This morning, I’m leaving with some other pastors for a vision trip sponsored by Compassion International. I’m sorry to say, the last time I was overseas for mission purposes was in 2001, when I spent some weeks in Kiev, Ukraine with Let’s Start Talking. I’ve been to mission points in Mexico and throughout the Unites States since then. I’ve even planted a church and the churches I’ve served have sent dozens of teams overseas, planted churches throughout the United States and around the world. But, I’m sorry to say when the plane touches down in Quito late tonight, I will be overseas for a missional purpose for the first time in…well, too long.

I say, “too long” not only because of the worthwhile work that goes on overseas, but also because of how it’s changed me over the years. There are some things one encounters only elsewhere. So, for the next few weeks, I want to feature some leadership lessons from my missionary adventures over the years in Mexico, Thailand, Ukraine, and Ecuador. If you enjoy this blog or have been blessed in any way by my ministry–know these short-term mission projects are a part of my ministerial makeup. I look forward to sharing why with you over the next couple of weeks. These are some of the watershed moments that changed who I am and how I serve the Lord.

We don’t like Necessity. I don’t know why. Necessity pushes us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. We create, we provide, we grind, we are at our best. True, we humans are sometimes at our worst because of Necessity–life can feel like the Hunger Games at times. For Christians, however, necessity is a friend because she leads us back to God.

When we don’t have any ideas, when the money is gone, when all seems lost, when stress chokes out all joy, Necessity is there–thank God, and she has brought out the best in me more than the worst. In fact, it’s the humility and drive necessity brings that has drawn me closer to God in my desperation. Toward God is always where a follower of Jesus wants to be.

The pitch

In honor of the end of baseball season, this Monday’s post offers ministry insights from the great enemy of most hitters (and pastors) — the curveball.

Those who cannot effectively hit the curve ball will never be effective at the “Big League” level. Game 4 of the World Series featured some seriously wicked curves, and given the day I had yesterday, I’m thinking a lot about curves. For those of you who haven’t seen a wicked curve, here’s a Clayton Kershaw curveball to Gregor Blanco of the Giants. Sheer nastiness.