Friday, 26 February 2010

Rest and the Long Hours Culture

So why do we work so hard? What drives us? Let’s look at that for a moment. Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University says of the UK,

‘If you work constantly longer hours – over 45 hours every week – it will damage your health physically and psychologically.’‘

In the UK we have the second longest working hours in the developed world, second only to the USA. We have longer hours than Japan, so that’s l-o-n-g hours and that’s our culture. For some of us as church leaders this impacts us more than we admit since we have guys in our churches who are in business and we don’t want to be seen as slackers. We’re still shaped by the ‘Oh, you only work on Sundays’ attitude. I believe that church leadership is far more demanding than being in business!

Derek Simpson, the General Secretary of the union Amicus says, ‘It’s no co-incidence that the UK is the least regulated economy and is also the least productive in the industrial world.’ Amicus also did a survey where they found that almost 1 in 5 workers were put off sex because of the long working hours.

I want you to know that when I read that I was really concerned. I’ve honestly just never been there. This would worry me. I’d better continue. The union said that a third of people said they didn’t have enough time to spend with their partners, husbands, wives or children. Community work, socialising, personal fitness and hobbies all lost out to excessive working hours.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rest - patterns of life

God has built rest into the normal patterns of life. There’s a daily pattern. It includes that moment when you put your head on a pillow. It’s called sleep. I love sleep. I don’t see it as a distraction from work. Eight hours. Wonderful. It’s physical rest and even better for me, it’s mental rest. I like the moment when it all goes away and when I open my eyes it’s morning and I’m refreshed.

There’s also a weekly pattern. God wants us to have at least one 24 hour break each week. I have to confess that I like other slots of rest in the week as well. And there are annual patterns. There are seasons and there are slots of rest built into those seasons – I suggest that they are called holidays!

I meet so many pastors who don’t take their holidays! I have had this issue sometimes with some of my team members and I really stress to them how important this is. This is not a problem of the work ethic of Christian workers. We are totally committed to what God has called us to do, but we can get out of shape if we don’t address the patterns of our work. In my contract of employment I have a sabbatical every seven years. Excellent! That’s three month’s rest. Sorry, I mean study and reflection…

Remember, I’m not saying that we aren’t going to work hard. I’m not saying that we’re not going to build big churches. I’m not saying that we’re not going to touch nations. I’m arguing that if, as a movement, we build a culture of biblical rest - then we’ll be more fruitful.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Rest - the critical factor

As I said - when I speak about rest I’m speaking as much to myself as to anyone else – it’s a continual challenge.

Biblical Foundation:
This material will be very familiar to most but it is important to look at the basis for what we believe about rest. It is right at the centre of the beginning of our world, in creation.

“1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Gen 2:1-3

God himself took a day off after creating. He had a break. He paused. This is picked up in the Old Covenant – in the Ten Commandments.

“11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Ex. 20:11

Rest. A break. A pit stop. The New Testament picks up the Sabbath principle. It does not connect it with a particular day of the week but we know that in the life and three year ministry of Jesus that He withdrew, He prayed, He drew on refreshment.

I believe that if we rest more we will be stronger in God, we will be more effective in caring for our families and we will be more fruitful in the churches we lead. Many of us think that if we worked a little harder we would be more fruitful – I’m saying that rest is the critical factor.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Rest - the wedding guest continued...

… So we go home after the wedding service and we have a meeting in the kitchen away from the boys. This is a sharing of hearts moment. Deb is saying to me, ‘Look, Steve, I want to go. I want to meet people; I don’t want to be isolated. I need friendship.’ I’m saying, ‘Love, you realise that this is a work situation for me. When I walk in there it’s like video screens all around – this pastoral situation, that person – it just goes on and on’ It’s not a social experience for me – it’s a work experience. So we discuss the situation. It’s pretty painful. The discussion is open and frank but we decide to go. This is the Right Thing to Do.

We walk in. It’s 300 people at a buffet and everyone is milling around. We’re late and we’re trying to find some friends to sit with. At this point someone makes a bee-line for me. Deb is there, the boys have disappeared and this is how it goes.

‘You’re Steve Tibbert!’
‘Yes, I am.’
‘Ah. I need to talk to you about a particular church.’

And it’s something about a church elsewhere for which I have no responsibilities within Newfrontiers and the guy is offloading what he feels are the real issues and how he believes we’re not doing enough for this particular situation. Deb catches my eye. She dies a little. I die a little. She walks off to find some friends and I graciously serve this individual with his problem. Can anyone else relate to this?

So, when I speak about rest I’m speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to anyone else. This is a continual challenge for me.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Rest... and how to be a great wedding guest

I’m not a great fan of weddings. I know, I’m a pastor of a church but I’m still not a fan of weddings. Some years ago Deb and I were invited to a wedding at King’s – we have quite a few each year. I wasn’t doing the service – I’ve delegated that task now to others on our team.

The reality was - I didn’t want to go, but Deb did. I looked at my schedule leading up to that weekend. At that stage we were doing only two meetings on a Sunday but I thought, you know, I want some down time. I just want to be at home, to be cared for and looked after. Anyone relating to this?

I’m a godly husband, so I say to Deb, ‘We’ll go!’… but my initial reaction is right because by the time Saturday morning arrives, the last place I want to be is at this wedding and the trouble is I’m not very good at hiding such feelings. So we turn up at the wedding and Deb knows how I’m feeling and now there’s a little bit of tension between us because emotionally I’m dying on my feet. I just don’t want to be there. I don’t want to connect with any more people – I’m peopled out. But my wife doesn’t want to get isolated from the church because I’m burned out – she wants to connect, to build friendship and support this wonderful young couple who are getting married. And now I’m starting to tell people - I’m talking to my fellow elders and I’m saying, ‘I want a break. I don’t want to be here.’ So Deb says to me, ‘Shall we go?’

This is not a good question. This is a no win question, ok? ‘Shall we go?’ means I say, ‘No, let’s stay.’ And I’m continuing to die. But if I say, ‘Yes, let’s go!’ – I’m dead anyway. So we decide to retreat from the wedding after the service and go home but then we have a decision to make because we’ve been invited to the reception. I love receptions. I don’t. I’m lying…

To be continued…

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Old Rules / New Rules: Conclusions

I hope this series taken from Leith Anderson’s Leadership That Works encourages you to get the book and read it! After Bill Hybels and John Maxwell, this is the best book I have read on Christian church leadership.

I think it will be very interesting to look back in a decade and see if any of the new rules have become old rules! One of the arts of leadership is the ability to discern trends, adopting the ones which are in line with scripture and that will bear fruit in your context.

At King’s Church, Catford we are embarking on a new philosophy of ministry and going multi-site... time will prove if this becomes a fruitful ‘new rule’!

Old rule: Faithfulness is sufficient
New rule: Effectiveness is expected

Old rule: Godliness is assumed but not required
New rule: Godliness is required but not assumed

Old rule: Pastors are ‘prepared’ for ministry
New rule: Pastors are life-long learners

Old rule: Reason is more important than relationships
New rule: Relationships are more important than reason

Old rule: The centre of influence is the denomination and the bible college
New rule: The centre of influence is the large church and seminars/conferences

Old rule: Preaching is more important than church ministries
New rule: Church ministries are more important than preaching

Old rule: Ministry depends on the leader
New rule: Ministry depends on the team

Old rule: Success defined by narrow comparison
New rule: Success defined by broad comparison

Old rule: Credentials are very important
New rule: Performance is very important

Friday, 5 February 2010

Old Rules / New Rules - Credentials and Performance

Old rule: Credentials are very important
New rule: Performance is very important

Under the old rule you were unlikely to be allowed into the pulpit unless you had appropriate qualifications and recognised credentials. As in certain professions, a uniform (the military, medicine) and/or a licence (medicine, teaching) were required. Without them people would not have followed the lead. The new rule recognises gifted leaders who may have no formal qualification but who have great ability to preach and lead – some will be famous for their success. At the other extreme, low performers with plenty of credentials will have increased pressure to change or to leave.

My response:

I like this one, because I have no credentials, failed at school, was poor at exams, and have no letters after my name. I also believe the true test of leadership is ‘followship’, so this works for me! ...And – it worked for the disciple Peter.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Old Rules / New Rules - Measuring Success

Old rule: Success defined by narrow comparison
New rule: Success defined by broad comparison

One of the ways we define ourselves is by comparison with others – we say we are short because others are taller, or rich because others have less money. And church members have always compared their church leader to other church leaders! In previous decades this would have been done within a locality or within a denomination, now church leaders are held up against a standard of nationally known equivalents, some of whom appear on the media, or within the Christian world of book writing or song writing. CDs, DVDs, magazines all contribute to their fame. As a result, although the current pastor may be considered better than those of previous years by some, they may also be considered less effective or less gifted than another current leader elsewhere.

My response:

This is so true. All pastors are compared with the greatest preachers and leaders in the world. We have accepted that in the new world of internet and instant download and access to the wider world - this is how it is.