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Ministry Life

Don’t Enter the Ring Unprepared





Dan-Reiland-Pastor-CoachNote: The following is an excerpt from Dan Reiland’s book, Amplified Leadership. Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., and the former executive pastor at Skyline Church in San Diego, Calif. His passion is developing and empowering leaders who want to grow and who are willing to take risks to do so.

Cinderella Man is one of my favorite movies. In it Russell Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a prizefighter down on his luck during the Great Depression. Braddock was determined to provide for his family, so he returned to the ring at a time when most people thought his career was over. To everyone’s surprise, Braddock scored win after win. Then he did the unthinkable.

On June 13, 1935, in Long Island City, New York, Braddock faced off against Max Baer, the heavyweight champion of the world. Baer was more than a fierce opponent; he was a dangerous fighter who had reportedly killed two men in the ring. But Braddock was fighting for more than a title. He was fighting for food to feed his kids, for dignity, and for the country he believed in. He was fighting for all the people who needed hope. For Braddock, the stakes were much higher than surviving fifteen rounds at Madison Square Garden.

I can relate a little to the Cinderella Man. I’ve been in the “ring” for nearly thirty years, giving it my best shot in ministry. Like Braddock’s match, the fight we’re in is much bigger than it appears. It’s not just about one local church or ministry organization—yours or mine. It’s about the global church and the hope it can give to a broken world. It’s a fight for the church to experience its finest hour.

I know a church or ministry’s success ultimately rests upon the kindness and favor of God, but I’ve learned something else in my years as a church leader and pastors’ coach. I’ve found that the long-term potential of a church or ministry largely depends on a minister’s ability to develop new and competent leaders. That is what compelled me to write this book.

This book isn’t for the casual leader. It is for the strong and courageous. It is for those who have chosen not to sit in a spectator’s chair, who are committed to stay in the ring fighting for a cause they believe in—the cause of Christ. Our opponent is daunting, but together we can win the fight. This book isn’t a fable. It’s not an allegory. And there is no clever ending. It’s based on the real stories of dozens of churches and hundreds of ministry leaders who are willing to go one more round because the cause is worth it.

I love the body of Christ. I love the Bridegroom, who is our true Champion. I love all of you leaders who are in the ring, male and female, giving it everything you’ve got. I’m writing this book in hopes of helping you hit a little harder and last a lot longer. And I especially want to encourage young leaders who have only recently stepped into the ring. All great fighters need a trainer for coaching and instruction. And they need someone who believes in them, someone who is in their corner. I hope this book is all that for you.

Yes, you’re the leader, but you can’t do it all on your own. You must grow in your leadership role and develop other leaders around you. A good coach helps fighters strengthen their muscles, learn proper timing, and sharpen their instincts. I want to do something similar for you by offering five key leadership practices and ten corresponding skill sets that will help you go the distance.

Practical skills are only one of four dimensions of leadership.

There is also a spiritual dimension, a psychological dimension, and an organizational dimension. And all four components build on a foundation of relationship. I will touch upon all the dimensions of leadership in this book, and those leading any kind of ministry organization will be able to glean from this process. But because Amplified Leadership was born out of my years leading in local churches and coaching pastors, it focuses especially on the leadership skills needed for effective ministry in the local church.

Amplified Leadership is a relationally based process designed to intentionally cultivate new leaders. It is not merely a list of activities leaders engage in. It is a specific sequence of practical steps that lead to a strategic outcome—producing new leaders. This process acknowledges that the vast majority of ministry leaders, both staff and volunteer, will demonstrate their leadership through the relationships they create and sustain, not necessarily by casting vision from a platform.

Typically the senior leader is tasked with communicating the vision, especially within the context of a local church. But all leaders must establish relationships and mentor others if the church is to develop the large number of leaders needed to minister to those who are lost and hurting.

This book begins with the end in mind. It first teaches leaders how to connect relationally with a significant number of people, then to engage followers from those relationships. From the followers, the leaders learn to embrace team members, and from the team they select apprentice leaders to coach. Then, finally, the leader is able to mentor new leaders.

When a new leader is developed, he or she must repeat the process by establishing new relationships. I call this process Amplified Leadership because its purpose is to continually develop new leaders who will help increase and expand your ministry, resulting in more changed lives in Jesus’s name.

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