Leadership

~ The cost of being a leader~

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No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.

Andrew Carnegie

Becoming a leader was a great challenge for me. My first responsibility as a leader was as class president. My second was fatherhood, my third was team leader on several campaigns abroad while serving my country. I was blessed to have been raised by a leader in my home. LT. Cornell Johnny Pratt United States Army. Under his grooming I found excuses to rebel. It was uncomfortable learning how to follow not knowing in doing so I was being prepared for great responsibility.

 “There’s an ego looking for a place to inflate,” my mom would whisper to me as my siblings entered the room, a prophecy that unfortunately soon proved itself to be true. “The long, dark corridor of life narrows at the end./ And those whose ego grow too tall will have to learn to bend.” I miss my mom who ultimately was the stronger vessel in our home due to all the humility she showed while ministering her faith in Christ to a Islamic domineered home.

Numbers 13-14

I. A place of leadership is a place of honor

Imagine the honor of it. From what may have been two million people 12 men were chosen. One dozen, from two million. Surely, the crowd roared for each name called, the way sports fans cheer for their heroes, the way political rallies yell the name of their candidate. They had a cheering base of more than 150,000 to a man, and the sound must have thundered across the valley.

Moses called them, one by one. Shammua, Shaphat, Caleb, Igal, Hoshea (or Joshua), Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel!

Their heads held high, these 12 men chosen as leaders for God’s people, were honored for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of integrity, and a lifetime of courage. The applause must have been sweet to many of them, if not every one of them.

We already know the rest of the story, how 10 out of the 12 would fail miserably in their leadership role. Only Caleb and Joshua would lead with courage and God-led conviction. Before we get to the failures of the 10, however, focus on the truth of the honor. It is a great honor to be chosen as a leader among God’s people.

When Paul briefed Timothy about the qualifications of deacons, he said – If a man serves well as a deacon, he earns an “excellent standing.” (1Timothy 3:13) The phrase for “excellent standing” means, “A step above.” The leader, who would be a deacon or a pastor in a church, is not exalted over the Christians he serves. Instead, he is simply pulled out of the group, like these 12 leaders in the wilderness, and placed in the spotlight. He is given a small step stool so all who are near can see his example. It is as if God says of this leader: “Here’s the example of what it means to be a Christian. Here’s one we will use as a model.”

There is great honor in being selected as a model for God’s people. The danger arrives when a leader wants all of the honor, without taking all of the responsibility.

II. A place of leadership is a place of great responsibility

This is the cost of leadership. This is where the great leaders earn their place in history.

For the generation of God’s people on the edge of the Promised Land, there was never a bigger crisis of leadership than when their 12 leaders were given the responsibility of spying out the land. They were to seek out the land, come back with the reports, and then issue the challenge of faith to all the people. Two would be up to the challenge, but 10 would wilt under the heavy load of responsibility.

Be careful to note this: All 12 of these leaders were courageous, and all 12 took courageous action in the beginning. They slipped into the land of the enemy, managed to live for some time in a dangerous place, and they even stole some prime produce from land owners who were surely protecting their crops. All 12 came home safely, and the entire dozen completed the first portion of the task given them. They had been good spies and had full reports of what they had seen.

However, the responsibility of this group was not simply to spy out the land. They were not chosen to be geologists, real estate agents, or agricultural surveyors. They were chosen to be leaders of God’s people, charged with giving God’s people God’s message. Whatever godly leaders are charged to do, eventually their responsibility is to be faith-driven leaders.

That’s where this group failed. Instead of reporting faith, ten of these leaders would eventually report of the fear they felt. Only two gave the challenge of moving forward in faith. When the people sided with fear instead of faith, their opportunity to live inside the Promised Land vanished.

A place of leadership is a place of tremendous responsibility, for a leader’s faith is on public display. The responsibility of a leader to live in that faith is a great weight.

III. An effective leader does not let problems stop the promise

When the people listened to the ten frightened spies who made a case for fear, instead of the two leaders calling them toward faith, God wanted to destroy them all. Had God done so, the entire exodus from Egypt would have been wasted. The promise of the Promised Land would be delayed by centuries. The nation of God’s people would be destroyed, and God’s reputation, therefore, would be greatly damaged. This was no small problem.

Moses made his best case before God, desperately trying to ward off a deadly, righteous anger.

Amazingly, God relented. Instead of destroying the nation, God only destroyed a generation. Forty years later, Joshua and Caleb would lead the children and grandchildren of this experience into the Promised Land. They would do so only because Moses did his best to not let a problem stop the promise.

If you’re going to lead, you’d better comprehend the truth. There will always be problems along the way. The problems come, and the problems go. Moses might put it this way: Today they complain about manna, tomorrow they’ll complain about quail. One day it’s a problem of thirst, the next it’s a problem of idolatry.

Leaders learn that problems look very large in the present, and very small from the distance. Effective leaders simply refuse to let something that looks so large block out the big picture. If Moses had forgotten the priceless value of God’s promise, his people would have died in the dessert. An effective leader simply cannot let a temporary problem – no matter how large – block the promise of the goal.

Colonel George Washington Goethals, the man responsible for the completion of the Panama Canal, had stifling  problems with the climate and the geography of Central America. Driving rains, incredible heat, and deadly disease were problems that never left his task. But his biggest challenge was the growing criticism back home from those who predicted he’d never finish the project. The voices of the critics appeared to be the biggest problem of all.

Finally, a colleague asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer these critics?”

“In time,” answered Geothals.

“When?” his partner asked.

“When the canal is finished.”

IV. The most important quality a leader must have is faith

Moses was humble, he was compassionate, he was consistent. But most of all, he was a man of great faith. The writer of Hebrews said the greatest mark of Moses was that he believed God, and that he led God’s people by faith. History’s summary of this great leader’s life was that he was a man of faith. (see Hebrews 11:23-29)

Moses had been a consistent man of faith among a people who had been consistently faithless. When God listed his complaints about the people, He said they had tested him ten times (see Numbers 14:22). How could people who had escaped Egypt, walked safely across the dry floor of the Red Sea, and eaten miraculous food doubt that God was with them? Had they not seen the Tabernacle, and the fire that glowed over it at night? Could they not remember the plagues that struck Egypt at Moses’ command?

Don’t be too hard on the people surrounding Moses. The disciples of Jesus had trouble walking across the bridge of faith, even after the Resurrection!

The followers around Jesus who were about to see the Lord ascend into heaven had seen the healing of countless sick people, the restoring of sight to the blind, and the raising of the dead. They had seen the crucifixion and the resurrection, and had reflected on the prophecy concerning the Messiah for more than a month. They had been with their resurrected Lord on multiple occasions, and could see him at that very moment. But just before Jesus gave his last instructions, Matthew records these words:

“The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.” Matt 28:16-17 (HCSB) It seems unbelievable. How could they see all that they had seen, and still doubt the power of God?

The end truth is that faith is a tough quality to have, and that if a person is going to lead God’s people, he or she simply cannot lead without faith. You must believe, without doubting. You must be able to believe, and then act confidently upon those beliefs. Perhaps that is why Jesus looked at those struggling, doubting disciples, and then simply said … “Now, go into all the world …” Jesus called his leaders to a faith-based action, just as he does today. You may still have some doubts, but the instruction still comes, loud and clear: “Go!”

Conclusion

What a gift God has given us in the stories of the Bible. While we might be squarely in the middle of a crisis, a problem, or a great challenge, the record of God’s people before us reminds us of the course of action we must take, and of the great reward for the leader who holds fast to the challenge of faith.

When God issued his judgment against the people, he also issued his rewards:

Joshua had the privilege of leading a new generation across the Jordan River, through the crumbling walls of Jericho, and into the Promised Land. Caleb lived a long, vibrant life, and saw the passion of his faith greatly rewarded. Both men outlived every grumbler, complainer, and naysayer around them. They became the only two names we remember from the original 12 leaders who spied out the land. The rewards of leadership are priceless.

~The Spirit or Gospel needs no help~

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SERMONS should have real teaching in them, and their doctrine should be solid, substantial, and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk’s sake; we have instructions to convey important to the last degree, and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings. Our range of subjects is all but boundless, and we cannot, therefore, be excused if our discourses are threadbare and devoid of substance. If we speak as ambassadors for God, we need never complain of want of matter, for our message is full to overflowing. The entire gospel must be presented from the pulpit; the whole faith once delivered to the saints must be proclaimed by us. The truth as it is in Jesus must be instructively declared, so that the people may not merely hear, but know, the joyful sound. We serve not at the altar of “the unknown God,” but we speak to the worshippers of him of whom it is written, “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee.” To divide a sermon well may be a very useful art, but how if there is nothing to divide? A mere division maker is like an excellent carver with an empty dish before him. To be able to deliver an exordium which shall be appropriate and attractive, to be at ease in speaking with propriety during the time allotted for the discourse, and to wind up with a respectable peroration, may appear to mere religious performers to be all that is requisite; but the true minister of Christ knows that the true value of a sermon must lie, not in its fashion and manner, but in the truth which it contains. Nothing can compensate for the absence of teaching; all the rhetoric in the world is but as chaff to the wheat in contrast to the gospel of our salvation. However beautiful the sower’s basket it is a miserable mockery if it be without seed. The grandest discourse ever delivered is an ostentatious failure if the doctrine of the grace of God be absent from it; it sweeps over men’s heads like a cloud, but it distributes no rain upon the thirsty earth; and therefore the remembrance of it to souls taught wisdom by an experience of pressing need is one of disappointment, or worse. A man’s style may be as fascinating as that of the authoress of whom one said, “that she should write with a crystal pen dipped in dew upon silver paper, and use for pounce the dust of a butterfly’s wing”; but to an audience whose souls are in instant jeopardy, what will mere elegance be but “altogether lighter than vanity”?

Is there any harm in Christian charismatic leadership? Most everyone will agree that having some charisma in one’s personality is desirable. This same thought tends to prevail among many Christian leaders and their followers in matters of the gospel which are often pushed back in favor of charismatic leadership.

Christian preachers, teachers, and ministers, famous and unknown, often seek to entertain their audience as they deliver their sermons and Bible lessons. Jokes are told, statements are made to incite laughter and tantalizing, attention-getting keywords are employed to shock listeners in order to have their full attention. Facial expressions, body posture, and movements along with the often unnecessary raising of the voice all play a part in the performances of many who are considered Christian leaders. Such people include pastors, Sunday school teachers, television evangelists, and many others with positions of leadership within the church. Sensationalism is also seen among Christian writers.

Is there any harm in one’s sermon, Bible lesson or Christian article containing sensationalism? Is there anything wrong with a Christian preacher, teacher, or author taking a charismatic approach in the delivery of the gospel message to others? According to biblical scripture, there’s plenty of harm that can be done in the life of not only the Christian leader but also of his audience.

Each side would do well to ask himself a few questions to evaluate his real intentions. This is biblical instruction from the scripture of 1 Corinthians 11:28 which reads, “…let a man examine himself….”

The apostle Paul said that he was given a messenger of Satan, known as his “thorn in the flesh”, to buffet him so that he wouldn’t be lifted up in pride (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul received many revelations directly from God. It is his writings that teach the Christian more about the meaning of the work of Jesus than those of the other apostles. God knew the danger of self-pride taking root in Paul which would have surely been his downfall.

There’s a joke that speaks of the irony of the fact that there are many Christian leaders who are very proud of how humble they are. In the examination of oneself, the Christian leader may ask himself if his true intent is to give glory to God in the delivery of his sermon or lesson, or glory to himself. Each member of the audience of that same charismatic and sensational leader may ask himself if his true intent is to learn the word of God or to be entertained.

There’s always spiritual harm to be done when one is in opposition to the will of God. To use the gospel to entertain or to be entertained is not in agreement with the scriptures. Every true preacher of the gospel should be able to declare in sincerity the same that the apostle Paul and those who accompanied him declared. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, Paul wrote, “but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness. God is our witness. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others….”

This blessed Sabbath weekend was a very powerful enlightening one. I had to change my sermon to address some foolishness taking place amongst the ranks of teachers and preachers and for the most part I was fine, but when God took over it felt like I was getting a whipping also.

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Thanks Lord for the opportunity to stretch our legs and enjoy your creation this weekend. We appreciate home, but what a time it was to gaze upon Your beauty while worshiping You O’Lord and You alone. May the word spoken today at Bishop Rally’s render a breakthrough to leaders and alike….#Third Baptist Church San Francisco- His best for our life weekend-Please click to view the beginning….

~Reflections For The New Year To Build The Leader In “You”~

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I ON YOUR PATH, O God
You, O God, on my way.
Celtic walking prayer

IT IS NOT ONLY PRAYER that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God glory if being in his grace you do it …

FOR THE GLORY of God is the human person fully alive, and life consists in beholding God. For if the vision of God which is made by means of the creation, gives life to all living in the earth, much more does that revelation of the Father which comes through the Word, give life to those who see God.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies

MAY I KNOW me! May I know thee!
Augustine, Soliloquies

ABIDE IN THE VINE. Let the life from him flow through all your spiritual veins.
Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

GOD CANNOT be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.
Leo Tolstoy, Wise Thoughts for Every Day

AS WE UNITE with God, we are invited into bonding rather than bondage.

Flora Slosson Wuellner, in Weavings

I BRING my void here for filling;it is my poverty God needs. With my want the Lord builds palaces.
Kilian McDonnell, from “A Place to Hide: Light On,” in Weavings

GOD CAN’T CLEAN the house of you when you’re still in it.
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually)

RECEIVING FORGIVENESS requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

IF A MAN HUMBLES himself, God cannot withhold his own goodness but must come down and flow into the humble man, and to him who is least of all he gives himself the most of all, and he gives himself to him completely. What God gives is his being, and his being is his goodness, and his goodness is his love.
Meister Eckhart

I HAVE DISCOVERED that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.
Blaise Pascal, Pensées

IT IS NO EASY TASK to walk this earth and find peace. Inside of us, it would seem, something is at odds with the very rhythm of things and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching. We are so overcharged with desire that it is hard to come to simple rest. Desire is always stronger than satisfaction.
Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

ONE OF the uncomfortable facts about ourselves is that we all must live in a way that meets our own approval.
Paul Holmer, Making Christian Sense

DOES DISCOVERING who you are awaken a kind of inner unrest? … If you started accusing yourself of all that is in you, would your nights and days be long enough?
Brother Roger of Taizé, Essential Writings

A MAN’S AT ODDS to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he don’t want to. Best not to look in there.
Cormac Mccarthy, Blood Meridian

ONE OF the strangest things that people say is, “I’m a good person.” I am always amazed when people claim to know that about themselves. … History demonstrates, repeatedly, that if enough people begin to define themselves as “good” in contrast to others who are “bad,” those others come to be seen as less than human.
Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace

THE POWER of temptation is not in its appeal to our baser instincts; if that were the case, it would be natural to be repulsed by it. The power of temptation is in its appeal to our idealism.
Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father

THE EVIL WROUGHT by those who intend evil is negligible. The greater evil is wrought by those who intend good, and …

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

Neil Gaiman

~Being A Promise Keeper Is Critical To Your Influence As A Leader~

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The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. The word used to mean staying true to your word—even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves—even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

The phrase “To thine own self be true” comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it became popular through self-help books and programs. There’s nothing wrong with these words by themselves, but they’re usually taken out of context.

If you’ve ever read or seen the play you know the full story. The phrase comes after advice about being prudent and preserving friendships. The idea is that we are true to ourselves so that others can count on what we say. That was having integrity.

But if you listen to the way people use it today, they usually mean something else. “To thine own self be true” is often used as an excuse to do whatever a person wants instead of what’s expected—or even what they’ve already committed to. This is suicide in business—and the rest of life.

Not only is integrity essential for strong friendships, it’s crucial for all of our relationships. “Honesty,” says Stephen Covey, “is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words.” We won’t get far in life without it.

Just think about your work. Without the kind of integrity Covey describes, you cannot be an effective leader. Why?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

~Cacophony In Leadership; Why?~Part 2

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One church is dealing with a major conflict between the pastor and the elders. Another is struggling to keep together factions that have polarized over changes in worship. A third is reeling from the sudden suspension of its pastor. A fourth is grieving over the tragic death of a child. A fifth is facing the loss of a large portion of its membership; yet another is adjusting to the consolidation of a smaller congregation into its midst. These are all for instances May & I are comfronted with while attempting to partner with leadership to kingdom building.

These are just a few of the difficult times congregations can face—circumstances that affect all of a congregation’s life, especially its worship life. Such situations raise questions like these:

  • How do congregations worship in a difficult time of crisis, transition, or conflict?
  • How can congregations plan worship thoughtfully and meaningfully through a difficult time?
  • How can worship help the congregation in the process of healing from a difficult time?

For most congregations, worship is the main event of the week. Even though Christians worship individually and often do so outside of the sanctuary, the weekly worship service is the occasion when, more than any other time, the congregation gathers and expresses its identity. So when a congregation experiences a difficult situation, symptoms are bound to appear in worship. The leaders of the congregation must carefully discern how to plan worship appropriately during these times. Ultimately, worship may be the element of congregational life that has the most potential to help the congregation through the process of healing.

Difficult Times: Crisis, Transition, Conflict

Worship services can become a calm island in the storm of conflict or a guiding force through a turbulent period, but different situations will require varying approaches to worship planning. Situations of crisis, transition, or conflict each raise a different set of issues to deal with.

Crisis

A crisis is a sudden change that creates a great amount of tension and upheaval for those affected by it. Examples of congregational crises include the sudden death of a leader or church member, the unexpected resignation of a pastor or staff member, a natural disaster that damages the church facilities, or a regional or national calamity. In a crisis, announcements and methods of communication are of urgent importance. In these situations, leaders will need to ask questions like the following:

  • What will we say to the people on Sunday morning, and who will say it?
  • How will we tell the news and still be able to worship?
  • Who will lead our service and preach the sermon (if the crisis involves the pastor’s absence)?
  • Should we scrap the planned liturgy completely and simply start over?
  • What songs will we sing instead of the ones previously chosen?
  • Who will make these decisions?

A crisis requires thoughtful planning and decision-making without much time for processing. It calls for wisdom from church leaders—wisdom that can be developed by setting good patterns long before any crisis occurs.

Though a crisis is a sudden change, it often is followed by an extended period of grieving—for a person, a group, a building, or even a congregational identity. The situation then leads to a time of transition, or, in some cases, a time of conflict. The issues caused by a crisis do not go away quickly when the immediate crisis is over. Careful responses from leaders will have long-term results for the health and well-being of the congregation.

Transition

A transition is the process of changing from one form, state, activity, or place to another. Unlike a crisis situation, transitions allow more time for careful planning. The most common transitions for congregations are changes in pastoral or staff leadership. Other examples of transitions include building additions and relocations, development of a new vision or new programs, mergers of two or more congregations, and consolidations of one congregation into another.

As in a time of crisis, leaders need to ask important questions. For example, in the case of a consolidation, church leaders will want to ask questions like these:

  • How will we publicly welcome these people into our family?
  • How will we acknowledge that together we become a new worshiping community?
  • How will we acknowledge the grief that some will feel in losing their identity (and even their building and many of their ways)?
  • How can we ritualize the transition?

Conflict

A conflict is a prolonged controversy or disagreement between opposing forces. Church conflicts can arise from a variety of issues—from worship style to leadership style to interior decorating style. They may develop out of an unresolved or poorly handled crisis. They may begin with a sharp disagreement or with a quiet dispute that grows into a heated discussion. Leaders have to think carefully about whether their actions will fan or douse embers of conflict.

Conflicts often serve as evidence of deeper disagreements or hurts within the congregation. Sometimes healing has been needed for a long time, but no one has facilitated that process. Leaders need wisdom to discern how best to acknowledge the conflict and how to work toward resolution. They will have to address questions like the following:

  • Should we “name” the conflict in worship?
  • Should we speak words of confession to one another?
  • Can we do this without making hypocrites out of people by attempting to force contrition?
  • How (and how often) should we address themes of unity and reconciliation?
  • Should we take care to involve members who are on different “sides” of the conflict?
  • How can we use worship and Scripture to build hope in the congregation, knowing that our Lord will carry us through this difficult time?

Congregations need to recognize that things don’t always go well, and difficult times are a normal part of congregational life.

Planning Worship in Difficult Times

Worship services can help a congregation through a difficult time by reminding members of the major themes of Scripture and the promises God has made. In worship, congregations gather as God’s chosen people, recalling who they are by baptism and finding themselves again in the gospel narrative. During difficult times, careful worship planning becomes more crucial than ever. Services must be designed carefully, with thoughtful awareness of the difficult situation and the many opinions and questions swirling around.

Church leaders who are dealing with the conflict, crisis, or transitional situation should be in close contact with those who plan worship. They should not naively assume that they can simply take care of the difficulty behind the scenes so that the problem won’t affect the worship services. It will affect them—one way or another. The challenge is to manage that effect and guide the process with discernment.

Public acknowledgement of the difficult time may be helpful for a congregation, but it requires sensitivity and careful planning by the leaders. They must be sure to preserve the dignity and purpose of worship, as well as be sensitive to the presence of visitors in the worship service. One church-shopping couple visited a church on the very day the suspension of its pastor was announced. They kept coming to see how the church would handle the crisis, and are still members ten years later.

Church leaders may find that simply naming the difficulty facing the congregation will go a long way toward reducing the anxiety that members are feeling. Instead of avoiding the obvious, leaders can help the congregation admit that things are not quite the way they’re supposed to be. This may also give the congregation permission to admit failure and begin moving toward health. In the midst of pressure to be the best church, draw the most people, and have the most inspiring worship services, congregations need to recognize that things don’t always go well, and difficult times are a normal part of congregational life. This attitude, when modeled by church leaders, may help members work through the difficulty. In fact, the congregation may learn that difficult times can be times of great spiritual growth.

Leaders can facilitate that growth through careful collaboration with worship planners. Congregations experiencing challenges are often characterized by a variety of intense emotions, including an increase in anxiety and a concurrent decrease in the creative energy needed for planning and implementing corporate worship. Sometimes the crisis or conflict results in a loss of leadership—even a loss of the pastor or other central worship planner or leader. Congregations in these situations need guidance in knowing what questions to ask and what matters to consider regarding worship. (See Q&A, p. 30, for some examples of such questions.)

~20/20 Leadership In The Church~

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I like to distinguish between a “goal mindset” and a “growth mindset.” A church leader with a “goal mindset” has very tangible, numerical goals to achieve over a specific period of time. Nothing is wrong with clearly defined goals, but there’s a better way of thinking that I call a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset recognizes goals on the journey, but only as part of a process—not as the end results.

Leaders of successful churches are tempted to stop working on themselves, but when the pastor doesn’t grow, the people don’t grow. It’s the Law of the Lid: a stagnant church leader stunts the growth of the church. I hope these thoughts on leadership will inspire you to maintain this “growth mindset,” for your personal benefit and for the benefit of those you lead.

A Function, Not a Title

Elders, deacons, pastors and even evangelists, prophets and apostles were all meant to be functions within the church, whether they are performed in an official capacity or not. They were never intended to be titles. Yes, some of the early apostles did travel between the early churches and ordained elders (Tit 1:5), yet the function of those who lead or govern within the church is listed as a gift in the Bible:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1 Cor 12:28-emphasis added). This means that leadership is just as much a gift of the Spirit as healing. Conversely in the modern day church however, most people become leaders after completing some Bible College course or after they have jumped through their institution’s hoops long enough.

Having failed at being a church leader before I am focused on my calling more than ever before. Intimacy with Christ even while life was closing in on me as a leader in the work place was paramount. My position in life has gotten more demanding although my way of living has gotten simpler and less demanding physically.

Information Transfer versus Relational leadership development

Churches need a unified vision of what a small group is
Churches need to define what a healthy group looks like
First step to get groups off the ground: start your own at your home
Jesus took risks on leaders the church wouldn’t invite into leadership

As a profession, is the pastorate marked by a high rate of turnover? Some observers would respond with a resounding “yes!” And the statistics would bear them out: studies indicate that, at certain points in recent history, the average length of stay for people involved in church ministry was only about two years!
There seem to have been a variety of reasons for this. In some instances the pastors in question weren’t equipped to deal with conflict situations. In others they were simply looking to better their standard of living and move on to a position with more influence and recognition. It’s not hard to understand this latter point of view. After all, if a person enters a ministry situation saddled with a burden of educational debt and then begins to grow a family, it stands to reason that he or she will eventually start looking for a position that provides sufficient remuneration to meet those monetary obligations.
What are we to make of this? Should the phenomenon of pastoral turnover be regarded as good, bad, or indifferent? As you might expect, there are at least a couple of different ways of looking at it.
On the one hand, I’ve read several articles urging people in ministry to resist the idea of moving to a new place of ministry. The authors reason that when God places a man or woman in a certain position, it’s up to Him to provide what’s needed to make that position tenable. If and when it’s time to leave, He will release you with clear signs and signals. He will open the door to new opportunities at the appropriate moment. Until then, the minister needs to realize that the Lord is more interested in developing our character than in making us successful or enabling us to feel comfortable in a particular location.
There’s some good sense in what these writers have to say. As pastors, we should not be looking for new places of ministry simply as a way of avoiding problems, particularly if the problem is yourself, your sin, your blind spots, or your lack of experience. Those issues need to be faced squarely and resolved with the help and guidance of trusted counselors and friends. And yet, as I’ve already suggested, there is another perspective that deserves serious consideration. Personally, I believe there are occasions when it’s entirely appropriate for people in church ministry to start looking for other opportunities—times when seeking out a new situation is a valid thing to do. Let’s examine three of them.
First, it might be time to move on if the leaders at your church are unwilling to negotiate on important issues. Perhaps we can agree that the most important issue in church ministry is the freedom to preach and teach the Scriptures with integrity. Equally important from my point of view is the need for pastors to be in relationship with as many people in their congregation as possible. Sometimes we are adamant about the freedom to preach but less insistent upon importance of consistent pastoral care. Both are vital. Most other aspects of ministry are not going to be scrutinized by the church leadership, so we must decide whether the congregation’s relational expectations are realistic.
Second, pastors should consider carefully how conditions in their place of ministry are affecting their family dynamics. Some churches make intrusive and unrealistic demands upon a minister’s spouse and children. As pastors we should challenge some of those expectations, ask for respect, and require that appropriate boundaries be maintained. If abusive and demanding behaviors continue after several confrontations, a pastor is more than justified in looking for more accommodating places of ministry.
Third, I believe it is also reasonable to start searching for a new place of ministry if, after a year or so of faithfully representing your financial needs to the staff and leadership of the church, you discover that they simply cannot do a better job of providing an adequate income for you and your family. There have been situations in recent years in which the economy in various parts of the country has declined, eliminating jobs and forcing families to relocate. When this happens, the local church can be left struggling to survive. As pastors we must be courageous in preaching about biblical stewardship, but there are also times when we have to make difficult choices for the sake of our own families. Sometimes searching for a new place of ministry is the only way to take care of debt, health care, and other pressing household needs.

Character

  1. It’s true that charisma can make a person stand out for a moment, but character sets a person apart for a lifetime.
  2. You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.
  3. Character makes trust possible, and trust is the foundation of leadership.
  4. Character creates consistency, and if your people know what they can expect from you, they will continue to look to you for leadership.
  5. Over time, is it easier or harder to sustain your influence within your organization?  With charisma alone, influence becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain. With character, as time passes, influence builds and requires less work to sustain.

Communication

  1. Great communication depends on two simple skills—context, which attunes a leader to the same frequency as his or her audience, and delivery, which allows a leader to phrase messages in a language the audience can understand.
  2. Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it.
  3. Take the emotional temperature of those listening to you. Facial expressions, voice inflection and posture give clues to a person’s mood and attitude.
  1. Persuasive communication involves enthusiasm, animation, audience participation, authenticity and spontaneity.

Credibility

  1. Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.
  2. Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.
  3. Don’t hide bad news. With multiple information channels available, bad news always becomes known. Be candid right from the start.
  4. A highly credible leader under-promises and over-delivers.
  5. Diligent follow-up and follow-through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence.
  6. A trustworthy leader goes the extra mile to remedy strained relationships, even when it doesn’t appear to be required.Failure

Failure

  1. “Failing forward” is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.
  2. Don’t buy into the notion that mistakes can somehow be avoided. They can’t be.
  3. Failure is not a one-time event; it’s how you deal with life along the way. Until you breathe your last breath, you’re still in the process, and there is still time to turn things around for the better.
  4. You are the only person who can label what you do a failure. Failure is subjective.
  5. Don’t allow the fire of adversity to make you a skeptic. Allow it to purify you.
  6. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.
  7. Seek advice, but make sure it’s from someone who has successfully handled mistakes or adversities.
  8. When to quit: (1) Quit something you don’t do well to start something you do well. (2)  Quit something you’re not passionate about to do something that fills you with passion. (3) Quit something that doesn’t make a difference to do something that does.
  9. People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.

Followership

  1. More than anything else, followers want to believe that their leaders are ethical and honest.
  2. When your people see that you are not only competent to lead but also have a track record of successes, they will have confidence in following you, even when they don’t understand all the details.
  3. As a leader, it’s your job to get your people excited about what their work will accomplish; it’s a natural motivator.

Praying on Your Fingers

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fingersThe Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’

Billy Graham

Psalm 55:17

King James Version (KJV)

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.
Many children learn to count on their fingers, but a nurse once taught a child to pray on his fingers.

This was her method:
Your thumb is the digit nearest to your heart, so pray first for those who are closest to you. Your own needs, of course, should be included, as well as those of your beloved family and friends. The second finger is the one used for pointing. Pray for those who point you toward the truth, whether at church or schoo;. Pray for teachers, mentors, pastors, and those who inspire your faith.

The third finger is the tallest. Let it stand for leaders in every spere of life. Pray for those in authority–both within the body of Christ and those who hold office in various areas of government. The fourth finger is the weakest, as every pianist knows. Let it stand for those who are in trouble and pain–the sick, injured, abused, wounded, or hurt. Those in Belize who are being over taken by the “Crack Cocaine” epidimic. Pray for those who are in war torn countries, trapped and inpovisioned prisoners of other countries. My God thier are so many to pray for on the weakest finger.

The little finger is the smallest. Let it stand for those who often go unnoticed, including those who suffer abuse and deprivation. What a great tool to use in teaching children how to pray for themselves and others! What a simple and wonderful reminder to use as we pray ourselves!

Daily prayers will diminish your cares. Don’t long for the absence of problems in your life. That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble. You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven. rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth.