Archives For Leadership

How to Grow Through Change

By Rick Warren

Change comes frequently in life and in ministry. The only thing you can predict about the future is that tomorrow will look different from today. Change is inevitable, and the scope and speed of change we’re experiencing right now would have been almost unimaginable to previous generations of leaders. 

Years ago, I created a proverb that I’ve shared with many pastors ever since. I think it’s as relevant to ministry as ever: There is no growth without change; there is no change without loss; there is no loss without grief; and there is no grief without pain. 

God can use change in your life and ministry to make you a better person and a better pastor. But you won’t have growth without pain. 

How can you make the most of the change you’re facing in ministry right now? Here are eight principles for growth through change.

Look for God in the change.

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT). Even in the worst situations, you can see the face of Jesus. Unfortunately, we look for everything else but God when…

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Timing affects everything we do in life. Learning to understand where God wants us in every season of life is essential. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “Everything on earth has its own time and its own season” (CEV). 

God has a plan for the transitions in your life and ministry—whether you’re considering a move to a new church or transitioning to a new phase in your current ministry.

You’ve likely heard that I’m transitioning to a new season of my life and ministry. I’ve always considered Acts 13:36 one of my life verses. “David served God’s purpose in his own generation” (CEB). I’ve had the opportunity to serve not just one generation at Saddleback but multiple generations.

But I announced in June that it was time for Saddleback to begin looking for my pastoral successor, who will serve the next generation of our church family. Since I’ve been the senior pastor of Saddleback since the beginning, this will be an incredibly significant change for myself and our church. 

I know I’m not the only pastor navigating tough decisions…

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Eight Strategies to Become a Better Listener

Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop in ministry. 

But most of us simply talk too much. You may have heard before, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” That’s true for those of us in ministry too.   

People don’t fail in ministry because they don’t know the Bible well enough, can’t plan well, or struggle as leaders. Most people in ministry fail because they’re insensitive to people. They’re not good listeners. 

Poor listening causes broken relationships, costs money, and leads to mistakes. It can ruin ministries.

But there’s good news: You can improve your listening skills. Here are eight strategies to help you become a better listener.

Don’t judge by first impressions.

First impressions aren’t just unfair; they’re also expensive. They can influence all aspects of your ministry—which leaders you choose to invest in, which pastoral care needs you meet, and so on. Often prejudices impact decisions.

The Bible says, “Don’t judge by appearances. Judge by what is right”

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It’s not easy to be vulnerable—especially as a pastor. I know that firsthand, but I also understand it’s critical to your church’s ministry that you be open and honest about your weaknesses. 

Many times, pastors fear that if they’re vulnerable with their congregations, people will use their weaknesses against them. But God does just the opposite. He often uses your vulnerability to bring you closer to your congregation.

I believe there are five key weaknesses we should be particularly open about with our congregations:

Our failures.

“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19 NLT). Have you ever said something like that to your congregation? If not, you should! They need to hear that you’re one of them. They struggle with sin. You do, too. When you share your weaknesses, it gives them the courage to be honest with people in their lives as well.

Whenever I preach on marriage, I always share about the early struggles Kay and I had…

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Where Did Your Peace Go?

God wants you to have a fruitful ministry and become a peacemaker—the kind of leader who heals broken relationships instead of creating them.

But too often, there’s conflict. It can destroy relationships, devastate communities, and ruin ministries. Many pastors have seen unresolved conflict wreak havoc over the most important areas of their lives.

It’s easy to see why. Unresolved conflict will block your fellowship with God, prevent answered prayers, and generally make you miserable.

When you find yourself in the midst of conflict, here’s a simple five-step, biblical path to peace.

PLAN a peace meeting. (Matthew 5:24)

Take the initiative. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. It doesn’t matter if you’re the offended or the offender. It’s always your move.

Take the initiative because Jesus said so. Plus, it shows that you’re more mature.

You will never resolve conflict accidentally. You must intentionally deal with it or it will never go away. Schedule a sit-down, face-to-face meeting. Don’t wait to do this either. In Matthew 5:24, Jesus emphasizes…

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4 Questions to Consider When Making Godly Decisions

As pastors, we’re often asked hard questions about how to make decisions. People will come to us and ask, “Can I be a good Christian and still do ___________?”

Sometimes the Bible is clear about how we should answer their questions. But many times, the issue is morally neutral—neither response is good nor bad.

So what do you do?

Here are four questions to consider when helping people make godly decisions.

Will the action be helpful?

Paul tells us that our freedom in Christ means everything is allowable, but he reminds us that not everything is beneficial. 

He writes, “‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful.’ Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 HCSB).

In that one verse, Paul gives us two tests to guide our decisions:

  • Will it make me a better person? Many things are not necessarily wrong, but they’re just not necessary. Life is too short to waste on non-essentials,…

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10 Steps to Training People for Ministry

I believe we have a sleeping giant in our churches today. If that sleeping giant awakes, the world won’t be the same. The sleeping giant is lay people who aren’t serving somewhere in ministry.

Our greatest need in the church today is to release an army of lay ministers to do what God is calling them to do.

You don’t need a big budget to awaken that giant. You simply need a process. 

How can your church release an army of lay people? These 10 steps have been critical in helping us release lay people into ministry at Saddleback. 

1. Teach the biblical basis for lay ministry.

There are four biblical principles from Romans 12:1-8 that sit at the foundation of what we believe about ministry.

-Every believer is a minister: A non-serving, non-ministering Christian is a contradiction.
-Every ministry is important: Although every ministry has a different function, they are all important.
-We are all dependent on one another: We…

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6 Actions Every Christian Should Take in Light of Jesus’ Return

The last year has been tough—no doubt about it. Many people have asked me how I’ve stayed so positive during such a difficult time.

Here’s my answer: I’ve read the end of the story. I know we win. I don’t know when Jesus will return (no one does), but I know we’re closer than we’ve ever been in the history of the world. 

Many Christians know that Jesus is coming back someday, but it doesn’t affect their lives. They don’t understand how the truth of Jesus’ return connects to the problems they’re facing. But James 2:12 says, “Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free” (CEV). Jesus wants his followers to be ready for his return.  

So as we lead our churches through this tough season, one of our responsibilities is to help people get ready for the second coming of Jesus.

How should we live in light of Jesus’ return? Here are six actions to take from the book of James: 

Clean up…

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Three Mistakes We Make When Facing the Future

To be human is to live your entire life without knowing the future. The only one who knows the future is God. He is above and outside of time. We are not. 

But not knowing the future often creates unnecessary anxiety and stress in our lives. Recent surveys have shown that 66 percent of people are fearful of the future. 

Fear has always been part of the human experience. Even in biblical times, people struggled with uncertainty about the future. Thankfully, James 4:13-17 teaches us how to avoid the three most common mistakes people typically make about the future—mistakes that you and I still make today.

Mistake #1: We make plans without asking God.

At first glance, the plan James describes in verse 13 doesn’t sound out of the ordinary. He writes, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit’” (NLT).

James is describing a…

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Last year, many churches began 2020 with sermons on vision. The opportunity to preach on “Vision 2020” was too much for many pastors to pass up.

But now, as we head into 2021, many pastors are struggling to cast their vision for the next year.

That’s where many pastors are right now. After the strangest year anyone can remember, they just can’t see what’s next. 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). Vision isn’t negotiable for church leaders. Your church needs God’s vision. 

The word “vision” in this verse literally means a dream. You’ve got to have a dream for your life and for your ministry. Otherwise, your church will just drift. Without a dream for your church, your people will perish.

The Gospels of Luke and Mark tell a story of a blind man, Bartimaeus, that can help us as ministry leaders learn to see again and get God’s vision for our ministries, even after all we’ve experienced in 2020. 

Every miracle performed by Jesus teaches us…

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What the Christmas Story Teaches Us About God’s Timing (Part 2)

Timing is one of the most important parts of leadership.

In fact, the difference between a great leader and a poor leader is not just knowing what to do but knowing when to do it. The timing is everything.

The difference between a speaker who holds your attention and one who doesn’t is all in the timing.

If you don’t learn timing, you’ll struggle with leadership.

The Bible isn’t silent on the topic. In fact, timing is critical to the Christmas story. Last week, I shared with you three lessons about God’s timing we can learn from the Christmas story and apply to our ministries.

  1. God has a timetable for everything that happens.
  2. God does not tell us the details in advance.
  3. God is never in a hurry, and he’s never late.

This week, I have two more lessons about timing we can learn from the Christmas story.

God’s timing is not always convenient.

God’s plan for your life and his timing is good. It’s for your benefit, but it’s not painless. It won’t always be easy.

Think about Mary and Joseph. Mary…

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The work done by your team—your staff and volunteers—has eternal consequences. But your team members cannot serve effectively if they’re under stress; they won’t be able to go the distance. This is especially true during the holiday season—and even more so during a global pandemic.

That’s why I encourage leaders to cultivate the concept of relaxed concern. That may sound like a contradiction, but the quickest way to exhaust your team is to never let people relax. Although they need to realize their work is important, they won’t last if they never take their foot off the accelerator.

I’ve spoken to many pastors whose staff members and volunteers are becoming weary in ministry. It’s not because these leaders aren’t dedicated. It’s because they’re too dedicated. More precisely, their dedication isn’t tempered by the ability to relax—an important skill to learn in order to complete the task God has put before them.

Let me share seven leadership habits that will help your team cultivate relaxed concern and increase the likelihood of finishing well in ministry. 

Have realistic expectations.


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