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Ministry Leadership

Spotting a Fake

A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs never grow on thornbushes, nor grapes on bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. — Luke 6:44-45

The British Museum in London received an ancient artifact, a painted rock, in 2005. Titled "Early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds," it featured animals, a man, and a curious tool. After being on display for three days, the museum removed the artifact from its exhibit. It turned out that the "curious tool" painted on the rock was a shopping cart! A notorious hoax artist was responsible for getting it into the museum, where it remained until experts realized the piece was a fake.

People have the ability to show a certain personality on the outside while being something different internally. And just like the museum's "artifact," one's outward personality can be seen as legitimate if concealed well enough. However, there will come a time when something--a phone call, a speeding driver, a crisis--will expose the person's true identity. The hoax-life will be revealed. Unless our outward appearance matches our inward appearance, we will be exposed for who we are inwardly.

Jesus said, "A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit" (Luke 6:43).

Likewise, a person claiming to know Jesus as Forgiver and Leader should not go around berating or threatening his or her coworkers. These attitudes diminish one's potential witness for the Lord, giving those who don't know Jesus "valid" reasons not to believe him. Sooner or later our outward appearances will drown out our inward claims. We should be doing our best to exhibit Christ in the most positive light we can. Otherwise, our words and actions will be revealed as hypocritical.

Let's be real--to ourselves, to others, and to God--and help others to be the same. That way, the only inward thing that will be exposed is the Lord we love and follow.

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4 Mad Skills Every Pastor Needs

Steve-Murrell-Headshot smallA couple of months ago, I posted a blog on my website titled “3 Essential Skills for Leaders.

While flipping through an old Moleskine this morning, I found some of my scribbled notes that described not three, but four skills all pastors must discover and constantly develop for the rest of their lives.

Here’s a remix of the original three, plus a fourth.

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Why Jesus Comes First in Everything

PrayFaithfully-Istockphoto-kryczka-smallHere in America, we emphasize equal rights and fairness. Nobody gets special privileges because of where or to whom they were born. Nobody gets to cut to the front of the line.

If you get to pick first today, it’s only fair that I get to pick first tomorrow. It’s a level playing field for everybody because nobody is better or more privileged than anyone else. It’s a great system.

The problem comes when we transfer this way of seeing to the Creator of the universe. We sing, “Jesus is my friend.” And He is. We celebrate that “Jesus is the servant of all.” And He is.

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12 Ways Pastors Go From Burnout to Vision

Vision-photoThere are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout.

I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout, and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.

So I asked them the obvious question: What did you do to reverse the dark spiral of burnout? The question was open-ended, so they could respond with as many answers as they desired. When it was all said and done, I tabulated 12 different responses from the 17 pastors. Obviously, many of them gave similar answers.

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How to Inspire A Shared Vision

Gina-McClainRead any leadership book today and within the first few pages you’ll hear about the critical function of vision in your organization. To lead effectively without a shared vision is simply not possible.

But sharing the vision takes skill. And sewing vision into the hearts of those I lead is a skill I continue to refine.

Recently, our fpKIDS team worked together to craft 5-to-6 simple, vision-driven phrases. Why? It’s because our greatest opportunity to connect with volunteers and parents is on the weekend … amidst the hustle and bustle of church services.

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How to Lead Through Change a Little at a Time

U.S.S.-NimitzAny church that doesn’t change in response to the change in culture, community or context will eventually cease to exist. Any church that wants to stay around and keep its doors open will make constant and subtle changes along the way.

How should that change take place?

1. In response to a new “God vision.” God cares about those perishing in your community far more that you and your church do. So God is all-in for the changes necessary to see as many as possible come to Him. He will give a fresh vision to accomplish that to the heart of a humble and passionate leader.

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