A New Adventure

Four years ago, I was hired as the White Bear Lake Pastor of Student Ministries. Soon after, I became the Middle School Teaching Pastor and eventually the Director of Student Ministries at Eagle Brook Church. Each shift was a direct result of the work God was doing to grow and expand and reach students for Christ beyond our wildest imaginations. These four years have been some of the most blessed and sweetest seasons of ministry I’ve ever experienced. The team of pastors. The volunteer leaders and pastors. The students. The retreats, Takeover, Christmas Parties, Spring A Palooza and more. In these four years, I’ve been able to witness over 1100 students make a first time decision to follow Jesus and stand by as God nearly tripled our average attendance. It’s been unbelievable.

While these last 4 years have been humbling and incredible, I am even more thrilled about what is next in this new season. I am going to be the Campus Pastor at our Lino Lakes campus while occasionally preaching on the weekend. That means I will no longer be serving as the Director of Student Ministries, but I will still be speaking a few times in Student Ministries this year and involved in a new way as the campus pastor! (By the way, just so we’re clear and for those who know EBC, Jason Strand is moving into a full-time teaching pastor position at EBC. Jason and I will continue to work closely together in many ways).

As I make this job change, here are three things I know:

1. From Isaiah 43:19 – “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” This is new for me. It’s new for this campus. It’s new for our church. But God is at the forefront leading the way, creating the pathways, finding the rivers. Discovery and newness can be nerve-wracking, but it can also be the adventure of a lifetime. I feel this adventure brewing in my gut and my soul – new dreams, new visions, new pathways are stirring inside of me, and I’m excited to be a part of it as it all unfolds.

2. I am confident in the future of student ministries at Eagle Brook Church. Student Ministries has never been about one person except for the One who gives us life – Jesus. I am confident Jesus will continue the good work he has begun in each and every student, parent, and volunteer who has a hand in making student ministries at EBC one of the best in the country. And frankly, I’m still excited I get to be a part of it, just in a new way.

3. Our mission at EBC is to reach people for Christ. And I’m all in. I don’t have all the answers, I’m a work in progress, and I’m certain there are things I have no idea how to address, but I’m all in to this mission. As the campus pastor of Lino Lakes and with the opportunities I get to teach, I will do whatever it takes to advance the greatest mission in this life. The church is the hope of the world, and when operating well, I believe that truth to the core of my being. And best of all, I get to work with some of the greatest pastors around. It’s always been a team effort, and we have some amazing teams at EBC working together to advance this mission.

As I make this transition, I would covet your prayers. Change is exciting, but never easy.

Thank you for everyone who has been such a great support and love to me and my family! We love you, we love this church, and we love Jesus.

I can’t wait to see the “something new” that God has in mind.

See ya around!

John Alexander

PS. I took a 6 month hiatus from writing, but I’m ready to dive back in. Make sure to check back occasionally for blog posts!

 

Book Review: Give and Take

giveandtake-coverAs part of my journey to read less for more (read that post here), I chose 5 books for the month of January to dive into. Final report? I read 3 of the 5 and read an unplanned 4th.

I finished Give and Take first in 2014, and thoroughly enjoyed this book by organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant. Written in a style similar that Malcolm Gladwell, Grant combines research along with narrative examples to display the power of giving. The thesis is found on page 4:

“According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. The story of…highlights a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interaction with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: Do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”

For the rest of the work, Grant shows time and time again the value of being a giver in work, life, and leadership. So often, we assume that to succeed we must be primarily concerned about “numero uno” — but Grant shows us the research as well as the anecdotes from real life tell us the opposite is true.

Why?

Givers put the success of the group ahead of their individual success.
Givers aren’t assessing a cost-analysis every time they choose to give or take from someone. They just give. Period.
Givers are contagious. Giving spreads.
Giving is a “genius-making” quality.
Givers see the potential in everyone and everything.
Givers are more receptive to learning and receiving feedback.
Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a more and more common trait followers want to see in their leaders.
Givers allow space for others to speak and be heard.

Tweet: Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait followers want to see in their leaders. http://ctt.ec/geeo2+Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait leaders want to see in their leaders.

The key takeaway:
Right around the time I turned 30 years old, I also changed jobs. I took a few months to reflect on this change, and one of the primary shifts that occurs with turning 30 (and becoming a husband, father, and leader) is that life is less about taking (what can I receive? where can I grow? how can I succeed?) than giving (how can I give? how can I help others grow? how can I help others succeed?). Admittedly, this shift is not easy. It requires setting aside an ugly ego and deep-seated pride. But it’s necessary.

While I’m still a work in progress, my 30s are devoted to becoming more and more of a giver and less of a taker. When I’m done with ministry, life, and leadership, I want others to see me as a giver, not as a taker. It will take some work, but it’s the key to success.

What is one thing you can do to GIVE to someone today?