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Blind Spots

We all need help. Really. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to ignore this question. “Where are your blind spots?” If you can’t see where you need help, then ask for help. I suggest three lenses you might look through:

Lens #1: Ask God

“…I did not rush out to consult with any human beings.” (Galatians 1:16)

Paul is explaining to the Galatians the legitimacy of his apostleship. He didn’t consult human beings for this position. It was given by God. This passage hit me in the sense that Paul didn’t run out and get people to affirm him or tell him what to do next. As you will see in Lens #2 and Lens #3, I am a fan of asking for both inside and outside human perspective. However, I am always concerned when our first move is to reach for this. We should always consult God first and then move out, not the other way around.

Where do you need to consult God today?

Lens #2: Ask your Staff, Family, or close Friends

Simply ask you closest leaders and friends where they think you need help. It is amazing how much can be broken loose with a few conversations.

Ask, “Where do you see that I need help?” Or “Where is it you see me struggling?” Or “Where am I holding the organization back?”

Lens #3: Hire a Consultant

My advice is to hire someone who has street cred and that you feel comfortable receiving feedback from. The worst thing is to hire a consult and then not listen to their wisdom and advice. I have seen this happen before. A consult is hired and the leader disregards the advice or works so slow towards change that nothing is ever really fixed. I remember one time I was siting in a meeting in with a consult and he had identified some real problems within this particular organization. He even used language like, “toxic” and basically said that the leadership needed to KICK the door down and figure out what was going on, because if they didn’t the ship was in real trouble. What did the leadership do? They ignored that advice and slowly tried to implement change. As you probably already guessed, didn’t work!

Remember, being self-aware is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and to the organization you are leading.

Blessings,
Pastor Daniel

Next Level Leadership

The best leaders I know are self-aware leaders. They know their strengths and their weaknesses. They don’t let their ego drive the proverbial car off into the ditch. They are self-aware.

Strengths and Weaknesses

If you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, I recommend two things:

1. Take the Strength’s Finder.

2. Ask someone you trust to help you identify your strengths and your weaknesses.

Danger Zone

In other words, where are you most vulnerable to temptations? What has the potential to wreck you, and everything you have worked for in your life? This is such an important question for leaders to answer. If you don’t know you are already in trouble.

This might help you identify your danger zones. When you’re hurt, angry, lonely, or tired, what do you reach for to help you cope? Be honest and don’t just say, Jesus!

Know Your Limits

We all have limitations. It is vital that we know these, because there is nothing worse than a leader who can’t recognize his/her limitations. They stunt growth in the organization, simply because they are egomaniacs who think they are the best at everything. Know what you are good at and what you are not. Don’t hold talented people back simply because you can’t let it go. You are human and therefore have limits. Know them!

Running on Empty

Check your R.P.M.S.

1. Relational

2. Physical

3. Mental

4. Spiritual

If you will gauge these four areas of importance and have someone give you feedback, then you will have a good sense of where things are currently in your life. You will be more self-aware.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

Hey Pastors, It’s Mother’s Day!

This day strikes fear in the hearts of many pastors and preachers. It can be like trying to walk across a field full of landmines and not lose a limb or better yet your life.

If you have pastored very long you know exactly what I am talking about. So for all you pastors out there sucking your thumb in the corner hoping you don’t mess it up I have a few suggestions that may help.

1. Carefully consider the wide range of mother-types.

This will help you avoid saying something flippant or excluding someone, unintentionally. Here is a very good resource for doing this: Mothers – Resource

2. Talk through your message with a few seasoned veterans of motherhood.

Invite their critique so that you can effectively communicate the gospel and the love that God has for moms. Again, remember the goal is to communicate the best you possibly can.

3. DON’T be afraid to preach reconciliation and forgiveness.

As we all know, many families function with a certain level of brokenness and secrets, that may be straining all relationships in the family. I am sure we have heard the old adage, “If mamma isn’t happy, then nobodies happy.” Calling for forgiveness and reconciliation can be a very helpful thing on Mother’s Day. It might be the only time all year they are all together in one place.

4. DON’T have mothers stand up on Mother’s Day.

I repeat DON’T have mothers stand up. This one might sound a little weird, but just trust me. I have it on good authority that this is always a bad a idea. If you’re struggling with this one, simply ask yourself, “Would you like to be singled out as not being a mother at church, especially if you really long to be a mother?

I hope all goes well on Mother’s Day at your church. We do a thing at Elevation called “Bring Yo’ Momma to Church”. It has been really a fun day. I even fly my mother in for the festivities. We encourage everyone to invite their mom if they can. We give flowers, cupcakes, and even hold a drawing for some lucky mom to win a really nice gift.

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

A Great Question For All You Leaders Out There

I was filling my car up at the gas pump this morning and I had a thought. It was kind of like that moment when Doc in the 80’s hit “Back To The Future” fell and hit his head in the bathroom, and when he gained his senses, he had the idea for the flux capacitor. In that moment time travel was born. Amazing!

Okay…maybe it wasn’t that big of a discovery or thought, but I thought it would be helpful to all you leaders out there today.

Here is the question:

“What is the one thing you need to do today, that will help your organization move the ball down the field?”

After you pick your jaw off the floor I will explain. I know it is a simple question, but I have found it to be one of the best questions we can ask ourselves everyday of our life. This questions gives us 7 principles that are vital to organizational leadership.

1. Attainable

2. Focus

3. Active

4. Time-oriented

5. Servant-hearted

6. Purposeful

7. Futuristic

I know I sometimes start the day with an overwhelming sense of all the things I need to get done, or all the things I want to get done. How about you? I believe this question will help you today, unless you don’t put it into practice, which means you will never experience time travel. Enjoy!

Blessings,

Pastor Daniel

God Isn’t Fair

“Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab and climbed Pisgah Peak, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan; 2 all the land of Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea*; 3 the Negev; the Jordan Valley with Jericho—the city of palms—as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.”
-Deuteronomy 34:1-4

This passage of scripture has ALWAYS bothered me!

I’m not sure I know how to make since of it, but I do know that the Lord meets us in scripture. Those feelings that come when we read are given to us for a reason.

The best thing we can do is press into those thoughts or feelings.

Moses had the assignment of leading a massive amount of whiny, cranky, and stubborn people, out of Egypt, through the desert, and almost into the promise land.

Yes, I said “almost”.

He worked so hard. He endured so much. However, he still was unable to go into the land that God had promised to his forefathers.

The reality of the situation is that Moses didn’t do what the Lord wanted (Numbers 20).

When we are disobedient to the Lord we can’t expect that He is going to bless our actions. That’s impossible.

God Doesn’t Bless Disobedience.

Which is why the most frustrating part of the story is that over and over God had mercy on those rebellious people, but when Moses does one thing wrong, he’s out.

It doesn’t seem fair.
But God isn’t all that concerned about being fair.
However, He is just.

Fair means that everyone is treated the same.
Just means that everyone is treated in accordance with God’s known Law.

Moses and Israel were both held to the known Law of God.

Israel was given mercy, and the mercy they received allowed them to make it into the promise land.
Moses was given mercy, but the result wasn’t being able to go into the promise land.

Verse 4 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” 



Even though he couldn’t enter the promise land, Moses was allowed to SEE it.

I can’t begin to imagine how he felt at that moment, but God was undeniably showing Moses mercy and love.

God isn’t the government trying to make sure everyone gets the same amount of this or that service.
God isn’t making sure everyone gets a participation award.
God isn’t making sure that everyone makes the same amount of money. 


Remember the Parable of the Talents? All three men were given different amounts and yet they were all held to the same standard (Law).

They were given different amounts for a reason, but in no way does that make God unjust or unloving. 
 


God loved Moses.
Out of everyone on Earth, Moses experienced one of the deepest relationships with God.

I believe Moses understood that not entering into the promise land wasn’t the end of the world.

He knew he had messed up; however, he also knew, that very soon after he saw the promise land he would die and forever be with God.

We don’t picture death this way very often.
To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Moses desired God more than he desired the promise land.

So, how about you?

-Daniel

Denial -Part 2

“Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75
Peter remembered.

It was in that moment that Peter came face to face with a harsh reality…

He wasn’t who he thought he was.
He was the opposite.
He discovered inconsistency.

Can you relate? 


There is nothing easy about being confronted with your own brokenness; your own weakness.

Peter was a strong and confident disciple. He had decided early on that Jesus was the Messiah and that he would follow him to whatever end necessary.

However, when time came for “whatever means necessary,” Peter didn’t follow through with his commitment.

We may not know exactly why he denied Jesus, but we are told how it affected him.

Matthew tells us he went away “weeping bitterly.” Have you ever wept bitterly over your own sin? Have you ever wept over your own denial of Jesus?

My heart hurts for Peter in this moment.

Because I’ve experienced life at this level.
I’ve experienced my own sin at this level.
I know what it feels like to want to run away and hide.
I know what it feels like to experience a tsunami of hopelessness that leaves you wondering if life can ever be restored.

I imagine Peter “went away” wondering if Jesus would ever speak to him again. Was his life, as he knew it, over? 
 


…YES!

Peter would never be the same.

And in John 21, Jesus restored Peter. Peter is asked three different times by Jesus “do you love me?” There is no doubt that Peter loves Jesus, but Jesus is trying to get Peter to believe again. Jesus is pulling Peter out of the hole of despair and re-assuring him of their relationship.

It’s critical to notice that Jesus is restoring the relationship first. Peter needed to feel the security that comes from knowing you are a child of the King; from knowing that he is beloved. 
 


The reason I answered, “yes” earlier is because Peter would never be the same…and isn’t that the goal?

The goal is to become more like Christ. Peter was restored by Jesus and ultimately given the mission of leading this young movement in the world.

I know Peter never forgot what happened that day when he denied Jesus three times.

I also know that Peter never forgot the day that Jesus restored him back into fellowship.

It is a hard lesson when we are confronted with our own duplicity.
It was for Peter. It was for me. It will be for you.

But HOLD ON! Don’t give up just yet! God isn’t finished with you! God still has a plan!

If you are sinking, REACH out to someone who can help you. Joy comes in the morning! God’s mercies are new everyday! On the other side of pain is JOY!

Don’t bail. Don’t medicate. Don’t hijack the process.
Remember the promise and go through the process, so that you might experience the payoff.

If you need someone to pray for you send me an email at dtaylor@elevationstlouis.com 
 

You don’t have to do it alone. You can make it. Believe today that God is ABLE! 
 


-Daniel

Launch Team

Sunday night was our first Launch Team meeting for Elevation Church. It was a great night with an amazing group of people. Each of them is excited about reaching out and making a difference in this community.

It’s an honor to be a part of this new movement of the Lord.

GOD is on the MOVE!

If you are reading this and you live in St Louis, I would love for you to consider being a part of this new movement.

Maybe you are already experiencing a call to be part of this new church plant.

If so, take the step of faith…

CALL US!

E-MAIL US!!!

Send SMOKE SIGNALS if you have to!!!!!!

I would love to speak with you about being a part of this movement.

Our next Launch Team meeting is June 12, 2011 @ 6:00pm. Come check us out!

-Daniel

Transparent

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
–Mark 14:32-34


There is so much going on in this passage of scripture. It is an extremely powerful scene in the life of Jesus; one of the only places in scripture where we get really “up close and personal” with his humanity.

His humanity is up front and center, which could make many of us feel uncomfortable.

You see, we are very comfortable with the divinity of Jesus, but a lot less comfortable with the humanity of Jesus. Which are you?

Both are real. Both are important.

For us to fully understanding Jesus, we have to grasp both aspects. 


There is a lot that could be focused on in this passage, but I want to look specifically at Jesus’ wisdom in his vulnerability, honesty, and transparency.

We are told, in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus went to the olive grove and told the majority of his disciples to sit and pray. He decided to take Peter, James, and John a little further. It is at this point that Jesus reveals himself.

He tells them he is greatly distressed and troubled.
He is in agony.
His soul is crushed and grief is closing in on him like a tsunami.

Notice how Jesus doesn’t reveal this to everyone. 
 


Here is the point: As human beings it is vital to have places where we can be completely vulnerable, honest, and transparent—but it must be with the right people in the right environments.

In order for those things to become clear you must seek wisdom from God.

A FOOL is vulnerable, honest, and transparent with everyone, but a WISE person is selective (like Jesus was with Peter, James, and John) with whom they share their heart.

It’s okay to not share with everyone.

There is this fallacy that says, “if you aren’t transparent with everyone, then you are lying and that is wrong.”

Don’t worry about what others say.

Follow the example Jesus laid out for us and I am confident that you will be more than all right! 


-Daniel

Elephant Room

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of hearing various church leaders speak at The Elephant Room Conference. It was nice to hear directly from THEM instead of all the Pharisaical blog-bombers who criticize them.

Leading people at their level can’t be easy; we should all have a little more empathy for them.  Take time to pray for them instead of criticize.

It was so refreshing to hear them discuss critical issues in the Church, but also to see their hearts for the gospel and for people.

After hearing from Mark Driscoll, I gained more respect for him and what he is trying to do (even though I would disagree with him on several matters).

And he definitely had one of the funnier lines of the conference when he described himself as a Calvinist: “I’m a Calvinist; it’s duck, duck, damn!”

…I don’t care who you are, that’s funny!

Driscoll also said, “God’s plan A is humility; God’s plan B is humiliation.”  What a strong point!

David Platt was extremely humble and thoughtful.  He had some amazing things to say about the church being active in the issues of poverty, but more importantly in reaching out to the thousands of unreached people groups around the globe.

Steven Furtick rocked the house.  I loved seeing such a young leader stand tall in a crowd of veteran leaders!

Perry Noble was funny and defended his positions on bringing secular music into worship experiences.

McDonald couldn’t see the importance of showcasing the song “Highway to Hell” in a worship gathering, but I thought Perry was able to communicate the role of the church in redeeming culture.

It was a good conference.  It also had one of the best introduction videos.  Check it out:

http://vimeo.com/21754490

God bless these men, their families, the ministries, and their churches!

–Daniel

 

I Need a Doctor

Love him or hate him, Eminem is one of the best rappers/artists out there today.

Yes, his lyrics are extremely offensive, brutal, vulgar, sexist, and hurtful.  And he is definitely not someone you want your kids emulating.

Yet, even in the midst of all those things, his music is making an impact on our culture. Not only is he extremely talented, but his music is also ridiculously honest and raw.  His lyrics are stories of struggle, brokenness, hurt, and longing.  These all have to do with the human condition; which is why, in my opinion, he sells so many albums.

People relate because he is telling many of their own stories.

Am I giving him too much credit? …Maybe.  But there is something going on in his music that causes people to connect.  I am not saying we should condone this type of behavior, but I am saying we must LISTEN.

It is in the listening that we become learners, and when we become learners we can be light.

Did you get that?

LISTENING —-> LEARNING —-> LIGHT

If the church doesn’t become LIGHT in the darkness we will lose our core identity.  It is the mandate of God that the Church stand at the crossroads of Heaven and Hell and fight for the souls of men and women who are in the darkness.

If we won’t, who will?

Christ came to seek and save that which was lost.  He has given us this same ministry.  Let us take this cause, becoming listeners, learners, and light.

Let me give you example of what it might look like to exegete the culture:

Take the song “I Need a Doctor” by Eminem and Dr. Dre [the clean version of course] and listen to it.

It is a strong song about friendship, loyalty, devotion, weakness, strength, struggle, pain, betrayal, loss, etc.  It is also a song about never giving up on a friend, no matter the situation.  He is saying that NO MATTER THE COST, HE WILL NEVER LEAVE OR FORSAKE HIS FRIEND.

This is also s a redemptive song about the individual who has been beaten down by life, but now they are getting back up with the help of a friend.

And yes, there are also attributes that are evil and revengeful.

Yet, at the core of this song humanity is reflected as the lyrics paint an honest picture of the state of our culture.

It would not be hard to incorporate this into a conversation, a blog, a bible study, a sermon, or even worship.  The struggle isn’t necessarily ‘can we relate it to what we are doing’, it is more ‘will we’?  Will we risk “Christians” criticizing us or maybe even removing fellowship in order to reach people far from God?  People who are more inclined to listen to Eminem than they are to darken the doors of a church.

I struggle with this as much as the next person.  I want to isolate myself and my family from this world, but that isn’t the calling.  The calling is mission.  The essence of the Church is mission.  We must stand at the crossroads and communicate the gospel in the most effective way possible so that people might be saved and transformed by Christ.

Today, how could you listen more, learn more, and ultimately be the light in this dark world?

Please send any hate email to donotbother@yahoo.com

-Daniel