cupcakeOn October 1, I celebrated made it to observed my one year anniversary of working for LifeWay Christian Resources. After posting something about it on my Facebook wall, a friend voted for an “Unlike” button noting that she missed the church plant my family and I served in during our time in North Georgia. I sympathized with the sentiment. After entering the ministry 22 years ago, working at LifeWay was never on my radar. But, here I am. At times, I miss the one-on-one work of church planting, being a pastor, and serving a local congregation. But over the last year, I’ve learned some great lessons.

First, let me hasten to say that I’ve learned the people of LifeWay are unique. I say unique because most I’ve befriended in the building are there because they feel a calling. It certainly isn’t the ginormous paychecks that keep them coming back week after week. If you are looking to strike it rich, working for a publishing house during these economic times is not the place to be. Rather, both the new faces and those who’ve been around for decades, they all believe in helping churches produce well-rounded disciples is their calling. It takes a unique person to provide the tools for an unknown teacher to present biblical truth to an unknown group in the hopes that Christ will be more well-known among the nations. Trust me, the people at LifeWay are who you hope they are: good, godly, and praying for a great movement of the gospel in our day.

Secondly, denominational agencies get a bad rap, and often for not very good reasons. After serving as a church planting missionary for NAMB and now working at LifeWay, I have been the personal recipient of more than a few people’s ire at agencies. Agencies and the people who work for them ought to be accountable but not become punching bags. Agencies are filled with people just like the rest of the church – fallible but hoping to be faithful. I hope you will afford to them the same grace you hope others afford to you.

But I’ve also learned a few things about myself.

I love writing more than I thought possible. The work of crafting messages that help believers is immeasurably satisfying for me. Whether writing, editing, ghost writing, or as executive producer on a video shoot – I get a total charge out of seeing a solid biblical message go out for churches to use.

I find it hard to not exercise what my wife calls my “spiritual gift of excavation.” I seem to have the unenviable ability to dig up all of the junk in my surroundings. My apologies to everyone I’ve been in meetings with over the last year.

australia_regionsI miss serving as a pastor. Especially in the area of church planting. So much so that I have tried to befriend several planters in Nashville in order to keep myself locked into the tribe I have adopted as my own. At this point, my boys are enjoying living in Nashville but Andrew is praying for God to call us to church planting in Australia. Dream big, my son. Dream big!

I like being a person who influences, subverts the system, works as the flamethrower, or just looks for new ways of moving forward. Now I believe LifeWay is headed in a good direction – otherwise, I would not have signed on a year ago. By God’s help, I hope to keep my ego in check and help bring about the changes necessary to our system that will help churches thrive in the days to come.

And, I love traveling to help other churches. There are many who travel more than I but to the extent I do travel, I find it rewarding. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be in preaching in Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Louisiana. It is an awesome responsibility – along lots of fun – to participate in what God is doing so many churches today. Helping churches through Sunday preaching, conferences, and retreats is an incredible slice of life.

The work at LifeWay is often rewarding. It’s also often frustrating. But it is God’s assignment for me during this season of life so I hope to make the most of it.

Well – there are probably plenty of other things I could say, people I could thank, or reasons to go on about LifeWay. But I’ll hold off and let you know what else I’ve learned in October 2010.

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