Fireside Chat: Monday Night Sessions
Honestly, I'm not sure how to sum up what I witnessed and experienced tonight. The wireless connection was very spotty in the training center, so I wasn't able to post live during the sessions, but I did take copious notes that will require hours of reading, re-reading, digesting, praying over, and thinking through.
Here are some general observations:
- The six men at this event have three and a half centuries of combined leadership experience.
- These guys have never stopped learning. I loved watching Winkie Pratney taking notes on things that John Perkins was saying.
- These guys have a deep respect for one another and modeled for us what a culture of honor should look like. I love the community they share with one another.
- They are innovators. Somehow, we think that the idea of doing innovative and creative things in the church is a new phenomenon. We think that we are the first generation of people in the R & D department in the Kingdom of God. But the six men at this event were doing ridiculously innovative stuff 50 years ago, and we are reaping the benefits of it today.
- They don't have it figured out. I was amazed at the level of humility they expressed, the long pauses they took before answering questions, and the thoughtfulness they invested in their responses. It was interesting to watch Loren Cunningham "figuring out" a situation in his life as the conversation unfolded.
- I love their sense of humor. They are hilarious! Robert Schuller is killing me!
- Their walk with God is continuous. You can't measure their spiritual disciplines with a clock. They are constantly walking in prayer and in the word.
Here are some of the specific questions they were asked tonight:
What is your picture of Jesus?
Jack Hayford referenced the accessibility of Jesus- that women, strong men, and children all felt equally comfortable and welcomed in his presence. Perkins referenced Jesus on the Emmaus road and pointed out that he was fun to be around. Lloyd Ogilvie described God's friendship as meeting him in the valleys and rejoicing with him on the mountain tops of success.
What has been the single most important spiritual discipline, and how have you maintained it?
- Perkins- agonizing in prayer and listening to God.
- Ogilvie- accountability, "The Lord has never trusted me at any point in my life without an accountability group." Jack Hayford echoed these comments and mentioned that most of the resurrection appearances occurred when people were assembled together.
- Hayford- instantly responding to the instruction or correction of the Holy Spirit.
- Cunningham- committing to the discipline of love and letting obedience spring from love.
How do you tend your personal relationship with Christ?
- Perkins- burning desire for the knowledge of the word of God. "I preach from the Psalms a lot because it revives me."
- Schuller- praying constantly, ministering under a compulsion to bless people.
- Ogilvie- making every moment a moment of prayer. He mentioned that he would get on his knees every time he went to his desk and ask God to be with him in his work. Every time he shook a person's hand, he would strive to realize that person as a gift from God. everytime i go to my desk i get down on my knees and ask God to help me.
- Hayford- deal with each day as its own and walk as many steps as necessary towards God to feel his presence.
- Cunningham- praying without ceasing and practicing the presence of Christ. "Your relationship with Jesus is more than something you can put on a schedule. Be aware of his presence."
- Pratney- prayer, especially late and night and early in the morning when no one else is awake.
Has your spiritual growth ever hit a ceiling and what have you done to push past it?
The general consensus: you must get a fresh revelation from God. You must get a fresh look at his face. Several of them referenced the worship that is going on in heaven- the angels crying eternally "Holy, Holy Holy,"-- they are not getting bored with the image of God. When we hit a ceiling, we must look for him.
How have you kept your heart clean towards those who have wounded, disappointed, and betrayed you as a leader?
- Hayford- "let's not start this before tea arrives...everything's set, we are waiting for the round of Big Macs." Hilarious. His immediate reaction is to "suspect his own righteousness." He begins at the place of asking God to examine him.
- Perkins- he said he couldn't sleep until he initiated some sort of process to work it out with the person, and he asks forgiveness for his part in the issue. He mentioned the particularly difficult issue of dealing with criticism from within your own family.
- Schuller-he threw out an interesting question about whether or not it was necessary to forgive a divisive person if there was no repentance. He also stressed the necessity for pastors to recognize that there is a real Satan who is trying hard to destroy the people of God.
- Olgilvie- he outlined steps, including laying out his anger and ache before God, getting the perspective of trusted friends, shifting his perception, if necessary, and then turning the matter over to God. He said he had to learn those steps over and over again. I loved this quote: "We are so obsessed with our own image, status, success...anything that threatens that should probably be crucified anyway. When I'm upset, it's often because it might hurt my status or my career or my own well-being. Get to the place of surrendering so completely to Christ that it's seeking His glory and not your own. Then you will be free of being hurt."
- Cunningham- give praise back to this who hurt you. I love how he talked about the unity of faith in Ephesians being a unity around Christ, not necessarily a unity of doctrine.
- Pratney- honor people, even if they criticize you. He stressed that you will face criticism if you are doing something new or fresh for the kingdom of God.
How do you tend your families as leaders?
The answers focused on planning ahead, putting your spouse first, protecting time with your family strategically and intentionally.