Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I am not a big poetry guy.  But I have to tell you; this one by Dr. Tom Lawson has a very special significance to me. I leave it with you, along with our love in the bond of Christ and Crossroads. It is called ‘THE LEADER.’ 
“Follow the leader.  A game children play
On sweet autumn night and bright summer day.
While running in circles and giggling out loud
“It’s me.”  “Pick me.”  “No, me.”  They all shout.
And then something happens amid all the laughter.
One of them runs and the rest follow after.
And all in a line, they dash through the trees.
In play, as in life, one always leads.
‘Follow the leader, you’ve heard it before.’
‘We’re only down three and there’s two minutes more.’
And weary heads nod.  They all understood.
A trophy was more than just metal and wood. 
It takes every player, each doing their part
But, on every team, there’s one who’s the heart.
And in the tough moments, they know what it means.
That in sports, as in life, one always leads.
Follow the leader, the experts agree.
Whether business or church, that’s what you need.
Degrees and long titles won’t make the man 
Books on techniques, models and plans.
No, something much rarer, much harder to find.
A man of long vision, deep heart and keen mind.
Only then, we are told, can you hope to succeed.
In work, as in life, one always leads.
But I knew a man once who believed something else.
That the power to lead didn’t come from oneself.
That serving was the highest of all of life’s calls.
And the greatest among us had been Servant of all.
Though he had all the gifts that make leaders great
When asked what he thought great leadership takes
He spoke of a Man who was nailed to a tree
For on earth, as in heaven, One always leads.”
We’ll see you again… if not here, then there, in the presence of the One… the Leader of Leaders, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Because of Jesus our fellowship is a fellowship of earth and heaven, time and eternity.  Until the next time, let’s all determine to faithfully ‘speak the truth in love.’
Pastor Ken & Kaylene

Monday, May 16, 2016


I remember like it was yesterday my first ministry invitation in 1966… exactly 50 years ago this month.  I had just finished my freshman year at Lincoln Christian College.  I was 18 and brimming with zeal, but I was short on both maturity and experience when I received the much anticipated phone call from a tall, stately farmer named Verlin Owen.  With a full head of snow-white hair and a face weathered by the wind and sun, I remember how distinguished he looked the first time I saw him.  He was chairman of the elders and chairman of the youth committee… a very kind man.  So that following summer I lived alone in a run down little cottage in the rural Indiana town of Medaryville… a population of maybe 500… to serve a church of about half that number as their youth minister.  And this week I finish where I started in the same state [but 217 miles to the south].  Where have the last 50 years gone?  I am sure I do not know the answer to that one.  I don’t even know where the last 10 have gone! But, today I am reflecting on the lessons God has taught me in five decades of serving Him in the local church, the Bible College and back in the local church at Crossroads.
  1. Leadership is heavy, but it is not lonely.  I began as a fledgling youth minister expecting it would be lonely.  The Old Testament prophets seemed to be a marginalized lot.  The apostles in the New Testament struck me as often having to be stand-alone spiritual leaders.  I was even told by one veteran pastor “Do not make close friends in the congregation you serve.”  Well, my perception of the prophets and apostles was inaccurate and the counsel of the veteran pastor was incorrect.  The Apostle Paul was not isolated.  He had deep and significant friendships and partnerships in the churches he served.  He received prayers and embraces from the Ephesian elders in their final meeting! [Acts 20] And I can honestly say that I have never been lonely. 

  1. The importance of doing diligence.  I think David McKenna, past president of Asbury Seminary, was the first one I heard say it.  “The best indicator of future performance is past performance.”  It is not the only predictor, but it is the bestpredictor.  When choosing elders, pastors and staff, it is good to remember this axiom.  In Acts 6, the deacons had to have a ‘good report’… as well as be ‘full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom and faith.’  About Timothy, Paul said, “All the people speak well of him.”  So I have learned to trust the objective research of a potential coworker’s personal history more than my subjective feelings.

  1. Leaders must regularly impress reality.  When you have several people in your charge or under your care, you will be impressing reality on someone at least weekly.  And, by the way, I have learned to value the people in my life who are willing to occasionally impress reality on me!  It is tempting to take a day or two of personal time when a problem presents itself.  But, if you think a problem will ‘just go away’… it won’t.  If you think a problem ‘can’t get worse’… it can.  So I have learned that if I get into necessary loving confrontation early, I am halfway to solving the problem.  I am not talking about micromanagement… picking fleas out of the hair of others… but thoughtfully and courageously ‘speaking the truth in love’ when it is necessary.

  1. The importance of being a tireless communicator.  Communication is the basis of trust and good relationships.  Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  I am talking about transparency here… letting people know what is in the well-spring of your heart.  People will follow those who motives they trust and whose character they respect.  And I have learned that the leader’s greatest authority is moral authority… leading from the overflow of the character of the inner man.  

  1. The sanctity of the Sabbath.  I believe God is serious about this!  Life must have God’s rhythm or it will eventually go off the rails.  Under the old covenant it was a capital crime to break the fourth commandment.  [Numbers 15:35]  So I try to observe one hour a day and one day a week to routinely Sabbath.  And, after several years of ignoring the need for vacations, I have learned I do better when I periodically disconnect from responsibility.  I have known ‘driven’ leaders and I have known ‘called’ leaders.  I want to be called.  Driven leaders usually pay a high price in one of two areas… loss of health or disappointments in marriage and family life.

  1. The joy of self-sacrifice.  In the movie, City of Joy, a doctor from the United States tries to escape from the rat race by moving to India.  There he gets involved with a family in the low cast system.  At first he is repulsed by the need for self-sacrifice on the mission field, but then he got caught up in it, declaring in a poignant moment, “I have never felt more alive!”  And I have learned that people naturally defer to a leader who is perceived to be self-sacrificial.   

  1. The importance of balancing periods of progress and periods of pause.   I have learned how important it is to monitor both vision and tone.  John Fisher calls it being both transformational [taking the next hill] and transactional [holding the ground you have gained].  Being sensitive to the climate in the community you are leading and being flexible as a leader is important.  I have learned to be aware of when it’s time to accelerate and when to take my foot off the gas pedal.

  1. Put people first, after Him.  It is important to build the team over time and make it an ‘A team.’  I have learned to try to hire people better than me and then to do my best to take care of them, to retain them.  But anger is the great divider. 
It wastes my limited leadership capital.I have also learned the value of a ‘maverick’ to the mission.Hans Finzel identifies this failure as being one of the ‘top ten mistakes leaders make.’
  1. A legacy matters.  In the past, I have been a cynic about legacy.  After all, who can even remember the names of their great grandparents?  But, although we cannot remember who they were, we are all affected by what they did.  This is the value of legacy.  It influences who succeeding generations will become.  As leader, I want to bear in mind that my compromises, my corner-cutting, my casualness will become the foundation on which the next generation will build.  History is the ultimate measurement of leadership.  What we leave behind matters.  To leave division, unmanageable debt, moral compromise and unsolved problems, is to have failed to leave a positive legacy.

  1. To have an identity apart from my role as a Christian leader.  Ministry can be all consuming, but it is possible to be faithful to a leadership calling without having your identity fused with the church.  If a man is too tied to the institution, he will overstay.  And staying past effectiveness will mean hurting the work that he has served long and well.  Four questions to ask periodically: 1] What needs to be done?  2] Can I do it?  3] Should I do it?  4] Do I want to do it?  Great people who overstay can become tragic figures.  Though I am [only] 68, it is the right time for me to transition.  And, of course, I am retiring from leadership not service.  My theme verse now is Philippians 1:22, “As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do.”  [The Message] Right now I have more dreams for the future than I will have years to live them out.
And, one of my greatest joys is to know that as Christ-followers, we never really have to say good-bye!Because there are no goodbyes in the Kingdom of God. We only say, “I will see you later.”

Pray with me… Father God, I pray today for the health and growth of the Crossroads Church in the years ahead.I pray for her elders and pastors and staff and small group leaders and teachers and missionaries.What an amazing family of faith Lord!Thank you for your hand of favor on Crossroads through the years to make it such a dynamic congregation. Thank you for the church home it has been for Kaylene and me.Thank you for every experience of worship and service we have had together over the past decade.And thank you for the vision of Crossroads for the future… to multiply leaders, multiply campuses and multiply churches. Lead on O King Eternal.In the Name which is above every name, Jesus… amen.

Pastor Ken

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I wanted to share this piece written by my son, Kyle Idleman. Blessings, Pastor Ken

We want to be happy. 
We live in a country dedicated to giving us the right to the “pursuit of happiness.” We’re convinced that happiness is out there; we just need to catch it. So we chase after it. We have an “if only” mindset.
·      If only … I could make just a little more money, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … I got married, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … I was married to someone else, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … we had kids, we’d be happy.
·      If only … our kids would move out, we’d be happy.
·      If only … I got promoted.
·      If only … I had a different job. I’d be happy.
·      If only … I had my own home.
·      If only … I could sell my home. I’d be happy.
Is that you? What do you think you’d need to be happy?

The truth is you wouldn’t be happy.

Research shows none of these things have the power to bring lasting happiness. Studies reveal that circumstances count for about 10% of our happiness. At most, they may have the power to make us feel happy for a very short while. It’s like the toys kids get for Christmas. They’re ecstatic when they unwrap them, and a few weeks later those toys are sitting on the closet floor, next summer they’re in a garage sale.

We see this all the time. People who have the kinds of things we long for are not happy. Good looking celebrities who have millions of dollars, and gorgeous homes, and fancy cars, and go on exotic trips admit their lives feel empty, and far too often turn to drugs or even try to end their lives.
Happiness is not something that happens when our circumstances change. Unhappy single people don’t find happiness on their wedding day. No, unhappy single people become unhappy married people. Unhappy unemployed people become unhappy employed people.

So maybe happiness comes from a different place.

In his book, “The Law of Happiness,” Dr. Henry Cloud writes, “Happy people don’t chase after happiness, they chase after God and happiness catches them.”

God set eternity in our hearts. We try to stuff all kinds of things into us to make us happy, but anything other than God is too small to fit in that hole in our hearts.

Happy people live with an awareness of God’s love and they embrace every moment as a gift to be lived with Him.

Perhaps God is someone you believe in and you give him an hour of your life every week when you show up at church. Beyond that? You don’t really have time for God because you’re too busy pursuing happiness. But what if happiness is only found in him?

We think happiness will come when I start getting what I want for me, but the truth is that I won’t be happy until I reach the end of me. The end of me is where life with God can begin. And happy people don’t chase after happiness, they chase after God and happiness catches them.


Pray with me… Father God, You have destined us all to experience the joy of salvation, the deepest and most satisfying happiness that we could possibly know in this life.  Once we have it, our search for happiness will end and we will rest in You.  I pray that every person reading this piece has, or will very soon have, this joy… which is the by-product of knowing You, loving You and serving You.  We give you praise for making a way for us to have the peace of forgiveness, the joy of righteousness and the hope of heaven after this life.  In the Name of the One who makes it a reality.  Amen.