Leadership

Creating Margin

be_still_and_know_that_i_am_god1How often have you been asked the question, “Are you staying busy?” If you’re like me, I imagine you’ve been asked that question a lot, as if “staying busy” is the ultimate objective in life. However, this is the world we live in. A world that demands us to add more detail to our lives. We live for events we can post on Facebook and keep ourselves busy as a badge of honor and significance. And I admit, I fall prey to cultural demands just as much as anyone else. However, lately I have been asking myself, how much is enough, knowing that we can only handle so many details in life before we exceed our threshold and find ourselves on overload.

To understand overload we must first understand our own limits. Physical limits are measurable, we only have so many hours in the day. We are only one person and can’t be in more than one place at a time. So we need to understand our own limitations. Humans are not infinite. We have limits to our ability–and we must recognize them and be at peace with them. God created us to live within certain limits for our own well-being. Therefore, overloading occurs when the requirements upon us exceed that which we are able to bear, resulting in disorganization or frustration.

In the past, margin was a normal part of people’s lives. By default, rather than by choice, people lived slower, more deliberate lives. They had time to help a neighbor and attend social events. Yet even if we agree that margin is good, for many today it seems like a luxury. There is so much to do, so much to see, etc. And if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves exhausted and burned out. In fact, in our technological word, overload happens naturally, but creating margin takes work.

So today, I find myself thinking of ways to create a little more margin in my life. And if we find our emotional energy is gone, how do we get it back? Here are ten options that I have seen work:

1. Cultivate social supports – Some people fill us, others drain us. Therefore we need to intentionally develop relationships that nurture us, with people who understand us and care about us.

2. Get a pet – Pets are capable of bonding, loyal and often affectionate—just the kind of things that increase our emotional reserves.

3. Reconcile relationships – Broken relationships are huge emotional drains. Resolving the tension helps to fill our tanks.

4. Serve others – A University of Michigan study found that those who performed regular volunteer work showed dramatically increased life expectancy, as well as experienced more joy.

5. Rest – “Be still and know that I am God!” Have you tried this one recently? If not, try to set aside time regularly for quiet and rest, even if it’s just a few minutes per day.

6. Laugh – Laughter is good for the soul. Read Proverbs 17:22.

7. Cry – Allow yourself to release the grief, the pain or sorrow. Tears can release the tension and heal the soul.

8. Create appropriate boundaries –  We need to be able to say “no” at times, or other people’s demands will overwhelm us.

9. Give thanks – A lot of negative things go away in our life when we are thankful.

10. Worship – Make sure you’re taking regular time to be with Jesus and worship Him. It puts life into great perspective.

The list could go on! What have you found to be helpful in creating margin and refueling in your life?

I Thank My God

Phil 1:3The pastoral team at SeaCoast Grace Church did this piece over three years ago as a part of our weekend worship service. It was our way of saying thanks to those who were making an eternal difference through the ministries of the church. Seeing it brought back special memories with this incredibly talented team. While most of us have now moved on, I thank God for the time we shared together…

 

A 6 X 6 Plan

imagesAs a leader, what do you struggle with everyday? For most of us, our answer would be time! However, at the 2012 Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels challenged leaders to consider that its really our work habits that leaders struggle with on a day to day basis.

Watch as Bill Hybels talks about an exercise that helps his daily work habits. We can’t sprint for 6 months, but we can for 6 weeks. What would your 6×6’s be?

Our Owner’s Manual

Honda-Accord-2012-02Yesterday, I planned to take my 2012 Honda in for its first service. The dealer we had bought the car from in So Cal, had called to remind us that it was time for its three-month service. So I figured, I was well overdue and needed to get in to a dealer right away.

When I called AutoWest Honda in Roseville to schedule my three-month service, they informed me that they didn’t do a three a month service on a 2012 Honda Accord. “What do you mean,” I asked. “I received a call from our old dealer reminding me I needed to get in. And I already have 5,000 miles on my car. Surely, I at least need an oil change?” The man on the other phone proceeded to tell me about the monitoring features of the newer Honda’s and that unless I had a “red wrench” warning light on in my car, that it wasn’t due for a service. Confused and a little dumfounded, I asked, “Well how long do I go on before getting my car serviced?” And he went on to say, “Well that depends on how often and how far you drive your car! It could be a whole year before the service light goes on.” “You’ve got to be kidding me!,” I said and thanked the man for his time.

Since my SoCal dealer was so nice to give me a year’s worth of free oil changes, I thought surely the AutoWest dealer’s service department didn’t know what they’re doing. And in my doubt, I called the SoCal dealer’s service desk and got quite the opposite reaction. When I spoke with them, I got a scolding for waiting so long to bring my car in for service. “Sir,” the man said, “you should have brought your car in over 1,000 miles ago.” No mention of the warning light, no mention of the new monitoring system. So I asked him, “Well who am I to trust? I am getting two different opinions from two different Honda dealers!” He didn’t have an answer for me, so I thanked him for his time and hung up the phone.

To tip the scales, I decided I would call a third dealer! However, as I prepared to call another, my wife suggested I open up the glove box of my car and read this little booklet known as an “Owner’s Manual” and see what it might have to say! Brilliant, I surmised and I immediately went to the garage to get the manual. Sure enough, the service people at AutoWest Honda were right! They were following the manufacturer’s suggested service plan. The SoCal dealer, not so much!

As I considered my experience that day, I thought, how often it is in life that we are quick to seek man’s opinions when trying to make significant decisions that can have significant impact on our lives. For me, I was ready to call and ask for another man’s opinion about the maintenance of my car, while the Owner’s Manual, written by the manufacturer of the car, sat in the glove box. As Christians, aren’t we a lot like that? We’re quick to seek out the thoughts and opinions of our friends and family, when it comes to decision points in our lives, instead of pursuing what God has to say. Like me in this car service scenario, the manufacturers’ manual was readily available, but I was still looking to man’s opinions. Likewise, as Christian’s we forget that God has given us His Word, in order for us to live productively in this life! And like my Owner’s Manual’s, for many of us, God’s Word sits on a shelf collecting dust.

Well I don’t know about you, but next time I’m reading the Owners Manual! That’s God’s Word to us, written by the one who knows us best!

To God Be The Glory!

The last sixty days have simply been a blur! There has been so much that has gone down, that it’s hard enough to remember, let alone try to capture it in words. When we received an offer to join Team Adventure back on October 3, we were led to a crisis of belief. Do we stay with the status quo? Or do we step out in faith and trust God for the unknown. As we prayed for a sign to determine God’s perfect will, He gave us these words on Saturday, October 6, from the devotional Jesus Calling:

“Be willing to follow wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of My richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith—not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.”

After reading these words, we sensed God saying, “It will be OK. Trust me. I am leading you in a new direction.” With God’s prompting, and receiving the confirmations of godly counsel, I took the leap. And honestly, it felt like I was about to jump off a huge cliff, unaware of how things would truly shake out. However, as soon as I leaped, we experienced God’s provision in so many ways, which only confirmed that God was truly leading us back to Sac!

Looking back on the last 60 days, there is so much I want to write about and give glory to God for! First, we were so blessed by our SeaCoast Grace Church family as we began our transition. We felt loved, celebrated and released to fulfill God’s leading. In addition, the Grace Christian School community was so giving, supportive and key in helping Zach say goodbye to great friends, teachers and administrators. Additionally, I am amazed that we had four offers on our home in four days and sold it for above our asking price. Our realtor Dave Chamberlain and his wife Linda were amazing. They had great faith in our home, the market and represented us very well. On top of it all, we were able to purchase a beautiful home in Roseville, and one with the pool that Zach really wanted.

Finally, we have been so blessed by Team Adventure! They have welcomed us with open arms and been so supportive, encouraging and helpful. Yes, God has led our family well and it’s good to be back in Sac. And as we share a meal with family, or celebrate Zach’s birthday at the local bowling alley with his cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, we’re reminded just why we migrated home. Thanks for your prayers, support and love. I am blessed to call you friends.

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.

Top 5 Memories from SeaCoast Grace

Today was my last weekend at SeaCoast Grace Church and I found myself both reflective and grateful for the memories and ministry I have enjoyed these last four years. As I was driving into services for my last time, I was recalling all the fun times and big moments, where I saw God clearly at work. And while there are too many to mention, I did manage to hone in on my Top 5 memories from SCG, so here they are, in no particular order…

1. Impact Seal Beach – Uniting four churches in Seal Beach to serve the City of Seal Beach was so awesome! We got the support of the city, the Chamber of Commerce and support of our congregations to beautify the city by painting signs, planting trees, and beautifying parks. It was a real testimony to the community, as four churches, from different denominations, became one church in action…loving God and loving others.

2. Beach Baptisms – One of the greatest thrills I have as a pastor is celebrating the courage of those who desire to publicly declare their faith in Jesus through the act of baptism. And while every baptism is meaningful, there are some real stand outs to me. One of those, was watching a woman, frail from battling cancer, step into the Pacific Ocean with such courage and determination, and witnessing a large fish jump out of the ocean, as she was being baptized. It was a beautiful reminder to us all that day, of how “we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

3. Night of Worship – Anyone who was at the Night of Worship on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 would all agree, that was a special night! I wish we had this service on our Vimeo channel, because we all sensed the Spirit move in a significant way at SeaCoast that evening. It was truly incredible to watch God do His work, as we offered praise to Him!

4. Good Friday Services – Bringing back Good Friday services to the Cypress Campus was awesome! From packing out the East Auditorium the first year, to filling up the West Auditorium the second year; it truly was a blessing to see. And to be asked to speak at both of these services was an honor. I will also never forget my second Good Friday service as the Campus Pastor in Seal Beach, when I went to open the doors and there was a line of people waiting to get in and grab a seat. That was a first! And there wasn’t an empty seat in the place. Unreal!

5. Dad Life Video – We had a lot of fun as a pastoral team making this video. And it was just good to goof off with my peers and let everyone else see another side of us. It was a demanding two days of video and production, but so worth it. The video still makes me laugh.

There are so many other memories that flood into my head…Eight Great Summer Dates, watching my son do air guitar at the Seal Beach Campus Talent Show, praying with people to receive Jesus, crying with families that lost a loved one, and watching Zach grow to passionately love Jesus. These are the memories I will forever treasure. Thank you SeaCoast Grace Church for ministering God’s grace, for loving my family and for making a difference in my life! You will be missed.

A New Adventure

An open letter to the staff and leaders
of SeaCoast Grace Church…

Dear Friends:

This letter is a difficult one to write, because for the last four years SeaCoast Grace Church has been my home. The people have been my family. And the experience of worshiping here has been life-changing. When Jennifer and I started at SeaCoast in February 2009, the church still met in the East Auditorium and the ground for the West Auditorium had not even been broken, nor the vision shared. When I think about all that has happen over the last four years, I stand amazed at all that God has done and how He has provided through His people at SCG. These last four years, have been an exciting time in SeaCoast’s history. And it’s been an honor to be part of that journey.

This letter is even more challenging, given that the last year has been one of my most fulfilling and fun seasons of ministry in my career. I work with an incredible team of people, love the people I serve, and find myself really excited over the growing momentum for small groups. However, after four, personally transforming years at SCG, I believe God is leading me and my family on a new adventure, in order to be closer to our extended family. And so it’s with sadness and joy, I announce that I have given my notice at SCG and will be leaving to move back to Sacramento at the end of this month to accept a similar role at Hillside Christian Church in Roseville.

I fully intend to do whatever it takes to prepare SCG for this transition! And I’m fully confident that all of you will continue to champion the mission well. As I spoke with key leaders over this past weekend, I was encouraged to see their faith-filled reactions. They are some of the best leaders, I have ever worked with! Not only are they supportive of the mission, but they are passionately in love with Jesus. And knowing you and your character, I have full assurance that you will continue to bless these men and women as they faithfully lead this ministry forward.

Your prayers for me and my family during this transition are appreciated. Again, I say thank you for your leadership, support and for your commitment to this ministry. My life has been truly blessed and I leave a deeply grateful man.

Blessings,
Bryan Hardwick

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