Archives For Leadership

Liked

The desire to be liked and approved of by others runs deep in most of us. Maybe all of us. We are wired for connection to other humans. We are made to be in meaningful relationships. And when we know or sense that someone in our sphere of influence doesn’t like us, it hurts.

From the time we start school as young children, we do whatever we can to gain the acceptance and approval of others.

  • If we’re nerdy, we play the smart card.
  • If we’re goofy, we play the fun card.
  • If we’re athletic, we play the jock card.
  • If we’re musical, we just play something, anything (even a trumpet) to fit in with others who are like us — hoping beyond hope that others will embrace us as valuable.

As we enter our teen years, we might feign apathy and act as if we don’t care about being liked.

But we do care. A lot.

Over time, after a broken heart or two or 20, and after rejection after rejection, we typically start to withdraw in an act of self-preservation. However, our retreat from people doesn’t stop our deep-seated need to be recognized and…

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Work

Work dominates our lives — especially those of us in ministry.

The typical American spends about 150,000 hours — or 40 percent of his life — at work (I suspect that for pastors, the number is even higher!)

In other words, you’ll spend more time working in ministry, thinking about ministry, and commuting to your ministry than you will eating, relaxing, and vacationing — all combined — this year.

Now, God wants you to succeed in ministry. In fact, in the Bible, God offers this guarantee:

“Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place” (Proverbs 16:3 MSG).

What does it mean to put God in charge of your work? There are three steps I’d suggest:

Seek God’s Direction

Ask him to guide you every day: in your planning . . . your organizing . . . your decision making . . . your implementing . . . and in relating to everyone you come in contact with. “The Lord is pleased when good people pray” (Proverbs 15:8a GNT).

Sharpen Your Skills

Be the best you can be for God’s glory. Never stop learning. Look for ways to cultivate the talents he’s given you.“If the ax is dull and…

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Broken

An old friend, Richard, recently called me. He used to live in town and attend my church. For the past seven years or so, he’s been a member of a large church in Phoenix.

We were catching up and reminiscing about old friends when he said to me, “I had coffee with my current men’s pastor yesterday, and he told me some honest things about his marriage and about something stupid he said to his wife.”

I chimed in, “That’s cool!”

He awkwardly paused, and then said with a confused tone, “How is that cool?”

“It’s cool that your pastor owned his stuff and that he’s being real with you. It’s the people who try to hide and deny their sins that worry me.”

Bob said, “I guess I expected the guy pastoring men to be . . . well . . . to be more spiritually mature.”

Without hesitation, I reminded Bob of the many times he heard me tell stories of my idiocy. I also told him we all walk with a limp, and none of us is without a soul blemish or two (or 20).

On this side of eternity, the reality we don’t like to admit,…

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Calculator

There’s a big difference between ministry management and ministry multiplication. As a leader, the gravitational pull is always toward the tyranny of the urgent. It’s like a tractor beam pulling us in. Too many leaders get so focused on “What now?” that we can’t focus on what’s next! We fall into the rut of putting out fires and managing the ministry machine, rather than focusing on what could come next for our ministry.

Ministry management is important — just not at the neglect of ministry multiplication! New approaches to ministry, starting new groups, new ministries, new campuses, new sites, and new churches are where the real Kingdom and church growth will come from! Multiplication is the real key to Kingdom and church growth! So how can we get our ministries focused more on multiplication and less on management? Here are a few ideas:

Focus on the IMPORTANT, not the URGENT

Are you familiar with the Urgent/Important Matrix? In the figure below, you can probably tell where we tend to spend the majority of our time: urgent things that are NOT the most important things, such as the internet, our email inbox, social media, and meetings where nothing…

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Most Christians I know want the Church to experience revival. We just don’t all agree on what revival looks like.

Back in the olden days (the mid-1990s) I preached a few times at a small church (averaging 12 each Sunday) in eastern Arkansas. They had a rotation system that determined who would take the visiting speaker home for lunch, and one day my lot fell to two elderly ladies who made awesome roast beef!

As I sat in their living room visiting after lunch, they brought out some photo albums from the church’s history. I was amazed to see crowds of people stuffed so tight into the little white clapboard building that they were spilling out into the yard around the church, with small groups gathered around each window leaning in to hear a loud evangelist thunder forth the Gospel.

The next few photos were of the mass baptisms they conducted in the White River — dozens had come to claim Jesus Christ.

Some argue that “revival” isn’t about people being saved but about the Church coming back to life. I agree, but the byproduct of the church coming to life is nearly always that lost people knowing and…

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Your church doesn’t need a new mission. God determines the mission. He defines the mission. And he’s been about the mission for thousands of years and simply wants your church involved in it. But your church is in desperate need of a vision that is informed by God’s Word, inspired by God’s Spirit, and applied passionately and brokenheartedly to your local context.

If you’re a lead (senior) pastor and you don’t have a vision for how your church will carry out its mission in your local context, here’s my advice: Get away with Jesus! Take a retreat. Meet with some mentors. Read the Word. Drive around your community and beg God to paint a picture in your mind of what could be if the Gospel took root and sprouted all over the place.

Every ministry leader needs to cultivate a vision for their ministry context, but lead pastors are out front, setting the pace. God has chosen you to lead his sheep on a rescue mission for other lost sheep.

Once you’re a leader with a vision from God of what should be, it’s on to step two. Get mean. 

No, this is not an…

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I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?” I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, with all different methods and styles. But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor. So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The…

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Calendar

One of the first things I do when I begin coaching a senior pastor is lead them through a process of redesigning how they schedule their week to ensure their highest ministry priorities get consistently accomplished.

It is the same process whether they serve churches of 50 to 5,000.

Here’s what that process looks like:

Draw a Weekly CalendarPastors Schedule

The first thing I have senior pastors do is pull out a piece of paper and turn it to horizontal view.

Then I ask them to draw six horizontal lines, representing a typical weekly calendar, and placing the days of the week up at the top.

Mark X’s on Friday and Saturday Slots for Your Days Off

Pastors Schedule

Your workweek is now Sunday through Thursday. No more work on Fridays and Saturdays.

This immediately presents two problems for the typical senior pastor. First, they’re still doing their sermons on Friday and Saturday. Second, they take Monday off.

Both of these will…

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Burning OutOkay, we’re already making our way through the new year. It’s now fully 2017 and we don’t need to talk any more about 2016. We can move on. Onward and upward, right?

By the way, how are you doing on your new goals . . . your resolutions? Are you on track or have you already given up. Either way, there’s grace here for you! Whether you set goals or not, whether you’re after some new plateau of your life like a tenacious animal or you’ve already limped away like an injured koala bear who fell off the top branch trying to reach that last leaf, and whether you’re expecting big things in the new year or you’re resigned to just handling whatever comes your way best you can — it’s all okay. No judgment here! Enjoy the new year and I hope that 2017 is the best yet for you!!

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a phenomenon that happens to far too many leaders — and it often catches them by surprise. In other words, it’s a tragedy that most of us can only react to — rather than…

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RunningThese are five questions every pastor will answer in 2017 whether he addresses or neglects them.

Pastor, how will you answer each one of these five questions?

Question #1: Will I prioritize my personal walk with God daily?

This is not a question about whether you will study for sermons, but a question about prioritizing your personal walk with God. Your personal walk with God will determine everything else in your life and ministry. Therefore, prioritize your personal reading of the Scripture, your personal prayer life, and your personal spiritual growth in Jesus Christ.

Question #2: Will I devote myself to being the spiritual leader in my family?

This is not about functioning as the spiritual leader of your church, but it is a question about devoting yourself to be the spiritual leader of your family. The level of your spiritual leadership in your church will never go beyond your personal walk with Christ and the genuine spiritual leadership you provide in your family. In other words, you cannot lead your church spiritually if you do not lead your family spiritually. Therefore, determine now to operate with great intentionality as the spiritual leader of your family.

Question…

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If your church has spent more than five years in an attendance range of between 290 to 490, you are stuck at the 400 barrier.

In my experience, more senior pastors reach out for help at this size range than any other. That’s because the complexity of issues they confront at this size are fundamentally different from what had to be addressed to break the 100 and 200 barriers.

If you keep bumping up against this size range, consider these five most common reasons why this might be happening.

1. The Governing Board Still Operates a Small-Church Leadership Structure

As a church grows from 100 to 400, frequently the senior pastor has changed, and the church has changed, but the governing elder board has not. To move past this barrier, the board must evolve.

I’ve written elsewhere about the by-law shift that must take place at this size, so I won’t repeat that here. Governing board members must wrestle with this question: “Are we willing to change (and even lose our positions on the board) to reach people far from God?”

2. The Senior Pastor Hasn’t Shifted from Operating as a Hands-On Pastor to a Leader…

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LightEvery great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question: How, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some deeply legalistic Jews, known as the Judaizers, were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them…

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