Last week I shared one of my goals for 2013. I am hoping to write my first book.

Many shared thoughtful words of encouragement after reading that post. There have been many instances in my life when other’s confidence in me greatly exceeded the amount I had in myself. This experience seems to be no different so thank you for your kind words.

What I did not communicate in my previous post was the idea that has sparked this goal.

I wanted to share that today and see if you would be willing to help me write my first book. 

The title I have in mind for the book is “Start Here.” The concept is a resource that will serve as a starter guide for individuals hoping to begin or deepen a relationship with God.

As a pastor, I get a ton of questions on this subject. I’m frustrated by the fact that I have not found a resource that I feel confident recommending in those conversations.

Just last week, while I was spending the last few hours of my day working at Starbucks, a church member saw me and asked if I had some time to answer just a few questions. It was a great conversation. I love those exchanges.

Unfortunately, I cannot connect directly with everyone I would like.

My hope is that the book will address that need I see in my own ministry. More importantly, I hope to address the need felt by so many who have shared their questions with me.

So, here is my ask…

Would you be willing to share some of your insight with me?

I’ve put together a short six question survey. Regardless of where you are on your journey, your input would be a great benefit to me as I continue working on this project.

To share your thoughts, click here to begin the survey.

Thank you again for your encouraging words and for considering this request.

I set an audacious goal for myself this year.

I want to write a book.

Going public with that goal has been both thrilling and terrifying.

It is thrilling to verbalize it.
It is terrifying to think about executing it.

I have found that this seems to be the case with every goal that I deeply care about.

I have done some initial work on the project.
I have enlisted the help of some qualified people to help me. I have done some writing. I have also sent in some of that initial work for review. That might have been the most maddening and scary part of the entire process… waiting to hear those first impressions of your work.

Why are some goals so terrifying?

In this case, I think it is becoming I am trying something brand new. The reality is that I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a writer. In my profession, speaking and writing are two skills that people might assume all pastors possess. And writing might actually be a skill I already have, but I have no real experience which would provide evidence of that.

In the last twelve years I have had an abundance of experience speaking and teaching. I have probably averages 40-50 messages a year during that time span.  That means that over the last decade I’ve dedicated thousands of hours to developing that craft.

And after all that time… and all that investment… I would argue that I am just getting started. I am just now at the point where I could feel some confidence saying, “I’m a speaker. I’ve developed that skill.”

Writing is in some ways brand new for me and the possibility of failure seems extremely high.

All that is to say that there are few things as overrated as raw talent.

Truly developing takes incredible discipline and consistent effort.
That means that there are no “naturals.”

We do our future selves a great disservice when we fail to appreciate this truth.

And so I have established a very detailed and complicated plan for completing this project… I am simply going to keep writing. I am going to face this overwhelming fear that this is going to end in disaster and keep writing.

Because those goals that completely terrify me also seem to be the ones that bring life into the world.

A song for Lent

David Alexander —  February 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

This song has embedded itself in my head. I think it’s an appropriate anthem for this season of reflection.

Luke 7:36-48

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

I am super excited to be the “emcee” for a great show this Friday Night. Jason Nix, who also leads our Saturday Night service at First Methodist Mansfield, is releasing his newest album Friday with a CD release show at Steven’s Garden & Grill in Mansfield. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. More details are available here.

Jason gave me a pre-release copy of the new album last week to help prepare for the show. I’ve been listening to it all week. What I shared with Jason via text the other day was, “this album is special.” I think you will agree.

I would love for you to come out Friday Night. It’s going to be a great night.

The heart of a teacher

David Alexander —  December 17, 2012 — 3 Comments

A dear friend of mine and member of our church, Melanie Atkinson, shared this on Facebook Sunday night. Melanie is a teacher at Summit High School here in Mansfield. I asked her permission to share her reflections here on the blog. I pray that every teacher heading back to school today knows how deeply we appreciate their ministry and their sacrifice on behalf of our kids.

Here are Melanie’s words.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the second grade. In high school I had good grades and caring adults would often ask me why I “just wanted to be a teacher”. Why? I had amazing teachers along the way who challenged me beyond what I thought I could do. Teachers like my high school English teacher Andrea Webb and others like my youth director Danny Tenney who weren’t exactly “teacher” by title but still taught me so much.

As a teacher, I hoped to do that for someone else. Goodness knows that I have failed plenty of kids along the way (not failed them grade-wise–although there’s some of that for sure–but failed to be the kind of teacher they needed) but I think I’ve succeeded with a few too. I love seeing them on facebook now all grown up and doing amazing things like school board president Warren Seay or Brooklyn science teacher Robert Lee Rodriguez II. Some are married with children. Others are still in school getting degree after degree. I am proud of them all. I can’t claim any of their success…only that “I knew them when” and that we had some good times together reading, writing, and discussing all kinds of things.

The stories of the bravery of those teachers in Connecticut are amazing. I am not sure how I would respond in that kind of life-or-death situation. I pray that I would have the bravery and wherewithal of Kaitlin Roig, a teacher who hid her students in a small bathroom and kept them quiet. Or the library aide who hid her students in a storage closet and read to them to keep them calm. I’m not sure I’ve got that in me. But this I do know–in her interview Kaitlin Roig said that Sandy Hook elementary is full of teachers who love their students and would do anything for them. That is quite obvious from the stories coming out of this terrible tragedy. But, you know, I think Charlotte Anderson Elementary–where my son goes to school–also has teachers who love their students and would do anything for them. And so does DeSoto High School where I worked for 7 amazing years and Summit High School where I have the privilege to work now. Teachers really do care about students. We are often treated like “just teachers”…since, after all, “anyone can teach”.

But, we really do love our students.

I’ve never been more proud to be a teacher. I am humbled to share the same profession with the brave teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary–both those who died for their children and those who lived through this unspeakable tragedy. For the families of those teachers who sacrificed their lives and for the families of those babies they died trying to save. For the teachers and students who lived through this and will return to school and try to finish out this school year. For healing for us all. Keep praying!