There was a time in my life when I considered myself somewhat of a poker player. My experience amounted to a weekly game in the garage with guys from the neighborhood where we would swap quarters or the occasional “monster pot” with enough to buy dinner for two at the drive-thru of choice. It’s been a few years since I’ve played at all but I still remember with painful clarity the “bad beats” I took back then. A bad beat is when you are way ahead in a hand and some lucky goof across the table foolishly bets everything in the hopes that she or he will get that one final card in the deck, against all odds, that will beat your holdings. These hands, and there are many, I remember perfectly.


But what about all the other hands that I won? Why are those so well buried in my elusive memory?


The same is true of leadership. As leaders we all remember the bad beats: The leader you burned or who burnt you. The meeting gone horribly wrong, the gamble that failed miserably or even the time you came up short on a goal. I have taken my fair share of bad beats in the three years since we planted Disciples. And to be fair, I have also given a few bad beats in my day too. I lost a lot of sleep this year replaying stories of the people, the meetings and the conversations I messed up. I have grieved and I have wept over people who will forever have negative feelings toward me, the team I lead or the church we started. I have payed a personal and professional price for the bad beats I took and the ones I gave. You just never forget the stinging loss of a bad beat.

 But if there is one thing poker taught me about the life of a leader it is this: Remember only the bad beats and you’ll always play the game like one is coming.

But I am learning, even if just recently, the artful discipline of regularly recounting the great stories too!  I am learning to give myself the permission nobody else will give, the permission to say, “we have won a few too!” Most of us leaders shy away from thinking or talking about these for fear that we will sound inauthentic, arrogant or egotistical. But if there is one thing poker taught me about the life of a leader it is this: Remember only the bad beats and you’ll always play the game like one is coming.


So in a sneak peak of my talk for this Sunday at Disciples Third Anniversary Celebration I want to take some time to remember some WINS! I want to be sure the people who follow my lead know that this is a winning proposition…that Christ really is building His church and the gates of hell are NOT prevailing! So here are some wins from the past year:

1. On no less than five separate occasions Disciples helped failing or troubled marriages back on track by providing mediation, professional counseling services or simple friendship.

2. Twelve people were baptized as part of our community!

3. Three different occasions relapsing addicts were rescued and physically cared for during their pathway to sobriety.

4. Thirty kids heard the Gospel through our LIVE5 evening kids program this summer.

5. Four fallen christian leaders were given a second chance at ministry after being out for years.

6. Dozens of church planting couples were invested in and resourced for their call to plant.

7. Individuals took in the homeless and provided them food, showers and help toward employment.

8. Families regularly sacrificed for others to provide money, childcare, and even housing.

9. Countless churches were assisted by sharing the story of Disciples around the country.

10. Hundreds in Orangevale were fed as a result of time & service with the Orangevale Food Bank.


These are just a few of the stories of changed lives, a mere few of the wins from the past year. I truly hope you will join me Sunday at Disciples for our Third Anniversary to see faces and hear the stories first hand! God is up to something at Disciples, it would be my privilege to walk this road with you!