Archives For Leadership

Muddy Path

Yesterday, I had a phone call with a young leader convinced he was no longer qualified to lead because he’d messed up in a way that pretty much every man on the planet has messed up repeatedly. This morning, I received an email from a Pastor wanting to know if he was qualified to lead when he still struggles with sins of the heart and mind.

First, a disclaimer… Paul made it clear in the pastoral epistles that those who desire to be overseers must live lives that are above reproach. Certainly, no one can actively serve as a Pastor who is secretly harboring or openly flaunting unrepentant sin, and often confession of certain sins sidelines our ability to lead with credibility.

But what about those weaknesses that are common to man? Not the scandal that brings reproach upon the cause of Jesus, but the sins which arise out of our struggle with the flesh and with humanness? I love this summary from Robert Coleman in his classic work, The Master Plan of Evanglism:

Our weaknesses need not impair discipleship when shining through them is a transparent sincerity to follow Christ.

Perfection isn’t the requirement for…

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Mute BusyOur world is filled with noise. It’s hard to find a place of quiet reflection anymore. Whether it’s some kid’s over-driven-bass-thumping music from his car, the laughter or racket of children, or jets overhead—we are frequently bombarded with sound. Some good. Some not so good.

Due to my bad back, bad knees, and bulbous belly, I haven’t backpacked in years. One of the things I miss about those great outdoor outings into the backcountry of the Cascades or Glacier National Park is the serenity. Except for the occasional call of a bull elk or the melodic chatter of birds, the silence was golden. Those quiet times refueled my soul.

Believe it or not, I’m an introvert. I love people. I can engage in a crowd with smiles and conversation. But I am refreshed in moments of solitude. There’s nothing I love more than a good book in one hand and a great cup of java in the other. Reading. Alone.

I find solace in solitude.

Interestingly, many people are uncomfortable with silence. I know people who must have a radio, CD or TV playing in the background all the time. Perhaps quiet intimidates some…

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Part One: Start with People

I love the practicality and simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. It was clear, relevant, and applicable.  He aimed for application because his goal was to transform people, not merely inform them.

Consider the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount:

  • Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness;
  • Then he talked about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.
  • Next he spoke of keeping promises and returning good for evil.
  • Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven, and how to overcome worry.
  • He wraps up his message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs, and warning us about false teachers.
  • Finally, he concludes with a simple story that emphasizes the importance of acting on what he’s taught: Put into practice what you’ve just learned!

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today. It changes lives! It’s not enough to simply proclaim, “Christ is the Answer.” We must show the unchurched how Christ is…

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Leaders love quotes.  A good quote puts into language what we feel intuitively in our heart and soul.  It clarifies our thinking and cuts through the clutter to get to the heart of the issues we are facing.
A good quote is repeatable.  It strengthens our leadership and message when used properly.  A good quote causes our great ideas to spread.  It is portable.When a pastor or leader says something memorable, something repeatable, it allows their message to be discussed days, sometimes weeks, later.  As a result, quotes make us better leaders.

Welcome to my latest eBook 969 Leadership Quotes: Timeless Truths From 2015’s Top Christian Conferences.  This is a FREE resource with a subscription to this site.

The pages of this resource contain the best thoughts from some of today’s top Christian, business and athletic leaders from the following conferences held during the first half of the year:

  • Passion 2015 – The annual gathering of students in Atlanta and Houston lifted up the name of Jesus and relieved suffering around the globe.
  • Capital Campaign University – This two-day conference was put on my INJOY Stewardship Solutions. The attendees…

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Weak Rock

I think there are two great confessions in the Bible. One of them is Peter’s great confession in Mark 8:29: “You are the Christ.” Our faith is built on that great confession. Then there’s what I call Paul’s great confession in Acts 14:15 at Iconium: “We too are only men, human like you.” (NIV) I know a lot of pastors who are quick to agree with the first confession, but they’re more cautious to proclaim Paul’s confession. A lot of us are more interested in proclaiming our spirituality than admitting our humanity. We want to deny that we are mere mortals and appear super human.

But to deny your humanity is not only untruthful, it’s a disservice to both yourself and those you serve. The fact is that God likes to take weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

In this context, I’m not talking about sins of character – like greed, overeating, or laziness. I mean any limitation in your life or ministry that you’ve inherited and can’t change.

Maybe it’s a circumstantial limitation or a disadvantage that you’re facing in your church. It could be emotional limitations, scars we all carry from childhood. It…

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I’ll admit, as a leader it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision.

It’s natural because as leader’s we’re encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading? Why aren’t they with us?

Do You Like To Fish?

Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank.

Some are still prepping their fishing gear. Some are just starting to launch their boats. Others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and still others haven’t yet even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when you realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help facilitate the transition.

We have a choice to change or remain the same.

John Maxwell in his book

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The strategic emphasis in most denominational or network circles is on church planting. I suspect that few would disagree with this, as it builds up new church bodies, expands the impact in communities, and reaches larger amounts of individuals.

Many of the same circles that focus on church planting, however, have given up on the struggling, already-established churches.

I believe that key to the church in America in the future is not only church planting, but also church revitalization. We need both church planting and revitalization. So how do we do this?

I have trained and sent out many church planters after their time preparing at Dallas Seminary. One of the things I’ve noted over the years is that the most successful church planters have been those who plant with the full-support of an established church.

Thus, if we want to do a good job of church planting, we need to work hard at not abandoning established churches, but revitalizing them. As we seek to multiply churches through church planting, let’s not be too quick to ignore established churches.

Church Adoption

When seeking to save a dying church, consider church adoption. I challenge many established and planted churches to consider not merging with (as this seldom works), but adopting…

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Angry Guy YellingThis is a very important post because the content below is going to save someone’s job and ministry.  For others, it will be a sad reminder of lost opportunity.  For another group, the information will be laughed off and ignored to your own peril.

The only difference between anger and danger is the letter “D”.  This is especially true for pastors.  Over the past three decades, I have encountered several pastors with anger issues.  The stories never ended well.

The following are 13 Realities Of Angry Pastors:

  1. Angry Pastors Have Experienced Significant Pain And Disappointment – Hurt people hurt people.  Even when they are pastors.
  2. Angry Pastors Have Control Issues – They get angry when they cannot control others and/or situations.  This often reveals itself when they are questioned.  Angry pastors frequently confuse questions with questioning.
  3. Angry Pastors Have Short Tenures – Because they lack emotional intelligence and needlessly burn so many bridges, attendance and giving decline.  The people have voted with their feet and wallets.  The pastor is ultimately removed.
  4. Angry Pastors Lead Smaller And Smaller Congregations – Interestingly, anger limits the size of churches you can be entrusted with.  I know of one pastor…

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Pete BookFor years I believed that if I could simply identify the right planning and decision-making process, we would then make good decisions at the church I pastor. That, it turned out, was both naïve and misguided. Over a twenty-year period, however, the dramatic difference between our standard process and emotionally healthy planning and decision making became crystal clear.

The first is the foundation from which all the others follow—defining success as radically doing God’s will.

We Define Success as Radically Doing God’s Will

From the time I became a Christian, I believed intellectually that listening for God’s will was vitally important. But it wasn’t until a four-month contemplative sabbatical in 2003-2004 that my approach to planning and decision making was utterly transformed. As a result, my definition of success so broadened and deepened that my leadership and my approach to discerning God’s will experienced an extreme makeover.

What happened? I slowed down my life so I could spend much more time being with God. Listening for and surrendering to God’s will became the focus of my life—both personally and in leadership. I realized that New Life had one objective: to become what God had…

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I first began to understand the importance of teams as a seminary student. I did a study of the 100 largest churches in the United States, and I asked them a series of questions related to staff and ministry. This may come as no surprise, but the study showed strong churches have a strong team spirit.

They do this by combining two things: a common goal with good communication.

Both of these elements have to be present. You can have people working on the same project but not communicating with each other, and they ARE NOT a team. You can have people who communicate well, but are not working toward the same goal, and that is NOT a team, even if you call them that.

Let me give you some foundation on why I think this is important:

First, the body of Christ functions as a team ministry.

Romans 12:4-5 says that, just as there are many parts to our bodies, likewise there are many parts to Christ’s Body. Essentially, God designed it so that we all need each other to have a fully functioning ministry and EVERY ONE of your staff members (or lay ministry leaders) plays…

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Coaching focuses on people learning rather than us teaching them. The Holy Spirit teaches and reminds (John 14:21). Coaches actively listen and ask reflective questions, supportively challenge limited beliefs and behaviors – all in order to assist people to hear from God and respond to Him.

This practice of coaching in leadership development is actually a throwback to the historic roots of word “coach”, which is the Kocs wagon of 15th century Hungary. A coach figuratively “carries” a person to his or her desired destination through ongoing conversations, thought-provoking questions, and support.

In practice,

·       A coach focuses on the agenda of the coachee. The coachee decides which goals or problems to work on, not the coach.

·       A coach uses powerful questions to generate new learning. The coach does not teach or advise, but rather asks questions and listens.

·       A coach encourages action. The coachee develops his or her own action steps, not the coach.

·       A coach supports change. A coach follows-up to support personal learning, growth, and change, rather than demanding change.

Those who are coached (coachees) are in the driver’s seat. They choose their own growth goals, reflect deeply…

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The winds of change blow from time to time in our lives. I am currently in a transitional season in my life.  This process is producing some valuable lessons I thought I would share.

I have learned several things but for narrowed it down to four for this post.

1. Relationships are like bridges

And like bridges, they can have a lot of mileage on them. Keeping these relationships strong demands we inspect them so they are well maintained.

According to the Transportation for America, one in nine bridges are structurally deficient.  In fact, there are 260 million trips per day on deficient bridges. Like bridges, our relationships can be deficient and still get the job done for a season.

I have seen many leaders light a bridge on fire. They watch it burn as it gets smaller in the rearview mirror.  Then later in life, they need to cross that bridge to get to another destination.

If we want our relationships to survive through transitions and the test of time, we must inject intentionality into their survival.

2. It’s easy to make assumptions

In horse racing, almost everyone in attendance are guessing at who will win the race. The oddsmakers and commentary fill the air…

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