My Nervous Breakdown and Where I Am Now

It’s crazy how time passes. Three years ago I published a post on my blog title, “My Nervous Breakdown, or At Least Almost.” You can read that original post HERE. Since then I have not had another episode as mad as that one. I’d love to say that I haven’t struggled with anxiety at all, but that would not be true. However, I have learned a lot about anxiety, God, and myself since then. So, what have I learned?

Anxiety is real. For people who do not, or have not struggled with anxiety it is very hard to understand what it’s like. From the outside looking in you might find yourself looking for the THING that is causing the anxiety or fear. The truth is there often times isn’t any thing. We know that. We understand that there is nothing to be afraid of. We understand that we shouldn’t be feeling the anxiety that we are feeling. Trust me, it is as frustrating to us as it is to you.

Anxiety may never go away. After that first night three years ago, I woke up different. I had fear when I had seldom felt fear before that. There were things that scared me tha had never scared me before. For a time I was convinced that I would never be the man that I was before that night. Since then I have gotten a lot better. I don’t have the same level of anxiety that I had in the weeks right after that night. But, it’s still there. I still have moments that I have to remove myself from, due to irrational fear.
God is faithful. In the midst of my most difficult moments, God was there. In the times after that, when I needed strength and peace, God was there. For me my anxiety was worse when I went to bed. Many nights I would lay in bed, feeling the anxiety coming on and I would pray, “Lord, give me peace, give me strength.” He was there for me.
God is able. All to often we look at ourselves, at our own opinions about our abilities and use that to judge God. We think that because we are incapable that God must be too. As I laid in the bed, praying that simple prayer, over and over again, I was unable to handle my anxiety by myself. BUT, God was able.
Night after night I laid there, feeling fear creeping up on me. Feeling the tightening in my chest, and in my throat. Feeling as if I couldn’t catch my breath. Contemplating whether to Kim or to just push through it myself. Then, night after night God gave me the strength I needed to push through. Night after night God gave me the peace that allowed me to sleep.
God is good. In the midst of the storms of life it can be easy to feel that God is not good. At the least, we can forget that He IS good. As I look back now, I realize that even in those dark moments, God was still good.
I am ok. As I’ve often told people, there was a time after my first major run in with anxiety that I worried that I would never be “normal” again. I feared that the person I was before was gone forever. Since then what I’ve learned is that I am ok. Have I been changed by the experience? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Either way, what I do know is that whoever I have become, I am ok.
I’m going to be ok. As I look back on that night and on the many days and nights since then one thing I am certain of is that I am going to be ok. Having made it through a night of uncontrollable fear, and a number of fear filled nights since, I’ve become convinced that even in my most difficult moments I’m going to be ok.
I am stronger than I think. Before all this started I thought I was strong. I was convinced that I could do and endure anything. Looking back on the past three years I’ve learned that I’m even stronger than I thought I was. The truth is you never really know how strong you are until you are tested. Who is stronger, the person who has never had to do something difficult or the one who has faced hard times and come through them? I thought I was strong before, and I was. Now I know that am even stronger than I thought I was.
You are too. My journey has been MY journey. It is intensely personal. The specifics of it are specific to me. However, my experience is not unique. Through my experience I learned that I am much stronger than I thought. It also taught me that YOU are stronger than you think you are. You may not feel it right now, but trust me, you are stronger than you think you are and you will come through the difficult times.


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Leadership Requires Growth

For many people, leadership is about a position. They think that leading is about having the right title or position. They don’t think they can lead people until they have reached such a position. Sadly, once they’ve reached such a position, they often think that their quest for leadership ends. They see attaining the “right position” as evidence of their leadership and they see no need to grow. They don’t understand that leadership requires growth.

Leadership can happen from any position. As a staff level employee you have the potential to lead those at your level. For many, even at a staff level, there are people that work under you. Obviously you can lead them. You can even lead those who are above you in the organization. Regardless of your position, or who you are leading, the one thing that is true of every leader is that you must continue to grow in order to lead.

As a leader in the church there are many opportunities for such growth. A quick search on Amazon for “church leadership” brings up over 16,000 hits. Mentorship, education, online communities, and conferences are a few other such opportunities. Conferences vary widely in focus. There are more church leadership conferences than any one person could ever keep up with or hope to attend.

With so many conferences you might wonder if another conference was really needed. Despite that, last year a new conference was introduced. I’ve been to a bunch of conferences. Some for church and some for a position I once held in a local hospital. This  new conference is different from any other church leadership conference I have attended. This is the ReThink Leadership Conference.

So, how is the ReThink Leadership Conference different?

Well, for one, this conference is aimed specifically at senior leaders. It’s intended for and limited to senior pastors and campus pastors. This is not to say that other’s in the church have less need for growth. Rather it is an acknowledgement of the unique challenges faced by the top leaders in a given church. This conference is focused specifically on those challenges.

How is it different from others?

Better connection: There are certainly other conferences aimed at senior leaders. What makes this one different? The ReThink Leadership conference is limited in total number. Instead of hundreds and hundreds, or maybe even thousands of leaders sitting in row after row of chairs, those in attendance are seated around tables. This allows you to connect with a few other people in a real way. At last years conference they actually assigned seats so that each leader would find themselves sitting with a group of people they probably didn’t know. This was a great opportunity to connect with other leaders.

More intimate feel: By limiting total registration to just a few hundred, then they were able to guarantee that breakouts had a more intimate feel. I’ve been to conferences where hundreds of people were in a given breakout. In that case the chance of getting my specific question answered is greatly decreased. By intentionally keeping Rethink Leadership Conference smaller, they allow for much smaller numbers in each breakout, thus allowing much greater connection with each speaker.

Top line speakers: This is certainly not the only conference to offer top line, Christians speakers, but the list is worth noting. Names like: Jon Acuff, Bob Goff, Carey Nieuwhof, Jud Wilhite, and more. Having attended last year’s ReThink Leadership Conference I can honestly say that the speakers make it at least worth checking out.

A conference for your whole team: Wait, I thought you said that this conference was only for senior leaders. It is. But, ReThink happens at the same time, and in conjunction with the Orange Conference. Orange is a conference for all people that minister to families within your church.  With a variety of tracks there is something there for pretty much every leader in your church. It also happens just a short distance from the venue that is housing the ReThink Leadership Conference. So, it’s a great opportunity for your whole team to grow as leaders and to grow closer together.

Bottom line: I’m a bottom line kinda guy. So, here’s the bottom line. If you are a leader, or aspire to be one, then you must continue to seek personal growth as a person and as a leader. If you are a senior pastor or campus pastor the ReThink Leadership Conference is a great opportunity for such growth.

Registration is open now and for a few more days you can save a few bucks with the early bird special. I’ve already got my ticket and I hope to see you there. Check out rethinkleadership.com for a full list of speakers, for hotel information, for information about the venue, for full pricing information and much more.

Again, I hope to see you there.


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New Look, New Direction

It’s funny how life happens sometimes. You really never know where you are going to end up, or what God is going to call you to do. If you have been reading this blog for very long, then you know that is has been mostly children’s ministry focused with a smattering of miscellaneous other stuff along the way.

Well, now it’s taking a new direction.

You see, somewhere along the way, God decided that it would be a good idea for me to start a church. I know, crazy. Right. Hey, it wasn’t my idea. I’m just trying to be obedient to what God is telling me to do. Trust me I was quite content to do children’s ministry the rest of my life. But, God had other plans.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the new direction my life and ministry are taking. At the same time, it’s scary. I had attained a certain level of comfort in children’s ministry, but when it comes to church planting I know almost nothing… Ok, I know nothing.

Still, this is what God has called me to do.

So, with a change of direction for my life and ministry, I felt that my blog needed a new look and a new direction. Moving forward my blog will feature a wide range of posts. Most of them will be on leadership or church planting, but it may also include some children’s ministry stuff, youth ministry stuff, parenting and so much more.

I hope that you enjoy this new direction.


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The Throne Room

Sometimes when I pray I like to close my eyes
and imagine that I’m seeing the throne room of God.
I close my eyes and, without speaking a word a picture begins to appear.
Soon it’s like I’m there and I’m no longer here.
There before me are two giant doors,
not to keep me out, but to welcome me in.
I want them to open, I want to go through,
But I cannot forget, my past sin.
Without a word and without a sound,
these doors begin to move.
I feel like I should speak, I feel like I should prove
that this Holy place is were I belong,
that all the things I had to do,
I know I have done.
As if I could earn my way into heaven,
But man was I wrong.
That’s when I’m reminded, deep within my soul
that I can never be that good.
But, only through the blood of Christ,
when in my place He stood.
Looking up again I see the doors are open wide.
from what is waiting on the other side,
I know I can not hide.
Beyond the doors is a light
at the same blinding,
and somehow comforting.
I blink my eyes so they can adjust,
to see what lies ahead a I simply must.
The light permeates everything,
It’s source I don’t know.
But as I look around I realize, with awe,
that there is no shadow.
You see in this place the light comes from the Son,
not S. U. N. as here on earth,
but in this place the light comes from the  S. O. N.
That’s right, the Son of God,
J. E. S. U. S.
Not just some burning fire in the sky,
not that kinda sun.
I’m talking about the Holy One.
The one the Jews called Messiah,
The one born of a virgin,
The one who lived without sin,
The one who died on the cross my freedom to win.
Not just a boy born of man,
The only one, the Holy one,
God’s ONLY begotten Son.
Hesitantly I want to move,
but I’m not sure that I can.
But still I take a few cautious steps.
Somehow I know I am not in danger.
Still I can sense,
no way I could miss,
the power that comes from that throne.
Soon I am overwhelmed
by the love that awaits me within,
I want to move, but I can not go in.
Deep within I can feel the Holy Spirit,
encouraging and urging that I should continue.
“The things that Jesus did, He did for you.”
So, I take another step.
Daring to take a glance,
I see the throne and I want to dance.
I see a thrown that’s impossibly large,
rising beyond my vision.
Slowly I approach, with my head hung low.
I don’t want to move,
but simply must go.
With a respect that borders on fear I begin to raise my head.
My eyes move up the thrown trying to see the face of the one that sits upon it.
But, still I can not see that wonderful face.
Then I’m reminded that I’m not ready,
that it’s not my time.
Still my heart longs,
in His lap to climb.
In due time, in due time.
I feel the enormity of the one that is seated in front of me.
Overwhelmed I want to turn and flee.
So bad I want to turn and run,
But a voice says,
“Your place here was purchased by My Son.”
Coming as close as I dare,
I can do little more than stare.
and so I kneel
I bow my head, his love I feel
How can this place even be real
I cry to think that His great son,
my sins did kill.
I cry to think that my eternal life
man can not steal.
and so I kneel.
I bow my head and start to pray,
but how can I know the words to say.
To the one who created the universe,
but still took time to plan my birth.
What do you say to one so great,
who knows your future and holds your fate.
How do you talk to a holy God,
when the only words I have are badly flawed.
And so I kneel.
As down my face tears flow,
I loose my ability or will to go,
I open my heart and open my mouth,
but words don’t seem to be enough.
On earth I thought I was tough,
But in His presence,
I am like a child.
A child of the one true God,
that’s who I am.
A member of a heavenly clan.
Reminded of His love for me,
still I can not see,
why He would sacrifice his Son
just to see me set free.
Free from sin,
a battle I could not win.
But on the cross
that battle did end.
And so I kneel.

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Poem: Mom

Nine months in the womb,

you carried me through.

Every breath that you took,

I shared with you.

 

The miracle of birth,

together all the way.

From my first breath,

still together today.

 

Motherly love,

And such a caring voice.

You knew right from wrong,

but you gave me the choice.

 

Cause of all of your love,

and all that you do.

Our love and this day,

we all give to you.


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