Ministry Leadership

Sometimes the High Road Hurts

loner-leaving“Pastor, we’ve decided to move on.” These are some of the most difficult words that you, as a ministry leader, will ever hear—especially when they come from people you have lived, laughed and dreamed with.

It’s painful when we hear that people no longer want to be a part of our ministries. It’s additionally painful when they leave and don’t take the time to tell us why they’re leaving, where they’re going, or what we could possibly do to repair any damage in the relationship.

I wish that no one had ever left my congregation. I wish that everyone who has visited our church had fallen in love with us, gotten pumped up about our vision, found their niche in relationships and service, grown spiritually and stayed with us throughout their entire lifetime. That hasn’t been the case.

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7 Thoughts on Managing Conflict as a Leader

team-conflictAs a leader, there are many times I feel like the mediator between opposing viewpoints. I’m steering towards a common, shared vision, but there are a myriad of opinions in how we accomplish the vision.

I’m not afraid of conflict on a team. In fact, I think it can be healthy for the team if handled correctly. It keeps tension from building unnecessarily, simply because emotions and opinions are hidden rather than addressed. It brings new ideas to the table and welcomes input from everyone. When conflict is ignored or stifled, it makes people feel devalued and controlled.

When faced with conflict on my team, I realize the way I handle it will go a long way toward allowing the disagreement to work for the overall good. In fact, I must learn to better manage the conflicts rather than attempt to kill them.

Here are seven thoughts for managing conflict on a team:

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When Leaders Fail, Grace Must Abound

The-Bible-Jesus-Mary-Mary-Magdalene-Disciples-History-ChannelAlong with millions of Americans, I have watched The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. As much as I’m enjoying the TV series, the book is way better.

Highlights from Part 2 included: the crumbling walls of Jericho, Samson doing major damage with a jawbone, Saul and David’s dysfunctional relationship, and Nathan calling out David.

I can’t stop thinking about the sad story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan, especially that last scene when Nathan confronts David. Because of a faithful and fearless friend like Nathan, and a forgiving and gracious God, David repented and ended strong.

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The Secret of Peace

Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." — Hebrews 13:5

Contentment lies not in what is mine but in whose I am. When I come into a relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ, I understand whose I am and what I have. Envy causes one to look horizontally--at what others have--so we are never satisfied. We pursue the god of money, thinking of what it can buy us. Contentment invites us to look vertically--at God. When we look in his direction, we know that he is enough.

Contentment is the secret of inward peace. It recalls the bare truth that we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it, including our money. Life, in fact, is a journey from one moment of vulnerability to another. So we should travel light and live simply. The reality for most people is that we have enough--whatever enough is. We would be well advised to be content with what we have.

Being content with less stuff and not envying those with a lot is a process that will take more than a quick prayer or reading a book or hearing a sermon. It will require a dependence and satisfaction in God. He knows what is best and what is needed in our lives. We must trust him and not money.

Too often we take our eyes off God and put them on earthly pursuits, with money most often at the top of our lists. Money has an incredible power, much like a magnet and more like a god than most of us are willing to admit, to draw us away from those things that are eternal and life-filling.

Always be on your guard with money. As the writer of Hebrews stated, "Don't love money." The heart can only love one thing at a time. When we choose to love God, we will discover the marvelous benefit of contentment. And, more importantly, we will learn that money can never satisfy the heart. Keep your focus, therefore, on God. He is enough.

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Why You Should Drive Through Life Like a Ferrari

Joey-Bonifacio-Miles-McPhersonHe achieved All-American honors in football and was drafted into the NFL. He played for the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers. But with success, Miles McPherson found himself trapped in drug abuse.

In 1984, Miles encountered the Lord Jesus and became a Christian. In 1986, after retiring from football, Miles went back to school and received a masters degree in divinity. Today he pastors Rock Church in San Diego.

I met Miles at a fellowship of Christian leaders recently in Dallas. While hanging out with him, I asked him what was the closest thing in his heart as a Christian in recent times. Here were his three thoughts:

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Do You Need to Retrieve Your Mojo?

joeeaster2012-228x300The most difficult place for any Christian pastor to serve may be next to a military base.

The greatest opportunity any pastor might have in a long lifetime may be serving next to a military base.

As the Apostle Paul said, “... a wide door for effective service opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9, NASB).

Jim and Patsy told their story to some of us not long ago. I have never forgotten their testimony and want to continue lifting them to the Lord.

Background: They are from the U.S. and pastor a church near an American military base somewhere overseas. They’ve been there two years.

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