On a day that honors him, I wanted to comment on this letter from Martin Luther King, Jr. I decided that my comments would only cheapen it. So, here is an excerpt from the Letter from Birmingham Jail and a link to the full document. It is a great example of leadership and grace in the face of opposition.

April 16, 1963


While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns: and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom far beyond my own hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

This Sunday, we’re talking with preteens in Fifty6 about our love for technology. Unfortunately, many of us have taken this love for technology to an addiction.

When you think of preteen behaviors and issues, it’s always important to consider where they might be picking up on such behaviors. I have to say that I’m pretty bad about attaching myself to the phone, computer, or television instead of my family. It’s something that I really have to discipline myself. Moms and Dads, please watch this short clip and think…

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Replace Yourself

January 7, 2013 — 2 Comments

Passing the baton to a future leader

I love teaching and speaking to preteens. It’s one of the best parts of my job and something that I feel like I’m actually good at. That’s why it’s so hard for me to hand off those responsibilities to others.

I really admire pastors like Bill Hybels and John Piper, who have created a strategy to appoint a successor. I love hearing both of these men speak, but I think their legacy will be way they finish their current positions and pass the baton. I’m looking forward to watching that transition.

If you’re in a position of leadership, you need a strategy to replace yourself. You owe it to those that follow you and those that lead alongside you. At 29, I’m not looking to retire from ministry, but I still want to appoint leaders that can lead our preteen ministry.

Here are a few things to consider as you work to replace yourself:

Vision, Vision, Vision

Creating a strategy to replace yourself will sustain the vision that been set for your ministry. If the ministry is built on your personality, then it will fall in the absence of your personality. We’ve all seen this happen to churches. However, a strategy to replace yourself works to appoint a leader that understands the vision and will carry it on into the future. If the vision for your ministry means anything to you, do everything to make sure it sticks without you.

Replacements may or may not be better than you

Remember the movie The Replacements? A bunch of washed-up football players take over the NFL when the real players go on strike. It was obvious that these replacement players were not on the same level as the professionals, but in the end they had all improved dramatically.

You might stumble across that prodigy that can step in and do your job with ease, but that’s not likely. When looking for a replacement, look for someone who has natural abilities that will shine in your ministry. But, more importantly, look for someone who is teachable. Pass on everything you know and give them room to grow. In the end, the replacement may just do more than you could’ve ever done.

Start Small

A strategy for replacing yourself begins with delegation. Face it; hardly anyone is naturally great at delegation. It takes discipline. I’m not where near where I would like to be, but the steps we’ve taken have been refreshing. As much as I love teaching and speaking, I’m finding real joy in watching others fill those roles.

This past Sunday was a big Sunday for our preteen ministry. I was so excited about the challenge that we were laying out for our preteens. I wanted to teach the lesson so badly, but I didn’t. Instead, I stood in the back of the room and watched other leaders do an amazing job of engaging the preteens and presenting God’s Word. I was like a proud parent watching their 16-year old kid drive off for the first time.

What’s your strategy to replace yourself?
What are you currently doing that you could empower another leader to do?


#GiveGod12: Day One

December 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Day OneThe #GiveGod12 movement officially launched today, 12/12/12. If you missed it, check out last week’s post on #GiveGod12

Get the #GiveGod12 Reading Plan

Watch the first video from #GiveGod12

This movement is all about committing to spend time with God. People of all ages and denominations are taking 12 minutes today to get in Scripture, pray, and connect with God. Some might take more time and some might give less, but it’s all about committing a time to meet with God.

I’m so excited about this movement and seeing what God does in me and in others. As I thought about how I would #GiveGod12 during the next 12 days, I wanted to spend those 12 minutes doing something special. I decided to keep a regular time with God and His word, but to also take an extra 12 minutes to do something that I don’t normally get the change to do.

My #GiveGod12: Day One

Today, I spent 12 minutes praying for the volunteers and leaders in our preteen ministry. I got the chance to pray for each of them specifically by name. We have a couple of really exciting weeks coming up in our preteens ministry, so it was so fun to ask God to use our leaders in a big way.

Looking forward to Day Two!