Archives For Leadership

For years I have been obsessed with the idea of finishing well. My long-term friend was a pastor and we often talked about the concept, especially when someone we knew in ministry didn’t finish well. We would try to understand what went wrong.

As a psychologist, one of my insights is that there is a lot of pressure on pastors to present themselves as a false self, both in their relationship with people in their congregation, as well as with others. It ’s like living out the old Greek word persona, which means literally “stage face.” A pastor must always have his or her “stage face” on.

Let me explain. It began with Adam and Eve. Like us, they were created in the image of God. But that image hadn’t yet been affected by sin, so they lived life through what we’ll call their real self. There was a sense of oneness between them that we see clearly when God introduced Eve to Adam.  Adam responded by saying, “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). He is noticing only how much Eve is like him – he’s…

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Re-Ignite Your Passion

Passion is what energizes life. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact, if you don’t have any passion in your life, ministry will become boring, dull, routine, monotonous. I’ll go so far as to say if you don’t have passion in your life you are not living. You are existing. God made you to live a passionate life and to serve him and his people with vitality. With vibrancy. With energy. With enthusiasm. He wants you to have this in your life.

In John 10, Jesus said “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” God wants you to live a full life, a fulfilling life, which is the basis for a fulfilling ministry. If that’s true, that’s the kind of life God meant for us to live. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Sadly, however, countless thousands of pastors and ministry leaders are simply enduring, holding on for the ride and hoping to survive until death without blowing it too badly.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son…

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Discouragement in ministry is real. When you are down, how do you get back up?

It does not matter if plans you had are now unfulfilled, you are surrounded by small-mindedness, people leave your church, you hear unending criticism, or you are just facing a season of barren and grind, discouragement is difficult. But it is not terminal in ministry.

Now is the time to embrace the battle and move through it.

4 Ways to Get Through Discouragement

1. Share with God about where you are.

Pastors tend to talk about their discouragement with other people more than we talk about it with God. Pastor, the moment you sense you are discouraged, begin with God. Talk to Him about it.

If you do not, the very thing or things that have led you to this place in your life will lead to even greater discouragement. Failing to unpack where you are with God is a major mistake in ministry.

2. Set your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus does not disappoint, but people do. Looking at others will lead you to major disappointment. Get your eyes off leaders in your life and members of your church.

Set your eyes on Jesus. He…

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Burnout is easy to accomplish. In fact, it’s our default destination when all we do is coast along. I’ve conversed with tons of pastors who are discouraged. Not one of them predicted it. It always sneaks up on us. It’s the creep – the gentle drift – that is the most common culprit of a healthy soul’s demise.

If you’re a pastor or ministry leader, let me challenge you to make three bold decisions today, and every day hereafter.

1. I will grow deeper roots.

One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 17:7-8:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (NKJV)

We all want to bear fruit, but the prerequisite to doing so is tapping down and spreading out our roots. When our roots are deep, hot, dry weather and seasons of suffering won’t kill us at our core.

And how does…

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Big Bus

We are all on the bus together headed to the same destination to play the game of our lives. As we travel along, however, we begin to sense something may not be right with a few members of the team. We need to pay attention to these feelings! Oftentimes, God is speaking through that still small voice, preparing us for courageous conversations and courageous calls that will need to happen before we can pull off our next big win.

The 4 Most Common Staff Issues

1. They’re in the wrong seat on the bus.

This has to do with a team member’s capacity. Many times it’s not that someone has fumbled the ball in such a way that it led to a big loss. They haven’t done something terribly wrong. We just sense that they might be in over their heads. They might be out of position. Though they fit for a while in a certain seat on the bus, sometimes as the organization grows, the gift mix needed for that position simply changes. The Worship Pastor gift mix needed at a church of 200 is completely different than the mix needed at a church…

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“Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum, or miserable stagnation.”

-Shawn Parr, Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, @FastCompany

Culture is the combination of what we believe and how we behave. It’s been said that we are creatures of habit. The same can be said for the organizations we lead. They are simply a product of our habits!

There’s always a gap between what we say we value and what we really value. Let’s close that gap a bit. Let’s honestly assess ourselves. Let’s commit to practice what we preach. Let’s ask ourselves the tough questions. Healthy things grow so let’s deal with any issues that could be affecting our culture. How?

Conviction

What are you passionate about? What is the organization passionate about? Does everyone know it? Does everyone feel it?

Crank it up a bit! When Jesus came on the scene, the Bible says He “taught as one having authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22). In other words, he taught with conviction, passion, and moral authority!  You should do the same.

Clarity

Are you crystal clear on the culture you’re…

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One of my favorite things to do is to speak to a group. It’s mostly because I am a teacher at heart and I really enjoy helping people understand a new idea, deepen their knowledge about a topic, or help them move from point A to point B about a subject. From a young age I wanted to be a teacher and I have been blessed to be a teacher for most of my career.

Similar to leadership, teaching is something that has naturally come with each of my positions. When I’m a manager, I train others how to do their job – teaching! When I’m in a meeting presenting a new way to reach customers, I’m teaching! When I’m in the classroom in front of a bunch of college students teaching them about leadership, I’m teaching … okay, that one was kind of obvious.

One of the best ways to spread your message is through public speaking. Whether you’re in a pulpit on Sunday morning, presenting a PowerPoint presentation to your colleagues, or leading a family meeting at home, you’re speaking. And most of us can get better at this skill. And, I am…

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Everything you have is a gift from God – your health, your life, your salvation, your freedom, your friends, your family, your opportunities. God expects you to make the most of the things he gives you. The word for that in the Bible is called “stewardship.” Stewardship is the Old English word for “management.”  And just as you manage your time and your money, you also manage your influence.

God expects you to use your influence to help other people. What is influence? The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as, “the power to affect how someone develops, acts, or thinks.” God expects you to be an influence.

You should want to be influential. In fact, it’s quite selfish to say, “I don’t really care about the rest of the world. I don’t care about helping anybody else.  I’m just thinking about little ol’ me.” In fact, Jesus commands that you use your influence for good in this world. You were put here to be an influence for good. God wants you to do that. Someday we’re going to give an account to God of how well we influenced others for good and for God.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus…

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We all hide. At times, we all live behind a veil of secrecy.

We pretend to know more than we know.

We act like we are better than we are.

We present only the presentable parts of our lives and feign a perfection that we do not possess.

Not yet. Not here. Not now.

So we fake it.

And from the beginning of humanity, our secrecy has been our ruin and our disgrace. Adam and Eve miserably failed and what’s the first thing they thought to do? Hide.

It’s in our nature to cover, to deny, to fake it with the hope that we might eventually succeed. We hide our sin. We conceal our struggles. We cover our inadequacies behind a mask of perfection.

Why do we hide? 

  • We are too proud to admit our defeats. Too arrogant to own our failures. Too stubborn to confess our weaknesses and our sins. Too egotistical to acknowledge the reality of our shortcomings. What would others think if they knew the real me?
  • We are too afraid of potential rejection or too fearful of wrathful punishment if we were ever caught.
  • Besides pride and fear, sadly, we sometimes hide because we find sordid and bizarre…

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A few weeks ago, I invited some dear friends of mine, Matthew and Monica Green, to conduct some training for my small group leaders. They used 1 John 1 as their guiding text throughout the training. What I especially loved about what they shared is that they combined in such a seamless manner both a spiritual challenge to us as leaders, but also some very practical tools for us.

Their spiritual challenge to us, which preceded the practical, was that our first and biggest priority as leaders is to walk in the light ourselves. The apostle John writes, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3 NIV).

I can know all the practicality of leading a small group. I can know the latest and greatest theories. I can read all the books. I can even know the Bible inside and out. But, and this is a big but, if I am not personally experiencing the fellowship of the Father through His Son, then what I know…

This post was originally published on The Small Group Network's blog, where you can find many more resources for Purpose Driven small group ministry.

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I’ll admit, I don’t know much about cars. I can refill the windshield wiper fluid and check the tire pressure, but that’s about the extent of my expertise. However, I do know you’re supposed to get the oil changed and tires rotated on a regular basis. If I neglect those simple maintenance activities, my car may break down and then I’m stuck with a hefty repair bill.

Your email inbox, to-do list, and schedule are a bit like my car. They need consistent attention and maintenance to serve you well. If we neglect that upkeep, we’ll have hours of catch-up work to do and probably some unhappy people.

Maintenance isn’t exciting or fun, but it prevents a lot of headaches down the road. Here are a few key maintenance activities that, done consistently, can help you progress toward achieving your vision:

Maintenance Activity #1: Own your schedule

You are the only person who truly decides how to spend your time. Yes, other people have a say but you’re the only one really responsible. If you’re constantly in meetings and replying to messages, you’ll never get your own work done (much less have time to…

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Every pastor I know is faced with numerous decisions every day. Some of those decisions can impact people greatly. While there are a plethora of decisions a pastor can make daily, what is the most important?

The Most Important Decision

The most important decision a pastor can make daily is to begin his day with God. When we begin our day with God, it changes the way we see things the rest of the day. It changes our attitude and our actions. It helps us navigate through the challenges of life and ministry.

3 Actions to Take

While some who are reading this have yawned already, I continue to stand amazed at how many pastors do not begin their day with God. Their inconsistency in this discipline is their consistency.

No wonder pulpits are vacant of anointed men of God, the people in the pews are yearning for a word from God, and the church is lacking the fire of God. As pastors, we must rekindle or fan into flame the gift of God that is in us according to 2 Timothy 1:6.

I want to highlight three actions that will fan the flame of God…

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