Confessions Of A Stupid Pastor – Part 4

It’s Sunday morning about 1:15 AM…and in the quiet within the apartment I’ve found time to jot down the next course of action for Chris Elrod. On Monday will come the next course of action for Compass Point…I want to share it with the staff tonight first…before the rest of the world is let in on it.

For the better part of four years Compass Point and ministry has received the “lion’s share” of my time and attention. It has been an amazing journey…but one that has cost me my health, sanity and…and at times…spiritual stability. I have had many wonderful people…Bob Siegel, Beverly Summers and my wife…warn me repeatedly that it would all catch up with me…and I’d crash. That occurred back in May…I was done with ministry….just wanted to walk away from the whole thing. Then God stepped in and spoke to me through guys like Gary Lamb, Shawn Lovejoy and Perry Noble. They are godly men that understand the pitfalls of ministry better than I…the difficulties in leading a growing church. I always knew that you lead…not from where you’re at….but from where you want to be. Compass Point’s structure…my personal structure…was the cause of the problem…not everyone else. I came to realize that trying to be “all things to all people” caused me to be nothing for Christ. Change had to come in my organizational skills, work ethic and the demands I let other people put on my time.

Over the last three months I have studied the time management skills of several successful pastors. I believe that God led me to them…and as a result they have led me to understand that the following changes are needed if I’m going to answer the call that God has laid on my life.

1. My cell phone number is going private. When we first started Compass Point everyone got my cell number…now everyone calls it instead of the church number. I will literally get 50 to 60 calls a day…I just can’t get anything done because of fielding phone calls. Most of them are Compass Point related and can best be served by one of the other staff members. For that reason…my current cell number will be put to rest in seven days. My family, my mentors and the Compass Point leaders will have the new number…everyone else will have to call the church line.

2. I can’t answer every email anymore. This is a hard reality for me because I love email…I jones for it when I can’t check my account. The problem…I get 150 + emails a day to my account…not including sales pitches and spam. I have set up a private email account for family and close friends…I have set up a different private email account for the leaders at Compass Point…both feed into my Blackberry. As for my public account…I try hard to answer emails I get from Compass Point folks once a week. I just can’t even begin to answer the rest…

3. Bye-Bye Facebook, MySpace and most blogs. I rarely check MySpace anymore…too many people are sending me stupid applications on Facebook and I can’t read the 100+ blogs a day through Google Reader that I use to. I’m dropping MySpace completely, will only check Facebook once a week and have dropped all but about 15-20 blogs from my daily reading.

4. Not going to read anymore church “how to” or leadership books. For too many years I have read books, magazines, websites, etc. for knowledge on how to be a better leader. In the process I have come to miss the pure beauty of just reading for pleasure. For a while I’m done with the church “cheerleading” books and rah-rah leadership articles. I’ve also really begun to enjoy just reading and journaling the Bible instead of using specific devotional material.

5. I can’t attend everything, so I’m not going to. Tonight was a case in point. There were three events happening at 7:00 PM all involving Compass Point folks. Denise and I were invited to all of them, but didn’t want to offend anyone by making one and not the others. Therefore, we skipped all of them and I worked on message some more. The church has grown to the point where Denise and I can’t make everything. It sucks because we love hanging out with folks…but we just can’t do everything…it’s killing us.

6. Saturday nights are now off limits. I start getting into a “zone” on Saturday nights getting ready to preach on Sunday. For the past few months we’ve had a bunch of late night Saturday stuff that has prevented me from getting in that “zone”. Preaching on Sunday is one of the most important callings I have from God and I’m blowing by not getting into a place of seeking His presence. Therefore, everything shuts down by 7:00PM on Saturday nights from now when I have to preach the next day. No calls, no emails, no events, no dinners, nothing…

7. I’ll meet with people after the service. I’m still in that “zone” on Sunday mornings and really need to spend time in prayer before I preach. I’ll hang with people for hours after the Sunday service if need be…I just need to spend time with God before the service these days.

8. Friday night is “date night” for Denise and I. Sometimes our dates will be with friends or family…most times it will be only us. I love her way more than I love ya’ll…

9. I’m saving one Saturday a month for NCAA football. I know this sounds petty, but I did not get to see ANY complete Florida Gator games last year at all…too much crap planned for Saturdays. I love football…it’s one of the few habits that I have that actually relieves some stress…cheering on a National Championship team will do that for you. It’s selfish…but it’s one of the few things I just do for me.

10. I’m only preaching 40 times a year. I learned the hard way that being in the pulpit week after week just leaves you stale and dead. We’ve got some great communicators at Compass Point and we’re going to use them. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be there when I don’t preach…it just means that I get to be fed on occasion like everybody else.

11. Only one blog and very few outside writing projects. I’ve tried to write for three separate blogs…it just doesn’t work. I’m dropping all blog stuff down to this one. That means I’ll be writing more for the folks at Compass Point…and less for the folks involved in church planting leadership. Occasionally I’ll still post to Relevant Christian and Next-Wave…but very little other than those. I’m working on a children’s book and a few magazine articles…all other writing opportunities will have to wait. I love the offers, I’m just going to be very selective in what I accept.

12. I’ll probably pass on most denominational meetings, networking events and conferences. Most of the meetings I have attended for networks or Southern Baptist things have been nothing more than missiology debates and “wannabe dreaming”…I really don’t have the time to waste on that. I’ve already got a great network of pastor friends and mentors…I’ll stick with those. As for conferences…it’s a catch 22 situation. I love meeting folks, but I always get some bonehead that wants to monopolize my time with a confrontation about something I write on this blog. I missed a session at by one such encounter. I also am getting little sick of attending a conference session that is suppose to be about reaching the lost…and I get to sit through an hour of “how to be attractional” instead.

13. I’m going to hang with more inmates. I really miss going into prison. Now that Prison Fellowship has killed the outreach of “Operation Starting Line”…I’ll have to set about starting a new evangelistic outreach to inmates.

14. I’m completely through with comedy and emceeing. I still get a buttload of calls to do comedy or emcee events. I just don’t do that anymore. I love keynote speaking and will continue doing that when invited…I’m just not going to return any more calls for a comedian or emcee.

15. More prayer. Denise and I have begun praying over my schedule…our schedule. We’re going to kick up a notch. I told people or events ‘yes’ too many times without checking with the Father first…

Confessions Of A Stupid Pastor – Part 4