I’m often asked “who are the leaders that have had an impact on me”? So, here’s some leaders who have made a difference in my life and growth as a Pastor…
1) Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church. Without a doubt, I would not have started Palm Valley if it weren’t for the influence of Rick Warren. It was at the Purpose Driven Conference in 1998 that God used Rick to open my eyes to a new way of doing church. I felt like God was speaking directly through Rick to me. At that conference I prayed that God would use me to start a church that would reach people for Christ.
At our core, Palm Valley is a Purpose Driven Church. Through his material Rick taught me how to preach, to lead, to cast vision, and to reach people. It was a highlight of my life 2 years ago when Rick presented me (and PVC) with the PD Church Health Award. I’ll always be grateful to Rick for his leadership, the way he handles criticism, and his impact on my life.
2) Ed Young, Pastor of Fellowship Church. My path crossed Ed’s about 3 years ago, and he’s had a huge impact on my life since then. Ed is an incredible leader, visionary, teacher, and pastor. I’m not sure why, but Ed has given me opportunities to learn from him. He’sÂ given me his time, and made his staff available to me. There have been a few times where I’m really wrestling with stuff, and I’ve been able to talk with Ed and gain wisdom from him.
Ed has taught me a great deal about creativity, leadership through the tough stuff, structuring a church for growth, being a pastor who lives by priority, and protecting my family in ministry.
I truly call Ed a friend, and he is also a pastor to me. I have a great deal of respect for him. He’s the real-deal, and he walks the walk. I’m thankful for the favor God has given me with Ed, and that he’s been willing to pour into me (as well as a ton of other pastors).
3) Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Church. Andy is point blank one of the best teachers of Scripture today. He’s also an insane leader, gifted at developing systems and empowering leaders. I’ve learned a ton from Andy about how to structure a church for long-term health.
I read everything Andy writes, and listen to him on a regular basis. Last year our staff attended his Drive Conference, and we were walked away in awe of what they’re accomplishing at North Point.
4) Don Wilson, Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley.Â Before I launched Palm Valley in 2000, I found very few leaders who would spend time with me and pour into me. On a whim, I called CCV and asked to meet with Don. He agreed, and gave me a 1/2 hour of his time. I went with a list of questions, hoping to get through them in this time. After about 2 hours Don was still talking with me and answering my questions. I left believing that he truly cared, and that he wanted to see me succeed.
CCV is an awesome church, and Don is an awesome Pastor. I love getting together with him. He’s got such a huge kingdom heart, he always inspires me.
Â I’m always seeking to learn, and I’m thankful for these guys who have been willing (directly or indirectly) to invest in me. They’re true leaders, and they’re having a huge impact. I’ll be posting soon on some guys I’m looking to as future leaders.
I’ve been to Hawaii twice now. The first time we flew Hawaiian Airlines, and this time US Airways. As I flew over the ocean on this trip it struck me how different the experience was on the different airlines. Now before I write, please know I love US Airways. I’m a frequent flier and they’ve always treated me great. They are the only airline I fly now. That said…
Our flight to Hawaii on Us Air was good, but it was just like any other flight. All of the employees were kind and courteous, the flight was uneventful, and we landed in Hawaii on time.
Our flight on Hawaiian Airlines was much more of an experience. As we boarded, the stewardesses greeted us with a warm “aloha”. The music being played over the speakers was soothing Hawaiian music. The video players were showing shots of beautiful Hawaiian landscape. The on-board meal had a Hawaiin flair (chicken with a pineapple terryaki glaze). During the flight there was a display screen that showed our in-air progress towards Hawaii (for some reason, this was fun).
Â The difference in the two flights was clear. US Airways took me to a destination. Hawaiian Air helped me to experience the journey to the same destination. I enjoyed the experience and felt more excited about landing in Hawaii. If I was undecided on who to fly to Hawaii, I would definitely take Hawaiian because of the experience.
As Christians, I think so many times we focus on helping people reach a destination (finding Christ, eternal life), that we forget we’re on a journey that people want to experience. People aren’t searching for a destination, they’re searching for an experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, and people need Him! My thought is more along the lines of how we help them come to Jesus.
Jesus taught experience. He said “come follow me”. Obviously we’re following Him to a destination, but the journey should be an experience. I think we would be much more effective in reaching our communities for Christ if we helped them to experience Him, not just tell them about the destination.
Jesus is the most controversial person in history. He did and said radical things. People are drawn to controversy, the extraordinary, and people who do extreme things.Â Man, if you truly read the gospels and comprehend what Jesus did, it’s awesome. Wherever he went either lives were changed or people rioted; often it was both. If we encourage others to experience Christ, He will draw them to Himself.
Unfortunately, Christians are infamous for criticizing/judging people who we feel haven’t reached the same point in the journey as we have. This causes people who are far from Christ to feel like they can never reach “the destination”, and it sours their experience. This is exactly the attitude Jesus railed against; He hated legalism, empty religion, and people who kept others from coming to Him.
Too many churches are all about the destination. It’s my heart the Palm Valley will be about the experience on the journey towards the destination. I love watching people take these steps before my eyes. I love watching seekers understand what it means to be in a relationship with Christ. I love watching new believer’s take their first steps in following Him. I love watching followers of Christ live beyond themselves and dream of reaching the world for Christ; and then actually doing something to accomplish it.
I’m passionate about helping people experience Christ. Helping them to understand what it means to follow Him. I want to build environments in our church where people, no matter where they’re at in the spiritual journey, can take steps closer to Him. I believe this is what Paul was writing in Philippians when he said “this work shall be completed at the day of Christ”. As one journeyer to another, let’s enjoy the experience as we follow Jesus. What a radical life!
MauiÂ has been absolutely incredible. As our time comes to an end, here’s some thoughts from the past week…
- I love being with my wife. Lori is absolutely incredible, and it’s been such a blast just to have some alone time (no kids) with her. Lori and I take a vacation every year w/o the kids, and it’s the best investment in our kids we can make.
- Snorkeling is a blast. There’s nothing like swimming with huge sea turtles; absolutely amazing!
- The macadamia nut mahi-mahi at Roy’s is off the hook; a must have (thanks to Terry for the suggestion a while back).
- There are 6 other families here from Palm Valley, it’s been fun to hang out with them.
- I’ve golfed Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines many times. Golfed on Lanai yesterday at The Experience At Koele; it was the most beautiful and enjoyable round of golf I’ve ever played.
- I’m the 3 flies up champion of the pool at the Hyatt Maui.
- Bananas foster with portugese sweet bread is the bomb. Now, where do I find it on the mainland?
- Can’t wait to be back at Palm Valley this weekend!
- Sleep is good, I need more of it in the future
- Ran into somebody from Palm Valley at a luau this week. It amazes me that everywhere I go I see people from the most awesome church on the face of the planet
- The sun is hot here. I’m wearing 50 sunblock, and still having to be careful in the sun.
- My wife says I look good with a tan.
- Huge things are in store for Palm Valley. Look out!
- I miss my kids, can’t wait to see them.
- D-backs win with a walk-off homer last night, YEAH!
- I never get tired of staring at the ocean. It’s my relaxing place.
Â Enough for now, must go lay in the sun and enjoy life with my bride. See you this weekend.
I’ve long respected my friend Tony Morgan; he’s incredible when it comes to leadership, systems, and the organization of a church.
Â Today he posted this on leadership. Every church leader (or leader of any kind) ought to read his thoughts. For the record, I agree with every conclusion the team at NewSpring draws. As we’ve been working a great deal on our structure at Palm Valley, it’s really forced us to examine our leadership, and how to develop a wave of leaders within our body.
Â This is incredible applicable to us, because in 3 weeks I will be announcing an incredible opportunity for 75 people at Palm Valley to step into a leadership role, and I and the rest of the staff our defining the process to recognize, evaluate, and empower the leaders with our body. PVC, get ready, we’re about to rock the west valley for Christ; and you’re going to lead us!
I’m all packed, we’re ready to go. I’ve never been as physically and emotionally tired as I am right now. Even after two weeks of not teaching, I still feel exhausted. A number of staff commented that I still seemed tired during this week’s messages. The last 6 months have been a grueling grind (incredibly worth it), and one of the things that helped me get through it was the knowledge that today I would be heading to Hawaii with Lori. An incredible friend provided the trip for Lori and I (not turning that down), knowing that we would need a break after the Seize The Moment campaign. So this morning at 10:20, I’ll be sitting on a plane headed to Maui.
I’m looking forward to just being away with Lori (no kids), she’s my wife, my best friend, and just a blast to be with. I’m looking forward to sleeping in and taking naps. I’m looking forward to laying on the beach. I’m looking forward to snorkeling (I love it!).Â You know there will be a few rounds of golf thrown in. I haven’t played in months, so I’m guessing I’ll have to enjoy the views more than my play.
I’m also looking forward to reading these books…
I know that’s a lot, but I love to read w/o pressure or distractions. And Yes, I have my Bible packed and will be reading a ton in that also
I also plan to do a ton of blogging to download some things on my heart and mind. Some topics I’ll be writing on…
- lessons learned from a 6 year old portable church that’s grown from 8 people to 2,000.
- Biggest mistakes I’ve made in ministry, and how I’ve grown through them.
- Things Jesus has taught me.
- What’s on my heart for the future of Palm Valley Church.
- Lessons learned during our building campaign.
- Stuff I’m doing in Hawaii (just sharing, not rubbing it in ).
- Stuff I’m learning while I read.
- Hotel soap review (for this guy).
- People and churches who have influenced me.
- Other thoughts about life, leadership, and vacationing in Paradise.
So tune in, should be a blast to have more time on my hands in the coming days.