Running Around with My Hair on Fire

I don’t how many of you have ever moved to a new town and become the lead pastor of a church.  Anyone?  Just me?  Fine.  Then you will have to come up with your own context to apply this, or you will be stuck just mocking me, which I think we could turn into quite a fun game.

Anywho, when people ask me how long I’ve been here in Fayetteville at the Grove, I have to think about it.  It has only been a little over three weeks but if feels like so much longer.  It’s not because anything bad has happened or that it has been particularly difficult  It’s just that I have been moving at such a fast pace and so much has happened.  It takes a lot of energy to move into a new situation like this.  There are a lot of people that want to meet you and get to know you, and I want to meet and get to know them.  I want to cast new vision and energy for what God will do in the future and that takes a lot of energy as well.

Did I mention that I have a family?  They need to get connected to people.  We were here a week when we got Lauren connected with a Soccer (Futbol?) Club.  She practices 3 nights a week, we’ve already had 4 games, 2 of which were in Oklahoma (not a typo).  School started last week and we are trying to make new friends.  We are going and going.  It has been a blast.  I have no complaints.

However, after 2 1/2 weeks of this, last week I just crashed.  I was hit with the overwhelming tireds.  I realized I was pushing a little too hard and falling into the oft lamented trap of all doing and minimal being.  “Nice, Cloften, what does that mean? It sounds very deep but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

It is very important that I take a significant amount of time each day and connect with God, not just prepare the next talk, sermon, staff meeting.  All of those are spiritual endeavors, but they take from me.  Connecting with God because I love him, fuels me.  Recognizing that he is in control slows me down and reduces the stress and pressure.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Ministry is a marathon not a sprint.  Leading a church is a marathon not a sprint.  A friend of mine recently quoted someone else (I don’t think my senior English teacher would approve of that documentation) said that ministry is a series of sprints and rests, and that’s the best way to “run this marathon.”

(Let’s beat the metaphor to death and even mix it up)  Sometimes the fastest way to get somewhere is to go slower.  Sometimes the only way to get there is to stop and get gas.  Sometimes running and running and running as fast you can only gets you somewhere short of your goal quickly and to your goal, never.  Sometimes the way to do more ultimately is to do less now, or better said, to do more with God.

A week or so later, I’m still tired, but I think that has more to do with allergens at the Paradise View Apartments.  I feel I’m going internally slower while still growing pretty fast externally.  I still have plenty to do and plenty of stuff worthy of stress.  However, I am more and more increasingly aware of God’s love and sovereignty.

And I’m pretty sure that my hair is no longer on fire.

How to deal with mold on your wall

Clearly I am not a handy-man.  If you don’t know that, know it now.  Don’t call me for repair projects at your house.  I can’t help.  I’m no good.  I’m willing mind you.  I will happily hold the board that you cut.  If this is true, then the title of this must be a metaphor for something.  Yes, it is.

This is one of my new favorite illustrations that I use when talking to people.  I say that I came up with it myself, but then you will tell me that you read it in a book 20 years ago. (Every good illustration that I think I made up, I later read somewhere else that predates my use of it.  Some day I will have something original to say, unless this verse is true.)

There is mold on the wall.  How do you fix that?  There are 3 basic ways.  One is to paint over the mold.  Ta-da! No more mold.  The second is better.  You can cut out the piece of sheetrock that has the mold and replace it and repaint.  Ta-da!  No more mold.  The third is the best.  Figure out what is causing the mold.  Fix that.  Then replace the sheetrock.  Then paint.

How are you dealing with the problems in your life?  The sin issues?  Addictions?  Pain?  Are you painting over them?  “Problem, what problem?”  Are you just fixing the wall?  This is where we deal with each instance as it comes.  We need to find the source.  Why do you struggle with fear?  Why are you so angry with your spouse?  Why do do that thing you do when no one else is around?  Spend some time in prayer and reflection.  Ask God to show you what is going on in your heart.  Seek advice and help from a pastor or mentor. 

Otherwise the “mold” will just keep coming back.