Ministry Leadership

Why the Best Leaders Are Sometimes Invisible

Justin-LathropThere is a pervasive stereotype that leaders are the ones in the limelight, the ones on stage, the extroverts with big personalities whose faces are on the front page. Like many stereotypes, I think this one is often unfair.

Some of the best leaders I know don’t demand up-front attention, but their leadership is powerful because of the fruit it brings.

Their teams or organizations or the individuals who come in contact with them are grown and propelled forward by the vision they have and by their strength, even if their vision and strength are quiet and unassuming.

One of the reasons I think quiet leadership like this is so powerful is because the burden of responsibility is taken off one person and transferred to many.

A group of people living up to their full potential is truly more capable than a single person living up to his full potential. This is easy to admit. Which is better—one person who is living out the gospel or a group of people with unified vision and purpose, all contributing equally to the community in his or her own unique way?

The answer is obvious.

So a leader, then, might sometimes be the person from stage, teaching and explaining and casting vision, but a leader might just as often be the one who is discipling, training or just living a life worth mimicking behind the scenes.

Chances are, this is happening over coffee or lunch or at home or in an office. No stage (or lights) needed.

The other thing I love about this view of leadership is that it acts as an important reminder that we are all leaders, if we’ll accept the job title.

We are leaders in our homes, with our families, in our marriages, at our work. We all have the opportunity to be someone who sets the tone for the year or the week or the day.

We can choose to not just respond to what life hands us but to set the pace, to cast vision, to inspire change.

When we do this, we suddenly start to impact people around us without even realizing we’re doing it. Their lives will change as our lives change. We can make an impact without asking for any credit.

The final reason I love this view of leadership is that my favorite leaders are humble people.

Some of those very humble people are “limelight” people, in the sense that they are well-known and sometimes on stage. But none of them are begging for the attention or asking for praise. In fact, each of them are willing to work hard and live their life in an honest, congruent way.

Their main objectives are to do what God has called them to do and to help others discover and do the same. They’re contributing to the kingdom in their unique way, and they’re doing it to the very best of their ability. I know up-front people who are doing this, and I know behind-the-scenes people who are doing it. But all of them are humble.

And people are noticing and changing.

It doesn’t take fame or notoriety to live this way. In fact, it doesn’t take anything other than just a willingness to work hard, be humble and welcome the grace of Jesus.

With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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The Lonely Pastor: 9 Observations

Pastoral-depressionThe conversation took place recently. A young man told me his dad, a pastor, recently committed suicide. He talked about the pain his father experienced in ministry as well as the intense loneliness.

Though suicide is not an inevitable outcome, I do know the number of pastors experiencing loneliness is high—very high. I hurt for these pastors, and I want to help in any way I can. Perhaps my nine observations can be a starting point for a healthy discussion on this important matter.

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Can Evaluation Really Contribute to Church Health?

Ed StetzerIt’s common knowledge that men are far less likely to go to the doctor than women. While that may not be very shocking, one of the justifications for their reluctance to schedule a check-up is intriguing. Many men don’t go to the doctor because they don’t want to find out something is wrong.

This idea of “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” is part of the reason women’s life expectancy has long outpaced men. The average U.S. woman lives to be 81.3, while a man’s average life span is 76.2 years.

Churches that value and welcome assessments can expect health and growth.

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7 Ways God Will Evaluate Your Faithfulness

Rick-Warren-photoPastors and leaders, I’m going to give you a sneak peek at your final exam. You’re going to stand before God one day, and He’s going to evaluate your faithfulness. He’s going to look at seven different aspects of your life to judge your faithfulness, and you should be highly interested in developing these areas of your life and leadership.

1. Do you possess the right values? A faithful person knows what’s important in life and what isn’t important in life. A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life. A faithful person makes their life count. A faithful person knows the significant apart from the trivial.

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Recharge

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. — Psalm 51:12

The IRONMAN TRIATHLON© is one of the most grueling endurance events in the world. In order to complete the race, an athlete must swim 2.4 miles, ride a bicycle 112 more miles, then run a 26.2-mile marathon. The best athletes in the world can complete this monumental challenge in under nine hours. But for Australian Chris Legh, his Ironman experience in 1997 was memorable for the wrong reasons. Known as one of the top competitors in the sport, he was unable to keep any fluids or food down during the course of the race. As a result, he became dehydrated, leading to a number of his organs shutting down. Fifty yards from the finish line, his body completely gave out. Legh never finished the race and would've died without immediate medical attention. Thankfully, he recovered and has won two Ironman events since. But first, he had to be restored.

While experiences like Legh's show us humans have physical limits to their endurance, the same can also be said about their spiritual lives. Thankfully, there are warning signs that exist before it becomes too late. When people don't want to read their Bible or pray, if they decide to shut people out of their lives, or if church becomes just a ritual, something deeper may be going on. They may be suffering from spiritual dehydration.

Just as a "Low Fuel" light tells us to fill up the car with gas, it's time to ask God for a renewed spirit when we see these warning signs. Consider that Jesus had crowds following him everywhere, but he knew his spiritual limits so well that he consistently took time to recharge, even when death was near (see Luke 22:39-43).

When your life's "Low Fuel" light comes on, don't ignore it. God wants to recharge and renew your life. Allow him to do just that. Make sure you accept his help to cross the finish line.

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7 Ways to Create a Courageous Organizational Culture

Brad-LomenickCourage is not just a personal trait. It’s an organizational trait as well.

And we all want, in some way, to be part of an organization and team that demonstrates courage. That is willing to push up the hill, against the odds, beyond all doubts to achieve results and impact what most thought not possible.

So here are a few points about creating a courageous organizational culture:

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