Daddy…

When I would look at men who had little girls there was something different about them.  They had this look about them that was different from those of us with only sons.  There was a tenderness in their eyes as they would watch their daughters play or walk or sleep.  There was a gentleness to how they handled their little girls.  And, there was the look of incredible love when that little girl would look back over her shoulder at her daddy.

The day, the moment, that Libby was born, I understood.  There is something unique about little girls.  They are sweet and gentle.  You look at their face and know that soon you will hear that little voice whisper, “Daddy.”  Just knowing that your heart melts, just the thought of it.  I love my son with all that I am.  He is my buddy, my partner.  But there is something different about my Libby.  It’s hard to explain.

There is just something special about the love of a Daddy toward his little girl. A desire to protect her.  A desire to keep her safe from the fallen world.  The reality that another will come along one day and make her his own.  Knowing that some day she will wear a white dress and take the hand of another man.  She will not always be all mine.

I don’t know.  There is something intangible about the love of a father to a daughter.  I can not possibly do it justice.  All I know is that I love her and get lost as I watch her.  All I know is that I see her Mommy in her and know that she is an amazing gift that is to be cherished and loved only to be given away.

“Pastor” Pat…

The scene is Haiti is horrific. The cries for help. The reality of people being buried alive. The dead littering the streets. The pain, chaos, and heartbreak enveloping a country that is already impoverished and broken. To this situation Pat Robertson on the 700 Club today spoke.  He stated among other things that it was a “blessing in disguise”. Check out this video and then read my response:

This response is heartless, cruel, and un-pastoral. My good friend Scott Crocker has posted a wonderful response and I would encourage you to read it. Near the end of this clip Mr. Robertson speaks of a pact made with the devil.  This is a rumor, an urban legend.  It may have happened, it might not have happened.

We seek to find meaning out of tragedy, it is our natural response.  To make this tragedy into something other than it is simply smacks of pretentious self-righteousness.  The sad fact is that we live in a world that is broken.  It is broken at every level.  St. Paul tells us “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.(Romans 8:18–23 ESV)”

You see the creation is longing for its own redemption.  What happened in Haiti is not the result of an act of a vengeful God.  It is not the act of a God who was tired of waiting for the Haitians to build big buildings.  No, this was the result of the tragedy that took place in the Garden. This is the outworking of the fall.

I am thankful that Mr. Robertson called for prayer and compassion at the end of this clip.  However, his call is empty and meaningless due to his previous comments.  I believe that Mr. Robertson believed that he was speaking truth.  He spoke without love though and became a “resounding gong.”

The old saying goes, “It takes one to know one.” Sadly, I know a lack of gentleness, an absence of compassion, and graceless truth. It takes one to know one. I know one.

Crisis, Cowardice, Courage

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In Allender’s matrix the first challenge is that of crisis.  What do you do when the world comes crashing down around you? Thankfully I have not faced any huge crises in my time as a leader.  I have experienced personal ones within the context of my family but not so much in the context of ministry.  This is God’s grace.  

In these crises though I know that I experience the pull to cowardice.  I want so badly for there to be someone else who can take on the problem and have the hard conversations  and to make the decisions that nobody wants to make.  I feel it.  My hands sweat. My stomach gets upset.  My breathing quickens and my heart pounds.

Thankfully I had a model of courage when I was a boy.  My mother was and is one of the most courageous people that I know. It’s remarkable how courageous she is.  With three young children she worked full-time, went to school full-time, and made sure we did not become screw-ups. She had hard conversations.  She did hard things.  She didn’t hide. She faced it, all of it.

When I think of the crises that we have faced as a family over the last five years and I think about how I responded I know it’s because of the model that she was.  I think that in the face of crises I actually move into courage.  I think I move there because I remember my mom’s story and I embrace it as my own.

Allender says that a limping leader understands, “I don’t know if I am right, not am I sure the path chosen is the best, but after reflection, feedback, debate, and prayer, I am choosing this path.  In the process, I will seek life life like water and drink death like wine. A confident leader remembers her own story of redemption. She remembers that in the past God has been good to giver her favor and a way out of disaster; therefore, she borrows from the past to invest in the crisis du jour (74-75).”

That’s courage. Courage is embracing the narrative that God is writing in you and seeing the redemption that he has wrought.  Then you grab hold of that fact and drink it like water.

Thanks mom.

One. Mono. Uno.

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There is a saying, “One is the loneliest number.” For many years I thought one was not all that lonely but a nice change of pace. I think that’s because in my former life as a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ there was such a crushing emphasis on team that you almost couldn’t escape it.  I am not an introvert by nature so for one  to feel not lonely is saying something.  I have been a “pastor” for one year now.  I am coming to the conclusion that “pastor” equals “one”. I want there to be a team around me.

I desire for there to be a team around me.  But, the nature of the office is that there is the pastor (full-time, on duty, Christian-type) and then there are those around the pastor (people who are working out their faith in REAL life, in the REAL world, here and now).  It seems to me that those around the pastor are amazing, awe-inspiring actually. I mean they work, they work hard all day for some company somewhere and then they work, and work hard in the context of the church. Pastors become pastors because (and let’s be honest here) they can’t or are unwilling to do that (yes, I understand there is an aspect of being called by God to vocationally serve his church, please don’t think I am missing that or downplaying it, I am not;  I feel very called and very led to vocational service. I also know that if I wasn’t in vocational service I wouldn’t serve to the level that I do).

Leadership requires one to plan, prepare, and set direction.  This takes place as we dream, think through the possibilites of how to make this dream work, and then begin to put it into practice.  This is very easy to do in the context of the parachurch (relatively speaking).  You have a team of full-time professional staff who are committed to the mission of the organization. There is already a base of like-mindedness or they would not have spent the time they did to raise all that money.  Now you come to the church context where everyone (and I mean everyone) has their own idea of mission, direction, and praxis.  There is only a handful of professional staff (all of which are working in specialized areas) and there are volunteers.  The volunteers care deeply for the people they are ministering to but generally don’t have a broader desire to lead, cast vision, or set direction.

As a result this means that for the pastor there is much that must be done alone.  However, this is then compounded by the reality that he must bring his volunteers along and up to speed with his dreams and vision.  This requires the pastor to be a coach.  I stink as a coach. I am a terrible coach. I am pretty good at casting vision, setting direction, and bringing change, however, I am not good at bringing others along with me.

So, what does this mean? I think it means that I have to learn to hold certain things more loosely and do a significantly better job at bringing people into the conversation at the beginning of the process as opposed to the end.  This means that I have to cast vision to them to help them see how important it is for them to set direction with me. I think I see why Dan Allender calls his book “Leading With a Limp”.

You Took Me Seriously?

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It turns out that people are actually taking this stuff I write seriously! It also turns out that when I post something it is no longer for me but for the world to read. Oh right, I wrote about that.

Well, today I cam face to face with one of my weaknesses in our staff meeting. I realized today, in light of a great conversation around a big table, that my Achiever combined with Futuristic makes it hard for me to field questions regarding vision and direction (see my page on my personal strengths here). I take in so much information and I am constantly learning that my vision and direction are based on good strategic information.  The details of the conversation aren’t important.  What is important is that for the first time in a long time I was actually aware of how my brokenness was being displayed.

I realized today that I need divine intervention so that I might be more gentle, not some wishy-washy gentleness, but the kind of gentleness that meets people where they are.  I am comfortable with being like this in relationships with people who are not in relationship with God, however, I struggle to live this way alongside those who are.

Why?

I don’t know, that’s why I am writing and processing and limping my way through all this. Thanks to those around the table who are willing to enter in with me in spite of how broken I am.