You’re Being an Idiot, Stop it!

Last week I attended the bi-annual denominational meeting for our tribe in Nashville, TN. The days were filled with business meetings as we elected officials to lead our movement, debated polity and received training and inspiration for ministry. The evenings involved gathering with approximately 12-15,000 people in worship services. I’m thankful for the opportunity to represent my local church at this gathering of one stream of the global Church.

However, if I can be honest the best part of the week was reconnecting in person with friends that I don’t get to see very often. Because we are all in ministry we don’t live near one another, and are separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles.

Facebook gives us the ability to stay aware of what’s going on in each other’s lives. For instance I can tell you where some of my friends have vacationed this year, when their baby was born, and big events in their churches. What I can’t tell you is where they feel weak, what makes them laugh, and so many other things that don’t translate on social media. So we sat next to each other in business sessions and church services. We stayed up late playing cards and talking. We laughed until we cried, and we’ve been texting each other since we got home.

It seems that the stories of men and women leaving ministry, either by their own choice or because of indiscretions that disqualify them from ministry are more and more common. This breaks my heart and creates an intense desire in me to finish well and help my friends do so as well.

I once heard a man say

You need a group of friends around you who love you, but aren’t impressed by you.

This kind of group insures that there are people who want whats best for you and they don’t have a false sense of reality about who or what you are.

I’m thankful that I have those kinds of friends. My prayer is that I will lean into these friends and they will lean into me and in the end we’ll all be better for it.

A few months ago I saw a minister acting irresponsibly on Twitter. It was so juvenile and “unChristian” in my opinion that I said to some friends in a group text message:

I believe this shows that he doesn’t have anybody in his life who will tell him he’s being an idiot and to stop it. Just so you know, you guys always have that permission in my life.

I reaffirmed to my friends last week that they have permission to call me out when my behavior would begin to disqualify me for ministry, discredit me from preaching the Gospel or put the future of my marriage and family in jeopardy. I told my staff this week that they have that permission as well. I also told them I was taking that permission in their lives. An awkward conversation or two is well worth it to salvage my life, marriage or ministry.

Who have you given that permission to?

Just the 2 of Us

Earlier this summer Corrie and I got away for a week…just the 2 of us. With 4 kids from 5-11 years of age we love to take our kids on vacations or experiences for them to enjoy. But if I’m being honest, I need a vacation to get over most “family vacations”.

We don’t have the opportunity or the finances to do a big “just the 2 of us” vacation a lot at this stage of life, but we have been able to do so a couple of times in the last few years.

This year we decided to take a cruise. We enjoy cruising because of it’s all-inclusive nature making it more affordable, plus the added benefit of the ports of call. We’ve cruised before out of Florida and into the Caribbean, and it’s always been great. But I wanted to try something different this time. So I redeemed some frequent flier miles and we flew to Los Angeles. I rented a car and we did as much touristy stuff as you can imagine in 36 hours. We went to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier, Malibu and downtown LA. Then Monday afternoon we caught the boat and cruised for the next 5 days.

The details of our trip aren’t nearly as important as the principle that undergirds it. I value my marriage. I loved Corrie before I even knew my children.

And while I want my kids to know they are loved, valued and cared for, perhaps the best thing I can do for them is model a healthy, Christ-centered, fun, committed relationship to their mother.

So while it might not be a cruise, a trip to the west coast, or a weekend in the mountains, if you are married, what are you doing to intentionally invest in time away together?

I wrote this on Facebook as part of a larger post to recap our first day in LA:

The best part of the trip is undivided time and conversation with my partner in crime. She makes life fun! We couldn’t love our 4 kids any more than we do and we miss them terribly, but days like these, even when they aren’t all the way across the country, are like oxygen to my soul and our marriage.

The most cliche way to say it is: “We fell in love all over again.”

There are several problems with this statement.

  1. I don’t like the phrase “fall in love” because it makes it seem like it’s a passive event that happens to me rather than a conscious choice.
  2. We never “fell out of love” so it seems to imply that it is something good to fix something bad.

Instead, I would just say it helps pull us out of the daily routine and focus on each other more intentionally. Again, the routine isn’t all bad. If I’m honest I don’t always show Corrie how much I love and value her while juggling bills, the kid’s sports schedules, mowing the grass, working and more each week. Trips like these cause us to “zoom out” from our daily routine and see the bigger picture.

The benefits are worth whatever expense you can spare to invest in it. Maybe you start with a babysitter and an overnight stay at a hotel in your city. Maybe you watch your neighbor’s kids for a weekend so they can get away and later cash in on them watching your kids while you get away. There are creative ways to accomplish the same idea, so get creative.

What about you? When was the last time you got away with your spouse?