My TV fast is over. At 12:30pm on July the 1st, it ended. "So Josh, did you turn on your TV and bask in it's soft glow for 16 hours as soon as the clock ticked off that last minute on Saturday?" Naw. In fact, I was here; in the office, working on our weekend service. I didn't turn the TV on until much later at night after I had been home for about 2 1/2 hours. And even then, I felt strangely guilty about it.
For those of you who started reading my blog recently, you can read all about why I fasted from TV here.
For some of you, this 30 day excercise may seem small. But, for those of you who know me personally, you know what a big deal this sacrifice was. I wanted to take some time to write out some of my thoughts and some of the things that I learned from the past month, in the hopes that, in some small way, my journey could help you along on yours.
I'll post thoughts and learnings here, in this post. And I'll post book reviews in posts to follow...
Thoughts I Had & Things I Learned From My 30 Day TV Fast:
* The dust on my TV screen is caused by the static electrical build-up that happens when the TV is turned on. Thus, my TV has been dust free for over 30 days now...
* I sleep better when I don't fall asleep in front of the TV watching The Colbert Report and then get up around 3am to get in bed...
* Silence isn't as scary as I thought...
* I have a lot more self control than I thought. This excites me and makes me somewhat proud. It also makes me a little scared; as I can no longer use the excuse "I can't help it" for most of my behaviors...
* Not that TV, or any other form of media, is bad, but the less distractions you have in your life, the easier it is to hear God... Of course, this is coming from a single dude who lives alone and has almost no responsibilites aside from his job.
* I feel like this past month was one of the best in the past year and a half. I felt more at peace, rested, patient, and less anxious than before. I think this could be attributed to the fact that I had about 6 more hours in my day than usual. (That's right. SIX.)
* Through reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection, I've realized that I have a major deficit in who I am as a pastor. (This is a long one!)
I've thought for some time that, as a pastor, I have three jobs:
1) Know God.
2) Get to know people.
3) Introduce the people that you get to know to the God that you know.
I know that there are about a million little things that pastors do, but I think that they could all fit into one of those three categories.
Within my job as a pastor, I have two planes that I operate on:
1) Ministry This is all of the parts of my job dealing directly with students. I think that I have a pretty good handle on this. Please don't hear me say, in any way, that I'm the greatest at this. I don't think I'm anywhere near the top. I know that I have a lot of growing left to do. But, I feel like it's in me. You know? It's in my heart. I love it. I love my students and so I would do anything for them. So, as far as the ministry part of the job goes, I'm decent.
2) Management This is the part of the job that involves everything I do with my adult leaders. I came to a realization on the plane ride to Chicago that I suck in this area. I think that this stems from a couple of different things:
a) I don't know my team. I mean, I know them, but I don't know them. This is my fault. I haven't made the effort I should.
b) I've been a ball hog. When I first came to my church, I was operating under the false assumption that, if I could prove to the team that I had inherited that I was great at everything, and didn't need them, that they would be so inspired by my awesomeness they would want to follow me to the ends... Unfortunately, this coupled with the natural tension that arises whenever an organization gets a new leader alienated a lot of the team. As a result, lots of relationships need to be rebuilt and lots of new team members need to be recruited. This is also my fault.
c) I'm a wuss. Andy Stanley says that the leader isn't the one who had the big idea, it's the one with the courage to step out, take a chance, and try. I have not had much courage so far. I've let what others think about me and a fear of failure, not my calling from and my identity in Christ, control my decision making. As a result, I've had lots of missed opportunities and have not given my best in everything. For me, I would rather fail and know I gave my best, than succeed on a ho-hum effort. This is one of the more frustrating of the things I've seen in myself. Once again, my fault.
d) I'm not working from my strengths. I've spent too much time trying to do things that I'm horrible at and not enough time doing the things that I'm good at and excite and fulfill me. Stanley says that, most of the time, there are others just waiting to tackle the jobs you're bad at, but won't give up. These people are usually gifted in the areas that you're not, and by giving these things over to them you and they win. You guessed it, my fault.
This realization really hurt. It was like a punch to the stomach. For so long I had thought that our team was unhealthy and needed to improve, but I had no idea how to treat the ailment. Then I realized that I had diagnosed the wrong disease. The team wasn't the problem, I was. Or AM. My leadership had lead us to where we were.
So, I hit my knees, asked for forgiveness, and begged God to show me what needed to be done. (See! I told you it was a long one!)
I'm not far into these learnings, so no significant changes have happened yet. But, I've begun to put some things into place that I think will help. I've made it a point to meet with each of my leaders individually. I'm trying to figure out what they rock at and what they love, so that I can get them doing that.
This is, of course, not the complete list of learnings from June; the month without TV. It's just some highlights. Maybe, you've just gone through your first year of ministry. Maybe you've just gone through your 18th. Wherever you're at, I hope that you're learning. I hope that you're constantly trying to improve on yourself. To change for the better. To become better at what you do today than you were yesterday. For your sake, for the benifit of those you serve, and for the honor of the God who sacrificed His only Son so that we could know Him.
Now that's a sacrifice...