Habits impact churches much more than they realize. In fact, many churches are stuck because of bad habits.
Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit, “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-consumed decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own ... over time the way we organize our thoughts and routines has enormous impacts.”
Lately, I have noticed four recurring bad habits developed by teams with no clear ministry strategy.
It's Sunday afternoon, and you have just delivered a powerful, life-changing message to your congregation. However, Sister Million Questions and Brother Doesn't Understand have cornered you again. They didn't understand your message even though they had shouted amen the loudest.
Sound familiar? This scenario takes place in more churches than we might realize or care to admit.
I was talking to a friend the other day about some of the stresses bi-vocational pastors face that are unique. During our brainstorming session, we hit upon one that struck a chord—guilt.
You might recognize some of these thoughts:
1. I must be doing something wrong because ...
2. I have to work a second job.
3. My church isn’t growing.
4. I can’t afford to pay my staff a full salary.
5. Even I get bored during my sermons.
6. We haven’t had a baptism in a year.
7. I can’t get enough workers to …
Moses knew he was special. His entire story said that he was chosen by God for a purpose. Then he messed up. His life didn’t go according to his plan, and he ended up on the backside of nowhere for 40 years. Yup. He probably thought he had his chance and it was gone. Now he just had to do his best to face today.
Then God showed up. If you take time to read Moses' interactions with God in Exodus 3-7 and 14, you will find how Moses dealt with guilt and lack to be the person God called him to be.
1. He was honest with God. Moses didn’t think a lot of himself, and he didn’t pretend. He brought his doubts to God and let God address them.
2. He did what God said. After God addressed his fears and concerns, Moses moved forward.
3. He came back to God with more doubts. Seriously—Moses didn’t just hear what God said and did it. Every little wrinkle brought him back to God: “They won’t listen ... ; he won’t listen ... ”
4. He expected God to fix the problems. Once he brought things to God, problems didn’t hit Moses the same way. When things went wrong, he returned to God with the problem. It is almost like he kept coming back, saying, “I told you this wouldn’t work. What’s next?”
5. He let God be his strength. Moses took hit after hit. People didn’t listen, then they did and later deserted. Pharaoh kept promising compliance and reneging. Instead of feeling there must be something wrong with him, Moses did his part and brought it all back to God.
If you are walking around under a load of guilt, is it possible God isn’t the one doing all the work? He called you. He put you in this impossible situation—not so that you could feel the pain or win the war, but so that He would be glorified and His kingdom would grow.
As a coach, I talk to pastors who have hit the wall a lot. One of the best things you can do when you hit the wall of guilt is to remember how you got here. It is entirely possible that, like Moses and the 10 plagues, you are supposed to go through a time when you discover what doesn’t work before you find what does. It is also possible that God is doing work you haven’t seen yet.
Now it is your turn. In the comments below, please help us answer this question: How would you know if your frustration is God’s opportunity or just a mistake?
Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.
Great leaders expect the best in people, and bad leaders expect the worst. Rinse and repeat.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of leaders who think leadership means constant criticism, ordering people around, snarky comments and humiliation. Those leaders (although I don’t think they’re real leaders at all) actually expect the worst in people, and that’s why they treat their teams so badly.
These leaders respond to everything as if you’re trying to cheat them. They use exclamation marks in all their communication. They’re always upset about something.
Change is hard, almost always. Sometimes change is harder than other times.
It’s then where leadership is tested. Tensions can mount. And people are more likely to object.
It’s good to know these times before a leader approaches change. Change is necessary. In fact, while change may produce conflict, without change there will be conflict. Read this post for more on that statement.
Since change is necessary and inevitable, understanding these scenarios before we attempt change may help us lead change better.
Here are five times I’ve discovered that change is hardest to accept and implement:
One of your most important roles as a pastor is as vision-caster. Sharing the vision of your church can’t be a one-time event.
The Bible says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves” (Prov. 29:18, MSG).
As the leader, God has called you to help your congregation see what God is doing in your midst. That’s why you must continually put the vision of your church before your congregation—at least every 26 days. That’s the Nehemiah Principle.