Archives For Leadership

In Nehemiah 5, the Israelites faced conflict for one of the same reasons we do today: selfishness. So, what can we learn from Nehemiah about handling conflict?

1. Take the problem seriously. (v. 6)

Nehemiah didn’t ignore the problem; he took it seriously. When the unity of your church gets challenged, it’s your job to protect that unity. It’s serious business.

In times like this, a certain level of anger is completely appropriate and right. Leadership means knowing the difference between the right kind of anger and the wrong kind of anger.

2. Think before you speak. (v. 7)

If you only do step one and ignore step two, you’ll get in lots of trouble. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “I pondered them in my mind” (NIV). Nehemiah stopped, got alone with God, and thought about what he was going to do. He asked God, “What do you want me to do?”

You should get angry when disunity threatens your church, but you have to think before you act. You can’t just act on that anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God…

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5 Ways to Relax When You're Overworked

As ministry leaders, we approach each day with passion because we’re working for God, and our mission is literally to see the world saved. But the fact is, there will always be more work to do in ministry, and that’s why we must deliberately take time away from work.

God did it, resting one day after working six, so why should we think the world will fall apart if we aren’t on the job 24/7?

Here are five steps you can take toward recovery from ministry workaholism.

R – Readjust Your Values

The costs of workaholism are enormous: divorce, alcohol abuse, heart attacks and other illnesses, fragmented and fractured relationships, unhappiness, and loneliness.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why am I working so hard? Do a motive check. What drives you to do this? Are you trying to prove something?

Is the payoff worth it? Why do you keep fighting to get to the next level? What can you realistically expect? Is it worth sacrificing your life for it?

Your life is too important to waste on second-class causes. Readjust your values.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with…

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Everybody needs a dream. In fact, God wired you to dream dreams, and from Joseph to Daniel to Peter, the Bible is filled with stories of God giving his people great dreams.

Whenever you first got involved in ministry, you probably started with a big dream. Unfortunately, as you get into that ministry, your dreams can shrink to the size of the situation.

If you’re going to be involved in ministry, you’ve got to continue to be a dreamer. You’ve got to have faith in what God can do through your ministry. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). Faith begins with catching a dream, a vision.

When I started Saddleback, I started with a dream. In fact, at the very first Saddleback trial service, I shared that dream with the 60 people in the room. I shared a bold dream that day—a dream of a church of 20,000 people ministering in Orange County and around the world, a dream of a campus that would be a refuge for the hurting, depressed, frustrated, and confused in our community, and a dream of sharing the Good News with…

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High achievers usually have one obvious thing in common: personal discipline.

Successful people are willing to do things that most people are unwilling to do.

As the pastor of Saddleback Church, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of Orange County’s most successful business leaders. I’ve observed that successful people express self-discipline in six key ways:

1. Successful people master their moods.

They live by their commitments, not their emotions. People who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it accomplish most of what gets done in the world!

“A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” Proverbs 25:28 (TLB).

2. Successful people watch their words.

They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths.

“He who guards his lips guards his life” Proverbs 13:3 (NIV).

3. Successful people restrain their reactions.

How much can you take before you lose your cool? Unfortunately, a lot of potential influence can be cut short by a short temper.

“If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” Proverbs 19:11 (GNT).

4. Successful people stick to their schedule.

If you don’t determine how you will spend your…

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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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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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