Archives For Leadership

Ministry is not easy. It never has been nor will it ever be. Regardless of how you carry out God’s calling in ministry, at times, you will go through difficulty.

From the Voice of Experience 

Since my college days, I have served as the pastor of a local church. From the simplest setting to the most complex setting, I have never found ministry easy. I am thankful for God’s call upon my life to the ministry of the Gospel, and I find enjoyment and fulfillment in it. And though I have found ministry seasons filled with unity and purpose, it is impossible to serve in ministry very long without experiencing some very tough times.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to remember four things when your next season of difficulty comes in ministry.

1. God is in control

I have faced some days when I forgot that God is in control. In those moments, I internalized the challenges and difficulties in ministry. This resulted in me withdrawing from others and experiencing a sense of loneliness. Upon occasion, my “ownership” of ministry set me back from God’s intention for me.

Through God’s Word and the power of the Holy…

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Talent and charisma aren’t bad. They’re good. They’re gifts to be stewarded. In the Bible, Joseph and Daniel are two striking examples of both attributes and how God uses them to put us in places of expanding influence. The problem, however, with both talent and charisma is that they expand our influence whether our character is ready for it or not.

Keep a close watch on yourself  and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

Joseph and Daniel were prepared, even through adversity, for the platforms to which God led them. Other leaders have not been so well prepared.

Every time we hear of another moral failure of someone we respected in leadership, a range of thoughts go through our minds…

  • This didn’t have to happen! What a waste!
  • Those poor, innocent and unknowing spouses!
  • The children caught in the crossfire!
  • The church now dealing with the aftermath of a scandal!
  • The reproach upon the Kingdom!
  • The ammunition we give to the naysayers!

At the end of the day, such stories should drive us to our knees in both repentance and in…

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In a world of overload – information overload, option overload, and overload overload – there are very few things that set organizations apart from one another. Decision making about where we will shop, eat, and even worship is becoming more and more difficult. Who has the best deal? Where did I have the best experience the last time I was there? Which comes the most recommended by my friends?

The decisions can be difficult and confusing.

I believe that those organizations that will survive and thrive have, as their foundation, one principle that helps them succeed and differentiate themselves. A principle that takes years to perfect and only moments to lose. The one principle that will launch a business from mediocre to phenomenal. What is it?

CONSISTENCY

I remember my days in the restaurant business. Consistency was the main goal of our business. Being consistently good, that is. If I go to the restaurant today and order a steak, it will be prepared exactly like it was when I ordered it weeks and even months ago. The service will be every bit as good as it was back “then.” The overall experience that I have will be good from the…

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One of the most common complaints I hear from churches is how they wish their introverted Senior Pastors were friendlier and more approachable.

The good news is this can be very easily addressed, without Senior Pastors running themselves into the ground.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to help introverted Senior Pastors practice being more relational:

1. Don’t focus on friendliness. Focus on displaying the fruit of the Spirit.

Nowhere are we commanded to “be super friendly and outgoing” in Scripture. But we are commanded to be joyful, peaceful, patient, and kind. The former is an unrealistic expectation for anyone, introverted or extroverted. It is perception-based. Trying to play to people’s perceptions is a fool’s game. Focus instead on exuding the fruit of the Spirit in every encounter you have.

2. “Many light touches, few deep touches.”

Years ago Steve Sjogren, former pastor of the Cincinnati Vineyard and author of Conspiracy of Kindness, told me the way he survived being a Senior Pastor in a thriving, chaotic church, was to be strategic about how often he’d do a “deep dive” with a person. His goal was to physically shake hands…

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For years I have been obsessed with the idea of finishing well. My long-term friend was a pastor and we often talked about the concept, especially when someone we knew in ministry didn’t finish well. We would try to understand what went wrong.

As a psychologist, one of my insights is that there is a lot of pressure on pastors to present themselves as a false self, both in their relationship with people in their congregation, as well as with others. It ’s like living out the old Greek word persona, which means literally “stage face.” A pastor must always have his or her “stage face” on.

Let me explain. It began with Adam and Eve. Like us, they were created in the image of God. But that image hadn’t yet been affected by sin, so they lived life through what we’ll call their real self. There was a sense of oneness between them that we see clearly when God introduced Eve to Adam.  Adam responded by saying, “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). He is noticing only how much Eve is like him – he’s…

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Re-Ignite Your Passion

Passion is what energizes life. It turns the impossible into possible. In fact, if you don’t have any passion in your life, ministry will become boring, dull, routine, monotonous. I’ll go so far as to say if you don’t have passion in your life you are not living. You are existing. God made you to live a passionate life and to serve him and his people with vitality. With vibrancy. With energy. With enthusiasm. He wants you to have this in your life.

In John 10, Jesus said “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” God wants you to live a full life, a fulfilling life, which is the basis for a fulfilling ministry. If that’s true, that’s the kind of life God meant for us to live. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Sadly, however, countless thousands of pastors and ministry leaders are simply enduring, holding on for the ride and hoping to survive until death without blowing it too badly.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son…

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Discouragement in ministry is real. When you are down, how do you get back up?

It does not matter if plans you had are now unfulfilled, you are surrounded by small-mindedness, people leave your church, you hear unending criticism, or you are just facing a season of barren and grind, discouragement is difficult. But it is not terminal in ministry.

Now is the time to embrace the battle and move through it.

4 Ways to Get Through Discouragement

1. Share with God about where you are.

Pastors tend to talk about their discouragement with other people more than we talk about it with God. Pastor, the moment you sense you are discouraged, begin with God. Talk to Him about it.

If you do not, the very thing or things that have led you to this place in your life will lead to even greater discouragement. Failing to unpack where you are with God is a major mistake in ministry.

2. Set your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus does not disappoint, but people do. Looking at others will lead you to major disappointment. Get your eyes off leaders in your life and members of your church.

Set your eyes on Jesus. He…

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Burnout is easy to accomplish. In fact, it’s our default destination when all we do is coast along. I’ve conversed with tons of pastors who are discouraged. Not one of them predicted it. It always sneaks up on us. It’s the creep – the gentle drift – that is the most common culprit of a healthy soul’s demise.

If you’re a pastor or ministry leader, let me challenge you to make three bold decisions today, and every day hereafter.

1. I will grow deeper roots.

One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 17:7-8:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (NKJV)

We all want to bear fruit, but the prerequisite to doing so is tapping down and spreading out our roots. When our roots are deep, hot, dry weather and seasons of suffering won’t kill us at our core.

And how does…

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Big Bus

We are all on the bus together headed to the same destination to play the game of our lives. As we travel along, however, we begin to sense something may not be right with a few members of the team. We need to pay attention to these feelings! Oftentimes, God is speaking through that still small voice, preparing us for courageous conversations and courageous calls that will need to happen before we can pull off our next big win.

The 4 Most Common Staff Issues

1. They’re in the wrong seat on the bus.

This has to do with a team member’s capacity. Many times it’s not that someone has fumbled the ball in such a way that it led to a big loss. They haven’t done something terribly wrong. We just sense that they might be in over their heads. They might be out of position. Though they fit for a while in a certain seat on the bus, sometimes as the organization grows, the gift mix needed for that position simply changes. The Worship Pastor gift mix needed at a church of 200 is completely different than the mix needed at a church…

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“Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum, or miserable stagnation.”

-Shawn Parr, Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, @FastCompany

Culture is the combination of what we believe and how we behave. It’s been said that we are creatures of habit. The same can be said for the organizations we lead. They are simply a product of our habits!

There’s always a gap between what we say we value and what we really value. Let’s close that gap a bit. Let’s honestly assess ourselves. Let’s commit to practice what we preach. Let’s ask ourselves the tough questions. Healthy things grow so let’s deal with any issues that could be affecting our culture. How?

Conviction

What are you passionate about? What is the organization passionate about? Does everyone know it? Does everyone feel it?

Crank it up a bit! When Jesus came on the scene, the Bible says He “taught as one having authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22). In other words, he taught with conviction, passion, and moral authority!  You should do the same.

Clarity

Are you crystal clear on the culture you’re…

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One of my favorite things to do is to speak to a group. It’s mostly because I am a teacher at heart and I really enjoy helping people understand a new idea, deepen their knowledge about a topic, or help them move from point A to point B about a subject. From a young age I wanted to be a teacher and I have been blessed to be a teacher for most of my career.

Similar to leadership, teaching is something that has naturally come with each of my positions. When I’m a manager, I train others how to do their job – teaching! When I’m in a meeting presenting a new way to reach customers, I’m teaching! When I’m in the classroom in front of a bunch of college students teaching them about leadership, I’m teaching … okay, that one was kind of obvious.

One of the best ways to spread your message is through public speaking. Whether you’re in a pulpit on Sunday morning, presenting a PowerPoint presentation to your colleagues, or leading a family meeting at home, you’re speaking. And most of us can get better at this skill. And, I am…

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Everything you have is a gift from God – your health, your life, your salvation, your freedom, your friends, your family, your opportunities. God expects you to make the most of the things he gives you. The word for that in the Bible is called “stewardship.” Stewardship is the Old English word for “management.”  And just as you manage your time and your money, you also manage your influence.

God expects you to use your influence to help other people. What is influence? The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as, “the power to affect how someone develops, acts, or thinks.” God expects you to be an influence.

You should want to be influential. In fact, it’s quite selfish to say, “I don’t really care about the rest of the world. I don’t care about helping anybody else.  I’m just thinking about little ol’ me.” In fact, Jesus commands that you use your influence for good in this world. You were put here to be an influence for good. God wants you to do that. Someday we’re going to give an account to God of how well we influenced others for good and for God.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus…

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