Archives For Leadership

What does it mean to be a master in the art of living?

If you asked a hundred different people, you’d get a hundred different opinions. That’s understandable. It’s a vague question. But I read a James Michener quote recently about the art of living that I just can’t get out of my head.

I love his definition.

He says: “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and play, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.” – James Michener

I’m fascinated by this quote. I can’t help but think about how living congruently like this might transform the way we lead and love those around us. And at the same time, I can’t help but think very few of us actually live this way.

Living with great vision and intention isn’t easy, but it is so important. 

What vision do you have for your…

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Friends“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Have you ever heard that quote by Theodore Roosevelt? I find it to be true in my own life, and if you think about it for a moment, I think you’ll find it’s true in yours as well.

Comparison is such a natural tendency for people, and as pastors, we’re not exempt.

Have you ever found yourself thinking about another pastor’s church or hearing from someone how great another pastor’s sermons are? Have you ever found yourself wishing your building was just a little bit more like theirs or that your church had as much money as the one down the road?

Sadly, it’s easy to find ourselves comparing ourselves to other pastors and our churches to others around us. It’s easy to look at other churches and want a competitive edge or to look at other pastors through the corner of your eye, feeling like they’re the competition.

Not only does this comparison and competition steal our joy, it also steals one of our greatest resources: other pastors.

Our lives as the heads of our churches are unique. The way we live, the pressures we feel, our schedules, and…

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LightbulbA lightbulb can brighten up a dark room. A laser can cut through steel. Lightbulbs disperse soft light in every direction for a short distance. Lasers can only be focused in a single direction but, theoretically, one beam can travel infinitely.

In the same way your ministry is either a laser or a lightbulb.

After his resurrection Jesus gave his disciples a laser-like focus to “go and make disciples of all nations….” (Matthew 28:19.) The book of Acts is the working out of this mission in real and tangible ways. Yes, part of this disciple making process was gathering together on a regular basis (Acts 2:42) and prioritizing key values Acts 6:4) but the pulsating heart of the early church was active disciple making. The apostles were laser like in their focus. As a result the church exploded from Jerusalem to Rome in less than 30 years.

What does this have to do with your ministry? Plenty!

There are far too many nice, little 60 watt ministries that do nice, little 60 watt activities and get nice, little 60 watt results. These ministries shine some semblance of light but usually it can’t be seen outside the…

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Hot Sun

There comes a point in every great work when you will begin to get tired, disillusioned, and discouraged. Fatigue at the halfway point of anything worthy of your dedication is inevitable. This is true for pastors and church leaders, especially in August.

I’ve noticed that about half way through the year I always tend to get a little lethargic and down. Part of it is the warm weather. Part of it is the fact that everyone is on vacation. And Part of it is just calming down after the big springtime push for growth and health in our churches.

In August, or at any point you feel that sense of fatigue and discouragement, remember these things.

1. Feelings are unreliable.

 “Like an open city with no defenses  is the man with no check on his feelings.” Pr.25:28 (NAB)

“Trust wholeheartedly in God; put no faith in your own perception.”  Pr. 3:5 (NJB)

Feelings come from a variety of sources: past, present, & future. Our feelings often lie to us and give us a false sense of reality. The Bible describes life as a mixture of conflicting emotions.

If we’re going to be effective over the long haul, we…

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Deadlines

Right now many deadlines are pressing in on me. Has that ever happened to you? I remember when the only pressure I had was that of sermon preparation for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. While those deadlines were pressing in on me weekly and it was real, it seems the longer I am in ministry the more deadlines I face.

I have the weekly deadline of Sunday sermon preparation but if I speak away from my church during the week, then responsibilities increase. Three weeks ago I preached on Sunday morning, spoke in Alabama on Tuesday, spoke in Missouri on Thursday, hosted and spoke at our Men’s Conference on Friday and Saturday, went through Sunday, and then left for the Holy Land on Monday.

Most of the way to Israel, I was working on church matters and preparing to speak to our tour group while in the Holy Land. While on the way home, sermon preparation was raging again and additional writing assignments, both for our church and others that serve the greater body of Christ, were looming. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.

Every pastor and leader I know experiences the pressure and inevitability…

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Clock

What habits are keeping you from getting your work done?

Bad Habits = Bad Leadership

Here Are 10 Habits you Must Break to be More Productive:

1- Overloading

Have you ever been in the middle of one task and then started another, only later to realize that you didn’€™t finish either? Multi-tasking seems like a good idea at the time, but often leads to nothing. Concentrate on the important task until it is finished, before starting something else.

2- Making Excuses

We have become desensitized to accountability. When something doesn’t get it done, we immediately look for something or someone else to blame. As the cliche goes, “Life isn’t always fair.” Get it done anyway.

3- Email Obsession

How many times do you check email in a day? 10, 20, 50, 100? Stop checking your email. Instead, do your work.

4- Focus on the negative

The news is best consumed in small doses. If you read the news these days there is simply too much. Too much negativity. Too much inaccuracy. Too much wasted time. Don’t endlessly surf the news websites, and instead let the news come to you. Get a few RSS feeds. Read the news once a day.

5- Being Unorganized

You…

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Springs OcalaAllow me to clarify that this article is an adaptation from Will Mancini’s book Innovating Discipleship!

“How do you want your church to be different two years from now?”  The typical answer is, “We want more people!”  That can be expressed in different forms such as; “We want our auditorium full!” or “We want to start more small groups!” or “We want to see our attendance grow by 10%!” or “We want to start additional services so more people can attend!”  Everyone wants more people and more people is good.  Jesus wants more people and we should count people because people count.  The problem is when the numbers become the end result.

It is interesting that we do not hear the following very often: “We want to see more people desperate for Jesus!” or “We want to see our homes strengthened and more families having devotionals together!” or “We want to see our students on fire for God and living on mission to reach their campus for Christ!” or “We want to see more members building meaningful relationships with people who are far from Christ!”  Yet, despite a…

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PulpitThe entire church is waiting expectantly. When your church is in transition—seeking a new pastor or other ministry staff member—there are a few things any member can do:

Get Busy about God’s Work

  • Personally demonstrate faithfulness. This is not a time to relinquish church responsibilities or slack off in tithing or attendance. Your commitment is to God, not to a pastor.
  • Some churches grow during a transition time! Invite friends. Share your faith often. (Try NAMB’s free phone app, Life Conversations Guide.) Plan the largest, most evangelistic Vacation Bible School ever. Grow your small group. Your future pastor will be impressed.
  • Every member of the body of Christ, working together, is God’s plan for His church. God’s call on your life isn’t on hold. If you’ve become complacent, find a place of service.

Encourage the Pastor Search Team

  • Pray faithfully for the committee, and mail an occasional prayer note to them. Show great support, but don’t slow their progress by probing for information. They are very aware of the urgency and gravity of their assignment, and will provide periodic updates to the entire church.
  • Consider ways you can personally help individual team members when they meet or travel….

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Other LeadersIn my previous article I argued that “Everyone has influence. We all influence someone.” And that God expects us to be good stewards of that influence. And I defined a “kingdom builder” as one who as a great purpose to live for, great principles to live by, great power to live on, and great people to live with. I shared the first half of a dozen scriptural principles about influence:

  1. Everybody has influence.
  2. God expects me to use the influence He’s given me.
  3. My influence is for the benefit of others.
  4. If I’m not influencing them, they’re influencing me.
  5. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those that have no influence.
  6. I will answer to God for how I used my influence.

I want to share the other six principles of influence today.

7.  If I use my influence well, God will give me more.

In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about the stewardship of influence in which a ruler had left several stewards in charge of different amounts of money. When he returned and found that two of the three had earned an increase on the money he told them each,…

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Healthy FlockAs pastors, we know our job to minister to the spiritual health of our communities. But as you think about the spiritual health of the people in your church, do you consider their mental, physical, emotional and relational health as well? My guess is, if you’re like most pastors, you probably don’t.

Consider how the health of someone’s marriage might have an impact on their experience of God and intimacy with him. Think about how depression—or perpetual anxiety—might impact a person’s spiritual well-being (and vice versa).

When I spell it out like this, it seems so obvious. Of course these things are connected.

But it’s easy to forget this as a pastor. 

If you want to pastor a healthy church (and my guess is you do. If you don’t, that’s a discussion for a whole different article)– if you want to pastor a healthy church, you have to take into account the emotional, mental, physical, and relational health of the people you pastor.

If that thought scares you, don’t let it. You don’t have to be a therapist or a doctor or a life coach in order to provide this for the people entrusted to…

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