Isolation Island.

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Isolation Island.

The island of isolation is a home for far too many ministry leaders. I ought to know because I have visited many times; and if I’m really honest I have lived there far too long. During the days and nights of living in Isolation I have had plenty of time to sit and ponder ... how did I get here.

How did I get here?

In hind site. I believe there are three boats that I’ve sailed on that have brought me to this emotionally empty Island in which I long to be rescued from and never return.

The first boat is - Comparison.

We started TheCHURCH about six years ago. During that time there were about three other leaders that I knew had started their church around the same time. I like these guys, I really do. But there have been many times where I find myself “accidentally” coming across their post, scrolling to see what attendance looks like or reading to see what new program they are initiating.

In those moments, I don’t want to admit it, but I am comparing. I’m comparing what God is doing through me to what God is doing through them in hopes that I am at least around the same place on the leadership ladder, but secretly, truthfully, wanting to be a few rungs higher than they are.

I see their budget. I hear about their building program. I notice they just hired a killer youth pastor and from the angle they are taking the photos at least, it looks like the place is packed every Sunday.

In truth, looking at others drives me to the ditches of thinking I’m really good or thinking I really suck. Either way the ship of comparison transports me to a place where I am focusing on me. It has brought me to isolation.

The second boat is - Getting Burned.

When I really stop and think about it. Getting burned, is the same story over and over again. The only thing that changes is the name. “Someone” starts attending the church - they want to get more plugged in. We see potential in them. I begin to personally mentor and personally sow into them. We train them and place them into ministries. We become friends. We welcome them to our home, have BBQs together, have coffees on regular basis, and even baby sit their kids. Only to have them leave the church altogether, and I find out they have left, through the gossip grapevine or more often than not through a very eloquent text message. A text, sent to my personal cell phone, lovingly informing me in great detail, how the church is no longer meeting their personal or family needs and God has released them go elsewhere.

Getting burned typically causes me to go through a sequence of four responses.

The first gut reaction is,

I quit.

This isn’t worth it. This isn’t what I signed up for. I could do so many other things with my life. I’m out of here.

The second thing that happens is,

The pain of the few causes me to forget the joy of the many.

When I get burned, if even only for a short time, all I see are the few people that left. I totally forget about all of the people that have stayed. All the people that love. All the people that serve and all the people that want to live life in community.

The third response to getting relationally burned is that I begin to,

Put up emotional walls.

When people that are on the inside leave, I naturally want to build a wall around me, so no one can get close to me anymore. I will be here. You will be there. We will work together. We will worship together, but that is it. No on comes inside. You and everyone else can only come so close.

The fourth response is the one I so easily gravitate toward and that is,

I’ll show you.
Oh … the messages weren’t deep enough.

Oh … the youth ministry wasn’t good enough for you.

Oh … the church wasn’t friendly enough for you.

OK - I’ll show you. We are going to take this thing to a whole new level. I am going to prove you wrong. I’m going to make you wish you would have never left. I’ll show you.

The truth is, all of those responses are broken, Because all of them, I quit, I’ll build a wall, the personal pain of the few, and I’ll show you, all lead me back to ME.
I am alone with my thoughts.

I am alone with my hurts.

I am alone with my ideas.

I am alone.

On the outside I’m surrounded by people, but on the inside I am all alone.

The Third ship I often sail is - Pride

I know why I’m here. I know what I’m called to do. I can do this on my own. I’ just work harder. Which then causes me to, work more hours, ask fewer questions, and say yes to way more than I should. All of which cause cause a crash. An emotional crash. A physical crash. A spiritual crash. An organizational crash. In some way a crash will come.

I think I read in a book somewhere that Pride comes before a fall.

We all know this. I mean I know it. I know that pride comes before a fall. I know the dangers of doing the wrong thing when I get burned. I know that playing the comparison game is at best a losing proposition. But even after knowing all of thee things,I find myself once again sailing on the ships that lead me to the island that I vowed I would never go back to again.

Isolation.

So how do we fix it? What do we do?

I wish getting off of and staying off of Isolation Island was as simple as step one - step two - or step three. But it’s not. In fact I don’t think it’s supposed to be. The writer of Hebrews once wrote ....

Since we are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily besets us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

There is a pattern to this passage. There is a point that the author is trying get across to us as we not only read but more importantly strive to walk out this text. Let’s look at it again.

Since WE are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses, let US lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily besets US and let US run with patience the race that is set before US, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of OUR faith.

This foundational passage of the Christian life, is not written in singular form but plural. There is no I. There is no me. There is no mine. But there is a whole lot of we we, our, and us.

So how do we work together without comparing ourselves to each other? How do we heal each other after we’ve been burned? How can we not walk in the pride as we walk out our passion?

I have to be honest and say that I don’t really know, but maybe we can figure it out together.

I think that’s the point.

I think we are supposed to follow Jesus. I think we are supposed to figure this thing out … together.

Questions to ask ourselves:

1 - Do you ever visit or live on Isolation Island?

2 - How did you get there? Comparison? Getting Burned? Pride?

3 - Do you have a true community of people that love you just for you?

4 - Who are they? Do you let them in?

4 - What changes do you need to make to not be an isolated leader?

Don't climb the leadership ladder. Burn it.

Don’t climb the leadership ladder, burn it.

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Let me tell you a little bit about my leadership journey.

I spent 8 years of my ministry life serving as a volunteer Youth Pastor at small rural churches in Northern Indiana. For years I had dreamed about becoming a full time Youth Pastor. If I was full time, I would get to take my teenagers to camp, retreats, and conferences. I would get to hang out with other full time Youth Pastors and learn from them. I was so excited about one day being “full time”. 

In the year 2000, Trinity Assembly of God, our Church that we had been serving as volunteers for 4 years was financially able to bring us onto a full time staff position. I was so thankful to Pastor Parks for taking a leap of financial faith. The Church was about 150 people in a community of only 4,000, so to hire a full time Youth Pastor was a big step. But they took the chance and I was finally an official Full Time Youth Pastor.  

That summer I finally had the chance to take my small group of teenagers to our denomination’s Summer Camp. I was looking forward to going to camp with my youth, but more importantly, I was looking forward to sitting down and asking some veteran youth guys some questions. I was so hungry to grow!  I arrived at camp with a notebook that had a list of Youth Pastors names written in it that I wanted to learn from during the next five days. I was the new guy from a small church and small town. I had only brought a few kids to camp, but I was ready to learn.  

I will never forget coming up to one of the big time veteran Youth Pastors at the camp as he was walking down the road. I ran up to him and said, “My name is Kevin Moore and I was wondering if I could setup a time this week to sit down and ask you a few questions about ministry. You have about 200 in your group and I would love to learn from you.” The Youth Pastor looked at me with an uninterested look on his face and replied, “Walk with me and ask me your questions while we are walking.” I felt like a little kid, but this was the only chance I would get, so I  asked him a few questions while we walked down the road. He never stopped. He never looked at me. He never gave me a sincere answer. I guess I wasn't worth his time. I was the little guy from a little town. He was the big guy that was helping run the camp. He was farther up the ladder than I was. He was too busy to give me his time.  

Over the next few days, I tried to meet with the other Youth Pastors. All of them, except one, gave me the same type of response. “Walk with me while we talk.” “Sure, I have 5 minutes.” Some just flat out replied, “Maybe later, I have to be somewhere right now.” All of these leaders were at larger churches than I was. All of these leaders had a much higher position than I did in the denomination. All of these leaders were too busy for the new guy, from the little town, with only a few kids in his group.  

The next year, our student ministry exploded. We grew from a few students to 200 in a year. That next summer when we went to Camp, not only were we one of the largest group at Camp, we were one of the largest Youth Ministries in the state. I was blown away when I arrived. Those same guys that would not give me the time of day the previous summer, now were coming up to me asking, “Where are you sitting for lunch Kev? Why don't you sit with us? Hey Kevin, can I have a few minutes with you after service, I wanted to talk to you about some ministry ideas that I have.” I was shocked. I wanted to ask them, “Hey bro, you did not have time for me when I was the little guy on the totem pole, why in the world do you have time for me now?”  

If there is one thing that I despise in leadership it’s The Ladder.  My advice for you is, Don’t climb the Leadership Ladder, burn it! 

Through the years, I guess in some ways, I have been at the bottom of the ladder and I’ve been near the top. 

Here are a two things I’ve learned about the leadership ladder.

1 - The view at the top is not what you thought it would be.  

When you climb the ladder and get that promotion, accept that job at the big church or dream corporation that everyone you know would die to be at, you will quickly see, the view is a lot different then what you thought it would be. You still have to go home every night. You still have to pay the bills. You still have to write messages, do meetings, deal with people, and raise your kids. Life is not all that different a few rungs up on the ladder.  

2 - Someone always has a taller ladder.  

If you climb the ladder and become full time at a church, someone else has a bigger church.  If you climb the ladder and get that position, someone else has a better paying position.  If you climb the ladder and know a great leader personally, someone else has a bigger name, larger ministry, or has a more recognized leader than the one you are now friends with.  The view is never what you think it will be at the top of the ladder. Someone always has a taller ladder. Because of this grab  a match and burn the leadership ladder! 

Here are three passages to memorize that will help you put your heart into what God has placed in your hands, and stop caring about what rung you are standing on. 

Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. 

Whether you are full time, part time, or a volunteer do what God has placed in front of you with all of your heart for God and his attention. Don’t focus on who is watching you do what you do, focus on doing what your supposed to do. 

1 Timothy 6:6 - But godliness with contentment is great gain. 

What if you were simply content with doing what HE has given you to do? Instead of trying to do more, why not just do what you do, but better! 

Philippians 2:3 - Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 

Why do you want to serve? Why do you want to preach? Why do you want to lead? What are your motives? Is your motive to gain the attention of others? Is your motive to get on the speaking circuit? Is your motive to stay where you are until a better gig comes along? What is your motive in the ministry that you are doing? There is such great joy that comes from putting your head down and putting your heart into the things that God has placed in your hands. 

Don't worry about climbing the ladder. Do what HE gives you the best you possibly can and when it comes time for a promotion, God will take care of that. 

If you would like to start a brand new journey of leading yourself, your family, your team, and your organization from a healthy place, we have an online training platform that will help you grow at your own pace and right where you are!

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Special note:

This is a chapter from my ebook - “9 truths that will scale your life and leadership”.

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How can I have less conflict?

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How can you live a life with less drama and more peace?

How can you live a life with less stress and more smiles?

It’s pretty simple … mind your own business.

If you want less conflict, simply mind your own business. Keep your nose out of other peoples problems. When you do, your stress level and conflict quotient will go way down. 

Paul talks about this in I Timothy 5, when he was teaching his young protege, Timothy how to deal with a certain group of young woman in his congregation. Now the context of this passage is speaking specifically about a ladies that are in Timothy’s church. However, the point Paul is making crosses over into our time, and relates to both genders. Here is what Paul wrote to Timothy. 

I Timothy 5:13-15

Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Paul is letting Timothy know that there is this group of woman that when left to their own devices will become nothing but, busybodies going from house to house, seeing what everyone else is doing. They will then, take that information to another person, then another, and another. Constantly gossiping and getting up in other peoples problems. 


Paul tells Timothy, instruct these ladies to get married and start managing their own house. In other words, tell these ladies to - mind their own business. Quit getting over in other people’s private life and causing a problem that was small to grow larger and larger. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we spend hours every week talking about how someone else is living their life. We like these ladies, through Facebook, through phone calls, and text, get all the down low and details of how “Uncle Eddie” is living or what “Mr and Mrs So and So” did to someone that we don’t even personally know. 

We get so tense. We get so conflicted. We get so uptight, over how they spend their money. How they are living life and the choices they are making. However the truth of the matter is, how they are living and the choices they are making don’t even affect us at all. They don’t affect us until, we start making comments to other people or start chatting with other friends and family. Then, when Uncle Eddie and Mr So and So hear about it, they get hurt, and upset. They then make comments, to other people that we know and now we are hurt because of what they said about us. We have been pulled into a problem that was not even ours to begin with. 

We waste so much of our time, worrying about, talking about, and thinking about other people. 

You would probably cut your tension and stress level down 25% if you would simply mind your own business.

I recently published an audio book designed to help you make the changes you need to make by taking a good look at your problems, the people in your life, and the questions you have about God. We want to get this into your hands so we have made it absolutely FREE.

Download your copy of the free “Something Needs to Change” audio book here.

QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES

1 - What is actually my business?

2 - Do I struggle with finding out and talking about what “they” are doing?

2 - What can I do to change? 


Small is the new big and simple is better than ever.

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Two trends I’ve been noticing are:

1 - Small is the new Big.

Look around at the explosion of minimalism and tiny homes. Small is a big deal. In the church world, if we don’t learn how to master the art of breaking larger gatherings of people into smaller groups, we will never be effective at raising large numbers disciples. 

2 - Simple is better than ever.

The world is so complicated today, there are so many things vying for our time and energy. I think if we can simply do simple things well, we will actually make a big impact in the lives of others.

So here are five simple keys to life changing small groups.

Fun
Be sure to keep the mood light and fun. People open up when they are laughing and having a good time. Think ways to break the ice and have a good time each week with your group. 

Food
Many times Jesus taught people while eating a meal together. You don’t have to have a full meal at your gatherings but some beverages and light snacks will go a long way in setting the tone for the evening. 

Friendly
Everyone wants to go where someone knows their name. Make your groups strategically friendly. Pick a few people to help you make sure everyone is not just greeted but feels completely welcomed and a part of your gathering. 

Faith
Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. Every week make sure that you put some element of God’s word and prayer into your group. Also, give everyone a chance to be a part of the discussion every week. Groups are not so much a time of “preaching” as they are “participation”. Every week give your group a chance to grow by participating in the discussion of faith. 

Follow Up 
John Maxwells statement, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is so true. Because of this, follow Up is one of the greatest keys to a healthy small group.

Let people know you care about them.
Let people know you were glad they were there.
Let people know you want them to return again.
Let people know that you missed them when they weren’t able to attend. 

Three easy ways to follow up every week.
1. Send a personal text message. Don’t ever send a message that does not include their name.
2. Send a hand written Post Card. Make it personal to them, not just a push to attend your group.
3. Make plans to connect with them at Church on Sunday or grab a coffee before or after the service.

I know. I know. This is so simple. Fun, Food, Friends, Faith, and Follow Up. It has to be more complicated than that. Well, no I don’t think it does. When you look at the first church we see that they, gathered in the temple, they broke bread, house to house, focusing on the teachings of scripture, and every day people got saved.

What if we just focused on doing simple things really well in small environments. I think, not only would our life be a little easier, we might just make a bigger impact. .

Five things that will allow you to be used by God.

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I’ve had so many people through the years tell me how they felt called to ministry and they want to be used by God, only to step completely out of serving or even the church within just a couple of years. Far too many times we say we want something but we are not willing to do what it takes to receive it. Today I want to give you five things that you are going to have to do in order to be used by God in the lives of other.

1 - Understand How Amazing it is to know Jesus 

The Children of Israel had it so so good. God delivered them from 400 years of Slavery. Gave them a cloud by day and fire by night. He parted the Red Sea, fed them Manna from Heaven, gave them water from a rock and more. However within days of every miracle the Children of Israel complained. They took for granted how incredible this God was and everything He had been doing for them and because of it, this group of people never made it to the Promise Land. 

You and I need to learn from their mistakes. 

When it comes to our relationship with God. God is amazing and we need to never forget that! This God that created the universe, died on the cross, and rose from the dead, actually talked to you today. He not only knows you, He shows himself to you every single day. Don’t take that for granted. Because if you do, someone else will walk into your personal promised Land.

2 - Live Holy 

2 Timothy 2:20-22 says “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”

If you want to be one of the vessels that are used by God for honorable, and good things, you are going to have to be Holy.
Holiness is not just “fleeing evil desires”. Holiness is also pursuing good desires (righteousness, faith, love, and peace). 

Our level of holiness will determine our level of usefulness to His kingdom. 

3 - Forgive Others 

Mathew 5:21-24
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to   judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Unforgiveness stops the communication between us and God. Before we offer God the sacrifice of our time, talent and treasure we need to check our relationships with those around us. God is not just concerned with how we treat and relate to Him, He is also concerned with how we treat those around us.

Open relationships, open the door for God’s blessing. 

4 - Listen More and Talk Less

James 1:19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

There are times when God speaks to us thru those around us. If we are so busy talking, we will never hear His voice. When you are in meetings, at home or talking to someone in the hallway at Church…Listen. Don’t show the people around you how much you know, show them how much you care. Listen to others and God will give you opportunities to serve Him by serving their needs. 

5 - Stop Looking for the next big thing and understand the task in front of you is the next big thing.

As kids we were always looking for next big milestone in our life. “I can’t wait untill I’m in Junior High. I can’t wait untill I’m an 8th grader and rule the school. I can’t wait untill I can drive, go to college or move out of the house. Then … then my life will be so much better!”

When we look to the future for what is coming up, we miss the opportunity to enjoy the moment that is right in front of us. One of the keys to being used by God is understanding that the thing in front of you is the big thing God has for you.

We need to have the mentality that whatever it is that I am doing now, I will go all in! If I am, sitting in a leadership lesson, doing a planning meeting, singing in a worship set, or serving in the nursery… I will give by absolute best.

Jesus once said, “If you are faithful in that which is little you will be faithful over that which is much”. If you and I are faithful with what we are doing now, God will trust us with what He is wanting to give us in the future. So stop looking of the next thing and simply do the best you can at what you are doing right now.


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