The whole point was to find a different style of leadership and teaching that could bring Kairos to a new future. He has skills, experiences, and gifts I don’t have. That’s why we called him to come! Already, in big and small ways, I’ve seen his leadership and pastoral leadership confirmed. I’m confident we’ve made the right decision in bringing Chris to Kairos.

I’ll still be around. I’ll be teaching from time to time and counseling the Kairos team as they need me. I’m still committed to Kairos and its success. I just won’t be involved in the day to day ministry.

This has been my decision and mine alone. I made this decision because of my great love for Kairos. It’s time for you to fly. You’re ready, and I’m going to be your biggest fan…

Kairos, you will never know how much you mean to me.

I do love you, guys. God’s best to you all.

Mike

What if You’re Already There?

For some reason, most of us grow up thinking that all of the good stuff happens somewhere else. I grew up in Huntsville, and when I was in Huntsville, everything was happening in Birmingham. When I went to school in Birmingham, all of the good stuff had moved to Atlanta.

Why is it that the good stuff is always happening somewhere else?

Maybe it’s not. Let’s face it. We’re all creatures of habit. We drive the same way to work, take the same elevator to our office, and buy our coffee at the same shop. Because we’re doing these things out of habit, we don’t really pay attention to what’s going on around us.

For instance, the waitress at your favorite restaurant—what’s her name?
Your bank tellers—what are their names?
The clerks at your dry cleaners—do you know their names?

See what I mean? We have all kinds of people around us every day. We just don’t see them. We don’t pay attention to them. We don’t recognize the circumstances around us where God is working. We just aren’t that aware.

So, what if?
What if you’re already at the place God wants you to be?
What if you already know the people God wants you to reach?

What if you’re already there—but you just don’t see it?

Living sent means being aware of where you are and who’s around you. Who knows? You might already be exactly where God wants you to be.