Archives For Leadership

I met Heather in a packed hallway after the service one Sunday morning. When I asked her what she hoped to gain by worshipping with us, she answered, “Dave, I just want my kids to grow up and love the Lord.”

Heather is not alone. Many parents want this for their families. I do. You do too.

But we can’t ensure that our children will long to serve the Lord simply by dragging them to all of our church responsibilities, offering the best children’s programs, or employing the most creative children’s leaders. These are all good things, but there is a better place to begin—with the parents in the pews.

As pastors we must teach and train parents. It is then their job to transfer their faith to their kids.

So what is it that we must teach? Let’s start with three building blocks: prayer, Scripture, and trust.

PRAYER — The most powerful tool you can teach parents isn’t love, grace, or even consistency. It’s prayer. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times from moms and dads: “I don’t know what to do; I don’t know how to fix this. All…

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Why is it that the most gifted among us are sometimes the most insecure? Why is it so easy to become discouraged by criticism?

Why do we struggle with fear of rejection and hunger too much at times for acceptance and affirmation? I’ve been in ministry for about thirty-five years now, and I’ve wrestled with these distractions of darkness far too often.

You’ve probably been there too: the Monday-morning funk that takes you down emotionally like a falling star flashing through the sky in a fast burnout of despair. It doesn’t matter how many people said, “Great message, Pastor!” when you’re bleeding out from the one cruel voice of rejection that wounded you.

We’re human. We feel. For some of us, words of affirmation are the love language that best feeds our soul. Words matter to all of us. Words can cut, and words can heal. What Solomon wrote in Proverbs 18:21 is spot on, “Words can bring death or life.” I wish this wasn’t true, but it is.

A woman came up to me after a service some time ago with fire in her eyes! For the record,…

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According to a 2009 LifeWay Research study, you and I work too much. It said the average full-time pastor works 55 hours a week. And that’s just the average. Forty-two percent of full-time pastors work 60 hours or more.

You weren’t meant to work that much. You can’t keep it up. Yes, the Bible honors hard work but it also condemns workaholism as foolishness? Proverbs 23:4 says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”

What wisdom do we need to show restraint in our ministry work? Here are five questions to ask:

1 – Realize your worth. You matter to God, not because you’re a pastor and not because of what you do for him. You matter to him because you are a child of God. No one is insignificant in God’s eyes. 1 John 3:1 says, “See how very much our heavenly father loves us. For He allows us to be called His children. Think of it! And we really are!” (TLB) Faithfully believing you are God’s child will make all the difference in…

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Mondays are often hard for young leaders. And for older leaders, too.

Ministers, pastors, and church planters pour themselves out for the cause of Christ over the weekend. They enter the weekend with great hope.

But criticisms, lack of visible results, and conflicts show up on Saturdays and Sundays. Self-doubts and guilt feelings pile up. Many weekends, a leader will self-diagnose and do the self-blame thing for an apparent failure to communicate with clarity and life-changing power.

All these disappointments combine to conspire against a leader’s hope.

The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, had a lack of response to his ministry that was stunning. In Lamentations 3, he sings the ministry blues. Here’s my paraphrase of Lamentations 3:1-20 with a little help from The Message and the NLT.

“Afflictions, troubles, and sufferings. That’s me. Why? God seems so angry with me. He’s led me into a ministry black hole. I signed up to serve God, but it seems like He’s not helping me. Instead, He’s stiff-arming me. I feel old before my time. My hopes are crushed. I am just… sad. I am boxed in. I feel trapped. I…

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If there’s one thing that is synonymous with summer, it’s vacation. As we head into the hottest days of the year, I hope all of you are getting to take some much needed time off and head to your favorite destination with your friends or family.

If you’re anything like me, one of the best parts of summer vacation is the opportunity to catch up on the reading list. I thought I’d share my “must-reads” for you this summer.

Before you finish packing your bags, take these four books with you:

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Whether you’re a pastor, writer, business leader, sales person, or blogger building, your platform is absolutely essential in a world that’s noisier than ever before. Michael Hyatt, who authors one of the top leadership blogs on the internet, shares exactly how you can do it in his new book. Platform is full of practical wisdom and insights into effectively building your platform, whatever your reason.

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

There’s nothing like a good parable to teach an important principle. In The Go-Giver,…

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The decision I made to move into full-time vocational ministry was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. It took me nearly a year of praying, fasting, reading, and seeking counsel.

But when I made the decision, there was no swaying me. Not a chance you were going to convince me I was headed the wrong direction. I was sure that the direction my compass was pointing was the right one. I made the decision resolutely and began planning my life around it.

I wondered though, was this a healthy confidence built on the back of the Truth of Scripture, the counsel of others, and God’s hand leading me throughout the previous 12 months? Or was it simply me trying to mask my self-centered, “I’m-right-and-you’re-not” pride?

The line that distinguishes pride and confidence is often indistinguishable.

From the outside looking in, it’s like trying to find a fishing line in mid-air. You know it’s there but unless you find yourself tangled in it, it is not visible to the naked eye. If you don’t stand in the right spot, you’ll find yourself hooked by it.

To see the fishing…

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After getting hit in the head with a bat — it seems you would learn not walk in front of the person swinging one at you. Well, I guess I’m not that bright!

After many years of trying to be the most Kingdom building, productive, caring, loving and reproducing leader, I have been forced to face this…

Emotional Health Trumps all Else!

We’re created in God’s image. God is an emotional being and so are we. We talk a lot about caring for ourselves in many ways:

  • Spiritually
  • Physically
  • Relationally
  • Financially, etc…

But, if you don’t take care of yourself, and stay healthy emotionally, you can kill off everything else in your life!

That is the only area I’ve found with that kind of killing power in the life of a human being. Once you allow yourself to become so emotionally un-healthy, it’s almost, if not impossible, for all the other areas of your life to suffer tremendous harm.

Un-Healthy Emotions Kill Relationships

Emotionally unhealthy people withdraw; they criticize unfairly and carry bitterness and unforgiveness. These kill relationships, no matter how close or far, from marriage to distant friendships.

If we are weak emotionally, we can destroy precious relationships (Been there…

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My health is largely a factor for which I’m responsible. In this post I’d like to consider my personal health care reform: the difference between realization and actualization.

Realizing my health is my responsibility. It’s no secret that health issues are different after age 50 than before. It is remarkable, however, just how easy it is for me to keep my head in the sand. For half a century I lived a health care-free life, where the consequences of my habits were not serious. I could eat and easily work off the excess calories. Exercise was more or less a take it or leave it, do-it-when-I-feel-like-it ocassion. I could gain weight and then lose it quickly.

Now at age 55, the free ride is over. Everything I do has consequences for my health. That’s the first half of realization. But there’s more. I am not without choices and opportunities. I can take daily steps to hold on to or get back to good health and to make the most of the rest of my life.

Regardless of how , my future health – or lack…

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I love getting things in the mail.  The other day, I got a copy of Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s book Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, compliments of Michael Nichols (whose blog you really need to be reading).  The book is short and sweet, I read it in a little over an hour (120 pages), and while we all know that we need to be growing as leaders… it gives a simple tool to actually do it.

The book starts off with a simple reminder that our ability to lead is dependent upon our ability to grow.  Without consistently developing our leadership abilities, we stagnate… as do the teams we lead.  Using the simple acronym GROW:

  • Gain Knowledge: Leaders need to be learning.  Whether you are reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or which ever delivery system works best, leaders must be constantly and consistently learning about themselves, others, their industry, and their field of leadership.
  • Reach Out to Others: There are few things that help us grow more than having to teach.  The act of preparing for a small group study or a sermon…

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Social networking existed before we knew how to send a tweet, make an update to our Facebook status, or consider that +1 might suggest something other than a mathematical function. Nothing can replace the God-given desire to connect with others.

Professional networks exist in every enterprise and industry, including ministry. We expect leaders, managers, and executives to interact with peers from other organizations. This is a way to grow into positions of influence. In these networks we learn, grow, and discover more about ourselves.

Pastors Need Community

We can identify people in our past (or maybe our present) who have poured into us the wisdom of being in professional ministry. These individuals guide us through difficult situations and advise us on complex decisions. Sometimes we receive the benefit of this wisdom; at other times we are in a position to invest in others.

Connecting with others is more than a technique to propel you toward some ministry position or goal. Networking provides opportunities to make the world a little smaller. It is not enough that we have networks within the church in which we serve and in the communities in which…

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Recently I posted a question on Facebook (you ought to like Church Simple) and Twitter: What are the most dangerous words in a church leader’s vocabulary?  

I had some great (and telling) responses, here are a few that got me thinking:

  • Me or I: The public nature of ministry can make it easy to get caught up in ourselves.  When “we and us” becomes “me or I” you may be in for some trouble.  Jason McNeal does a great job discussing this on his blog.
  • Hurry: Sometimes we can find ourselves in a hectic season, but if it lasts longer than just a season, we run the risk of burning out.  We need to learn how to tame the tyranny of the urgent, and the hurried mentality that comes with it.  Scott Couchenour describes it as simultaneously adopting two contradictory postures: resting faith and determined action.
  • Sure or Yes: How many times have we over committed ourselves because we said one of these without thinking?

While the responses I got were solidly dangerous, there is one word that has had me thinking a great deal lately.  This word, in…

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TechnologyOn my bookshelf sits a copy of the B&H Publishing Group classic trade book from 1991, “Help, There’s a Computer in My Church!” Surprisingly, I have yet to be able to convince our leadership team to convert it into ePub so we can start selling it again on the Barnes & Noble Nook… but I still have hope that this treasure won’t be lost to the days when things were only printed on paper.

Then again, a much more practical book to publish today would be “Help, There’s NOT a Computer in My Church!” As we’ve drifted from post offices to email and hymnals to ProPresenter, we rely more and more on our digital devices to facilitate communication and even connection between the pastorate and the layman. Relying on technology unfortunately means more and more money is needed to purchase the digital tools we need. And, of course, everyone wants the latest and greatest thing, right?

Announced the last week of May, Google has now released its ChromeBook and ChromeBox. The new computers run on the Google Chrome browser. That’s right… the whole device is run from the Chrome…

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