Archives For Leadership

What to Do When You Want to Give Up

I hear from pastors all the time who are ready to give up. They’re tired. They’re frustrated. They feel like they’ve failed their family, their congregation—and God.

Any veteran church leader has experienced discouragement. In fact, some of us have been through several trying seasons.

It’s not a sin to get discouraged—it happens to all of us. Discouragement is a byproduct of spiritual warfare. It also happens when our expectations need to be readjusted.

God uses discouragement to draw us closer to him and to refine our ministry.

Don’t give up! What you are doing is far too important! We are in this battle together! God can still do more than you could ever imagine in your life and through your ministry.

If you are ready to give up, consider the following:

Remember how much God loves you. I suspect that you often preach about God’s love. If you’re feeling discouraged, it’s time to “preach it” to yourself. You can’t feel the love of God and feel discouraged at the same time.

Refuse to “fake it.” Typically, this is tough for those of us in ministry. Much of our lives…

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What Made Jesus Mad?

Jesus was mad at the church leaders of his day because they were shutting the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces (Matthew 23:13).

In any study of the anger of Jesus, our minds are naturally going to go to the big one. When Jesus “opened up a can” in the temple.

He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and he would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts (Mark 11).

Keep that “door shutting” idea in your head as we think about what Jesus was mad about. As he was throwing stuff around, he said, (maybe even yelled):

“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Mark 11:17 NIV).

When I was growing up, the interpretation of this incident had given rise to a rule that you weren’t allowed to sell things in the church building. No bake sales, no youth group t-shirts, etc.

Which is ludicrous on so many levels. For one, the church is not the temple – we are (1 Corinthians…

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What Made Jesus Mad?

We’ve got a magnet on our kitchen refrigerator that says, “If Momma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.” It’s funny because we all know it’s true. If the person in charge is upset, we should pay attention.

I want to make one for the church that says, “If Jesus ain’t happy…”

We learn more about a person from the things they don’t like than what they do like. When you were a kid, did you ever do something that made your parents mad? Yeah? And the next time you thought about doing it, did you hesitate for just a minute?

Don’t try to pass over the red, red letters in your Bible and pretend they aren’t there.  Jesus made a whip and overturned tables; Jesus was “indignant.” Jesus told people they might be better off with a rock tied around their necks and thrown into the sea! It’s hard to call someone a “Son of Hell” with a smile on your face. Go ahead; try it.

Let’s keep our chill, hippie version of Jesus on the wall of your childhood Sunday School class for a second and take another look.  In my case,…

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Clay Pots

As a pastor or church leader, I know you want to be used by God. As a leader of leaders, I know you want to help others to be usable by God.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV).

The Bible teaches five requirements for being used by God.

1. Keep your life clean.

The first step to being used by God is always personal examination. When you find someone whom God is using in a great way, they’ve dealt with the personal sin in their lives by confessing it to God. God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But he will not use a dirty vessel. Matthew 23:26 says, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (NIV).

2. Keep your eyes open.

One of the most misunderstood words in leadership circles is the word vision. We think of vision as predicting the future, but none of us can know the future the way God does. Vision is seeing God at work in your…

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The Purpose of Preaching

Would you agree that preaching and teaching can make or break a church?

Preaching is the most powerful tool for directing a church, for creating health, for encouraging vitality, and for promoting growth. Nothing even comes close because there is no other place in your congregation where you have everyone’s undivided attention on a weekly basis. Next Sunday, 55 million Americans will listen to over a billion words of sermons. When it’s all been said and done, a lot more will have been said than done.

Until you understand God’s purpose for everyone, you’re not ready to preach.

Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (TLB). God’s number one purpose is to make us like Christ—to think like Jesus (Philippians 2:5), to feel like Jesus (Colossians 3:15), and to act like Jesus (Colossians 3:17).

Therefore, the goal of preaching must be to do the same: to make people like Christ.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says . . . But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and…

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The Type of Leader God Uses, Part 2
(This article is part 2 of a 2 part series, you can find part 1 HERE.)

God uses people of faith. The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). The Bible also says, “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 NASB95). As a leader, you need to learn how to be a person of faith.

God uses the leader who expects the church to grow.

The difference between failure and success is often one thing: attitude. Enthusiasm is an essential attitude for church growth. Enthusiasm is much more than positive thinking. Enthusiasm comes from two Greek words, en and theos. Theos is the word for God. En theos means that if you get in God, you’ll be enthusiastic. The more you tap into God’s power, trusting in him, the more enthusiastic you become.

I hope you get this:

You get to choose how you will respond to what happens in your life and your ministry.

You might be facing all kinds of problems in your ministry or in your personal life. Right now Satan is planning ways…

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The Type of Leader God Uses - Part 1

God uses people of faith. The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). The Bible also says, “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 NASB95). As a leader, you need to learn how to be a person of faith.

God uses the leader who has a dream.

God uses the person who has a dream, vision, or goal because these things are demonstrations of faith.

A church will never outgrow its vision. The vision of the church is never larger than the vision of the leadership, and the leadership’s vision is never larger than the vision of the pastor.

Proverbs 11:27 says, “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (GNT). I want to challenge you to dream great dreams and believe God for great things.

The great thing about dreaming is, it doesn’t cost anything. You can dream all you want for what God can do in your church, and it won’t cost you a thing—but faith starts with a goal. It starts with a dream. It starts with a vision.

What are the two common mistakes we make…

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The Kind of Godly Man Your Church Needs

As Father’s Day rolls around this month, you’ll have the attention of men in your community in ways you might not have for the rest of the year. I encourage you to use this opportunity. The mission of your church depends upon it.

Your ability to engage the mission of God in your community is tied to awakening the men in your church. So, what are the characteristics of a faithful man of God, the kind you need to build a community revival?

Take a look at an often overlooked passage from Philippians 2. As Paul writes about Timothy and Epaphroditus, he tells us the characteristics found in a man of God.

He tells us:

1. A faithful man of God cares about others.

Paul describes Timothy like this: “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:20-21 NIV). Timothy was unselfish in that he put Paul’s needs before his own. We live in a world where movies, songs, TV shows, advertisements, video games—they teach that it’s all…

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I was talking with a group of pastors in Rwanda and they asked me to tell them what it meant to be a Purpose Driven® church in as simple a way as possible. I said to them that the simplest way I know how to express what it means to be Purpose Driven is “to build Jesus’ church the way that Jesus wants it built.” Jesus shows us how to build his church in both what he taught and what he modeled.

Being Purpose Driven means you’re seeking as a church to do all that Jesus taught his church to do. “A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a great church.” In the Great Commandment and Great Commission of Jesus you find him talking about the five purposes of evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission (Matthew 28:18-20). He talks about these purposes not only in these two passages, but also throughout his ministry—possibly most clearly in his teaching to the disciples the night before he went to the cross in John 13-17. It is his church that we are building, so obviously we are going to do the things…

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As leaders we cannot successfully walk through ministry alone. We must be connected to people who are ahead of us in the journey, people who are right behind us, and people who are walking alongside us.

Paul described this kind of multigenerational mentoring relationship in 2 Timothy 2:2: “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (NLT).

Paul and Timothy modeled three kinds of relationships all Christian leaders need in order to grow and serve effectively. Their relationship showed us that:

1. We need a spiritual father.

Paul calls Timothy “my true son in the faith” in 1 Timothy 1:2 (NLT). We first meet Timothy in Acts 16 when Paul is heading out on his second missionary journey. He stops in Lystra to pick up the young disciple who accompanies him, assists him, and serves as a sort of apprentice under him. Paul becomes a spiritual father to Timothy.

My heart hurts as I see the number of young pastors and leaders who are enthusiastically serving with big dreams but lack spiritual…

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How to Be Spiritually Ready for Easter

It’s just a few days before Easter. We’re always in a spiritual battle, but if you’re like me, this is when you’re particularly vulnerable to spiritual attack. Everything intensifies during Easter because Satan knows God is getting ready to do something incredible through your church.

So what do you do?

I’m guessing you’ve preached from Ephesians 6 on multiple occasions. I want to remind you that preparing for spiritual warfare isn’t just for the people we teach. As leaders in God’s family, we’re in the battle, too.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (NLT).

Let’s look at what we need to do in order to stand firm:

  • Belt of truth (6:14): This represents integrity, which means not compartmentalizing your life so you’re behaving one way in the pulpit and another way the rest of the week. If you…

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How to Focus Your Ministry Like Jesus Did

Your ministry will be shaped by either your priorities or your pressures.

If you don’t decide what’s really important in your ministry, you’ll have people lining up to do it for you. You know as well as I do that many people in our churches have lots of ideas for our ministries. Without a sense of focus, you’ll be pressured to do all kinds of things in your ministry, regardless of whether it’s what God wants you to do.

You must line up your priorities by God’s standards.

It’s like light. When you concentrate light, it has the power to burn. Light defused has no power at all, but if you focus it under a magnifying glass you can burn grass. If you concentrate it even more, it becomes a laser that cuts steel.

When you learn to concentrate your ministry, you’ll be more effective.

But you don’t just need a to-do list. You also need a not-to-do list. Why? Because effective ministry means knowing what you personally are and are not called to do. The more you concentrate your life, the more your life will have impact.

How Jesus…

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