If I was bi-polar…

…the last few days would be called a manic phase. Consider this more of a journal entry than anything else. Here’s what’s been going on with me.

Before we went to Boise for Spring Break, I was noticing some of the tell-tale stress signs in my life; having trouble focusing, lack of energy, wasting time on trivial things, avoiding things that needed to be done, etc. I’m getting better at noticing those types of things in the last couple of years, and figured that what I needed was time away. Since we were already planning to head to Boise, I wasn’t that worried.

The time in Boise was really, really good. Aubrey was quite sick, which meant we didn’t see as many people as we had planned or that we wanted. But I had some great conversations with Shawn, good time with the kids, watched some great basketball games (which destroyed my bracket, but they were fun to watch), and even played a round of golf.

The hard part of the trip was realizing how much simpler our personal lives would be if we had stayed in Boise. I had to come to grips with that and grieve some. It doesn’t make me doubt whether we did the right thing or not, but the picture in my mind is the view as I walked toward the 7th or 8th green, with a great view of the mountains and the Boise Valley. There is no denying that I had more time, more of the personal “quality of life” stuff in Boise than I do now.

So then I had more work to do on the way home, driving in the car. I made a conscious effort to fight the part of my personality that is the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” part. I asked God to help me see the things in Newberg that really were positive. I committed to try and look for joy in what I do now, and not just see the cost. Problem was, I got back and some of the same warning signs were there. Lack of energy, lack of focus, avoiding necessary things, etc. I began praying for renewed energy, passion, and direction for what I’m doing at NFC. And, I think this manic phase is God’s answer to those prayers.

Last Tuesday at our team meeting (pastors and staff at NFC), we had a farewell for our children’s pastor Irene Dunlop. Any transition of personnel brings change. For months, though, I’ve had a clear sense that it’s important for us to take advantage of the natural changes that come in transition, to capitalize and take advantage and bring new life and energy to our pastoral team. If nothing else, I need this transition. I’m coming to grips more and more with my role at NFC, with what I need to be doing, with my responsibilities as a leader. I’ve recognized my own resistance to that. I’d rather be team oriented than autocratic, I’d rather build community than create hierarchy. But I’m seeing that I need to free myself to lead where God is clearly directing. I need to be more directive, and in that directiveness (if that’s a word), continue to maintain team building and discernment of God’s leading as high values.

So this transition of children’s pastor is an opportunity to begin a transition of how I lead in my role as senior pastor. And in the middle of Irene’s farewell, I had a picture in my mind, a vision of our first team meeting with Lecia, our new children’s pastor. The vision was of the room we were sitting in, walls covered with bright colored pieces of paper that visually announced NEWNESS. I realized that I needed to put some thought and energy to that first meeting of our new team, and clearly and creatively “announce” that a new way of serving as pastors is coming.

So, I began thinking, praying, and journalling about what it was I wanted to be different. In the meantime, working on the message I gave this past Sunday, I had a strong sense that the message of confession was significant and important. We had a great day in worship, and then in the afternoon, we had a great meeting with our long range planning group. All of a sudden, I realized the warning signs were gone. I had energy, excitement, vision, and a passion for working hard and working smart. (I told you, manic, manic. This is a little sappy even for me as I re-read it.) 🙂

I did something else, besides the colored signs, for team meeting. I love the Lord of the Rings, the books especially and the movies as well. For a long time, I’ve been impressed by the “making of the movie” stuff on the DVD’s. The dedication, the hard work, the attention to detail, the empowering of gifted people that went into creating greatness in the LOTR movie is inspiring, at least to me. So, I made a video for our team meeting. I chose some values that I want us to have as a team, and I illustrated the values with points from the “making of” stuff from the DVD. It made for two quite late nights, but it really worked. It communicated what I wanted to communicate to our team: it’s a new day, God has something new for us, and I’m excited for us to rise to the occasion.

After I showed the video, I handed out a sheet of paper that had the values I’d communicated in the video written down. I asked the rest of the team to spend some time praying and thinking about what values they think God is calling our new team to have, and then we shared them with each other. It was a great conversation, and a great list of values. I’ll close this post with our combined list of values for our new team:

We want to…
…create in others a sense of OWNERSHIP!
…be people of VISION!
…be people of PATIENCE!
…be people who BUILD OTHER TEAMS!
…be people for whom THE LITTLE THINGS MATTER!
…be people who PAY THE PRICE!
…be people of CREATIVITY!
…be people of PASSION!
…be people of DILIGENCE!
…be people of FAITHFULNESS!
…be people of DISCERNMENT!
…be people who ENHANCE RELATIONSHIPS (deeper walks with God & each other)
…be people who are GROWING! (through discipline and study)
…be people who HOLD THINGS LOOSELY!
…be people of EXCELLENCE!
…be people who are LOYAL!
…be people who LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! (to Christ and others)
…be people who AREN’T AFRAID TO FAIL!

(Feelin’ That Way from the album “Infinity” by Journey is playing in iTunes. Say what you want…that’s just plain good music!)

3 thoughts on “If I was bi-polar…

  1. You had me, you had me even through all the ALL CAPS PHRASES!, but then you end it all with a reference to Journey.Journey?!!So does that mean that the whole thing was a joke? I will “…say what I want”.One simply cannot be passionate about one’s call and ministry and passionate about Journey. One can passionate about mullets and Journey, Camaros and Journey, spandex and Journey, the Sizzler, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Journey, but not Jesus and Journey. Combining the two is like being commited to fitness and cheeseburgers at the same time, or saying you like both Toby Keith and Terry Gross. You just can’t do it.So Gregg, please clarify.


  2. I could respond by talking about elitist snobs who only like Van Morrison and U2 before more than 4 people bought their album…I could respond that just because things are popular doesn’t mean they’re bad…or I could say that like radio talk show hosts and sports columnists, bloggers sometimes write things just to get a rise. (I actually expected it from Michael Fawver, but what do I know?)


  3. Gregg- I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your work at NFC! I am blessed because you followed the call to Newberg. Thank you 🙂


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