Archives For Leadership

God has a dream for your church. 

I’ve noticed through the years that the common denominator in every growing church, regardless of denomination or cultural context, is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. 

It’s the faith factor. Nothing happens in a church until someone dreams.

But just because God gives your church a dream doesn’t mean you won’t hit roadblocks along the way. David is a great example of this. Right after Samuel anointed him, David faced a major roadblock—a literal giant. Before he would ever lead Israel, before he even endured Saul’s harassment, David had to face one of the fiercest warriors of his time.

But before David faced Goliath, he had already battled giants that tried to derail what God wanted to do in his life. They are the same four giants that your church must defeat before God’s dream for you becomes a reality.  


1. Delay.

God won’t fulfill his dream for your church instantly. God may give your church a dream in a day, but he won’t complete it in 24 hours. It’ll take years.

David’s dad held…

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Of all the statements Jesus made in the Gospels, one that is among the most difficult for people today to reckon with is this: “Blessed are those who are gentle. They will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 GW).

We don’t normally think of the people who “inherit the earth” as gentle. But the Bible tells us that the leaders who make a difference in the world around them are gentle. 

This goes against the grain. Too many leaders today, even Christian leaders, believe that gentleness is equivalent to weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, leading with gentleness has at least eight benefits that make you a better pastor, not a weaker one. 

1. Gentleness diffuses conflict.

Facing conflict is an important part of effective ministry. You will face conflict; every leader does. But gentleness will help diffuse it.

Gentleness is an antidote to anger.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NIV). Humans mimic the emotions of those around them. That’s why, when someone raises their voice…

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Motivation is an indispensable part of leadership. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, Nehemiah gives us a master class in motivation in Nehemiah 2.

I shared these four principles of motivation drawn from that chapter:

  1. Expect opposition.
  2. Wait for the right time.
  3. Get the facts first. 
  4. Identify with your people.

This week, I’ll share four more:

5. Dramatize the seriousness of the problem.

Nehemiah didn’t hold back when he told the people in verse 17, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” (NLT).

Nehemiah chose his words carefully. He painted an emotional word picture with phrases like “Jerusalem lies in ruins” and “end this disgrace.”

Nehemiah dramatized the seriousness of the problem because the people had been living with it for years. When you live in a difficult situation long enough, you ignore it. Nehemiah knew this. He had to get the people…

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Leaders must be able to motivate others. Success in leadership is never a solitary endeavor.

One of the biblical figures who understood this the best was Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah knew that rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was not a task he could accomplish alone. When he arrived in the city, he found the people defeated and apathetic, living among ruins. Previous attempts to rebuild the wall had failed twice in the last 90 years, leaving the people without confidence and mired in negativity. For nearly a century, they had been convinced that the task was impossible.

But Nehemiah’s arrival marked a turning point. Within just a few days, he rallied the support of the entire city, mobilizing them to rebuild the wall in a mere 52 days—a feat they hadn’t achieved in nine decades. So, what set Nehemiah apart when others had failed? He wasn’t a miracle worker. He was simply a great leader who understood the principles of motivation.

During the next two weeks, I’ll share the eight principles of motivation Nehemiah shows in Nehemiah 2:10-20. Here are the first four.

1. Expect opposition.


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Change is inevitable. During the last few decades, the speed of change in the communities where we serve has grown exponentially. We’ve seen it all around us, including our own communities.

In this quickly changing environment, we want our ministries to be relevant—not so we get invited to speak at conferences or get the praise of our ministry friends, but so that we reach more people for Jesus.

Acts 13:36 is one of my favorite verses. “For David served God’s purposes in his own time, and then he died” (GNT). David did the timeless—God’s purposes—in an ever-changing world. That’s always been my prayer for my life. I want to serve God’s unchanging purposes in my generation.

Our message never changes. God calls us to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3 NASB). Our mission isn’t to make the Bible relevant. It is already relevant. But the way we communicate the unchanging message of the Bible in today’s changing world can become irrelevant. 

How does irrelevance happen?


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Every leader needs a mentor. 

The Bible tells us to listen to people who are a little further along in the faith and learn from their example. We see the importance of learning from others throughout the Bible—from Jesus, to Paul, to Solomon. 

  • Jesus: “I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you” (John 13:15 TLB).
  • Paul: “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:7 NIV).
  • Solomon: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22 NLT).

One of the most important aspects of ministry is mentoring the next generation of leaders. Any pastor can do this. In fact, there are four specific ways you can help young leaders grow.

  1. Encourage continuous learning.

I’ve told my staff, “All leaders are learners.” You can’t lead without learning. You will never learn everything you need to know about ministry (or any other area…

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One of my life verses is Proverbs 14:30, “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life” (TLB). I always think about that verse as it relates to the people I lead. 

Ministry carries eternal implications. We need those we lead to last in ministry. We need to make sure they don’t burn out. 

That’s why I’ve always encouraged what I call relaxed concern. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s important to the longevity of your ministry team. Relaxed concern means we realize that heaven and hell hang in the balance of what we do, but we also know we can’t live tightly wound all the time. The quickest way to burn out your staff is to never relax. I’ve seen it happen in hundreds of churches. 

I don’t want that to happen to your church. It’s absolutely critical that your team learns to develop a relaxed attitude so ministry doesn’t drain their energy unnecessarily. 

Over four decades of ministry at Saddleback, these seven practices helped to limit burnout.

1. Don’t expect every staff member to work at the…

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By Meeshia 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I am a grateful believer in Jesus. I struggle with mental health issues and addiction but am learning to live in mental health recovery with complex trauma from childhood abuse. My name is Meeshia.

Most people in recovery recognize the opening lines of the famous Serenity Prayer and have repeated those words with their mouths but not necessarily with belief in their hearts.

It reminds me of when I came into recovery, thinking I knew what it meant to have peace in my life. Peace would simply be (I thought), No More Pain. However, it did not take me very long to begin to learn that peace is not something that just happens, like a magic pill, which makes everything right. Rather, it’s a presence and resolve to believe in a power greater than myself, Jesus, who can be felt and known in all circumstances. I also discovered that this peace is not just like a gift given to me that I need to open my…

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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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By Pastor Johnny Baker, Pastor and Global Executive Director

“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

Mark 5:28 (NIV)

When I first got into recovery, I thought of it as a spectator sport. I figured if I hung around enough, recovery would kind of just happen to me. Recovery by osmosis, I guess. But the first three lines of the Serenity Prayer showed me pretty quickly that this was not the case.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” So there are things I can’t do, and there are things I can. How am I supposed to know which is which?

I love to pray and ask God for his direction and guidance. I will often ask God what I should do in a particular situation, or sometimes, just in life in general. I know that many of us could give a testimony of a time he answered that prayer and showed us what to do. As good as it feels to seek God in these situations, there is…

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If you have a smartphone, you have more power at your fingertips than you likely realize. For example, your phone is more powerful than the technology NASA had when they put a man on the moon.

Or consider the first hard drive, which held 5 megabytes of storage, yet weighed several thousand pounds. Your smartphone, even the least expensive one, has at least 6,000 times that storage. 

Even back in 2007, when Time magazine named the iPhone its invention of the year, we had no idea the impact the smartphone would have on us. It is, by far, the most behavior-changing invention in the history of mankind. Nothing else comes close.

Just think of some of the things we can do more easily now than we could before the invention of smartphones:

  • We can get directions to anywhere we want in seconds.
  • We can purchase (or borrow) nearly any book in existence, wherever we are.
  • We can check our bank account and…

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If you’re like most pastors, you are tired. Exhausted may be more like it. One survey said that 84 percent of all pastors say they are on call 24/7.

If that’s you, you need to know it is unsustainable. It’s also why I have urged pastors for years to create margin in their lives. 

What is margin? Margin is the space between your load and your limits. 

We all have limits. You may be a pastor—but you’re not God. You’re not invincible. 

Sadly, as human beings we’re not very adept at recognizing those limits. We constantly overestimate our abilities and underestimate obstacles and how much time it will take to do something.

On top of that, we live in a culture that constantly tells pastors, “You can do it all! You can have it all! You can be whatever you want!” 

But it’s not true. You can be all that God wants you to be, but you cannot be whatever you want to be. There are limits in your life.

Understanding those limits…

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