There are many reasons why loneliness isn’t good. Chief among them is God’s original statement from thousands of years ago: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). For now, don’t even worry about the big theological reasons. Just reading the paragraph below about how loneliness impacts your health should be enough to motivate you to get some friends.
…Being lonely is extremely bad for your health. If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to be put in a geriatric home at an earlier age than a similar person who isn’t lonely. You’re less likely to exercise. You’re morel likely to be obese. You’re less likely to survive a serious operation and more likely to have hormonal imbalances. You are at greater risk of inflammation. Your memory may be worse. You are more likely to be depressed, to sleep badly, and to suffer dementia and general cognitive decline. -Stephen Marche (from an article published in The Atlantic last year).
When my family and I moved to plant Garden City Church we had nothing. Literally. We had just 3 people committed to the church plant and 3,000 dollars in a church bank account. But we had a big vision and a strong sense that God would provide.
There are many stories I could tell about how God provided along the way: an amazing landlord, a surprisingly great turnout at an informational meeting about the plant, an invitation to take part in the Fellowship Associates Residency, a great church building to begin meeting in, the unusual generosity of Steve Fuller and Mercy Hill Church, and on and on I could go.
But right now I want to tell just one story. The story of Karen. And every church plant needs a Karen.
Shortly before Garden City launched (we launched 20 months ago), we were meeting as a very small but very determined core group. At one of our core group meetings a gal named Karen showed up. This got us excited. Another person showed up! We were growing!
At the end of our gathering Karen walked up to me and told me 2 things that every church planter loves to hear (but fears is too good to be true). Karen said: 1) I want to work for the church for free and 2) I want to give generously to the church. I thought this was nice, but I didn’t believe her. I figured she was on drugs, hadn’t slept in days, or was just a crazy person. That night she went out to dinner with a bunch of us from the church. By the end of the dinner I determined she wasn’t on drugs, but I still thought she hadn’t slept in days and was likely a little crazy. I mean, it’s not normal for a twentysomething college graduate to offer to work for you for free while generously supporting your church plant.
So, we proceeded with a few interviews. We determined that Karen was crazy, but crazy in a good way (kind of like the “crazy” every church planter must have). She believed God wanted her to leave her job and invest in Garden City, to help our church take off, thrive, and succeed.
So, I “hired” Karen. We paid her exactly zero dollars to be my assistant, take on a tremendous amount of administrative and leadership work, solve a ton of problems, and work a lot of hours. This continued for about 6 months. By that point the church had launched, we were starting to grow, and people were starting to give. So, we then started to pay Karen for her part time role in the church (which, many weeks, was more like full time). After more months passed we hired Karen on full time to be our Operations Director and to lead and manage more within the church.
Last month I officiated Karen’s wedding. She met her husband, Chad, at our church (the picture above is of them at their wedding). They are the first couple to meet and get married at our church. It was, I think, the most beautiful and moving wedding I’ve ever officiated or attended.
And now a new transition is happening for Karen. She feels called to work full-time alongside her husband who recently launched a coffeeshop, Avid Coffee, in San Jose. So, Karen works for Garden City/me for another week and then she begins her new employment adventure (while continuing as a member and deacon at Garden City). I’m very excited for her and her husband.
And so all of this transition has me thinking. I’m thinking back on the first 20 months of our church and re-realizing that there’s no way I could have done what we’ve done without Karen. She has served our church and served me in an unbelievable capacity. Our church and my life/workload would look very different if it wasn’t for this crazy gal named Karen who showed up on our church’s doorstep when we least expected it.
So, Karen, thank you. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for your church and for me.
And, future church planters, you need a Karen. Start praying now.
Here’s a one-minute video introduction to my volume on John in the Knowing the Bible Series. My voice was almost totally gone when shooting this video, but I made it through.
I really believe in this series. I don’t think there’s anything else on the market quite like it. Go here to check out the other volumes and videos in the series.
It’s been a crazy and unusual year for me with books. For some strange reason I’ve published four books in the span of one year: Date Your Wife (June, 2012), Why Cities Matter (March 2013), John: A 12-Week Study (April, 2013), and now, The Big Story (June, 2013). Apparently I like three-word book titles.
I don’t imagine I’ll keep this pace going. I’m enjoying taking a writing break right now (though I’m currently doing a tremendous amount of writing of key documents within our church and I’m playing with several future writing projects in my head).
I’m proud of this newest book, The Big Story. I think it will help a lot of people make better sense of their lives. I wrote it for both Christians and non-Christians. I’m going to give it to people who are already following Jesus and to people who aren’t very interested in Jesus.
You can pre-order The Big Story right now for 29% off. The book will be released in two weeks. I wrote this book to help people. I hope it helps you or someone you care about.
Here are the endorsements people wrote for The Big Story:
I think we need to be reminded every single day that we are part of a Bigger Story, part of something greater than ourselves, and that each of our stories matter-a great deal. To be reminded of that truth is to live in Hope. The Big Story gives the reader that gift of Hope.
Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing
A good story needs a good teller. And Justin Buzzard fits that bill. He not only explains the Bible’s dynamic plot, but draws us persuasively into the greatest story ever told-with arresting images and vivid analogies that connect our stories to The Big Story. In the process, you’ll find yourself being swept into a world you didn’t make and therefore can’t unmake. It’s good news in a bad news world.
Michael Horton, Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California, co-host of the White Horse Inn, and author of Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christ’s Disciples
I cannot overemphasize the desperate need to retell the amazing storyline of the Bible and our place in that story to new generations. Without this, it is far too easy to drift into unfortunate pathways and dead ends which are sadly missing the beauty of the story God has for us. I am very thankful for Justin’s book which gives direction to a world in need of understanding the true way, and the true story.
Dan Kimball, pastor Vintage Faith Church, author of They Like Jesus but Not The Church
The overarching theme of scripture, of course, is the life of Jesus. What makes this new book by Justin Buzzard so good is that it not only highlights the incredible story of scripture, but it shows us how our story fits neatly in Jesus’ story. As we understand Jesus’ story, and our place in it, we are motivated to join God on mission, sharing Jesus’ story with the world. This book is a great asset to God’s kingdom work.
Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research
You don’t need to read this entire book. Just try the first few pages. I predict you’ll have a hard time putting it down. Justin Buzzard knows the Greatest Story well, and he knows how to retell it in a way that can be compelling to those who have never heard it and refreshing to those of us who need to hear it again and again. Try it and see.
Justin Taylor, co-author, The Final Days of Jesus, blogger, “Between Two Worlds”
There are great stories and great storytellers. But there is nothing like “The Big Story”. Justin Buzzard captures the compelling drama of the Bible in a way that demands your attention, and ultimately, your allegiance. If you have been skeptical about the message of the Bible, or if you have found its story confusing, sit down with this book immediately. You will quickly see how your story needs to intersect with “The Big Story”.
J. Paul Nyquist, Ph.D., President of Moody Bible Institute
Fundamental to human existence is the question of identity and purpose. Who am I? Why am I here? Justin Buzzard, in his book, The Big Story, helps us to find our place in the unfolding drama of life. As the narrative unfolds, get ready to be compellingly called on stage to be a character in the adventure that Buzzard calls the “Big Story”.
Bryan Loritts, Lead Pastor, Fellowship Memphis and author of A Cross-Shaped Gospel
“Epic” is too small a word for the story of God’s work in this world. Justin shares the one big story so you can see the scarlet thread of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice through the tapestry of the Bible. Where does this scarlet thread intersect your life? Rejoice as you read in The Big Story that you’re not the center of the universe, and worship Jesus as you learn more about our Savior who set the stars in place and numbered the hairs on your head.
Gloria Furman, author of Glimpses of Grace
Is this Bible a book of rules? Is it an instruction manual for Christians? I was taught both growing up in a nominally “Christian” family. What I would later discover is that the Bible was neither of those things. Rather, the Bible is God’s grand narrative of humanity’s continued desire to carve their own path, and God’s overwhelming love and continued intervention when our way finally fails us.
The Bible is the story of God’s great love for His creation, what He once called “very good.” And this incredible story culminates in the coming of Jesus, and our being invited, through Him, to find our true place in His story. My friend Justin captures this with earnestness, care and clarity as he paints for us the beautiful picture of what God is doing in the world, and where we find our place in His story.
Leonce Crump II, Lead Elder, Renovation Church
The story of the gospel is the most compelling aspect of our faith, and this book winsomely captures the heart of what makes it so attractive. It addresses life’s greatest struggles and longings with rock-solid truth conveyed through God’s redemption narrative in the Bible.
Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching and Vision at the Austin Stone Community Church and co-author of The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success
This two-minute video expresses the heart behind our book, Why Cities Matter. Watch the video. Click here to buy the book for 38% off today.
Here’s a slick pic of the Buzzard 5, taken at a wedding I officiated two weeks ago. I’m very thankful for the amazing wife God has given me and our three wild sons.
The Buzzard boys.
This week Emily Badger of The Atlantic Cities published an article that arose out of a conversation that she had with Stephen Um and me about our book, Why Cities Matter. While some nuance in our thinking is inevitably lost in the interview and article, the main point still rings through: cities matter to God, the culture, and the church. Here’s an excerpt:
Perhaps cities have become associated with secularism because there’s so much else to worship there: either the promise of cities themselves, or the prospects for good jobs or other forms of success.
“I’ve got a lot of people in my church who move to Silicon Valley thinking once they had their big job at Apple or Google or Facebook or Twitter, or once they came up with their big startup idea, then they’d be ultimately, completely happy and satisfied,” Buzzard says. “A lot of what I deal with there is peoples’ disillusion with the city.”
This is the point where we offer up our alternative: an introduction to God’s grace. Click here to read the whole article.
Health requires work.
If you want to be healthy physically, it’s going to take work: the disciplines of exercise and wisdom/self-control in eating. Emotional health also requires work, the discipline of processing your feelings and your heart in light of truth, community, and God.
Same with the health of your family, your friendships, your church, or your business. It requires work.
I’m amazed at how many people want healthy without work. There is no such thing.
If you want healthy, you must put in the work.
If you’re the primary leader of your home, ministry, business unit, church, etc., perhaps the most difficult and important work you do is the often very ordinary work of keeping things healthy.
The Gospel Coalition recently asked Stephen Um (my co-author for Why Cities Matter), Jon Dennis (author of Christ + City), and me to discuss the strategic importance of cities for advancing the gospel. Watch this five-minute video, using this brief discussion to think and dream more about what God could do in your city. Note: I didn’t get the memo to wear a collar and glasses.
A number of years ago I heard some people talk about why leaders (in this case, specifically pastors and church planters) need a leadership coach. I thought the idea was silly. Now, years later and 1.5 years into planting a church and a growing number of other arenas in which I lead, I no longer think leadership coaching is silly. I think it’s incredibly helpful.
Leaders, I’m writing this short post to persuade you to do one thing: Add some leadership coaching to your life.
Note: If you don’t like the title “coaching” or “coach” I don’t blame you. For some reason I didn’t like that language either, it sounded strange to me because I was used to having coaches in sports and mentors in life. So just substitute the word “coach” for “mentor” or “adviser” or “person with outside perspective who can help me do a better job at my job.”
Why would it be helpful to add some leadership coaching to your life? Because your vantage point is limited. You lead whatever it is you lead from a limited perspective. You have blind spots. You can only see what you can see. A coach who is further along than you in the leadership journey has covered more territory than you and stands at a higher peak from which he (or she) can help you see things that you don’t yet see.
In short: You need wisdom to lead well and a coach can accelerate your growth in wisdom as a leader.
The One Barrier
What is the one great barrier that will keep you from adding some form of leadership coaching to your life? Pride.
How do you add leadership coaching to your life? There is not one way to do this, there are hundreds of ways to do this. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just tell you the two ways I’ve added leadership coaching to my life.
1. Informal Coaching. I have a handful of men who are older than me and more advanced than me in a variety of leadership arenas that concern me: manhood, marriage, parenting, church planting, writing/publishing, and outside speaking opportunities. Over the years I have built relationships with these men and from time to time (whenever I feel like I need it) I initiate with one or several of these guys and ask for their help with whatever it is I’m dealing with.
Not all of these men excel in all of these arenas. For example, there are a few guys I contact for church planting help and there is one guy I contact for writing/publishing help.
2. Formal Coaching. There is one older man who means a lot to me who decades ago planted and led a thriving church and who now leads a church planter training organization. He means a lot to me and when I approached him with some of my needs a while back he graciously offered to hold a monthly thirty-minute coaching phone call with me. This monthly phone call is scheduled out on my calendar to the end of the year and means a great deal to me.
Each time we talk I’m blown away by how helped I am by an older man who cares for me, is wiser than me, and wants to help me flourish as a leader. Our coaching conversations are largely question driven. Almost every month this coach asks me four questions which, as we unpack them together, lead to great discoveries. Here are the four questions:
1. How is your heart?
2. How is your marriage and family?
3. How is your church?
4. How are you navigating writing and speaking opportunities?
It’s amazing what questions can do.
Whether you’re a pastor, entrepreneur, teacher, CEO, writer, or whatever, I suggest you take action today to add some leadership coaching to your life. Start small. One idea is to find someone you respect and ask them to coach you once a month for a thirty minute session for the next six months. See what happens from there.