Archives For Leadership

Why You Need Goals in 2022

Most of the people in our congregations are stepping into 2022 hoping it will be better than 2021. Many have already identified specific changes they want to make in their lives. They want to get healthier, heal their marriage, or get serious about their spiritual growth. 

But despite their best intentions, many of those changes will fizzle out. 

That’s where goals come in. It’s critical that you have a vision for what God wants to do in your life. You have to see the goal before you can reach the goal. But once you’ve seen it, you must believe you can achieve it. That’s where your faith in God comes in.

A few years back, I asked a world-famous psychologist, “In all of your work over the years, what has been the most helpful thing you’ve given to people that has made a difference in their lives as they were seeking change?” 

His answer was surprising. 

“There’s no question about it,” he said. “I’ve discovered the most helpful thing I can do for people in a personal or relational…

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Five Steps to a Fresh START

Our God is the God of second chances and fresh starts.

Pastor, as you head into 2022, you may be ready to let go of a dream or a vision that God has given you. But don’t give up, because the year ahead is another opportunity to pursue the dream God has given you.

God’s Word gives us five simple steps for seizing the fresh start he wants to give us. I’ve created an acrostic, S-T-A-R-T, to help us remember these steps as we try to apply them in 2022.

Stop making excuses for not starting.

The biggest barriers to your success are your own excuses. God has a lot to say about your excuses. Just look at the four most common excuses we make when giving up on a dream. 

  • “I don’t have what it takes to go after my dream.” Many people in the Bible tried making this excuse, including Moses, Jeremiah, and Gideon. But God reminded each one that he is with them as they fulfill his calling for their lives. And God’s answer to your insecurity is to also…

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Once your Christmas services are completed, you’ll likely be ready for some time off before the new year begins. And since it’s been an eventful year in ministry, you’ll need this time to recharge, relax, and soak in the holidays with your loved ones.

But don’t forget about making plans for the beginning of 2022. The new year is a time when people are particularly open to making spiritual changes in their lives. In fact, many non-believers questioned God more than ever this past year. Whether or not some of them attended your services physically or virtually, they were likely thinking about their relationship with Jesus. Attending church and getting to know God better are common resolutions people make as they head into the new year.

Plus, with kids heading back to school again in January, many families are looking to begin new habits. They’re more open to adding new commitments to their schedules than they will be at other times. (When kids start school in the fall is another key time when families are open to changing up their schedules.)


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How to Prepare for Dream Busters

In my last Ministry Toolbox article, I shared some tips on how to chase big dreams. But as with any dream, you’ll often face obstacles—dream busters that will keep you from pursuing your dreams. If you know what they are in advance, you can be prepared to face them head-on. Even people with good intentions can be a detriment to what God wants to do through you and your ministry.

Here are some of the dream busters I’ve seen stand in the way of what God wants to do through leaders like you and me.


You see this in the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was a big dreamer, but his dreams got him in trouble. He told his brothers that someday he’d be an influential leader and would save a nation. God gave him that dream and eventually made it come true. 

But Joseph shared his dream with the wrong people and at the wrong time. 

When God gives you a dream, you need to be careful who you share it with. You need to share with…

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Testimony: Silence the Lies You Believe With God’s Truth

Since before I can remember, before I even knew what the word “lust” meant, I was immersed in it. Around the age of six, I was acting out in lust with self-gratification. It controlled me, and no one knew about it. Hi, I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, I struggle with lust, control issues, codependency, and fear of failure, and my name is Julia.

At a young age, I remember being taught, mostly through the T.V. and movies, that love, being loved, and being in a relationship was the most important thing in life. Even growing up in a Christian world, I felt that lie was perpetuated as I came to believe that marriage would complete me and that it’s where my identity belongs.

I was six years old when I stumbled into self-gratification. I didn’t really understand what I was doing or the implications of it. All I remember is somehow feeling like what I was doing was bad. As I got older, the “bad” feeling grew into shame.

You see, I went to a private Christian high school, where we would frequently…

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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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