Orginally published on Monday, August 14, 2006 at 8:48 AM
by Todd Rhoades
One of the better sessions at this year's Leadership Summit was Andy Stanley talking about how he decided to 'cheat the church'. And talked about the number one leadership decision he ever made, and it has to do with the balancing act between the demands of ministry life and the demands on family time...
He talked about the best leadership decision he’s ever made. He made a deal with God. He explained it something like this:
God, I don’t have time to build a ministry and take care of my family. I’ll give you 45 hours per week as a church planter. If you can build a church on 45 hours, I’m your guy. I’ll let you build has big a church as you can with that 45 hours, and I’ll be satisfied with that. But I’m not going to cheat my family.
Andy decided to cheat the church before he cheated his family. With his wife, he decided to be at home by 4:30 every day. That meant he left work at 4:00.
Andy explained that God has never commanded him to love the Church. He was commanded to love his wife. He was never commanded to build the Church. Jesus said he would do that. Instead, we get it backwards. We try to go build the church, and we pray that God will take care of our family.
How did this decision impact Andy’s leadership?
1. It forced him to play exclusively to play to his strengths. Focus on the things you’re good at. The less you do, the more you accomplish. You’re not very good at very many things. Only do what only you can do.
2. It forced him to prioritize the success of the church over my personal success. He had to say no to lots of other opportunities. It forced him to focus on the main thing God has called him to do. North Point has his undivided attention.
3. The value has forced the organization to say no to many things and maintain a sustainable pace. That protects Andy’s time, but it also obviously also protects his staff’s time. We need to create a “to don’t” list. The value led to a decision to shut down the church the final weekend of every year to give all the volunteers and staff members a weekend to be with their families.
4. This value elicits incredible loyalty from the staff. Andy tells all new employees not to cheat their families.
This is a hard decision. People will be angry. We can’t fall into the “If I don’t, it won’t get done” trap. How many hours you work won’t make or break your career.
Charles Stanley said, “Never violate the principles of God in order to gain or maintain the blessing of God.”
Jesus has promised to build his church, and he’s done a great job. We’re just a small part of it.
Mark Waltz wrote:
Perhaps the word “cheat” seems harsh and uncomfortable, but I think Andy’s right. Because these two worlds call on me, pull on me, lean on me… there is a sense of “competition”, one against the other. In that light, then, someone’s going to get cheated. My sense of loyalty can’t be equal to both. Someone’s going to get less of me.
Although Laura and I (I’m married to her) have worked hard at this over the years, I still feel the fear Andy identified today: If I don’t do it… it won’t get done.
How arrogant of me. How self-serving of me. Who said it has to be done?
Of course when fear raises the question and the question presses hard, guilt can quickly follow.
I’m renewing my cheat list. My family - my wife, Laura, and our daughter, Olivia, will win.
God does command it. Jesus models it.
Ministry will get done… and better because I’ll need to keep handing off and building great leadership partnerships that honor God and value our families.
And all the while, people who matter to God will come to know him, ‘cause it’s his gig, his Church, his kingdom.
So… how are you doing in this tug of war between ministry and family? It mattered so much, and made such a difference in Andy Stanley’s life that he says this is the #1 leadership decision he’s ever made. How’s your balance? Do you need to decide to ‘cheat the church’? It’s a constant struggle, and one that we each need to think about and re-visit on a regular basis.
So… who are you cheating!?
FOR DISCUSSION: What things have you done to make family time a priority (or to make more time for family time)? What’s the #1 leadership decision you’ve ever made?
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