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Author Archive | Gary Molander

You Are the Light

What if the one thing the world is missing is the single unique thing you have to offer? Your heart. Your soul. Your passions. Your quirky smile. Your kindness. Your humor. Your courage. Your unwillingness to give up. Your desire to serve behind the scenes. Your creativity.

Your everything.

What if the world is missing you?

What if the world is thirsty for the beauty of God as He expresses Himself through you, and what if they can’t even identify that thirst?

Everything is holding us back from offering ourselves to the world, because it’s either too good to be true, or too difficult to believe. Or both.

We don’t have enough time.

We’re low on resources.

Our fears are too great to overcome.

And we just don’t really believe that anyone needs us. There are so many better people than us.


And we bring all those doubts and misgivings about ourselves to Scripture, and we read something like this chunk of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16), and then we’re screwed because Christ’s words don’t align with our beliefs about not really believing.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Please understand who Jesus is speaking to here. He’s looking into the worn and wrinkled faces of broken and battered people who had Palestinian dust pressed into every crevice of their skin. They have no clout in any arena where clout or influence is required. They are one half-step above the bottom of the smelly caste barrel that society accepted as normal.

But as the master Rabbi teaches them, He’s making absurd comments about them.

About THEM.

And as the religious leaders look on from a distance, they cannot believe what they’re hearing. And I’ve always wondered if it was at this point when one of the key religious leaders looked at another key religious leaders and said, “We gotta get rid of this guy.”

Because this Guy is saying these things:

“YOU are the light of the world.”

And again, “Let YOUR light shine before people…”

And finally, “… so the world will see YOUR light…”

If they could afford a mirror, they’d look into it and see only darkness, if they had the courage to look into it at all. But not in the mind and heart of Jesus. Jesus always seems to see what no one else sees, and He has the uncanny ability to frame that vision into a truth that everyone must either love or hate.


Can these words on this hillside really be true?

I get it – I get that we Christians are always very careful to give all the glory to God, and to say things like, “Oh. That wasn’t me. That was Jesus.” We really want for Jesus to be the light, and make no mistake about it. Jesus is the light.

But you are imprinted with that exact same Light.

So am I.

That doesn’t make us equal to Jesus or divine or anything like that. But in the mind of Jesus, broken people are also illuminating people, because the presence of Christ is not a respecter of persons.


So it all comes down to each one of us. What if the world needs your light so they’ll be drawn to the truest ever Light-Giver? What if Jesus’ words to them are really the words of God to us?

That might just be enough to inspire us to live differently today. So go into your world.

Blind them.


This post originally appeared on Used with permission.


What Makes a Great Leader?

Leadership is like a many-faceted diamond. To define leadership in small and simple terms is to remove the beautiful complexity of the diamond, and replace with with a sheet of glass. We want easy definitions of leadership so we can lock in and press forward, but inso-doing, we take something that is beyond three-dimensional and make it flat and lifeless and powerless.

In these thoughts, I’m taking the diamond of leadership, making an observation about the view through one cut edge, then turning it for another view. And I’m just scratching the surface of what many others have already discovered about what it means to be a great leader.

Most leaders protect themselves and their interests. Great leaders cover those around them, and move their organizations forward underneath the safety of that covering.

Many leaders are trying to figure out their own purpose and calling. Great leaders are discovering that their greatest purpose and calling is to help those around them figure it all out.

Many leaders create friendships so the job gets done. Great leaders create jobs so the friendships get done.

Many leaders coerce. Great leaders invite.

Many leaders believe the ends justify the means. Great leaders focus on treating the means with integrity and honesty and love, then allowing God to create the best end possible.

Many leaders believe that the size or their organization matters most. Great leaders believe that the size of every team member’s heart matters most.

Many leaders try and remove the tension of not knowing. Great leaders learn to dance in the middle of that tension.

Many leaders hide their weaknesses. Great leaders confess them.

Many leaders have core values that serve the organization. Great leaders help people to fully embrace what it means to live and breathe and find life within those core values.

Many leaders talk first. Great leaders listen first.

Many leaders control. Great leaders trust.

I suppose that If leadership is getting the people around you to do your bidding, then Hitler was a great leader. But if leadership is pouring into others so they discover the best way they can pour into a needy world, then Jesus stands atop the leadership boards.

For in Jesus, we find Someone who both loved and challenged people fiercely. We find someone who always invited people into something that was far bigger than themselves – something He called “the kingdom” – and we experience a man who alone offered the keys to that door’s unlocking. We see a leader who lived for the glory of His Father, but who created a band of rejects to help a dying world see that glory.

And I just can’t get beyond the fact that, over and over and over again, we only see and hear invitational language on the lips of Jesus, never coercion and guilt and pressure. Jesus came because He loved the world so much, but that love never lost its invitational nature to either follow Him with everything, or not.

I want to be more like Jesus, and let any leadership I offer to my family or church or organization flow from there. And I never ever want to abandon the multi-faceted diamond of leadership in favor of something that fits into a few simple catch phrases, but lakes the oxygen away from the soul of anything I lead today.


This article originally appeared on Used with permission.


Thy Will Be Done

Thy will be done.

Those are the easiest words to say, and the most difficult to mean.

Thy will be done when I don’t see a way out.

Thy will be done when I’ve unknowingly created a vision of what Your will should look like, and have already started moving toward it.

Thy will be done when I have no human understanding of why or how you’re allowing this thing to happen in my life, and why you’re allowing it to keep happening over and over again.

Thy will be done in my grief, in my despair, in my heartache, and in my loneliness.

Thy will be done when I succeed and verbally give You the public credit, all the while harboring some secret self-reliance, pride, or even arrogance.

Thy will be done when the disease returns.

Thy will be done when the relationship goes south, or when the business plan backfires, or when the truth about who I really am is brought to some embarrassing light.

Thy will be done.

Kinda feels like we’re getting to the heart of those words now. Because at the heart of embracing the depth and breadth and soul and nuance of those four words – Thy will be done – is to add a simple phrase to their conclusion. What if we added – “…with no strings or expectations attached.” That’s what we’re really saying here, right? So…




For me, that’s the very best way I can mean it when I say it, and I can say it and fully mean it.  It feels like surrender to me, and I’m unaccustomed to feeling enough of that. It feels like I just came closer to the heart of worship than when I sing words to songs. It feels like I’m confronted with the choice to either believe in the goodness of God, or to abandon that belief in His goodness altogether. It feels like I can now begin to see my life in the light of eternity, not in the glare of these earthly and temporal and individual events.

Christ is not inviting us into some version of Christian Karma, friends, where His will is somehow attached to our good or bad deeds, and our lives get easier as a result of following Him. Not even close. He’s inviting us to climb up onto an altar, not as a sacrifice that will die, but as one that will truly and finally live.

So today, God – Thy will be done.. and truly…

with no strings or expectations attached.

So what about you? If you were to fill in the blank at this moment of your life, what words would you use in that blank space?

Thy will be done with no strings or expectations attached, even when __________________.  

This post originally appeared on Used with permission.


Three Reasons Why Creating Something Is So Stinkin’ Draining

Emotionally sapped.

Physically wiped.





Quicker to anger.

Longer to grace.

Loss of control.

A little depressed.

A little relieved.


I’m not sure what you feel like as you labor through an artistic or creative endeavor, but the phrases above describe me.

It’s crazy, really. These things I get to do every day – creating and dreaming and strategizing and executing – those exact things can become the very things that leave me in the fetal position on the living room floor when I’m finished with my workday.

The things I get to do every day can become the very things that leave me in the fetal position on the living room floor at day’s end.

As I engage in any creative endeavor – any act where I’m pouring the essence of who I am into a void – there are three reasons why that process might just drain the life out of me (which, by the way, isn’t a bad thing – it’s just a thing).


If you think about it, anything you create or design requires a series of tiny small decisions, often with the pressure of a hard deadline looming. When I’m cutting together a short-film, I’m making at least 10 decisions a minute. Which clip do I use? Which piece of cutaway? Where should the clip begin? Is the music loud enough? Too loud? Am I pushing the storyline forward, or just spitting out random information? Can I razor that statement and  connect it with another statement? Is the color consistent with the next frame, shot in different lighting on a different camera? How can I make the interviewee more inspiring. Should I try to cut that “‘um” out, or leave it? What will the client want? Does that music work?

If you’re a painter or a lighting technician or a visual worship leader or an entrepreneur or a storyteller or a pastor or a team leader or a blogger, you’ve got your own different set of tiny decisions. They’re different than mine, but that’s not the point. The point is that you’re making a ton of decisions.

And you’re making them hundreds of times every day.

No wonder we end up on the living room floor.  Or angry with the people in our lives who don’t deserve our anger. Or just silent. Or … you can fill in your own blank here.


The second reason creativity is so draining has to do with endorphins.  Endorphins are small protein molecules that are produced by cells in our nervous systems, and other parts of the body. I know – I’m already bored too, but stay with me. Among other things, these little guys control feelings of stress and frustration (they control a lot more, like chocolate and sexual appetites, and addictive patterns as well).

So when we’re pushing our creative projects into the wee hours of the morning because the deadline is upon us and were crazy-stressed about meeting it, our endorphins essentially become imbalanced. They have to, because we’re stressed. The only way for our endorphins to get back into balance is for the stress to go away.

And here’s the key for our current conversation: The re-balancing mechanism happens automatically 36-48 hours after the stress-provoking event, and involves feelings of depression, lethargy, and criticism. We can’t choose when our endorphins choose to rebalance themselves. It’s entirely up to them. But we’ve been on a high, and we need to come back down.

When I was a pastor, I was always depressed on Tuesday mornings. This was true every week, unless I had taken the prior weekend off.  When I fly somewhere to work 16 hours a day for a week, I’m always great the day after I get home. But it’s the day after the day after that kicks my butt.


The final reason creativity is so draining has do with our hopes and dreams. There are a variety of hopes and dreams that I carry with every project I involve myself in. You and I aren’t just working our tails off for a paycheck. With every project we carry, there’s something in us that hopes heaven takes one step closer to our ever-groaning earth. That’s why I create short-films. That why we all want to tell great stories. That’s why we push hard into the org-chart redo, or create the product that our audience really needs.

We carry hope with us, and we can’t help it. We were created to carry it.

But when we don’t experience any fulfillment of that hope in some  manner, we get bummed or depressed or anxious or cynical (and the best leaders, by the way, are the ones who show us the hope that we’re blind to). Living long-term with no perceived hopeful outcome is indeed living on the very edge of burnout.


A theme in my life is to become more self-aware of who I am, and of how I come across to people. And a huge part of this self-awareness piece is to prayerfully figure out, as I’m lying there bleeding on the ground, what got me there in the first place. Inevitably, it’s related to one of the three things I’ve talked about above.

And it’s a beautiful thing indeed when we begin to recognize what’s happening deep inside of us, and then we express the broken capacity to invite the risen Christ into that exact place – not to become the magic potion for our fixing or our short-term self-medicating.

But for Him to reach out His hand, and help us stand again.

Because the next deadline is on the horizon, and because these feelings aren’t bad things. They’re just things, after all.


This article originally appeared on Used with permission.


The Importance of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a challenge when it comes to service programming because it sneaks up on churches just after Easter. Nevertheless, church creative teams usually start planning with questions like:

* Should we get a guest speaker for our Mother’s Day services?
* How can we make moms feel honored?
* What do we do with people who had moms who messed them up?
* Do we have time to create a cute video of kids talking about their moms?
* How can we use pre-existing videos to help support our Mother’s Day services?

While these questions are important to ask at some point in our creative processes, they shouldn’t be the first questions we ask. And that’s because nowhere in those questions is God even mentioned. And if we’re not careful, we can unintentionally give God the weekend off, and just highlight moms.

I wonder if a better and more basic question to begin with is this one: How do moms uniquely display the character of God?


Here’s what I mean…

By nature, moms are protectors. You already know that the vast majority of mothers are fiercely protective of their kids. And I think they’re protectors because when they protect, they display a God who protects us. And that God-display is hard-wired in them, by God, for His glory.

I will protect them like a bear robbed of her cubs.
Hosea 13:8

By nature moms are comforters, not as an end, but as another means of displaying the God who comforts people at their deepest levels of hurt and heartache. And the world watches, and knowingly or unknowingly experiences God in some way that God intends.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.
Isaiah 66:13

These aren’t just random roles that moms play, but actual characteristics of God Himself, highlighted in Scripture, using the metaphor of a mother. It’s gorgeous like that.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
Luke 13:34

It’s worth noticing that Jesus is expressing himself using soft language, all the while using the metaphor of a mother hen. He isn’t embarrassed or worried that people will get the wrong perception of God. Instead, He seems to embrace it.

So as you build your Mother’s Day services, what if you begin by asking two questions, in this order…?

1 – How do moms uniquely display the character of God?
2 – How can we creatively communicate that?

Practical Service Plan for Mother’s Day

Intro + Worship

Program your first 20 minutes as usual, with a proper nod to Mother’s Day. Then…

2 Pre-Sermon Options

Option 1

Have children read (live or on video) the three verses mentioned above (or other verses you discover). It might be fun to get little kids trying to pronounce the words on video, then leave the mistakes in the final version. Or…

Option 2

Run our mini-movie “Moms: Portraits of God”.


Preach about how God demonstrates His character into the world through moms. Include real stories of moms in your congregation (video, as a sermon illustration, or as a live interview).


Fierce (Jesus Culture).

I hope this post spurs your church to experience something far beyond the normal on Mother’s Day 2017. It’s such a gift to display the heart of God AND to honor moms with the same brushstroke.

I think it’ll change everyone who has the pleasure of attending your church that day.


Gary Molander is the co-owner of Floodgate Productions which has a vision to create great media for anyone who is willing to be stirred. Floodgate Productions Producer Page. Gary is also the author of Pursuing Christ. Creating Art which explores what it means to be a Christ-Follower and an artist.


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