We can’t shepherd our churches until we learn to love people the way Jesus does. 

Jesus is the best model for loving others. That’s why he tells us to do as he does:  “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you” (John 13:34 GW). 

So what can we learn from how Jesus loves others?

  1. We must accept others like Jesus accepts us. 

Followers of Jesus should be the most accepting people in the world. As pastors, we need to lead the way. 

The starting point of accepting others like Jesus does is to truly realize how much God accepts you. You’ve likely preached about it, but you need to truly understand how accepted you are by God.

Jesus tells us unequivocally in John 6:37 that we’re accepted no matter what we’ve done. “The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them” (NCV). 

The truth is, you can be a Jesus-follower…

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You don’t hear much about discipline these days. Most people only want to talk about what’s fun and what feels good.

But discipline is critical for ministry leadership. To be effective in serving Jesus, we need to learn to master our moods, watch our words, restrain our reactions, stick to a schedule, manage our money, and maintain our health.

Successful leaders are often people who will do things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. 

So how do you develop the habit of discipline in your life?  

  1. Admit your lack of discipline.

Even Paul, who was incredibly disciplined, struggled at times. But when he did struggle, the Bible says he admitted it: “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. … For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it” (Romans 7:15-18 GNT).

Paul couldn’t rationalize his lack of discipline. He recognized his willpower wasn’t enough. No quick fixes were around the corner.Continue Reading

We all need a life objective—a vision of what we believe God wants to do in our lives. Because if we can visualize it, we can accomplish it.

The apostle Paul had a life objective, and he described it in Romans 15:20: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (NIV). Paul’s objective for his life was to preach where no one else had preached before. 

You need a life objective too. You should have more than a vague idea of what you want to do with your life. You need something written down on paper.

Why is a life objective so important?

  • It reduces frustration. When you know why you exist, it makes the little decisions easier.
  • It increases motivation. When you have defined your purpose clearly, you have a reason to get out of bed. 
  • It allows for concentration. People become successful because they focus on a…

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We all find ourselves in a rut at times. Whether it’s in our relationships, our ministries, or our spiritual lives, we might be just sitting still and not moving toward the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

But the good news is we don’t have to stay in the rut. There is a way out. Throughout the years, I’ve used six specific steps to help myself and others get out of a rut. If you’re in a rut right now in your ministry or you are helping someone in a rut, these six steps will help anyone get out of the rut.

1. Assume responsibility for your own life.

You can divide most people into three categories. Accusers blame everyone else for not moving toward their goals. Excusers justify their failure and rationalize their inaction.

But you want to be a chooser. Choosers accept responsibility for their own happiness. When they make a mistake, they admit it. Proverbs 28:13 says, “If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive…

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By Hess

The late Dr. Lewis Smedes wrote: 

“Hope is to our spirits what oxygen is to our lungs. Lose hope and you die.”

But what exactly IS hope? Even secular psychologists will tell you that you need hope. However, they will also tell you to look for that hope within yourself. 

But if the object of hope has to be found within ourselves, no wonder there is so much hopelessness in our world. No wonder mental health is the biggest health problem in the world right now, second only to the coronavirus. So, hope that must be found in ourselves… is no hope at all. 

The object of our hope as Christians is Jesus Christ! The writer of Hebrews describes our hope this way: Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us (Hebrews 6:18-20 NLT).

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“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: . . . ‘But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.’”

Acts 27:20-22 (NIV)

When everything in your life is falling apart, you can trust God’s promises.

The apostle Paul and his shipmates were battered by a storm, and it looked like all hope was lost. God had told Paul they would be safe, so he told the others to take courage and trust God. Paul didn’t place his faith in the ship or the captain. Though Paul knew the storm would destroy the boat, he believed that the promises of God would last.

Paul trusted God’s promises as his anchor.

When you are in a storm, do you put your trust in a puny lifeboat? Maybe you think your personality can get you through. Perhaps your looks have always been the key to your success. Are…

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By Hess

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with depression and anger, and my name is Hess. I was blessed to grow up in a great family, but one thing I did not learn was how to open up to those closest to me. As a result, I was a “stuffer” and “conflict-avoider” early on. I thought the life goal for Christians was to please God and people. And if I got angry, I stuffed it. 

My first bout with depression came when I was 20 years old, when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Accompanied by painful cramping, bleeding, and uncontrollable diarrhea (providing me with many humbling experiences!), I had to be hospitalized for six weeks after Christmas of my junior year. During the third week in the hospital, that depression started settling in while I kept track on the bottom of a Kleenex box the number of times I barely made it to the bathroom each day. 

I prayed many times a day, asking God for healing. But the healing never came. As a 20-year-old, I came to understand CR Principle 1…

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How God Spells Success

By Rick Warren

God wants you to succeed. He didn’t call you into church leadership to fail in what he created you to do. But here’s the catch—he doesn’t define success like the rest of the world defines it.

The world measures success by how you look, what you have, or who you know. But God says success is measured by who you are—your character.

The apostle Paul is a great example of success in the Bible. He models for us seven attitudes we need to have in our ministries, as shown in the acrostic: SUCCESS.  

1. Sense of direction. “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else” (Romans 15:20 NLT).

You can’t succeed if you don’t know where you are headed. You may have heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” That’s true in our ministries and in every other area of…

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For many of us, January is a time when we reflect on our life and question whether we’re fulfilling God’s purposes for our life. The most fundamental question in life is, “Why am I here?”

The Bible is very clear on why we’re here. “For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11 KJV).

Nothing you do matters more than bringing pleasure to God. There’s a much-misunderstood word we use that describes bringing pleasure to God: worship. 

Worship is so much bigger than the songs we sing. Church services can be worship experiences for your congregation, but we’re called to worship throughout our entire week—not just on the weekend.

God says worship isn’t what you do with your lips; it’s what you do with your life. You can preach the greatest sermons or sing the most beautiful songs with Christ-centered lyrics and still not worship God.

I like how Eugene Peterson describes worship in his paraphrase of Romans 12:1: “So here’s what I want you…

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2023 will be full of decisions, and those decisions will largely define your success. But with every decision, there is a risk.

Paul was a professional at making decisions and taking risks. In Acts 15:26, the Bible describes Paul and Barnabas as those “who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT). Because Paul took risks, he accomplished so much in his ministry.

Many of you have great dreams for your ministry in 2023. You want to start something new. You want to finally reach a goal you’ve longed to accomplish. But you’re afraid to get started.

The Bible gives us eight great principles for making wise decisions. These are eight practical principles pulled straight from the book of Proverbs that anyone can use.

1. Pray for guidance (Proverbs 28:26). Don’t just depend upon your opinion or intuition. None of us are 100 percent right all the time. Often intuition leads us to the wrong decision. As James 1:5 tells us, we need to ask God for wisdom to make the right decisions.

2. Get the…

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I have no idea what 2023 holds for you. But whether it’s a year where you reach your goals or not has nothing to do with your circumstances. It’s all about your perspective.

The economy might tank. Your church might struggle. Your family may face challenges.

Yet the most important question you’ll face in 2023 is, will you look at the year with faith rather than fear? The choice is in your hands. 

The Israelites had the same choice in Numbers 13, a story most of us are familiar with. Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, where they had been slaves for 400 years. They had already spent two years in the desert. Moses then sent 12 spies, one from each of the tribes, into the Promised Land to see what was in store for the Israelites when they arrived. 

Ten of the spies came back with reports of fear. They told the Israelites the land was full of enemies the Israelites couldn’t beat, whereas, in reality, the Promised Land was as incredible as God had promised, truly a land “flowing…

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Starting around Thanksgiving and through Christmas morning, we talk a lot about gifts this time of year. Many people think that the wise men invented gift-giving for Christmas.

But that’s not true. It was Jesus. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for us. God gave himself to you on the very first Christmas so you would have your sins forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven. Jesus is the original Christmas gift. 

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of generosity. Acts 15:11 says, “We are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us” (The Message).

God wants us to become generous, not just for one season a year, but for our entire lives. And being generous isn’t easy because we live in a very materialistic, self-centered world. 

When we conform our hearts to the selfish ways of this world, we won’t enjoy the outcome. It’s no accident that the word miser comes from the same root…

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