3 Lessons from Jay Hanson 3

Over the past two weeks I have had the privilege of talking with two of the finest leaders in the United Methodist Church. Today I want to share with you about Jay Hanson. He is the pastor of one of the fastest growing United Methodist Congregations in the country. He was preaching at Tattnall County Camp Meeting and was gracious enough to take a couple of mornings to spend an hour with me on each of these days. Here are three of the biggest lessons he shared with me.

1. You will be forgotten.  One of the first things he told me was about the meal he shared with the pastors and leaders the night before. He said the others were trying to describe to him a former pastor but no one could remember his name. He said we will all be the same way one day. We may remember but the focus will be on the next pastor and it should be.

2. Pray more. Jay’s father, Dave Hanson, is a pastor and one of the most respected people in our conference. Jay told me he asked his father if he could go back what would he do different. His father’s answer was short and meaningful. Dave answered, “I would pray more.” Jay is someone who takes his spiritual formation serious. He had just got back from a week long retreat where he spent a week in silence at retreat center. I walked away excited, challenged, and encouraged to spend more time working on myself first.

3. He asked me for advice. At the conclusion of our time we had several great closing thoughts but the most astonishing was when he asked me what advice I may give him. I can not remember anyone ahead of me in ministry asking me what they could do better. I honestly do not remember what it is I told him. The question just struck me as a great example of how leaders are learners. The most productive leaders are the ones who are constantly trying to get better.

As our nation grieves over those lost in the tragic movie theater shooting in Colorado, I read this prayer which was written following the Virginia Tech shooting. I believe it speaks deeply to what we are feeling today. I pray it bring you comfort.

Litany for a Great Tragedy
the Rev. David Hicks

Lord, we come to you stunned, shocked, grieving … our hearts linked to those for whom this tragedy shall veil their hearts for a long time to come.

Lord, come to comfort us, and come to offer healing and hope to those whose spirits are wounded by the sudden death of ones they love.

Father, where can we turn when the senselessness of hatred and violence rips apart our complacency, save to you? Where is our peace, save in your arms of mercy?

Lord, we cry, Abba, Father! Comfort these your children, you who lost your only child. Embrace the ones among us for whom grief is so raw and fresh today.

We confess our sin, the violence that lurks in us all. We call it anger, hatred, revenge … whatever its name, it is a compelling power within us.

Lord, pull the root of bitterness, the whirlwind of anger, the deadened heart of hatred out of us and restore to us a heart of flesh. Refill us with your peace. Let your love be a lamp to light the way that leads us home.

When all else is stripped away, when all that the world offers us for meaning and purpose is removed, still you, your word, your will, your grace, your holy presence will remain.

ALL: Lord, we place our trust in you. We find our comfort in you. We find meaning that defeats random and chaotic violence in you. For you will wipe away every tear from our eyes and the eyes of our sisters and brothers, and we will be your people, and you will be our God.

In the power of the Resurrection, we pray. Amen.

“Copyright © 2007 Rev. David Hicks. Published by The General Board of Discipleship. Used with permission.” Original prayer here.