Building upon the previous post, I'm going to share my personal/ professional direction for 2009. My journey for 2009 is going to be a lot different than 2008's. I'm very much a list person. No matter what it may cost me, I can do a list. I made a list of things disciplines that I knew would grow me in 2008, I did them and I saw the results in both my own life and the lives of people around me.
The downside of lists though, is that they get checked off. Yes, I spent a half hour every day in personal prayer and Bible reading. Yes, God spoke to me in those times. But what about the other 23 1/2 hours of the day? Yes, I prayed a half hour every day for TFC. Yes, I saw God bring some amazing answers. But what about bringing other people along on the journey of prayer? That's leadership, isn't it?
I realize I'm about to make a list but it's a different type of list. I'm going to start some journeys this year. It will be messy, ambiguous, not as measurable and more open-ended than my goals of 2008, but I've been sensing for months that God wants to lead me to a place I've never been before. A place that is deeper than simple disciplines I can check off my list. Being less about what I do and more about who I am.
1) The journey of Fatherhood. This baby is probably going to come early, so I'm possibly less than a month from being a dad. My pastor friends tell me I'll learn a lot about my Heavenly Father by being a father myself. I'm excited about that. I also know, however, that I'm going to experience a different type of fatherhood than most of my friends and colleagues. I'm going to be the father of a adopted child. This will give me a unique perspective into God's love for us, since we read many times in Scripture that God has chosen to adopt us into his family. I am eagerly anticipating what my son and I will learn about God as we go through this journey of adoption.
2) The journey of practicing the presence of God. In listening to the podcasts of Gateway Community Church in Austin and Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis, I've heard many messages about this discipline. Both pastors talked about the tendency we have to live with a "functional atheism;" God is one part of our lives rather than permeating all of our lives. Both pastors recommended the book, Practicing His Presence (see the sidebar for a link) by Frank Laubauch.
This will be a journey of stopping every hour to center upon God. I still need to get something that can beep every hour to remind me, my cell phone can't, but the plan is to stop every hour and center myself upon God. The end-result of this journey is that I'd walk in communion with God every moment of every day.
I'm very resistant to this discipline. I wanted to stop listening to the pod casts on this topic. But over a period of a few months, God finally wore me down and I told him, "okay, if this is the next step you want me to take, I'll trust you and do it."
I know it's going to be hard. John Burke of Gateway says it took him 6 months to stop hating "the beep" and a full year before he began living into this discipline. It's going to be a long, difficult journey. It's a journey, however that God is asking me to take.
3) The journey of fasting This one is kind of a checklist, but it's more than that. I fasted 24 hour periods every week (but one) in 2008. I started sensing toward the end of the year that God was going to take me deeper in this discipline. I was resistant to that, too because I HATE fasting! I LIKE to eat! I fasted for the first full day last Monday, though. As far as I know, this is the right thing to do. If I decide otherwise, I'll let everyone know. Hopefully I can distinguish whether it's God or my stomach telling me "stop."
What will make this more of a journey than a checklist is the journaling I'll be doing during the fast. I don't want to just not eat, I want to follow Richard Foster's teaching on feasting upon Jesus. I've got a notebook for journaling but I don't know how much I'll blog about it. I need to be doing this for my walk with God, not to create interesting blog posts.
4) The journey of multiplication Again, this is messy and not a 'check-list.' But my 'check-list' mentality has gotten me into a rut. I do a lot of things effectively but because I'm the only one doing them, the overall Kingdom effectiveness of TFC is limited. Prayer is a wonderful example. I prayed 3 hours a week last year for TFC but I didn't bring anyone along with me in that journey. This morning, I prayed with 2 other people. My wife and Joe Kumor. That's what I'm wanting to do. Take the passions and strengths I have and lead TFC into those same Kingdom practices. We had 12 people commit to our prayer gatherings with their Growing Up commitments.
Erin and I have personally lead to Christ and/or discipled most of the new Christians in TFC. How can I multiply that spiritual growth? If it's just us and we stay here 30 years, hundreds of people will come to know Jesus. But if I learn how to multiply myself (establish structures that multiply my own efforts, delegate some responsibilities so I can work more in my strengths) we could reach hundreds of people in the next few years!
These are the journeys I'll be embarking upon in 2009. They're more messy and ambigious than check lists but they'll also leader to a new depth and maturity in my life as Christ-follower and people-leader.