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3 Privileges and 3 Temptations of Leadership

Do you think it’s easier handling success or failure?  Thomas Carlyle once said, “For every 100 people who can handle adversity there is only one who can handle prosperity.”

I think most people can’t handle being at the top. It changes them. In fact, success destroys some people. There are several legitimate benefits of being in leadership: read more

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Pornography: The Pink Elephant in the Church

Pastor, there are two truths I want to share: (1) Many of your fellow pastors are personally struggling with pornography and; (2) pastors must address the issue of pornography among the people they lead.

Several questions emerge based on these two truths. What if you are personally struggling with pornography? Who can you tell? Who can you trust? What if they break your confidence? What should you do? How should you broach the subject of pornography in the pulpit? I mean, it is awkward and could be controversial. Besides, are that many Christian men (and women) really struggling? Should the whole church have to endure the uncomfortable discussion on pornography in your preaching because a few are struggling? read more

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10 Traits of Narcissistic Leaders

By definition, a narcissist is a person who believes the world evolves around them to such an extent their own desires blind them to relational reality which makes them insensitive to the needs and perspectives of others. One of the sad realities in our consumer driven, hedonistic culture is that we are producing millions of narcissistic people including leaders of large organizations.

Because of our sinful nature as human beings, all of us have some narcissistic tendencies to deal with.

The following traits identify leadership narcissism: read more

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8 Confessions of Church Spies

Have you ever thought that a guest at your church might, in fact, be a spy? My church consulting company uses church “spies” to help us evaluate how churches respond to guests. Our spies are “good” spies, though, since their goal is to help a church face reality and move toward health.

Numerous spies have written us reports for more than a decade. Below are some of the most common findings they have sent us.

To be fair, the churches that invite us to work with them know they need help, so these findings should not be entirely surprising. What concerns me is the number of churches that have not yet recognized these findings characterize them too: read more

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An Overseer’s Response to Sam Hinn’s Re-Ordination (and the Restoration of Other Fallen Leaders)

Whether you recognize Sam Hinn’s name or know nothing about the ministry of Benny Hinn’s younger brother, there’s an important issue in the body of Christ that needs to be addressed in light of Sam’s “re-ordination” on Sunday night in Orlando, Fla., only eight months after he stepped down from the pulpit due to a serious moral indiscretion.

This and other recent instances—both in Orlando and around the nation—prove that we, as the church, still struggle with how to restore fallen leaders. read more

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Pastor, What’s On the Plate You Are Passing?

The Apostle Paul said, Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

Christians are the most overweight people group in America. Have you wondered why this is true? I believe everything rises and falls on leadership, and I believe the main reason people are overweight in the pews is because so many pastors are overweight behind the pulpit.

Like most pastors, for years I chose to ignore the problem, shift blame elsewhere and not make my congregation aware of the importance of being healthy—but not anymore. Now that I’m doing something about my weight and my lifestyle, I no longer have a difficult time speaking to my congregation about this problem. read more

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7 Ways to Avoid a Public Scandal in Your Life

Every week it seems there is another scandal breaking out with a high-profile person, whether in politics, sports, media or the church. A person could have done much good their whole life but with one act of passion destroy everything they have built.

Proverbs 22:1 teaches us that a good name is worth more than riches. One of the things I have found out through the years is that a person’s name and reputation are their greatest capital in regard to opening doors and having influence in the world; this is a quality people look for even more than gifts, talents or leading a successful enterprise or ministry. This is because people know success built upon gifts and talents and not on the foundation of character and integrity will not last in the long run. All of us are tempted to fall and have the capacity to fail because of our sin nature. read more

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Who Wants to End Up Like Ted Haggard?

Recently, I received a call into my Heal Your Servant conference call line. On the other end of the phone, there was the voice of a broken and frightened man. He was sobbing uncontrollably—so much so that it took over five minutes for him to gain his composure enough for me to understand anything he was saying.

He then began to just systematically break down his sexual sin. He stated that when he was a little boy, his dad was very dominating and abusive toward him, his mom and his sisters. The only time he would receive any accolades from his father would be when he acted out with verbal aggression toward his mother or sisters. His father claimed to be a Christian man and always quoted Scripture that emphasized man’s dominance over women. read more

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7 Ways to Stop the Adultery Epidemic

It happened again. For the third time in six months, the pastor of a large church in my hometown of Orlando, Fla., has resigned from his pulpit because of adultery. I’m sad. I’m sick. I’m sorry for the pastors, and sorrier for the congregations that are having to deal with the fallout caused by bad choices.

I’m also cringing because an increasingly hostile public sees these train wrecks as evidence that Christians are hypocrites who preach one thing and live another. We stand for biblical marriage between one man and one woman, but in many cases those marriages are failing. No wonder the gay community hates our flimsy platitudes.

Why are we witnessing this epidemic of moral failure? Many factors could be cited (easy access to pornography, sex-saturated entertainment, the devil and his demons, etc.)—but I don’t think we need a list of excuses today. I’m tired of excuses. The devil does not make us do this. It is totally possible for Christian men and women to live in holiness today. The power of His grace is not affected by social trends or hell’s attacks. read more

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Why Megachurch Pastors Keep Falling Into Sexual Immorality

Another megachurch pastor has stepped down after admitting to a long-term affair with a woman who’s not his wife.

David Loveless, former lead pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando, Fla., is the third in the area to resign in the wake of immorality in the past six months. He follows Isaac Hunter, former lead pastor at Summit Church, and Sam Hinn, former pastor of the Gathering Place Worship Center in Sanford, Fla.

If those were the only three pastors to rock their churches with sex scandals, it would be hurtful enough. But sexual immorality and idolatry are growing trends in the church—and I imagine they're more prevalent in the pews than they are in the pulpits. The spirit of Jezebel is usually behind this immoral trend. read more

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Why Successful Preachers Face Constant Temptation

Just because people look at us when we stand to deliver a homily, we must not automatically think we possess knowledge, authority or anything not available to the least among us. They could be listening for God.

Just because they fill the pews to worship God and, in the process, listen to our sermons and say good things afterward, that does not mean they are there to hear us. They could be there for greater reasons.

If they laugh at our jokes and weep at our stories, we are not to think ourselves gifted communicators who have mastered our craft. It could be they are people of grace and graciousness. read more

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7 Sexual Lines No Pastor Should Cross

Recently, I did an article on “7 Women Pastors Need to Watch Out For.” Someone who just read it wanted to know why we put the blame on the women when pastors are more likely to be the sexual predator. 

“Google that,” she suggested, “and see for yourself.” My only defense is that in the body of the article, we said, “Sometimes women are the victims; sometimes they are the victimizers.” However, my critic is correct. And thus, what follows …

I’ve known more than one pastor who was a sexual predator. And if it makes readers feel any better, every one of them is out of the ministry now. read more

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An Angry Pastor Can Destroy a Congregation

Consider 2 Timothy 3:1-5. It’s a pretty powerful and prophetic scripture:

“But realize this, that in the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self … boastful, arrogant, revilers … ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited... Avoid such men as these.” 

Veteran Christian workers get this a lot. People tell you of a conversation they had with you years, or even decades ago, in which you either said the magic words that changed their lives or came out with something that infuriated them back then, and continues to bug them to this day.

You don’t remember any of it. read more

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Keep Obedience a Priority When Taking Guest-Preacher Offering

I’m finishing my fourth year as an itinerant preacher and have been the beneficiary of some great (i.e., generous, encouraging) love offerings and the victim of no poor offerings. (That was a good place to have said I’ve been victimized by some unscrupulous pastors or lay leaders, but thankfully, I haven’t. Every check given to me has been more than I deserved and well appreciated.)

On the other hand, I’ve seen the other side of it. I regret to say that a time or two, when I was pastoring, my church was struggling financially and we gave the guest preacher far, far less than he deserved.

Every minister understands this. If a church does all it can, that’s all anyone can ask. On the other hand, some have some funny ways of doing the Lord’s business. read more

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Please God With Service Instead of a Culture of Honor

At the risk of not showing honor to peers in ministry, I want to tackle the topic of honor today. I’m concerned. I see a trend in churches that I think is unhealthy. Honestly, I believe it’s also unbiblical.

There are a number of churches today that are trying to teach a culture of honor. The concept of honor is biblical. In fact, Romans 12:10 tells us to:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)

We should show honor to our leaders, but God designed it to go both directions. If it’s one-way, it’s unhealthy and unbiblical. read more

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Integrity in Pastors: A Deal Breaker

“I was the student minister in a fine church many years ago,” Will told me. “We had a wonderful ministry. The single negative about the entire experience was the pastor. You never knew what he would do next.”

“Case in point, one night in a church business meeting, the pastor announced that the property the church owned, including the former pastorium, was being offered for sale. At the time, my wife and I were living in that house! And now we learn they’re selling it. This was the first we had heard of it.

“That night, my wife was angry because she thought I had known about it and not told her. But that was the way this pastor worked. Staff members were nothing to him. Just pawns to be manipulated.” read more

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When Leaders Fail, Grace Must Abound

Along 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. read more

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How to Keep Success From Crippling Your Ministry

I’ve consulted with several churches over the years, and one thing I’ve often said to church leaders is this: What if all your dreams come true?

What if your marketing worked? What if everyone did invite someone? What if you arrived one Sunday and you had doubled in size? Could you handle it?”

I ask this because rapid growth can sometimes cripple organizations and businesses. If you don’t have a solid foundation and infrastructure in place, you could crash and burn.

I’m dealing with this currently at my church. We’ve tripled in size in less than two years.

I’m up late at night thinking about things like adding a third service and developing more leaders. I’m urging my staff to invest in leaders and build their teams. I’m praying through who I, as the Campus Pastor, can invest in and what areas in our overall church need my attention and focus. I’m thinking through systems and strategy and processes. read more

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Steve Murrell: 5 Characteristics of Good Leaders

While reading my Bible recently, I scribbled some notes in my journal. Then I thought that both leaders who read this blog might find these thoughts helpful. So I’m transforming them into this blog, if I can read my own handwriting.

In Deuteronomy 17 God is giving his people guidelines for picking good leaders. Here’s my summary of those guidelines.

1. Calling. “Be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” (Verse 15) We should not appoint a person to a leadership position unless and until God appoints and anoints them. In other words, divine calling is essential for good leadership. read more

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David Lamb: Is God Really ‘Angry, Sexist and Racist’?

Evangelical theologian David Lamb tackles some of the Bible’s most troubling passages in his book, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? His answer: yes and no.

The book has received mixed reviews in the Christian blogosphere, but Lamb was well-received when he recently spoke at a church here. Religion News Service sat down with Lamb, an Old Testament scholar at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa., to find out how believers’ long-held views of a wrathful Old Testament God might waver with his findings.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity. read more

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