Tag Archives: Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley: Session 1 at Catalyst

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This picture is completely irrelevant... I just love penguins.

The over-arching theme of the Catalyst conference was “The Tension is Good” and each speaker to the various ways in which tension can be felt in the leaderships positions in the church or other ministries. It is inevitable.  Tension will always, always, show up where there is growth, strategy, mission, and unity among team members.

Andy Stanley was the first to speak to this tension. “Tension,” he began, “is always associated with our appetites.” Then he expanded on the universal appetites that every human, much less leader, will always have to manage. Manage and not completely solve. We’ll get to that in a minute. Progress, growth, responsibility, fame, respect, achievement, winning, and the longing to be envied are the eight major appetites that will be encountered by any leader, no matter how small or large their ministry. 

“There are three things to keep in mind, when understanding these tensions,” he explained.

1. God created them, but sin distorted them.
2. Appetites are never fully or finally satisfied.
3. Your appetites always whisper “now,” and never “wait, later.”

In recognizing that these appetites will  never be satisfied, that they know no end, sets the direction of our careers, faith, family, etc. Because they are not to be completely absolved; they are not to be “fixed.”  They are to be managed, maintained, and used to sharpen the strategy already in place.

If any of us were truly honest, we would readily admit that we don’t have it all together, personally or professionally.  We have missed the mark countless times; our strategy has failed.  And often times, it is because there was a mishandling of tension.  There were various perspectives, different opinions that were not all equally and respectfully taken into consideration.

And this is the role of the leader: to be a humble handler of insights and opportunities and to make the decision that will most benefit the whole, or in the case of the Church, that will most faithfully deliver the truth of the Gospel.

Stanley made this statement, “There are going to be opportunities that you shouldn’t take full advantage of because of the risk you take in veering from the course that God has already ordained and blessed.”

So, the challenge is this– Leaders, are you dead enough to yourself and your personal preferences, to be whole-heartedly pursuing the decision that not only points your team in the right direction, regardless of comfort, but that is most honoring to God?

It’s Simple, Not Easy

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My horses' name was Mr. Destiny. And yes, he was tall, dark, and handsome.

I grew up riding horses. Given that I am from Texas, most would assume that I rode western. False. I rode English.  So if you have never caught a Grand Prix on ESPN (it airs about once a year) it’s where horse and rider manuever around an arena, jumping hurdles as quickly possible while trying not to pull a rail.  I rode for 11 years and there is one thing that my trainer told me during each and every lesson I ever had: “It’s simply, it’s not easy.”

I used to get so irritated when she said that. What does that mean?! Aren’t you contradicting yourself

A truly great rider will appear to be perfectly still while they are on their horse; not stiff, but soft, and completely in control while giving the appearance that they are not working at all.  It’s a simple concept, but it is not easy to execute. 

So how does a rider, a fraction of the size and weight of their noble steed, guide their horse to turn this way and that? Speed up and shorten their stride here and there? Most importantly, how does the ride steer their horse in the direction they need to go without moving their hands?

They look in the direction they want to go. 

Where a rider’s eyes are focused changes the tilt and weight distribution of the rider’s body, something that their horse senses and responds to.  Where the rider looks determines where the horse goes. When I look left, my weight will naturally drop into my left stirrup which means I place more pressure against my horses’ side with my right leg, lightening up the pressure on his left side, pushing him to track left.

 That is not to say that I am blind to my surroundings; my peripheral vision comes in handy, but I would never avert my full attention to what appears in the corner of my eye. Why?

 Because where I focus, he will follow. I want him to stay on course, so I must always be looking in the direction that I want him to go.

I am reading Andy Stanley’s book The Principle of the Path which speaks to this very analogy. And I must say, the simple reminder of this true and critical reality as captured my heart’s full attention.

There is so much packed into this little book and I know that I can not do justice to explain it here, but I will try none the less.

If you haven’t read it, I’m going to give something away– the principle of the path is this: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.”  Simple? Yes. Easy? No.  

The basis of the book elaborates on one central theme: Every decision you make determines that path that you will take.  And every path that you take will direct you to the destination it promised.  

Example- How you spend your money now will determine how much you have later.  Your fiscal responsibility today determines your fiscal stability tomorrow.  Money is just one example though.  The same idea can be applied to marriage, children, relationships, your career, etc.

Andy references (and for good reason) Proverbs endlessly through his book, drawing attention to how desperately we ought to be asking for wisdom from above and applying it to people and circumstances we encounter everyday. “Be wise enough to know how wise you are not without divine intervention,” he says. I read in Proverbs just this morning that the beginning of wisdom is asking for it to begin with! Fancy that.

In addition to wisdom being an absolute necessity in making good decisions that lead to good places, you must be whole heartedly submitted; unconditionally resolved to invite God’s intervention and divine direction to shed light on each step He would have you take.  It sounds simple enough, but what happens when where God would have you go, doesn’t seem to be… a happy place?  Andy explains that “our propensity to defend our happiness decisions with justifications that are not founded in the Truth is what sets us up for trouble when the road will divide later.”

There are so many more things to be shared and unpacked from this book, but I would dilute them here. Buy it, read it, and then let me know what you think.

If direction, not intention, determines destination… which way are you headed?