Archives For Leadership

Many people today are asking themselves, “Where is God?” It’s a legitimate question during a global pandemic—even pastors are likely asking it this year. In fact, some researchers are suggesting that 20 percent of U.S. churches may never reopen.

If you’re asking, “Where is God?” right now, the Bible has an answer.

He’s right beside you—no matter where you are. God is all over the place. He is omnipresent.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place . . . Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?” (GNT). That means, no matter what you’re going through, God is with you. When you look at the struggles we’re dealing with right now, God’s presence changes everything.

Here’s how he does it:

When you’re lonely, God is your companion. 

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting” (Psalm 25:16 NCV). Our world has never had more people, and we’ve never been more connected to each other. Yet…

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Sometimes your ministry doesn’t have everything you think it needs. Maybe you need more volunteers, more resources, more money, or more time to do what God is calling you to do. 

When you understand the Law of the Harvest, you’ll understand the secret of how God meets your ministry needs.

What is the Law of the Harvest? What you reap, you will sow. 

The Bible says the more we give away, the more we’ll get back. Many verses in Scripture deal with this principle. I’ve put it into practice multiple times when we’ve had a need at Saddleback Church.

You’ve heard Matthew 17:20 many times. You’ve likely even preached from it—although I think most people misinterpret it. 

“‘You don’t have enough faith,’ Jesus told them. ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible’” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

I believe Jesus is telling us it’s not the size of our faith that matters. It’s…

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Unity has increasingly been on the hearts and minds of many pastors this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial unrest that continue to cause tension among believers, many churches seem divided.

Biblical unity has always been important. Throughout the years, people have attributed the growth and health of Saddleback Church to a variety of factors, but I think one factor that is often overlooked is unity.

God blesses a unified church. Many churches have tremendous potential, but they never achieve what God wants them to achieve because the members spend all their time quarreling with each other.  

Why Church Unity Matters

As a church leader, it’s your job to protect the church. The Bible talks more about unity of the church than it does about heaven or hell. It’s that important. 

Here are six reasons the Bible says church unity is important: 

Jesus prayed for it. John 17:21 says, “I pray that they will all be one” (NLT). The world will be won when the church is one. When you find a church filled with people who really love…

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Every project you plan has a price tag on it. Before leading your team to start a new project, you need to count the cost—and it’s not just about money.

Last week, I shared five lessons about planning that every leader must consider. Nehemiah modeled these planning steps for us when he returned to Jerusalem to build the city. 

A good plan means you:

  1. Think it through.
  2. Prepare for opportunities.
  3. Establish a goal.
  4. Set a deadline.
  5. Anticipate the problems.

Here’s the sixth lesson: You need to count the cost. This is the budgeting part of the process. You can see this in the story of Nehemiah. After asking the king for permission to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah gave him a shopping list: “May I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?”

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Few things in life happen spontaneously. You need a plan—a plan for building relationships, for witnessing to others, for reading the Bible, and for praying each day. Almost everything in life needs a plan.

Good leaders are planners. They always think through where they’re headed, and they don’t waste time worrying about failure. Effective ministry leaders start with prayer, and then they plan what God wants them to accomplish. 

Why is planning so important for your ministry?

  • God does it. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
  • God commands it. “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (Proverbs 4:26 GNT).
  • Planning shows good stewardship. “Live life, then with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time. Don’t be vague but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord”  (Ephesians 5:15-17 PHILLIPS).

Nehemiah was a master…

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If you’re a pastor or church leader, God has given you a task much bigger than you can handle on your own. Leadership in 2020 has certainly put a magnifying glass on this truth. At times this year, I’m sure your work has seemed utterly impossible.

The book of Nehemiah shows the importance of good leadership in the completion of a project. With the right leadership, the Israelites were able to complete a project in 52 days—a project that, for 80 years, people had said couldn’t be done. When you get the right catalyst, important projects get finished. 

What kind of leader does your church and community need? Nehemiah shows us four critical markers of a great leader. 

Compelling Purpose 

You need a vision that drives you forward. Nehemiah had that. When some of Nehemiah’s enemies tried to entice him into leaving his work, he responded, “I am doing a great work” (Nehemiah 6:3 NCV). Nehemiah was very single-minded. He committed to his project because he realized he was doing something that mattered.

Great lives are produced when they’re committed…

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How to Deal With Disappointment in Ministry

Have you ever noticed how forgetful people can be? They quickly forget all the ways others have helped them in the past, and they end up complaining later on. 

Children forget what their parents have done for them. Spouses take one another for granted. Bosses move on to other employees.

It’s human nature.

Many pastors experience this firsthand. Despite years of faithful service, their congregations only remember the failures. These pastors work so hard, and no one seems to notice.

Maybe this is the position you’re in today. You’re not alone. Moses also experienced this kind of disappointment. 

Just three days after Moses led God’s people through the Red Sea—one of the greatest miracles in history—the Bible says, “The people grumbled to Moses, ‘What are we going to drink?’” (Exodus 15:24). Israel was quick to forget what Moses had done for them.

At the first sign of trouble, the Israelites complained. Their motto during their time in the desert was: “When in doubt, grumble against Moses.”…

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The Difference Between Real Faith and Fake Faith

If 2020 has taught us anything about faith, it’s that fake faith isn’t enough.

Our culture is literally overrun with fake products. You can get fake versions of just about everything at a cheaper price than the originals. I fly through many international airports, and in many countries, you can buy a fake $15,000 watch in airports for $100. It looks and functions just like the real one.

Most of the time, getting a fake version of something isn’t a big problem. You may be able to get by with a fake watch, but you can’t survive spiritually with a fake faith. Fake faith won’t give you security in the midst of a global pandemic. Fake faith won’t help you survive an economic catastrophe. Fake faith can’t heal generations of broken cross-cultural relationships either. 

James tells us fake faith is “dead.” In times of trial, this dead faith won’t help our churches. That is why there has never been a better time for us to help the people in our congregations develop real faith. 

What does real faith…

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If you want to last in ministry, you need to learn how to deal with disappointment.

The very nature of ministry makes you highly vulnerable to disappointment. Every leader must learn how to deal with the tension between the ideal and the real. No matter how effective your church is, it’s never quite where you want it to be. You will always want it to be better and stronger. 

Moses knew all about disappointments in ministry. No man put up with more complaining or lack of appreciation. Over and over the Israelites questioned his motives, doubted his decisions, and challenged his leadership. 

A good example of this is found in Exodus 15. After Moses led them through the Red Sea, the Israelites traveled three days through the desert without finding water. “When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. . . . So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’” (Exodus 15:23-24 NIV). 

Moses’ story points to an important lesson: Great successes in ministry are often followed by failure. After…

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4 Ways to Use My Sermons to Prep Your Own

I’ve been making my sermons available for decades to help you prepare yours. My sermons will save you time, but they won’t do your job for you. 

I typically put about 20 hours of study into each message I teach. Most of the time, I study hundreds of verses for each sermon. While my work may save you some time, you still need to spend significant time crafting your message. There are no shortcuts to preaching the message God wants you to preach. 

Here are four tips for how to use my sermons to help you prepare your own.

Make sure you set aside enough time.

You need more than just time to prepare a message. More importantly, you need enough time to actually hear from God. There’s no substitute for seeking God’s voice. A good public speaker can share an engaging message, but a pastor must deliver the Word of God. 

Before I preach, I get alone with God until I feel confident and passionate about my message. If I don’t feel it, I…

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If you’ve ever watched a marathon, you know there’s a big crowd of runners at the starting line. As you get toward the finish line, it thins out. Ministry is like a marathon. Many people start out great but don’t make it to the finish line.

I want you to make it to the finish line. 

What are the keys to ministry that help people thrive over a lifetime?  

The life of Samson shows us a negative example of what not to do. He had everything going for him—a great start, abilities, good looks, and strength. But one day, he lost it all. His strength had left him, and he ended up a broken man. 

Here are lessons from Samson’s life that can help you maintain spiritual strength throughout your ministry.

Discipline your desires.

When we begin to make decisions based on pleasure rather than principle and live out of convenience rather than out of conviction, we risk losing our spiritual strength. Even good things—like food, money, sex, and sleep—can zap our spiritual strength if taken to the extreme.Continue Reading

In the coming months and years, the world will be in rebuilding mode. We’ll be rebuilding churches, communities, and economies.

Most importantly, we’ll be rebuilding lives. 

Leadership is critical to any rebuilding effort, and Nehemiah is my favorite leader in the Bible. Jerusalem had been in shambles for more than a century when he arrived, yet he led the effort to rebuild it.

Nehemiah gives us a great example of leadership as we enter into a time of rebuilding. 

What made him such a great leader? I believe it boils down to eight characteristics. 

Compassion

Nehemiah really cared about people. Just four verses into the book and you’re confronted with his compassion. Nehemiah 1:4 says, “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (NLT).

Nehemiah had a cushy job with the king of Persia. He didn’t have to care about the problems in Jerusalem, where he had never been, but he cared anyway. 

Love is the foundation of Christian leadership. People don’t…

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