Archives For Leadership

Last night I walked out of the room shaking my head.

God, I don’t know how you pulled this off, but this team is simply amazing.

Unified. Visionary. Encouraging. Fun. Passionate. Gifted. Transparent. Gracious. These are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the people who faithfully serve on CCV’s Leadership Team.

Your church may use a different name – Leadership Council, Governing Board, etc. – we simply use the phrase “Leadership Team” to describe the group of people called to serve the function of what the Bible calls “Elders.”

Whatever you call them, my prayer is your group is as gifted and passionate as the volunteer servant leaders I have the privilege of serving alongside. I tell senior pastors that I coach that every church ought to know the joy of being led well.

Since these kinds of things rarely happen by accident, I’d like to share with you 10 reasons why I think this team is such a special group.

  1. I’m not the smartest person in the room.
  2. I’m not the best leader in the room.
  3. I’m not the most committed Christian in the room.
  4. I’m not the oldest

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A few months ago, a young woman I’ve known all her life looked at me and said, “What’s that on your face?”

She’s the bold, outspoken type, so her question didn’t shock me, but I said, “What particular blemish are you talking about?”

“The hole in your cheek!”

“Oh, you mean the pockmark?”

Suddenly it dawned on her; I just pointed out a pitted scar left by a pimple on my pastor’s face!

I chuckled and said, “It’s okay, I embrace my flaws.”

Awkward for her.

Not so much for me.

Why do we try to hide our imperfections? It’s a great question.

Perhaps it’s because we fear rejection. Maybe it’s that we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Of course, we could just be afraid of scaring small children.

Whatever the reason, there is a freedom that comes in our relationships when we know we are loved regardless of our flaws.

Frankly, at my age, you do one of two things when it comes to your appearance:

  • Spend a lot of time and money on hiding your blemishes.
  • Accept the reality that you are far from perfect and it’s okay.

I choose to accept my imperfections.

One of my…

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As a leader, one of the hardest things to do is to lead people through the process of change. But, the reality is that change is happening around us all the time. And if we don’t change, we’ll be left behind. Change is a function of growth … things/organizations/people cannot grow unless they change. The paradigm that exists with all change as it relates to people is that the person must decide to change before they will.

A leader’s job is to inspire and influence the people they lead to create an environment where it is easy to change. As with most leadership principles, this one is easier said than done. I’ve found that there are really five reasons that change is hard for so many people … in fact I identified these in myself. So let’s learn and grow (and change) together!

  • I don’t want to. There are moments in time where we become obstinate. We just flat out don’t want to change. It can be vindictive because we don’t agree with the change or it can come from a place of bitterness because of a broken relationship. Regardless of where it comes…

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Deep in the heart of every man I’ve ever met lurks a daunting question that casts a shadow over every major challenge we ever face: Am I up to this?

When I went to take the test for my driver’s license… When I enrolled in college… When I bought the ring to propose… When my babies came along… Am I up to this? Or am I destined for failure? Since I’m probably not up to this, maybe I should go ahead and sabotage it.

Such are the thoughts that, at least subconsciously, go through the heads of us men as we make decisions in life. I’m sure women struggle with it too, but I’m speaking out of my own experience here. Some men sabotage by shirking responsibility and self-medicating through addictive behavior – drugs, alcohol, porn, gaming, etc. Others just go numb, becoming “yes” men to the tyranny of mediocrity.

For some who have already made the tragic choice of shutting down and checking out, this is a call to repentance and revival. For those still wrestling with the decision, it’s a call to arms.

As I coach ministry leaders, I hear it in…

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For Senior Pastors to thrive they must discover, and then operate within, the framework of their unique God-given style of doing ministry; in what I call their “Senior Pastor Archetype.”

Most leaders, I’ve discovered, spend years fighting against their natural archetype because (a) they’ve never taken the time to discover who they are, (b) the way their mentors modeled ministry for them was decidedly different than how they’re wired, and (c) people in their churches prefer the style of ministry of the leader’s predecessor (or the style of the pastor of their most recently attended church).

The secret to thriving in ministry is to figure out how God wired you for ministry and stop fighting against your natural style. Discover who you are, accept how you are wired as valid, and then shape the church you serve around who you are as a Senior Pastor. You do this and you’ll drive congregational impact and experience personal fulfillment.

After coaching dozens of people from every denomination, age, personality type, and theological perspective, I’ve found that Senior Pastors fall into one of twenty-five different Senior Pastor Archetypes.

Steps To Discovering Your Senior Pastor Archetype

There are six steps to…

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I procrastinate on writing my messages.

I plan lots of time at the beginning of my week to study and write my message but inevitably something arises leadership-wise that causes me to take the time I planned for sermon development and devote it to some other worthy cause.

Why do I keep doing that? Let me pull the lid off this thing and examine it.

The Cause of Procrastination

First, I think I do this because writing sermons is tough work.

It is grueling. Sermon crafting is like having a baby – some come out with one push, others come out breach. Having a baby 48 times a year is tough. Sermon writing is just tough work. To do it well you have to be disciplined and sit at that desk whether or not the inspiration comes.

Second, I think I postpone sermon writing because I like to gravitate to something that is more fun to me – leadership challenges.

Leadership challenges energize me. They are reflexive. Leadership comes naturally to me. I know I have the gift of teaching, but it ranks second in my gift mix. Having the gift of leadership and teaching is a wonderfully troublesome combination.

Third,…

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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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