Archives For Leadership

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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We all need renewal from time to time. As pastors, just like anyone else, our spiritual lives can grow stagnant and plateau. 

The good news is we get to experience Easter—we get to celebrate resurrection—every day, not just on the holiday. Paul tells us renewal is a daily practice. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV).

Pastor, we need that kind of renewal every single day. A stale pastor can’t lead a growing church. 

The Bible repeatedly tells us to examine ourselves. In 1 Corinthians, it says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV).

What does that mean?

To experience daily spiritual renewal, we need to be looking at the gauges of our lives—alert to what could devastate us in any area. A car has multiple gauges. A battery gauge tells us if there isn’t enough energy in the battery. A gas tank gauge tells us whether we have enough gas. If any of…

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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

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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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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We have a leadership shortage in this world. We have plenty of people in charge, plenty of people with opinions, and plenty of people bent on abusing power—but we have a shortage of godly leaders committed to serving other people and helping them become who God has called them to be. 

God wants you and me to be a part of the solution, just as Paul writes to Timothy: “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” (2 Timothy 2:2 NLT).

In Part 1 of this article, I shared with you two principles you can put into practice to help you bring out the best in others: Accept their uniqueness and affirm their value constantly.

Here are three more ways you can bring out the best in the people in your life and ministry.

  1. Trust them with increasing responsibility. 

You can find a million books and resources on how to become…

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Every leader is a steward. God has given you a ministry team made up of people with specific gifts and talents. He hasn’t only done that for your benefit or for your church’s benefit. He wants you to help them grow and develop.

You’ll never know what God wants to do through the people you lead. But you do know that God has given you an opportunity to shape their lives and ministries while they are in your life.

So how can we bring out the best in the people we lead?

During my years in church ministry, I’ve seen good leaders—the kind of leaders who make others better—consistently show five traits in their leadership. I’ll share the first two in this article, and three more in Part 2.

  1. Accept their uniqueness completely.

Start by recognizing the unique value of each person on your team. It’s not an accident that God made each of us different. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for…

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Everything you have is a gift from God. God has given you your family, your health, your ministry, and even your freedom. 

If God didn’t give you the ability to work for what you have, you wouldn’t have anything. 

God expects you to be a good steward of everything he has given, including your influence. He wants you to use your influence to help others. 

What is influence? It’s not fame. You can be famous and not influential. Many people know celebrities, but they don’t care what they think. It’s also not wealth. You can’t buy influence. The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as the power “to affect how someone or something develops, behaves, or thinks.” God expects you to use that kind of influence for good.

How can you do that? Start with these three steps.

1. Recognize your influence.

Everyone has influence. You’re likely aware of some of your own influence at church and at home. 

Yet you might not be aware of all the influence you have. You influence everyone you come into contact with, such as your relatives, neighbors, and even…

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You can’t succeed in ministry without getting people to work together. It’s a crucial leadership skill. 

Chapter 3 of Nehemiah is a powerful illustration of effective leadership. When God put a dream on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem, he successfully led a team to finish his goal. 

Pastor, as you rally your team around the dream God has given you, these six principles can help you get the most out of those you lead.

  1. Divide a big dream into smaller goals and tasks.

Nehemiah broke down a huge dream into manageable chunks. If you read Nehemiah 3 in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, you’ll see the word “section” used 28 times in 32 verses. Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that particular groups of people helped to build specific sections of the wall. A section is simply a smaller part of a whole. Nehemiah took this very large dream and split it into manageable tasks. 

I followed Nehemiah’s example when I started Saddleback Church. Before we began, I split my 40-year dream into 480 monthly…

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God wants all of us to grow. Maturity is one of his purposes for our lives. In fact, Hebrews 6:1 tells us, “Let’s press on to maturity” (CEB). God intends for us to always pursue spiritual growth so that we may “be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29 ESV).  

One of God’s five purposes for your church is to help your congregation grow in spiritual maturity. But there’s a lot of confusion about what Christian maturity looks like. As you’re making disciples, it’s important that you are clear about what it means to grow more like Jesus. 

Maturity isn’t about age. You can be a Christian for 50 years and still not be mature. 

Maturity isn’t about appearance. Some people may look spiritually mature, but they aren’t. Just because someone appears dignified, it doesn’t mean they are holy. 

Maturity isn’t about achievement. You can accomplish much without being mature in your faith. 

Maturity isn’t about academics. A seminary degree or a Bible college degree doesn’t make you spiritually mature. 


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