When You Lose Your Bleeding Edge

I had coffee with a friend, and he mentioned a church who was trying to diagnose why they weren’t reaching new people.

The diagnosis?

The church had lost its’ bleeding edge.

Since our conversation, I can’t stop thinking about this phrase. I know (like know the feeling) what this means, but I’ve been wrestling with how to articulate what I think it means.

Then I realized. It’s when Jesus quoted Isaiah:

These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce.
Matthew 15:8-9a

The bleeding edge is lost when worship becomes routine, when those who lead worship become robotic and perfect, when ministry becomes a task or a job, and when our once burning white hot passion has become a tired, dreary, mail-it-in type of approach. It’s lost when we forget we are the mission carriers, when we become primarily focused internally rather than externally, and when we lose our primary love for Jesus.

Unfortunately, I know many people and churches who haven’t ever recovered their bleeding edge, if they ever had it to begin with. Thankfully, in my own life, seasons have come and go, so I know it’s possible to find it again.

When you lose your bleeding edge, you can find it again:

1. Ask: “What are you willing to die for? Then live for that.” Common

If you never had a “willing to die for” passion and mission in life, start there. Jesus gave us the ultimate: Go and make disciples of all the nations. People’s lives hang in the balance. Your closest friends, family members, and neighbors could be one prayer, one conversation, one invitation, one experience away from becoming followers of the One who brings life and life to the full. Start with that.

There are people dying of a lack of basic resources, families who are broken apart by addiction and abuse, parts of the world where peace hasn’t been experienced in decades – I don’t know what it is for you, but there’s something. Ask God. He’ll show you. Then live for that passion and show others how your heart bleeds.

2. Be a human, not a robot

Robots are programmed to deliver perfection. Everyone knows humans are not robots. Therefore, don’t pretend you are one. Sure you should practice. Rehearse. Prepare. I prepare as much as anyone.

But there can be a point where it’s too excellent and perfect. Millennials see right through perfection, because they know perfection is not authentic and real.

To be a human means to bleed openly, to show your rawness and authenticity, and your passion to see others experience the same. Miss a chord, stumble over a word, sweat – let people see your heart. It’s not about perfection; it’s about showing others your bleeding, raw edge.

3. Never, ever, ever miss your time to connect with Jesus

The longer I go on in ministry, the more I realize one of the few irreplaceable aspects of making it the long haul is to never, ever miss my daily opportunity to connect with Jesus. Literally, there is no quicker way to lose your bleeding edge than to slowly replace your time with Jesus with meetings, planning, strategy, email, and work. You’ll bleed, but you’ll bleed something other than Jesus.

To be clear, I’m as guilty as anyone. I lived plenty of days where I fail to find this bleeding edge, but when I do, I want someone to verbally slap me around (like Jesus did with the Pharisees in Matthew 15) and say, “Wake up! What are you doing?! You’ve lost your bleeding edge!” When you lose it, you can find it again. Find a “die for” passion, be an authentic human, and never miss your time to connect with Jesus.

Then show ’em your blood!

Playing the Game

“It’s one thing study war and another to live the warrior’s life.” Telamon of Arcadia, quoted in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

This post isn’t about war, per se. But it is about the battle that lies within me, and within all of us.

It’s a war to create, to move forward, to supply, to write, to decide, to put it on paper and act.

Personally, it’s always been easy for me to study how to become a writer, to study how to become a stronger person of faith and character, to study how to become a better leader. In fact, I dedicated my 20s to learning and studying as much as I was able.

Now, I’ve found it’s been much more difficult to turn the corner in my 30s and actually live what I’ve studied. It’s not that I haven’t acted on writing, grown in my faith and character and leadership. I have. I’ve put things in motion and acted on what I’ve studied.

But I’m not living the “warrior’s life.” I find myself losing to the Resistance (a term used by Pressfield in The War of Art). I give in, I accept, and I lose frequently to the Resistance. It’s the voice inside of me that says, It’s not worth it. You can’t do it. Keep studying. You’re not good enough yet. There are better things to do. What if you make the wrong decision? You’re an amateur. 

And on and on the Resistance screams. It keeps me from living the warrior’s life.

I know I will continue to battle the Resistance the rest of my life, but I want to study less and live more. It’s time to start winning this battle and playing – not just studying – the game.

If you find yourself stuck, if you find yourself with a decision, an act, a dream stuck inside of you, the best thing you can do is to get in the game and move forward. Make that decision. Put the dream in motion. Stop studying and start playing. Today. Right now.