Rebuilding Your Broken World

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Gordon MacDonald, author of Ordering Your Private World. I still remember the day that I heard that he had resigned due to a moral failure. I think I believed that only the bad guys did that sort of thing. It was the first time that I truly realized the good guys are susceptible too.

Sadly, it’s not unusual to hear heartbreaking stories of moral failure. MacDonald’s book Rebuilding Your Broken World, written years after his moral failure, helped shape my understanding around this issue.

The whole book is worth reading, but it may be useful to summarize some of the important lessons I learned. Here are some that stick out to me:

Broken worlds are common. “The Bible abounds with examples of men and women whose worlds crashed from self-inflicted causes, and their responses range within great extremes,” writes MacDonald. We shouldn't be surprised.

We’re all vulnerable. We need to confront three lies that we tell ourselves: Broken worlds are the exception, not the rule; a broken-world experience can never happen to me; and if my world breaks, then I can handle the results. We are all vulnerable, and the potential damage is greater than we can imagine.

We’re especially vulnerable when we think we aren’t. A German teenager landed an airplane in Red Square because the Soviets hadn’t prepared for the threat of a small plane. When we leave our hearts unguarded, we’re in severe danger.

We are especially vulnerable in the areas of our strengths. “The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness,” writes Oswald Chambers.

Secrets lead to death; repentance and truth-telling leads to life. Cover-up and self-deception keeps us in bondage until we are ready to name the evil and move towards repentance and healing. Churches can help people move from secrecy to light.

Take preventative steps. Adopt a repentant lifestyle. Practice spiritual disciplines. Cultivate key relationships. Resist the applause that belongs to Christ. Take time to have fun. Hold things loosely. Be filled with the Spirit of God.

Restoration is possible. “Either you believe in the capacity of Christ’s atonement to make you a new person, or you don’t. If you do, then start living like a forgiven person should live. And how is that done? By being a lot more quiet, humble, thankful, sensitive, and anxious to serve than you ever were before. Forgiven people basically live like that,” MacDonald says.

Restoration follows a process. For starters: be silent and withdraw; refuse to defend yourself; assume the ministry of the interior; walk through the pain rather than avoiding it.

Restoration requires others. “Ultimately, rebuilding broken worlds can never happen alone. It is a team effort, and it has to be accomplished in concert with those who can give grace and affirm progress,” says MacDonald. “The grace that helps to rebuild a broken world is something given: never deserved, never demanded, never self-induced.”

The lessons from this book have stuck with me for years. I've appreciated rereading them again this week. I pray we'll learn them well as those who walk with others who fail, and face the danger (or reality) of our own sins and failures.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

How Exciting Should Our Sunday Meetings Be?

Should our meetings be exciting? Absolutely. But let’s make sure they’re exciting for the right reasons.

Living Well

Rev. Hann would be unnoticed today, one of those pastors who never quite ‘made’ it. But when he died at the age of 88, his parishioners placed a commemorative plaque in his honor of the wall of their little meeting house.

How Pastors Save Their People

As you preach and teach the word of God, people hear it, repent, believe, and are saved. This is the work of God, and He chooses to use you and me to do it.

12 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup

Review the questions in this post to look at your life.

A Self-Pity Refresher

The following is a brief refresher on some of self-pity’s dangers.

6 Key Ways to Maximize Your Introverted Employees' Strengths

Use these strategies as a starting point for creating an introvert-friendly culture at your company.

A 4 Step, Simple Strategy To Have a Less Stress-Filled Life

I have tried this numerous times and God always responds to my humble attempt to surrender my fears, stress, and concerns to Him.

Virtual Assistant Review and Giveaway

When I began church planting, I knew I had an opportunity to approach things differently. When I found that I couldn’t keep on top of my administrative tasks, I experimented with using a virtual assistant. I’d read about it through Michael Hyatt, and it seemed like an effective and affordable way to get the help I needed.

I’ve tried three virtual assistant options so far, and all of them have benefits and drawbacks.

North American dedicated virtual assistant — I tried this for a while, and it worked well overall. The quality of work was high. The virtual assistant company monitored the relationship to ensure things were going well. On the downside, the cost was relatively high, the hours were limited (my package was five hours a week), and the virtual assistant juggled other clients. Managing a dedicated virtual assistant also takes an investment of time. If you want to check out this approach, I recommend eaHelp.

Offshore virtual assistant — I tried this one most recently. Affordability is the biggest selling feature. On the downside, I found that the quality of work was lower, and there was nobody to monitor the relationship. Again, it takes time to manage a dedicated virtual assistant. If you want to try this approach, I recommend Virtual Assistant Finder.

North American on-demand assistant — I’ve been using model for almost two years, and it’s what I would recommend for most people. It’s affordable, and doesn’t require time to manage the relationship. On the downside, you don’t have a dedicated assistant who gets to know you. In Less Doing, More Being, Ari Meisel explains the benefits of this approach:

Ninety-five percent of tasks can be done by an on-demand assistant. The great thing about coming to this realization is that it makes you bombproof. You don’t have to worry if something happens to the dedicated assistant you depend on…Furthermore, since your tasks are no longer limited to one capable person, scaling becomes automatic and painless. Communicating exclusively through e-mail means that you can assign tasks whenever and wherever you are.

If you want to try this approach, I recommend Fancy Hands.

Which one is best? Meisel says, “On-demand assistants are great for people who are just starting out and have few tasks, and they’re great for very advanced people. In the middle, you should be with a dedicated assistant.”

Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. For most, I would recommend an on-demand assistant like Fancy Hands, especially if you want to experiment with using a virtual assistant.


Want to try a virtual assistant? I’m giving away a month’s starter pack (five tasks) for Fancy Hands. Fill in the form below. I’ll randomly pick a winner. You have until Sunday night. Please enter only once.

Congratulations to Clay Porr, winner of the giveaway.

Private Prayer

It’s happened. I’ve caught myself praying in public, and realized that most of my recent prayers have been in public. It’s the very thing that Jesus warned about:

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)

When most of my prayers are public, it’s a sign that I’m putting on a performance before people rather than talking to my heavenly Father. This is deadly in ministry, and it’s deadly for the soul.

I’ve seen the opposite happen too. I’ve prayed with others, and had the sense that I’m listening to a conversation between intimate friends. You can’t fake that. There’s an honesty, a tenderness, and a fluency that can only come from a rich, private experience of personal prayer.

That’s why I love what Jesus said:

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

The applause of other people is a poor substitute for the intimacy of a relationship with the Father who cares, and who promises to reward. I’m praying that I will increasingly learn to pray in such a way that my public prayers are nothing but the smallest of glimpses into the ongoing intimacy that is my life’s greatest joy. God make me a man of that kind of prayer.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Church Planter, Act Your Age

Take a long range perspective of your church’s journey, and fight for the joy of this particular season in the life of your church.

Five Types of Change Resistant Churches

If you are a leader in a church, you must discern where your church is on the change-resistance scale.

Four Keys for Avoiding the Anger Trap

I see at least four ways pastors and leaders can avoid the anger trap.

How to Guard Against Mission Drift

Mission drift happens even in organizations with clear goals and objectives. Consider the following points to help guard against this tendency.

Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning

Before you go to bed tonight, make some choices and some plans to free yourself from the candy addictions and the habits of avoidance that have been ruining the strengthening potential of your mornings.