Archives For Leadership

“They’re here! I can’t believe it — but they’re really here!”

It was a beautiful, sunny Easter Sunday morning in Southern California, and Saddleback Valley Community Church officially launched. For 12 weeks, we and a small band of believers had met together in our home to dream, plan, and organize this launch day. We had hand-addressed and hand-stamped 15,000 letters to the community, introducing ourselves and our new church. We scoured yard sales and swap meets for used nursery equipment. We copied pages from coloring books for toddlers. We searched through lists of students from a local college to find childcare workers. I practiced the hymns (complete with updated lyrics to a few) on the piano to be certain my nervous fingers didn’t hit the wrong notes. We rented a portable sound system for the Laguna Hills High School Performing Arts Theater. Rick poured over the Bible for weeks, praying for God’s words to speak to the folks that might show up. We prayed. We fasted. We believed in faith. On April 6, 1980, we stood at the gates to Laguna Hills High School and waited nervously, hoping and praying that at least a…

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I have been a pastor’s wife for 20 years. I was 19 years young when I married my husband, right after he had accepted his first pastorate.

Looking back now, I realize I knew nothing then.

I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husband’s side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years.

Throughout those early years in ministry, I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. So in order to get people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly, and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles or, God forbid, any of my sins.

It was exhausting and lonely, and I was stuck.

While recently sharing part of my story with some friends in a Bible study, I found myself marveling at the changes God has made in me.

God has been so faithful to draw me out, change my heart, and, in the process, prove his faithfulness in so many lives. When we moved from Arkansas to Southern California…

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Coffee Meeting

Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone makes a pretty excellent…

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I’ve said many times that I want everyone on my staff to make at least one mistake a week.

Through Saddleback, I’ve learned that if you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not trying anything new. If you’re not trying anything new, then you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, then you’re already out of date.

I want my staff members taking risks and making mistakes. That means they’re being innovative, and it means they’re not afraid to try.

Now, I don’t want them making the same mistake every week — that means they’re not learning. But I tell them, “Make a new mistake each week.” I also tell them, “Show the innovation and creativity to do something that you’ve never done before.”

Nothing great is ever done without talking risks, and I want a staff full of leaders. Leaders take risks. There’s another word for risk-taking: faith. Faith is a critical element in the success of your ministry. Will you believe God for big things?

One day I asked my staff to flip to Mark 10:27 in their Bibles. It’s the verse that says, “All things are possible with God” (NIV). I asked my staff to circle…

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Team Meeting

I have sat in a few bad meetings, and if I’m being completely honest, I may have led one or two of them! Over the years I have learned a lot about meetings and have assisted many in leading better meetings. Here are six simple ways we can lead more effective meetings:

Clarify the primary purpose of the meeting

Why are we here? There only five purposes of meetings:

1. Community

2. Communication

3. Collaboration

4. Coaching

5. Cheering One Another On

What is the primary purpose? State it up front so everyone knows. Patrick Lencioni, in his book Death By Meeting, says that the worst kinds of meetings are the ones where we try to get everything done in one meeting! In general, it’s best to have more frequent but shorter meetings that tackle one primary purpose at a time. Otherwise we cause everyone to die a slow “death” in our meetings.

Plan the meeting

We would never take the big stage without preparation, but we often do this when it comes to meetings. The more we prepare, the better the performance. Plan what you want to say and how you…

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Brokenness

When I served as a pastor at Saddleback Church, one of the things that impressed me most about the church was a hiring requirement Pastor Rick Warren laid down:

If you haven’t been through pain, you’re not ready to be on staff at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick understood the power of a broken heart.

Andy Stanley understands it, too. When speaking to leaders, he often asks the question, “What breaks your heart?”

Usually, knowing what breaks your heart opens the door to knowing what you should do with your life and how you should be leading others.

Nehemiah, of the Old Testament, is considered one of the greatest models of successful leadership in history. And his story started with a question: “How’s Jerusalem?”

When the answer was “not good,” Nehemiah’s heart was broken. He records:

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT).

Nehemiah’s burden drove him to lead the nation of Israel into a successful rebuilding campaign.

My wife, Angie, and I talk about this often. Her heart breaks for those in our community suffering with emotional and relational brokenness, so…

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Coaching

I’ve never met a senior pastor who didn’t have the ability to do an outstanding job leading their staff, but I have met quite a few who didn’t have a clear plan in place for making that happen.

I would like to share with you a very simple framework for coaching your staff that will make your job, and theirs, much easier. I call it 4x4x4.

A 4x4x4 coaching process is when a senior pastor meets with a staff member to help them identify and make progress on the 4 people they are going to meet with and the 4 tasks they are going to accomplish over the next 4 weeks.

Setting up a 4x4x4 Coaching Process

To lead at the next level, every person on our team needs three things in place: responsibility, authority, and coaching.

Responsibility (I need you to tell me what am I responsible for doing)

This is provided when we give our staff members clear,  written job descriptions that outline for what they are responsible. In my experience, most senior pastors of churches under 600 do not provide written job descriptions for their staff. This is a mistake but one that is easy…

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Permission

Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it out loud: “You’re not crazy.” “You’re on the right track.” “You can do that.” “You can do this.” I call it giving leaders permission. One of the greatest values of having a mentor or coach in our lives is having a safe place where we can process through the decisions we are wrestling with, and hear someone else tell us we’re not crazy for thinking what we’re thinking! We need permission! Sometimes the key that unlocks our future is having someone give us permission to do what we feel deep down we need to do.

So today, I thought I would send out permission far and wide. If you’re reading this post, I’m praying God will use me to give you permission!

You have permission to be still.

You have permission to take a chill pill. You have permission to rest. Take a day off. Take a week off. You have permission to plan your summer vacation now. You have permission to think long term and think about finishing well. This is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an ultramarathon! I give you permission to be still!

You…

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Big City

My first pastorate was in a town of 300 people. It was a very special church. Each Sunday I would go to lunch at a different member’s home. We will never forget those days. It was a great place for me to learn.

One of the greatest lessons about vision I learned in the simplest manner while I was at that church. Some of the church’s leadership determined we needed to air-condition the building. This led to a business meeting. We were discussing the situation as the ping-pong match began. One of the men felt strongly we did not need to do it because “times were hard.” A godly woman in the church had heard about all she wanted to hear. She stood up and said to them, “God will take care of this. Let’s help the church move forward to the future for our younger families.” In her passionate speech and plea, she nailed the hard time’s issue by telling them she would give the first $1,000. Needless to say, within minutes the whole issue was solved. The church was getting its own central heat and air unit.

In the middle…

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Liked

The desire to be liked and approved of by others runs deep in most of us. Maybe all of us. We are wired for connection to other humans. We are made to be in meaningful relationships. And when we know or sense that someone in our sphere of influence doesn’t like us, it hurts.

From the time we start school as young children, we do whatever we can to gain the acceptance and approval of others.

  • If we’re nerdy, we play the smart card.
  • If we’re goofy, we play the fun card.
  • If we’re athletic, we play the jock card.
  • If we’re musical, we just play something, anything (even a trumpet) to fit in with others who are like us — hoping beyond hope that others will embrace us as valuable.

As we enter our teen years, we might feign apathy and act as if we don’t care about being liked.

But we do care. A lot.

Over time, after a broken heart or two or 20, and after rejection after rejection, we typically start to withdraw in an act of self-preservation. However, our retreat from people doesn’t stop our deep-seated need to be recognized and…

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Work

Work dominates our lives — especially those of us in ministry.

The typical American spends about 150,000 hours — or 40 percent of his life — at work (I suspect that for pastors, the number is even higher!)

In other words, you’ll spend more time working in ministry, thinking about ministry, and commuting to your ministry than you will eating, relaxing, and vacationing — all combined — this year.

Now, God wants you to succeed in ministry. In fact, in the Bible, God offers this guarantee:

“Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place” (Proverbs 16:3 MSG).

What does it mean to put God in charge of your work? There are three steps I’d suggest:

Seek God’s Direction

Ask him to guide you every day: in your planning . . . your organizing . . . your decision making . . . your implementing . . . and in relating to everyone you come in contact with. “The Lord is pleased when good people pray” (Proverbs 15:8a GNT).

Sharpen Your Skills

Be the best you can be for God’s glory. Never stop learning. Look for ways to cultivate the talents he’s given you.“If the ax is dull and…

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Broken

An old friend, Richard, recently called me. He used to live in town and attend my church. For the past seven years or so, he’s been a member of a large church in Phoenix.

We were catching up and reminiscing about old friends when he said to me, “I had coffee with my current men’s pastor yesterday, and he told me some honest things about his marriage and about something stupid he said to his wife.”

I chimed in, “That’s cool!”

He awkwardly paused, and then said with a confused tone, “How is that cool?”

“It’s cool that your pastor owned his stuff and that he’s being real with you. It’s the people who try to hide and deny their sins that worry me.”

Bob said, “I guess I expected the guy pastoring men to be . . . well . . . to be more spiritually mature.”

Without hesitation, I reminded Bob of the many times he heard me tell stories of my idiocy. I also told him we all walk with a limp, and none of us is without a soul blemish or two (or 20).

On this side of eternity, the reality we don’t like to admit,…

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