Archives For Discipleship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to grow closer to God and become more like Jesus.

Topics include: Spiritual formation, CLASS, prayer, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, campaigns, theology, etc.

God wants us to be free. In fact, this is a major theme throughout Scripture. 

Because Jesus died and rose again, we can have freedom from the prisons that hold us back. Jesus writes in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (NIV).

Here are three ways Jesus wants to give you freedom in your ministry.

1. Freedom from pretending

As pastors, we often worry people will see the real us. People tend to expect perfection from us, and we put on masks to hide who we really are. Social media makes this even worse, pressuring us to appear like we have it all together.

Some of you have been pretending for so long that you don’t even know who the real you is.

One of the reasons we pretend is because we want to please people—our families, our church, or our communities. But Proverbs 29:25 tells us the problem with doing this, “Being afraid of people can get you into trouble” (NCV).

None of us…

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It’s easy—and quick—to lose your joy in ministry. One phone call, email, or conversation, and your joy may go out the window. 

But joy in ministry is a serious issue. If my wife or my children were never happy, it would reflect poorly on me. When godly leaders are never happy, it reflects poorly on God. 

Cranky Christians make terrible witnesses. Let your countenance reflect the joy of God within you.

So how can you get your joy in ministry back?

1. Admit you’ve lost it. You can’t recover from what you’ve never lost. This can be tough to admit as a pastor. As a church leader, it’s hard to be honest about your struggles. But you’ll never be able to find your joy unless you admit you don’t have it.

2. Analyze the cause. Look at your life and ministry, and ask yourself: “How did I lose my joy?”

The Bible tells us to do this over and over. “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations…

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Your ministry is both a privilege and a challenge. You have the opportunity to walk with people through the most important moments of their lives. God uses you to help repair broken marriages, overcome addictions, and help people discover the love of Jesus.

But your calling can also be a burden. You face more stress than most people realize. 

  • You deal with uncontrollable circumstances. Maybe it’s as simple as a meeting that goes off the rails. Or maybe it’s something more serious—like leadership conflicts that seem to stall everything you try to do.
  • You must minister to uncooperative people. Difficult people in your church may make it tough for you to do what God is calling you to do through your ministry.
  • You serve people who experience unexplainable pain. They look to you for answers, but you don’t have the words they’re looking for. All you can do is walk with them as they ask God these painful questions.

The weight of responsibility on your shoulders can be overwhelming. So, what do you do about it? You surrender…

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Pastor, failure in ministry is inevitable. Every leader will fail at some point. We’re tempted to think that Jesus is quick to condemn us when we fail. But that’s not what the Bible says.

In the most critical hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter failed him. We can learn about how Jesus responds to our failure by looking at how he responded to Peter’s failure. When you look at the example of Peter, you’ll see these five truths.

1. Jesus isn’t shocked by our failures.

Jesus knew beforehand that Peter would be tested. In fact, the night before Peter betrayed him, the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat” (Luke 22:31 NCV).

Jesus isn’t surprised by your failure either. The Bible tells us God “knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 NCV). God made us and knows we are frail. Other people may put us on a pedestal because we’re pastors, but God knows better. He knows every trick Satan will try…

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Because we live in an imperfect world, we all will fail in ministry at times. Church leaders don’t get off the hook. 

But failure doesn’t need to be fatal. Both Judas and Peter denied Christ and failed miserably in the last hours of Jesus’ earthly life.

Judas rejected the mercy of God and killed himself. But Peter accepted the mercy of God and became the leader of the church. 

Peter illustrated three keys to recovering from personal failures. Follow Peter’s example next time you experience a failure.


1. Grieve.

You don’t minimize the failure. Nor can you go around it or over it. You must go through it.

You do that through grieving. Peter exemplified this. When the rooster crowed the third time and Peter came face-to-face with his failure, the Bible says, “ went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75 NIV).

Imagine how disappointed Peter felt. He spent three and a half years with the Son of God. He watched Jesus perform miracles, heal people, raise the dead, and teach like no one else ever had.

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Do you ever feel like your past is holding you back in your ministry? Similar to a marathon runner carrying unnecessary gear, we sometimes have worries, wounds, and wrongs that slow us down. The Bible often compares life to a marathon race. A marathon isn’t the kind of race you can hurry through. For most runners, the point of a marathon isn’t to see who finishes first; it’s to see who can last to the end.  

The same goes for ministry. Learning to finish well is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a church leader. Serious marathon runners always remove extra items from their body when they’re running a race. They don’t want to carry a lot of baggage. They avoid carrying unnecessary gear and wear as little as possible, opting for t-shirts and shorts even in cold weather.

They don’t want anything to slow them down or hold them back. 

That’s how God wants us to lead in ministry—with little holding us back. So what’s holding you back? 

Here are three areas…

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Every church leader needs to learn how to diffuse conflict. It’s one of the most important ministry skills you can develop and rarely taught in seminaries and Bible schools.

Unresolved conflict will damage your ministry. You can’t be in harmony with God if you’re out of harmony with other people. 1 John 4:20 tells us, “If people say, ‘I love God,’ but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars” (NCV). 

The next time you find yourself in the middle of conflict—whether at home or at church—try these seven steps to resolve it.

1. Take the initiative.

Don’t wait for the other person to come to you, and don’t deny the conflict. Be the peacemaker God has called you to be.

I was terrible at this when Kay and I first married. When Kay would bring up issues, I became good at dodging them. But I’ve realized through the years that you never resolve conflict accidentally. You can only do it intentionally.

Of course, that kind of initiative requires courage when…

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It’s no secret that pastors are in a high-stress role. You prepare sermons weekly. You care for people during the most difficult moments of their lives. You’re a leader in your community during a period of high polarization.

In fact, one Lifeway Research study from 2022 suggested stress was the top mental challenge for pastors today—over discouragement, distractions, and several other challenges.

Ministry can certainly be stressful. You’ll find no shortage of ideas in the marketplace to help you deal with the stress, but the Bible gives us a different way. Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (NLT).

No matter what you’re facing in ministry, God wants to give you peace of mind and heart. How does he do that?

The Bible gives us five keys to finding peace.

1. Accept that you’re forgiven. “Therefore, since we have been justified through…

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Pastor, I don’t know what you’re dealing with right now, but I suspect you may need some sort of healing. Maybe it’s a health problem or a broken relationship. Maybe it’s a problem in your church.

The good news is God gave us a model for praying for healing and restoration in the Bible. About 3,000 years ago, God promised King Solomon to heal and restore God’s people. That promise still stands today.

But notice that 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t a promise to everyone. It’s a promise to God’s people.

God says, “Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land” (NCV).

In that famous verse, God gives four conditions for answering our prayers for healing and restoration.

1. We need to admit we’re not in control.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves (2 Chronicles 7:14…

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“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life . . . The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

1 Kings 19:3, 11 (NIV)

When Elijah was emotionally exhausted, God led him to do three things to help him recover—things that will also help you recover when you’re near burnout.

Rest your body. Sometimes God makes you lie down because you’re unwilling to do it on your own. You can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while you’re physically depleted.

That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not scold Elijah. God didn’t say, “Come on, man. You’re just having a pity party.” He simply let Elijah sleep.

Release your frustrations. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t filter his feelings. He told God his frustrations.

God isn’t shocked when you complain to him. He’ll listen to you until you run out of words. Let them all out. God can handle anything you throw at him.

Refocus on God. Elijah was focused on the wrong things; he needed to trust God. When…

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No device in history has impacted our lives as much as the smartphone. Most people pick up their smartphones every 12 minutes. Phones have changed how we communicate with each other, how we shop, how we entertain ourselves, how we travel, and much more. 

You don’t need to be a cultural critic to know some of these changes haven’t been good. I wrote about many of those hazards in my previous article. Smartphones can be a time-waster. They can seduce us into accepting the world’s value system.

But, pastor, don’t miss this either: Your smartphone also can be a tool for God’s purposes. Being a disciple in today’s digital world isn’t about ignoring technology. It’s about learning to use it for good. 

Here are five ways you can disciple your congregation to use their smartphones to pursue God’s purposes.

1. We can use our phones to express our worship.

God told us how to worship him. We’re to do it “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 NCV). But he didn’t tell us where to worship him. We can and…

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Too many church leaders serve out of exhaustion. But leaders need margin. It’s crucial for healthy ministries.

In my previous article, I told you why margin is so important for ministry leaders. This week, I’m sharing six ways to build it into your life so you can be more fruitful in ministry. 

  1. Accept your limitations.

As ministers, we often feel the weight of the world upon our shoulders. We want to help as many people as possible. 

But we’re not God. We’re not even Superman. The rules apply to us, just like everyone else. 

Psalm 119:96 says, “I have learned that everything has limits” (GNT).

Our culture tells us the opposite of Psalm 119:96. It says, “We can do anything!” But we know that’s not true. In fact, if we want to build more margin into our lives, we need to recognize four specific limitations God has given us. 

  • We have physical limitations. Our energy will not go on forever.
  • We have emotional limitations. Everyone faces this limitation, but it’s…

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