Tag Archives: leith anderson

Church Planting and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Church planting has humbled me in many ways, and I think one lesson/appreciation I’ve gleaned the past few weeks has been the great value of “a long obedience in the same direction”, a phrase coined by Eugene Petersen.

I’ve been particularly grateful for many of the stellar leaders who have gone before me, doing the long, plodding work of ministry and faithfulness so that younger people like me can stand on their shoulders – often times unbeknownst to them.

I was fortunate to spend a week with Leith and Charlene Anderson along with other pastors/leaders.

I recently took a week-long class at Fuller with Leith Anderson, now retired pastor of Wooddale Church and the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and I was absolutely floored by all of his insights into Scripture, leadership, and life in general.  His wife Charleen joined us for the class as well, and it was such a privilege to have her there to answer questions and interact with us.

Leith shared that he had just retired as pastor at Wooddale after 35 years of being the senior leader there.  Wow.  That means that Leith was the senior pastor at Wooddale longer than I’ve been alive (sorry Leith, I never shared that out loud, but I was startled by this fact).

As we’re in the first few weeks of Hope’s launch team gatherings, I’ve wondered to myself what a long obedience in the same direction would look like.

Most of all, I’m wondering what it would look like to remain faithful in living and leading well, both in my family and in a church.  The Andersons are such great examples of this, and I’m humbled and grateful for their long service.

I’m also grateful for the many mentors I’ve had throughout my life, all of whom have modeled faithfulness in different ways.

I feel indebted to many church leaders with long-standing histories in NYC too, people who have paved the way for many years.  People like personal mentors Pete & Geri Scazzero, Craig & Ellen Fee, Mark & Pam Taft, Jim Owens as well as people I’ve learned from afar like AR Bernard, Michael Durso, Robert Johannson, Floyd Flake, Tim Keller, Mac Pier, Joseph Mattera, and Marcos Rivera (just to name a few).  These church leaders have faithfully served this city for decades (along with their spouses), and now younger leaders like me get to run with the baton that they pass on to a new generation of leaders.

I think one of the biggest leadership lessons I’ve learned in recent weeks is the difference between the question, “can we do this?” and “should we do this?”

My youthful impatience often propels me into the first question.  Wise friends and mentors at Hope (as well as mentors past) have directed me toward the second question.

With that said, I return to the serenity prayer once again, a daily discipline for me as I hope to live with a “long obedience in the same direction.”

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

God, grant me a humble, attentive heart, one that will commit to a long obedience in the same direction.

Some Photos and Highlights from the Last Few Weeks

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks, mostly because my days have been quite full with various activities.  I thought I’d give a snapshot of some of what we’ve been up to the past few weeks.

1.  We started Launch Team Gatherings for Hope Church NYC!  It’s been glorious fun.  Some hiccups here and there, but we’re so excited for what’s to come!

from l to r: Me, Tina, Jen, Eli, and Peter

2.  Went to the Train Show at the Bronx Botanical Garden with Pete, Jen, and Eli back in December.  If you haven’t been, it’s really an amazing exhibit.

3.  Went to a Knicks game, compliments of dear friends Tom and Edna – the best seats we’ve ever had!  I’ve come to realize that the Knicks have the best fans in the world.  This clicked for me as I watched MSG rockin while the Knicks played the Bobcats.  Oh, and Tom has a ridiculous knack for running into celebrities.  Ridiculous.

4.  Went to Houston for New Year’s and Tina’s birthday.  It was my first New Year’s outside of NYC in I-don’t-remember-how-long-it’s-been.  I love my in-laws and I love Houston, Texas.  I also love all the friends my wife has introduced me to.  I’ll probably write about this one day – how I feel so lucky to have met the people I have through my wife.  Yes.


5.  Had a perspective-shifting class at Fuller in Los Angeles with Leith Anderson.  My next blog post will allude briefly to the class, but in short, meeting and learning from Leith and his wife Charleen (along with other leaders from around the world) was a great privilege.

From l to r: Stephen, Carrol, and Phil

From l to r: Mom, Dylan, Viv, and Me. Missing in Pictures: Steph and Carrol's boys Isaiah and Evan.

6.  In LA, got to hang with my mom, my brothers Stephen and Phillip and their families, and good friends Mike, Ivan, Stacey, Deb, Loc, and Christina.  So blessed to have amazing family and friends on the West Coast.


7.  Went to a Memorial Gathering in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put on by some senior friends at Roosevelt Island, many of whom lived through the Civil Rights Movement.   Thanks Uncle Jim!  It was such a gift to be there.

8.  We’re having a baby very soon…

It’s been a great few weeks… 2012 is going to be quite a ride.