Archives For Leadership

A few weeks ago, I ran across an interesting post from Seth Godin with the simple title, “How to Listen.” In the post, Seth explains that the listener has as heavy an obligation in a conversation as the speaker. After all, no idea is truly communicated if the person being spoken to is not listening. Listening is hard work and needs to be practiced.

Being a good listener is one of the most important skills you can master if you want to advance your career and build meaningful relationships. Whether you’re an employee, employer, husband, wife, father, mother, or friend, when you truly listen, you demonstrate your interest in what is being said, and you show respect for the individual saying it. Listening is a magnetic force that draws people to us.

If you want to become a better listener, here are three techniques to use in every conversation:

1. Be quiet.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Stephen Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” If you want to be a better listener, be quiet. Don’t simply listen…

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Vision+44One of your most important roles as a pastor is as vision caster. Sharing the vision of your church can’t be a one-time event.

The Bible says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.” (Proverbs 29:18, MSG)

As the leader, God has called you to help your congregation see what God is doing in your midst.

That’s why you must continually put the vision of your church before your congregation—at least every 26 days. That’s the Nehemiah Principle.

In Nehemiah’s story of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, halfway through the project people got discouraged and wanted to give up. Like many churches, they lost their sense of purpose and, as a result, became overwhelmed with fatigue, frustration and fear.  Nehemiah rallied the people back to work by reorganizing the project and recasting the vision.  He reminded them of the importance of their work and reassured them that God would help them fulfill his purpose (Neh. 4:6-15).

Although the wall took only 52 days to complete, the people became discouraged at the halfway point: just 26 days into the project! Nehemiah had to renew their vision.

You’ve got to…

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The concept of “Team Leadership” is popular right now, and many business and nonprofit leaders are moving toward that model. I think there are many advantages to team leadership, but I’m seeing one area where far too many organizations get it wrong. While teams are great for brainstorming, research, and execution, teams don’t make decisions, leaders do. That principle was highlighted in an recent quote from Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business:”

“If your people don’t weigh in on a decision, they’re not going to buy into it either. That doesn’t mean you’re seeking consensus. The leader’s job is to listen to everybody, and then say, “OK, based on what I just heard, here is how we are going to go.”

If you are using a team model in your organization, then great. Teams are very helpful in generating enthusiasm and helping employees buy into ideas. But don’t make the mistake of leading by consensus.  Don’t farm out important decisions to your team.

If you’re the leader.  You make the decision.

“Caveman Chuck” Coker

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Pastors, there are many benefits of taking a few days away from your ministry. In my younger years, I wondered if I could afford to be away. But the longer I am in the ministry, the more I know that my body, my family, and my church need me to take a few days away from the ministry. It is profitable for all parties.

When we first started out in ministry, our time away from the church was mainly spent with our families. It seemed like when we arrived at Jeana’s family home, six hours away, or at my parents’ home, 11 hours away, we were on a retreat. Our families played with and cared for our boys while we rested and slept. It was not about where we went, but being away was always profitable.

Since today’s blog is directed towards pastors and church leaders, let me share a few of the benefits I have found in taking time away:

Benefit #1: Diversion relaxes the mind

Regardless of where you may go to be away from your ministry — it is a diversion. This diversion relaxes the mind. Stepping away from the daily grind…

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Some churches tend to be bad about celebrating wins with their team. This is probably because there is always so much to be done and so little time to accomplish our goals. We feel like we should just keep pressing forward. When we have a Kingdom mindset, we always feel the urge to do more.

But if you never stop to celebrate the good things happening in your community, you run the risk of burn out — both for you and the other members of your team. Celebrating “wins” is a great way to pass the baton of ownership and vision, raise the level of energy and moral, and offer momentum to make progress to move forward.

It is for that reason Scott Wilson developed this five step strategy to teach our team to celebrate wins well. I thought I would share them with you.


When we celebrate wins they should always be attached to a story. Stories help “wins” to feel more tangible and make them easy to communicate. If someone stopped you in the grocery store and said, “How are things going at church?” You wouldn’t just say, “They’re going great!” You…

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TransitionIf your church has plateaued in its growth for a while or shows signs of being unhealthy, things may need to change, and the Pastor is the point person to produce positive change in any church’s culture. Having said that, leading a church through change is difficult, and sometimes can be detrimental if you don’t consider some important questions before starting the process.

Three aspects of change you should evaluate before shaking things up are:


  • Is this church in the right place for growth?
  • Are there more people around this church that we should be reaching?
  • Does this church actually need to die and be reborn somewhere else?
  • Is there a more receptive area where we could reach more people?
  • Could I be a more effective leader somewhere else?
  • What is the realistic potential if the church is renewed successfully?


  • Am I the right Pastor to lead this change?
  • Is this the kind of church I should be pastoring?
  • Do I match the congregation? Do I match the community?
  • Is the existing leadership likely to support me in change?


The final question you need to wrestle with is, Am I willing to give the rest of my life to this church? If you…

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InfluenceSaul was made king 3 times! But only after proving himself was he truly embraced as their leader.

Here are 3 things that happened to Saul that helped him grow in influence and be embraced as the leader…

1 – Anointed of God

This may seem like a no brainier, but many try to put themselves in a place of influence because they are gifted or asked to stand in such a place. When it comes down to it, though, I’ve seen “leaders” that can draw a crowd and work a group, but can’t lead. The thing that they are missing is the anointing of God. Don’t under-estimate the importance of God’s anointing. This is critical! Once you have it, guard it. Be sure you’re walking blameless and in favor with God… don’t lose it! It’s the central spring of your influence.

2 – Confirmed by Leaders and Influencers

“The prophet is subject to the prophets.” An anointed leader of God will be seen by other leaders as such. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s just that leaders seem to have a way of knowing who the other leaders in the room are. When the people that are already…

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Ever watched a really good idea crash and burn? Me too.

Here’s some brutal honesty… entire movements have gone down in flames because of boneheaded approaches to good ideas. This isn’t to say we can’t afford to make mistakes. In fact, the only way to know we’re taking risks is to make mistakes. We can’t afford not to make them. But we also can’t afford to ignore timeless principles of leadership effectiveness.

In honor of our most fatal leadership mistakes, here are my “from the hip” ways to kill great ideas (warning: sarcasm ahead)…

  • Form a committee. In this way, you’ll be able to devote more time to keeping minutes and electing officers and less time to solving problems. Also, we’ll be able to prevent a single great leader from running with the idea without feeling the need to check with several people with different opinions before proceeding.
  • Be sure to control it. Before you even start executing a good idea, be sure to write plenty of rules and parameters so that no one feels the freedom to run too fast with it. Freedom is the enemy when we’re trying…

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Too many churches are led by wounded pastors and leaders who can’t really love people or be vulnerable or focus on the future because of past rejection and hurt. But there is healing for wounded leaders!

There are a lot of things that wound us in life.  Maybe you were wounded because somebody lied to you.  Maybe a promise was made to you that was broken. Or maybe you were in a conflict with a church member or fellow leader. In that conflict some angry words were said and you were deeply wounded.  Maybe you were wounded by a betrayal, by rejection, or by being misunderstood.  You may have been wounded by being devalued, overlooked, or not valued enough.  And you can be wounded by loneliness.

There are a lot of things in life that wound you, but God says, I need you to let go of these things.  Get them out of the garbage bag and throw them over the cliff so you don’t have to deal with them any more.

David said in Psalm 109, “My heart is wounded…

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1. Minister to the needs of your membersbusiness_main

Okay, so that may seem obvious, but one of the critical roles of a small group leader is to shepherd the people in your group. Does the word “shepherd” scare you? It shouldn’t. God has provided you with the gifts and abilities to care for those in your small group.

In a healthy small group, the members, as well as the leaders, must be “healthy.” In fact, I would say that the success of your small group depends on its health. A healthy small group integrates all 5 biblical purposes into its life, but it’s the leader’s job to establish the biblical purpose of “fellowship” within the first few weeks of your group’s existence.

As the small group leader, you need to pray for and “love on” each member of the group. That means making sure people feel connected with other members in the group, being attentive to what people say in the group – perhaps, for example, you may sense after the first several meetings that one couple in the group is struggling in their marriage. Your job as a leader is to pray…

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Jesus StatueMy heroes in the ministry are those men who have stayed at the task of ministry for decades.  Several years ago, I met a man who had Pastored the same church over 40 years. His name was Erastus but everyone simply referred to him as Brother Rastus.  One day, I asked him how he had managed to stay at one church for such a long time and he replied, “I just stayed longer than my opponents.”  But then he shared with me that over the years there were many times when he wanted to quit and just walk away.  But something always kept him from doing it.

Like most Pastors in their mid-40′s I can make a list of several guys whom I started out but are now no longer in the ministry.  According to  a recent report by  there are over 1700 ministers leaving the ministry every month in the United States.  While some are leaving the ministry due to moral failure, the vast majority are simply giving up and throwing in the towel.  The loneliness, frustration, and discouragement that are a natural part of the ministry have simply become…

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RelevantEveryone is talking about relevance lately, and when it comes to the church, it’s a conversation we need to have.

The world is changing faster than it ever has before, and without sacrificing the Truth of the Gospel, the church needs to change with it. The good news is that there are things pastors and churches can do to make sure they don’t miss opportunities to minister to people in the midst of a changing culture.

Here are five things pastors and churches should know.

1. Church Networks Are Your Friend

A pastor friend of mine named Rob Ketterling is the master of using church networks to add value to himself and his community. He is a part of several different church networks and doesn’t see these commitments as a distraction from what he is doing but as an integral part of his role as a pastor.

His involvement in networks outside of his own church community helps keep his mind sharp and gives him eyes to see the change that is happening in the full scope of the Kingdom. It helps him bring fresh vision and ideas back to his community.

2. Social Media

This point is so important…

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