Archives For Leadership

Vision

You may be overflowing with vision for your ministry, but there is a point where you have to stop thinking about it and talking about it, and instead, start doing something about it—moving your vision toward a tangible reality. I’ve met thousands of pastors with incredible vision for ministry in their community, but sadly they never got past the thinking stage.

What good is a vision when it stays stuck in your head? Or if it languishes in the “talk stage” and never launches into the sea of faithful action? The vision behind Saddleback Church would be nothing more than that—a vision—without the steps of faith taken to plant, and then grow, the church.

God rarely asks you to take leaps of faith; rather, he encourages you to take small steps that grow larger as your faith grows larger.

But you’ve got to take the first step to get to all the other steps!

In the opening chapters of Joshua, the Israelites faced a faith-step: They stood just across the Jordan River from the Promised Land, a vision of home burned into their hearts during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Their new leader,…

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Giving and Multiplying Fruit

God came up with the idea of multiplication.

If you give him your time, he multiplies it. If you give him your money, he multiplies it. If you give him your talent, he multiplies it. If you give him your energy, guess what? He multiplies it.

It’s the same principle as planting seeds. Second Corinthians 9:10 says, “God gives seed to the farmer . . . God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval” (GW).

Think about that: God will increase the things you do that have his approval.

Farmers know that seed must be given away for it to increase. If you keep seed in a sack, it doesn’t do any good. But when you plant it, it multiplies. When you plant one corn seed, do you just get one corn seed back? No, you get a stalk with hundreds of corn kernels. When you plant one watermelon seed, do you only get one seed back? No, you get a bunch of watermelons with hundreds of seeds in them. God multiplies whatever little bit you give him.

“Remember that…

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Vision and Direction

It’s been said many times by many different people that everything rises or falls on leadership. I don’t think that’s ever truer than in ministry. Charles McKay, a former professor at California Baptist College, used to say, “If you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth.”

You can’t ever take people further than you are yourself, spiritually or any other way.

I remember when I was interviewed on the ACTS television network by former SBC president, Jimmy Allen, and he asked me about starting new churches. He said, “How important is location?” I told him that location is the second most important thing. But the most important thing is not location, but leadership in a church.

You don’t have to be a charismatic leader (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader. Personality has almost nothing to do with dynamic leadership.

Vision Matters

It’s not the charisma of the leader that matters, but the vision of the leader. Whatever your assignment may be in your church, no matter what your ministry concentration may be, your number one responsibility of leadership in that area is to continually clarify and communicate the…

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Ministry Leadership Action

Procrastination has a high cost. When we cram for tests, we get lower grades. When we wait until the deadline to file taxes, we miss things and make costly mistakes. When we put off difficult conversations, we hurt people and relationships.

And the cost of procrastination in ministry can be significantly higher. For us, procrastination isn’t measured in dollars; it is measured in ministries never started, people with needs going unmet, and those who are spiritually lost never hearing the Gospel.

The Bible says in James 4:17, “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not to do it” (NLT). When God calls you to do something, but you don’t do it, it’s not just a bad strategy or a missed blessing. It is sin.

If God has called you to do something in your ministry and you are not doing it, do it now! Not next month, next week, or even tomorrow—do it right now.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (NLT). None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. You may not have the opportunity tomorrow to do what…

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Walk Happy

Being a pastor isn’t easy. It’s hard work. It’s emotionally taxing. We’re just as subject to the pressure to hustle and grind as anyone in a professional role, and sometimes, the grind gets to us. You can only hustle so long until you’re out of energy.

I’ve found that when discouragement attacks, it usually attacks on Mondays, even after a great weekend of worship services and seeing lives changed.

James Draper once described the Southern Baptist Convention as “a denomination of discouraged leaders.” I think that’s true of most denominations and churches. I’ve heard from tens of thousands of leaders who have attended our Purpose Driven conferences and training events, and I’ve concluded that a majority of pastors struggle with chronic discouragement.

Thankfully, there is an antidote. The fourth chapter of Nehemiah gives us a four-point plan for bouncing back when we’re feeling down.

1. Rest Your Body

Nehemiah rested. The psalmist wrote about rest in Psalm 127:2, “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?” (The Message).

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do in a…

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Project

As a pastor, you need to be able to put together projects efficiently and effectively. Whether you are starting a new church, planning a new ministry, opening a new building, or just preparing for next weekend’s services, you need to mobilize people around a common task. That’s leadership in a nutshell.

When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city’s wall, he had a monster project on his hands. How he tackled that project provides us with seven key principles for getting things done.

1. The Principle of Simplification

Nehemiah kept his plan simple. He didn’t randomly assign jobs, he didn’t create a whole new organization, and he didn’t force any complex charts.

He organized around groups already associating together, such as the priests, the men of Jericho, and the sons of Hassenaah. The point is: Don’t create an organization if you don’t need it. If an organization already naturally exists, try to work through it and with it.

Sometimes a new leader comes into a situation, and the first thing he does is start changing the whole organization. Think: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Strong organizations are often the simplest ones.

2. The Principle of…

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Joyful Ministry

As Saddleback Church continues in our 40 Days of Prayer campaign, I’m mindful of the fact that a lot of leaders around the world might not be in the best place, spiritually, to lead a church in such an intense prayer effort. If you want to lead your church effectively through a campaign, you need to be keeping your own relationship with God fresh.

It’s way too easy to just go through the motions instead of basing your ministry on a growing relationship with Christ. In fact, your ministry will have no impact if you’re not developing a more intimate relationship with Christ.

Philippians 3:10 says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (NIV). The word “know” in this verse speaks of a deeply intimate relationship, like the relationship a husband and wife have with each another. Part of what kept Paul joyful in spite of being imprisoned as he wrote the book of Philippians was his intimate relationship with Christ.

Here are three big ways you can do the same …

1. Spend Time…

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One of my fondest memories of growing up is my father’s garden. It seemed my dad grew everything in his garden. In fact, he always grew enough to feed the entire neighborhood. Whenever people would stop by our home for a visit, they’d usually leave with a sack full of fresh vegetables and fruit.

The kind of fruit my father grew is just one kind of fruit—natural fruit. There is also biological fruit, the offspring of animals and the children of people. Then there is spiritual fruit, and that’s what God is talking about in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV).

These nine qualities describe the character of a fruitful, productive Christian—the kind of Christian all of us in ministry want to become and help others become in the process.

The question is: How do we get these character qualities? Obviously, God doesn’t just zap me one day and all of a sudden these qualities materialize in my life. He uses a process.

Here are two important facts you need to know about developing spiritual fruit:

It’s a partnership

The apostle Paul describes the…

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Plateau

I hear it frequently: “My church has hit a plateau. What can I do to get it moving again?”

While this can be a common crisis, it’s not unfixable. There are several things you can do to help your church move beyond its growth block.

First, though, it’s important to understand that the longer your church has been plateaued, the longer it’s going to take to get it going again. There is tremendous power in momentum.

At NASA, most of the energy – the jet fuel – in a rocket engine is used up in the first several hundred yards. It takes all that fuel just to get the thing off the launch pad. Once it’s in orbit, it takes very little power to keep a rocket going. But you still have to get the thing going, and that initial push takes a lot of time and energy up front.

If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it’s been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it’s been plateaued for twenty years, you’ve got to set in for the duration!

For…

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Believe

The real foundation of great leadership is character, not charisma. And one aspect of a leader’s character is the convictions to which he is deeply committed. Great leaders have strongly held beliefs. An opinion is something you’d argue about; a conviction is something you’d die for. Pastors, especially, must define the convictions for which they will endure every kind of hardship, and the only way to stand for those kinds of convictions is to live from a deep sense of God’s calling.

If God has called you to the task of leadership, nothing can stop you. Your identity rests in your relationship with him, not the approval of the people you are leading or the watching world around you. Instead of living in the comparison trap or the fear of what people will think, you must develop your convictions – theological, ethical, and practical – and stand by them.

Believe in advance that your convictions will be tested from at least eight angles:

1. Derision. When you’re in leadership, one of the first ways people will try to get you to deny your conviction is to make fun of you. Your convictions may very well…

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Gears

Every pastor who wants fully engaged board members, staff and church members needs to ask three probing questions.

  1. Do I understand the Greatest Commandment and take it seriously?
  2. Do I understand that I can love God wholeheartedly only if I have received, embraced, and cherished His deep love for me?
  3. Do I understand that I can love my neighbors as myself only if I love myself?

If you’re missing that last understanding—if it isn’t true of your board members, staff and church members—then the Greatest Commandment is mere theory. And, we’re definitely not alive at a heart level. Granted, we may be working hard. We may be doing our level best. Then again, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not fully engaged.

To become more fully engaged, I highly recommend reading (or listening to) Jerry and Denise Basel’s landmark book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself.

Earlier this summer I spent three days with Jerry and Denise at their beautiful home north of Atlanta. They’re the real deal with a powerful message. Together, Jerry and Denise resolved a deep three-year nagging question/concern in my own life: What does it mean for me to obey Jesus and love…

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Surviving and Thriving in SeminaryThe thought that kept recurring as I read Surviving and Thriving in Seminary was this: I wish I had read this book – or one like it – as I prepared to head off to seminary. The practical insights found here might have saved me much frustration and countless mistakes. Perhaps even more importantly, they would have helped me gain more value from my seminary experience.

The authors, Daniel Zacharias and Benjamin Forrest, of this brief book – most readers will finish it in a couple of settings — are both seminary professors and seminary graduates, and the work reflects their experiences as both students and as teachers of students. They understand the great value of seminary for preparing people for ministry, but they also understand that seminary is a three-year (or more) grind that can leave those that run the gauntlet exhausted and embittered. A fair number drop out. This work is designed to address seminary’s challenges, and the book is ideal for those either on the verge of enrolling or for those who are in their first year.

The work is…

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