Dear Friends in Christ,

“To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

I was talking with a guy this past week about his craft: he designs and builds wooden chess sets. Each wooden chess board is carefully made and each wooden chess piece is intricately carved… by hand. He tells me that there are no 2 chess sets alike. I asked him how long he’s been working at his craft. He’s been at it for almost 30 years, saying “It took me 10 years just to learn how.” He showed me photos of different chess sets he had carved on his I-Phone. This is a man who has mastered his craft.

There is some truth to the 10-year apprenticeship. It truly takes about 10 years to hone and develop a craft. Early on my ministry, I had a spiritual director offer me some great advice. He said, “Discover what your 3 primary gifts are and then spend the next 10 years focusing on each those gifts.” 10 years, fully dedicated to 1 gift.

I took that advice to heart and during my 30’s, I spent 10 years learning the art of pastoring and prayer. I read and learned everything I could about leading, modeling, and teaching a life of prayer. Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Henry Nouwen, and St. Benedict were my guides.

During my 40’s, I have spent the last 9 years learning the art of leadership. I have watched leaders in action, attended countless seminars and summits, and read (or listened to) every leadership book I can get my hands on. I truly believe that God uses servant leaders to transform churches, communities, and the world.

I leave you with 2 questions, a request, and an invitation:

2 Questions: How are you purposefully tending to the gifts that God has given you? Are you willing to dedicate the next 10 years learning your craft?

A Request:  Ask me sometime about the God given gift that I am planning to focus on in my 50’s.

An Invitation: One of my annual leadership highlights is the Global Leadership Summit that is organized and telecast every year from Willow Creek Church in the Chicago, Illinois area. This year’s event will be held locally at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio, and at the Cedar Creek Church campuses in Perrysburg, Toledo, and Whitehouse. The Global Leadership Summit features an outstanding lineup of great speakers and leaders (follow the link below for more info and registration).