Monday, June 4, 2012

Brian Hughes' Brand New Day

Today feels like a brand new day.

But I'm living vicariously. My weekend did hold a fairly impressive milestone; my youngest crossed the threshold of childhood into The Teen Years. David is thirteen. We had a big family dinner. It was a milestone.

The newness of this day has more to do with somebody else than with me; and yet the impact on my own life is tangible.

My boss is gone, beginning today, for the next thirteen weeks. Several of us surrounded him and his wife yesterday after our last church service. We prayed for them and cried. And then we said, "goodbye".

Brian and Susan Hughes
Brian and Susan launched PCC ten years ago. Their story is not one of those big number, mind-bending ones, the kind that start with 4 people in a living room and end up with 10,000, but it's our story. It's the story God is writing, the one that unfolds with every step of obedience taken. Brian and Susan started with a little over 130 people and a decade later, we see over 1,000 people at each campus. He leads a crew of around 12 paid and unpaid staff overseeing ministry work at two campuses, along with our online campus, including Susan, who worked tirelessly alongside her husband for years, pouring herself primarily into creating a vibrant children's ministry.

I've watched Brian claw his way through a consistent season of 80-hour work weeks. I've see the inevitable collapse as that season ended, and witnessed his careful reconstruction of a more manageable work rhythm - and then model it for the rest of us ("Speed of the leader, speed of the team", he always likes to say). Brian has always worked hard, and then played hard as well; but he never really stepped away from the workings of the church for longer than a two-week vacation.

Today begins their "Summer Of A Lifetime", a chance to step away for an extended period of time. The Lilly Endowment's National Clergy Renewal Program provides opportunities for pastors to step away from the day-to-day obligations of their roles and responsibilities to discover "What makes your heart sing?" Brian wrote a terrific grant proposal, was accepted and awarded the maximum gift of $50,000, to be used at his discretion. (Read more about Brian's SOAL here.)

Let's just stop right there.That's just pretty darn awesome, to be recognized in that way. What an honor for our church! 

Brian and Susan have crafted a summer schedule that includes time away for just the two of them, another few weeks dedicated to reconnecting with their kids, time for Brian to write and time to plan, as he prayerfully contemplates a strategic vision for the next decade at PCC.

But what's impressed me the most, even past the honor of the award and the mind-blowing thought that the Lilly Endowment invests in pastors in such a tangible generous way (can you imagine being handed $50,000 with no strings attached? Wow!) is a certain part of Brian's calendar for the summer. He's scheduled a specific part of this time away to include something that I believe speaks volumes about who he is and what he believes. It's a testament to why I felt called to invest my life in ministry, following God under the leadership of Brian Hughes.

Brian took part of the money and the time available to him through this grant and reinvested it at PCC. Next week, during the "Get R Done" week, you'll see him - every day - working on the landscaping at PCC. It makes sense; before becoming a pastor, Brian owned a landscaping business. He knows what he's doing. He's investing his experience and knowledge and he's giving back. The need is there, he knows he has the resources to help, and he signed up to make it happen.

He talks it; and he walks it.

People are drawn to our church because the messages Brian delivers are relevant and clear; they seem authentic. He is passionate about grace and it is woven into his leadership and his teaching. Grace attracted me to the church from the very beginning, and today I count it an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside him for six years. I often tell folks that what you see on Sundays is what you get; he is a man of authenticity and integrity. He loves God, he loves his family, and he loves PCC - not just the institution, but the people. And he is serious about generous living.

If it had been me, I might be tempted to disappear on Day One of my summer of a lifetime and spend the time and money on an extended vacation. I can't speak to whether or not Brian was tempted in that way, but I can tell you that one of the first things he will do is give back.

"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God...for you have been my partners in spreading the good news about Christ from the time you first heard it until now." Philippians 1 (NLT)

You can be part of giving back, too! June 9 - 14 is "Get R Done" week at PCC. YOU CAN HELP!! Come join Brian and a bunch of other folks; give an hour or a day. More details and specific sign-up information can be found here. JUST DO IT!

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