Let’s Do It Again, Daddy!Published November 21, 2016
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. – Helen Keller
I have been a part of the Global Leadership Summit from the beginning, and it has shaped my leadership journey. As I look back on 20-plus years of the GLS, I realize I have been challenged, equipped and inspired to do the hard things leaders do. And one of the most important lessons I’ve learned at the GLS is that nothing great is ever accomplished in God’s kingdom without learning to navigate the scary unknown.
Currently, I am in transition. After two decades as lead pastor of Green Valley Church in Placerville, California, and after accomplishing multiple scary unknown visions for the church, the role had become fairly comfortable. I feel called to an entrepreneurial role as executive director at Live58, an amazing organization dedicated to awakening the church to serve the poor based on the timeless scripture of Isaiah 58.
Part of the Green Valley Dream that I wrote over 20 years ago was that we would constantly put ourselves in situations where we can’t do it ourselves. So that we will have to trust God and see Him do amazing things.
This dream has shaped the growth and success of our church.
Jesus said in Luke 19:26: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. (MSG)
When my son was seven, we went to an amusement park with a roller coaster that went upside down and would free fall 100 feet. It was quite a rush. Scary, but fun. My son was intimidated by the whole thing. When I tried to get him to ride it, he told me he was happy not to.
He was happy walking around eating churros, drinking Slurpees and trying to win stuffed animals. Churros, Slurpees and stuffed animals are nice, but they’re not why you go to an amusement park. There is no adventure in them. Eventually, you get full, bloated and you run out of money.
The reason you go to an amusement park is for the thrill of the ride that puts your stomach in your throat, with speeds that knock off your toupee and loops that send the blood rushing to your head. You scream, you laugh, your heart stops, but at the end, you know you are alive!
I finally talked my son onto the ride using manipulation, guilt and bribery. Not a proud fatherly moment.
When he got on the ride, you could see debilitating fear on his face. During the ride, he screamed a lot, laughed a lot and I think his heart actually stopped. But when the ride came to an end, the thought of the mundane life of churros, Slurpees and stuffed animals had left him and all he could say was, “Daddy, let’s do it again!”
God has amazing adventures for us all that will make us scream in terror, laugh with joy and maybe even stop our heart. Adventures where time and time again, we will cry out, “Let’s do it again, Daddy!”
An example of this occurred at our church in the middle of August 2013. We dedicated an entire weekend to learning about the need for safe water in developing countries. The number one reason children die in developing countries is the lack of safe water.
We had filters available for purchase, at $55 each, which could provide families in developing countries with safe water for a lifetime.
I went to my board of directors and asked if we could spend the weekend talking about safe water. I wanted to ask each family to buy one filter. I admitted that this might decrease our normal offerings and August might turn into a tough financial month, but it seemed like we needed to trust God. Without hesitation the board said, “Of course, we have to do it!”
That weekend, Green Valley families bought more than 900 water filters at $55 each. You do the math. Amazingly, our normal offerings were larger than normal! This remains one of my favorite weekends ever at Green Valley. I remember driving home that day saying, “Let’s do it again, Daddy!”
My challenge and encouragement to leaders is never to settle for the safe and the mundane, but continually to say YES to the wild, exhilarating adventures God has called us toward.
God asks us to get on the ride and use our time, talents and treasures to feed the poor, shelter the homeless, relieve the oppressed, rescue the orphan and protect the widow—all in the name of Jesus, who came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free.
And it is true that the ride can be scary, but I will guarantee you that when you get done, your first words will be, “Daddy, let’s do it again!”
I am forever grateful for the GLS where every year, Bill tells us about the next big, scary hill God is calling him to climb.
And now, with my new adventure with Live58, I am sometimes afraid, many times excited and my heart often skips a beat with the wild unknown of how we are going to help awaken the church to serve the poor and to live out the true fast of Isaiah 58. The fast that promises us we will be known as the repairer of broken walls and restorers of cities.
My challenge to every leader is to do the hard, scary thing God is calling you to do. You know what it is. If you do it, miracles will happen, your leadership influence will grow and you will feel fully alive as you shout out the life-changing words, “Daddy, let’s do it again!”
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About the Author(s)
Ken Burkey is the executive director of Live58 fosters collaborative partnerships with local churches to develop focused strategies to better position themselves to serve the poor effectively. Prior to his role at Live58, Ken was the senior pastor at Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, California, for 23 years. He is the author of the book, The Power of an Orange Chair: Anecdotes, Stories and Celebrations of an Isaiah 58 Church.