Archives For Leadership

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How big and influential is your leadership? What kind of leader are you? Are you aware enough to know the honest answers to these questions? One of the greatest mistakes leaders make is thinking we are far more influential than we really are. If all a leader listens to and communicates with are the people who think like them and personally connect to them, they are greatly limiting their leadership potential.

People with Much Diversity

In my present responsibilities as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I have the incredible challenge of providing leadership to a mass of people filled with a diversity of opinions and preferences. Speaking of diversity, twenty percent of our 51,000 plus churches and congregations are non-white.

This task to provide leadership to men, women, pastors and laypersons requires me to value each person and their uniqueness in the body of Christ. Big and influential leadership requires that I listen to and involve all walks of life as much as possible. It comes down to one thing… my goal of leadership.

The Goal of Leadership

Our goal should be to make the biggest difference in as many lives as we possibly can. Therefore, we need to…

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“You are to look for capable men among the people, men who fear God, men of integrity who hate dishonest gain. You are to set these men over them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.” – Exodus 18:21 NIV

In this day and age, women are hungry to lead and serve within the body of Christ. The traditional Women’s Ministry model has left women wanting more and turning to other avenues to serve and lead out of their SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences). As the Women’s Minister at Saddleback Church, there is one thing I have heard loud and clear: women are ready, willing and able to serve and lead well. They just need one thing – permission. They need the space and encouragement to use their gifts for God’s glory. At the same time, I have come to understand that to unleash this army of women I cannot (nor do I want to) do it alone. In order to prevent burnout, ministry leaders must give away what they have been given to those men or women who have been called to join the battle. How does this happen effectively?

Through…

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You don’t know it all. There are limits to your knowledge, ability, and energy. And while the competitive nature of our culture, which often sneaks into our lives in ministry, would have us to hid all of our weaknesses in fear, there is tremendous power in becoming vulnerable with people.

Deciding to become vulnerable is risky. As church leaders, there will be people in our congregations who don’t want us to be human. They would prefer that we wear a halo and pretend that we’re never really tempted to sin in the same ways that they are. They feel safer if we, as spiritual leaders, are immune to the crass realities of life.

But when we hide our weaknesses, three big problems arise:

  • Our weaknesses get worse, feeding off of the shame and secrecy.
  • We become dishonest and hypocritical.
  • The truth inevitably comes out and people are disillusioned as a result.

So is bearing our vulnerability worth the risk? Absolutely. Here are some important reasons why vulnerability is a forgotten virtue of great leadership…

1. It’s emotionally healthy.

Maintaining an image of perfection requires enormous amounts of emotional energy. One of the reasons we sometimes get so stressed out and depressed is…

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Ready to Serve

Pastor, you were created by God to serve your congregation. What he told the prophet Jeremiah is also true for you: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV)

God redeemed you so you could do his holy work. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill, and this gives your life great significance and special value, no matter how discouraged you may feel right now. You are not God’s child by this service, but as God’s child you were created for this service.

The Bible says, “You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you.” (1 Peter 2:9, GW) Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling. In some churches in China, they welcome new believers by saying – “Jesus now has a new pair of eyes with which to see, a new set of ears for listening, two new hands for which to help, and a new heart for loving others.”

You’re not only the eyes, ears,…

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I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. I’ve been criticized much more than I’ve been complemented. I’ve been thrown into circumstances that I’ve never been in before many more times than finding myself somewhere familiar. And because of those truths, it makes me fearful that those trends will continue and I will ultimately find myself unemployed, alone, and isolated.

Maybe you can relate. I make decisions… worried that it won’t work out. I assign tasks… scared that they won’t follow through. I lead the team into the future… doubting that goals will be accomplished. Sound familiar at all?

Don’t get me wrong, I wish that fear wasn’t a part of my life. I sincerely hope that, one day, I’ll be in a place where I have so much confidence that fear dare not rear its ugly face. But that day is not today.

And the truth is that we leaders don’t do a good job at all of sharing these fears. We don’t want to get vulnerable or seem like we don’t have it all together. Although I don’t advocate this, I completely understand. But, I have come to find over the many years of leadership that we…

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Religious Liberty On Decline

By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A growing number of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline and that the nation’s Christians face growing intolerance.

They also say American Christians complain too much.

Those are among the findings of a new study of views about religious liberty from LifeWay Research. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Americans in September 2013 and September 2015 and then compared the results.

Two-thirds (63 percent) say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from half (50 percent) in 2013.

A similar number (60 percent) say religious liberty is on the decline, up from just over half (54 percent) in 2013.

Forty-three percent say American Christians…

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Accountability and counsel are essential to a church planter. In the early days of a new church plant, you’ll likely experience one of two temptations when it comes to leadership. One is to hastily construct a leadership team with a board, positions and policies. The other is to fly solo with no accountability at all.  Both are extreme approaches and dangerous for a church planter.  Here are a few things I learned the hard way that may help you in developing your leadership structure.

Move Slowly

Move slowly when choosing the leadership structure for a new church. Do not feel like you have to have the entire structure in place in the beginning. As a matter of fact, you’ll find it best if you don’t hastily build a leadership structure and assign roles. If you choose the structure or the leaders too quickly, you may have a mess to unravel.

Resist the urge to move quickly, and methodically set a structure. If you are in a denomination that has already chosen  your structure, then move slowly  in choosing the leaders within the structure. The challenge in a new church is that you really don’t know the…

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Last week I blogged about the 58 things that were killing me.

That post came from burnout I had as a small business owner. Right in the middle of that process, it got me thinking…

I wonder if pastors are getting burned out for the same reason as me?

With that question on my mind for a few days, I decided to send a quick survey to the pastors on my email list. The results were just as I suspected, and they point to the real reason why I believe pastors are so worn out.

It was the same reason I had experienced burnout as a small business owner in the height of our successes.

This revealing survey had two questions:

In what areas does your team need the most training?

I received a total of 17 different answers. Organization, volunteer management and spiritual development were just a few of the answers given.

The #2 answer on the list was Leadership, with 38% of pastors saying leadership is at the top of the list of areas their staff needs training in.

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This answer wasn’t surprising considering we are an industry…

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Clutter

I have a friend who’s life is defined by “busy.” He doesn’t really accomplish much, and I think that’s why he’s embraced an identity of always being busy.  He can’t talk without complaining how busy he is, he starts most of his emails with “I’ve been so busy recently that…,” and he never seems to have time to read a book, reflect, or think. It’s another symptom of this disrupted culture we live in. So if you occasionally feel overwhelmed and can’t really define why, here’s a few new rules for living in the constant “on” culture:

1) Turn off your computer and mobile device notifications.  Every app these days wants to be able to notify you of discounts and special deals. I looked at my wife’s phone recently and she had 22 apps that all had notifications turned on. It was pinging all day long. And that’s not counting email, text, and social media notifications. Just turn them off. Do you really need to know the moment a person responds to your Twitter post? Do you need to be alerted the exact second every email arrives? Talk about overkill. Let it rest.

2) Schedule 2-3…

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Senior Pastors typically underestimate the impact their building has on their church’s future growth.

Building Too Late

Church planters believe the lie that they don’t need a building to grow, ignoring the fact that your chances of survival begin to plummet drastically after year six outside of a permanent facility (whether owned or leased). We will always find growing church plants past that age in rented/temporary facilities, but those outliers are breathing rare air.

Senior Pastors of established churches, likewise, face their own unique challenges.

Expecting A Silver Bullet

Many assume that simply “rallying the troops” and building a new building, or relocating to another location, will automatically ignite growth. What happens, more often than not, is the increased debt and facility expansion doesn’t overcompensate for the fact that the church hasn’t addressed the underlying issues that stalled their church’s growth in the first place. As the old Buddhist proverb states, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Inevitable Bottlenecks

Others assume they can overcome the size limitations their facility places on their ministry. The rule of thumb when it comes to facilities is that there are three things that impact a church’s ability to grow: parking, seats in the auditorium, and…

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Executive-Pastor-768x509One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “At what point should I hire an Executive Pastor?”

This is an easy one to answer.

Let me briefly sketch the challenges that must be addressed at every stage of growth up to 1,000 so you can see the natural place this hire should occur.

200 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Congregation

Breaking the 200 attendance barrier is all about changing the relationship between the Senior Pastor and the congregation at large. Up to that point the congregation has essentially been one big group with the Senior Pastor in the center of it.

To break that barrier the Senior Pastor has to forcibly change the congregational culture by (1) creating multiple gatherings where people don’t see each other on Sunday morning, (2) drive hands-on pastoral care to other leaders in the church (by decreasing their personal accessibility and increasing systems for care), and (3) fanatically finding and raising up new volunteer and paid leaders to lead segments of the congregation.

400 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Governing Board

Breaking the 400 barrier is all about changing the nature of the governing board of the church, and the way it…

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No one’s life is an unbroken chain of victories. We all experience setbacks, defeats, losses and failures. Consider the example of baseball – not even the greatest of players bats 1,000%. The same is true in ministry – we all make mistakes, even as we seek to serve God.

Since failure is something every one of us will, at some time, experience, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to respond to it in a godly fashion. It has been my observation that successful ministers know how to turn every failure into a learning experience – creating a stepping stone for future success.

The first thing to do when you’re faced with any failure is to analyze why it happened. Although there may be a variety of reasons – many out of your control – here are five common causes of failure:

When you don’t plan ahead

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.” Proverbs 27:12 says, “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them” (LB). Moving your church towards greater growth and health requires a lot of planning. You not only need to plan how to…

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