Leadership

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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. read more

Steve-Murrell-Headshot small

4 Mad Skills Every Pastor Needs

A 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. read more

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Why Jesus Comes First in Everything

Here 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. read more

Vision-photo

12 Ways Pastors Go From Burnout to Vision

There 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. read more

Gina-McClain

How to Inspire A Shared Vision

Read 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. read more

U.S.S.-Nimitz

How to Lead Through Change a Little at a Time

Any 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. read more

Kenny-Luck-small-preaching

Do You Think You Know Better Than God?

“I know better.”

It’s a simple message backed up by simple behaviors and a better knowledge of life or pursuit. In many contexts, you wouldn’t think twice about it.

A mom says it to a naïve child mesmerized by red-hot fire. Tiger Woods addresses you on how to get lift from a golf ball in a sand trap. B.B. King shows you a trick to get the guitar sound you want. Bill Gates says, “I have a new technology idea.”

The normal response in the face of greater knowledge and insight is to listen, learn and apply. Their knowledge transcends your own, and only a fool would deign to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I got this one.” read more

Listen-to-me

Brad Lomenick: Young Leaders Should Shut Up and Listen

I love young leaders. Catalyst exists to help equip young leaders, especially those under 40. I’ve invested a significant part of my life into connecting, gathering, inspiring and equipping young leaders.

But this is a tribute to the leaders over 40 who so many of us under 40 too often think “don’t really understand what’s going on anymore.”

So to all of my young, passionate, ready-to-change-the-world peers who are under 40:

SIT down, SHUT UP, and LISTEN! read more

Pastors fail-small

7 Things That Keep a Pastor From Leading Well

In my talks with pastors and ministry leaders, I hear some repeated themes. One common theme is that they have a story of a failed leadership experience. It might have been their first church or the church experience that went bad. Or, many times, it’s their current ministry, and that’s the reason for our conversation.

They grew (or are growing) from the time, but looking back, they wish they had known then what they know now. You’ve probably got some of those learning experiences too. It may have been an incident or the entire time in that ministry, but there were critical errors that kept you and the church from accomplishing all God had for you, errors in leading. Why don’t we learn from each other? read more

Mask-of-deceit

How to Remove Your Mask of Deceit

My mask was failing.

I had worked so hard to keep people out, to keep them from seeing the real me, that I hadn’t invested the energy in allowing God to clean up the stuff I was trying to hide.

My mask was protecting me from other people’s judgment, but it was also preventing God’s healing and cleansing from taking full effect. I was struggling with some sin issues. Instead of allowing God to help me, I was fighting very difficult battles on my own.

As my mask began to show cracks, I became ashamed and desperate. read more

Praying-man-standing-small

Why Bi-Vocational Pastors Must Find Time to Pray

When do you pray?

Brother Lawrence taught us to “practice the presence.”

Maybe you are like me, and you realize that standing at a monastery sink all day would give you plenty of time to talk to God. It seems a bit different than working on a computer, working at a construction site or working any of the myriad jobs that we have to pay the bills.

Keeping a running dialogue with God while driving 60 mph, listening to your teen’s latest saga, contemplating your latest deliverable at work and trying to figure out how you should reduce the church’s utility bill takes practice. read more

Friendship-men-confess

Why Encouragement is Crucial in Youth Ministry

You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.

I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some, it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired. For others it’s situational. No matter what the reason, you deserve some encouragement.

I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers, volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting nowhere. You are gifted no matter what your critics say. Your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile. read more

Virus-computer

7 Viruses That Infect the Church

The nature of computer viruses, as I understand them, is that a kink is placed in the inner workings of these systems that infiltrates all aspects and makes it impossible for the computer to do the work for which it was intended.

They are called viruses for good reason. Plagues are the result of viruses being passed along from one person to another until millions are infected and a great many die. Quarantining the carriers has traditionally been the means of stopping the virus in its tracks.

In the kingdom of God—the church on earth, if you will—bad ideas and wrongheaded philosophies function in the same way as viruses. They infect a church, and as members and leaders interact with other churches, as people relocate and assume places in other congregations, the infection is spread.

The result is always deadly. read more

Cart Pushing

I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. — John 13:15

The qualifications for being a leader do not consist solely of sitting behind a desk and barking out orders for others to accomplish. If that were the case, life as we know it would come to a standstill, with lots of talk but no action. Successful leaders are able to delegate duties to others but are also willing to perform them if necessary.

I know of one grocery store chain where the CEO and his team of vice-presidents attend the grand opening of each new location. Instead of simply basking in the spotlight of another success, they get to work, helping the new staff. They can be seen stocking shelves, performing price checks, helping customers, and bagging groceries. They even gather shopping carts from the parking lot. Talk about setting an example for the new employees to follow!

Jesus set the perfect example on the night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. As the evening meal was being served, he got up from the table, grabbed a towel and basin of water, and proceeded to wash the feet of his disciples. Such a task was supposed to be done by a servant, but Jesus was willing to take on that role. Peter wasn't sure what to think of this, rejecting the foot washing at first. He had to be convinced. Later, Jesus informed Peter and the other disciples that leadership equals servanthood. It's not an easy truth for many leaders to apply to life, but Christ's example that night makes an eloquent case.

So the next time you're ready to tell someone what to do, think back to that evening meal when the Lord, on his knees, washed the dirty, smelly feet of those he loved--and for whom he later died. That's leadership in its highest form. How can you follow that example? read more

Hal-Seed

5 Benefits of Having a Mentor

A few years ago, I hired a mentor. It was kind of humbling. After all, I had spent the previous three years mentoring nine pastors myself. But I finally admitted it: I don’t know everything I wish I knew!

Hiring a mentor was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, both for my personal development and for the health of our church. I benefitted so much that my staff and board encouraged me to hire a mentor every year. I hired this year’s mentor two weeks ago. We’ll start formally in August, but we’ve already talked by phone, and he’s given me several nuggets that should help right away.

The Benefits of a Mentor read more

Dan-Reiland-Pastor-Coach

When Is It Smart to Create a New Position?

Feeling under pressure? Overworked? Are you and your team working hard but can’t seem to keep up, let alone get ahead?

You are not alone. This is a very common church staff scenario. What you do about it can be a game-changer.

In more than 20 years of creating new positions and hiring staff, I’ve lived with the tension of needing to know how many staff is the right number, what positions are the right positions and when is the right time to hire more people. The thing that increases the tension is that there are so many different opinions about the answers to those questions. read more

Failure-to-launch

7 Tips When You Are Frustrated Enough to Quit

I was talking to a staff member of a church recently who is ready to quit. But he can’t.

What he’s experiencing is not depression, in my opinion. It could turn into that at some point, if he’s not careful, but today it’s frustration. Severe frustration. The kind that keeps you up at night.

The problems appear to be more external than internal. They are work-related, but they are impacting every other aspect of his life. (They always do.)

It’s a poor work environment. He is frustrated because he has given everything he knows to give, but nothing seems to matter. He feels under-appreciated, under-utilized and unfulfilled. He’s treated lousy by a controlling leader who never acknowledges his accomplishments. He’s tried confronting gently, firmly and directly. read more

Growing-plant

3 Essentials for Growing Your Influence

Saul was made king three times! But only after proving himself was he truly embraced as Israel's leader.

Here are three things that happened to Saul that helped him grow in influence and be embraced as the leader:

1. Anointed of God. This may seem like a no-brainier, but many try to put themselves in a place of influence because they are gifted or asked to stand in such a place. When it comes down to it, though, I’ve seen “leaders” that can draw a crowd and work a group but can’t lead. The thing they are missing is the anointing of God. Don’t underestimate the importance of God’s anointing. This is critical! Once you have it, guard it. Be sure you’re walking blameless and in favor with God. Don’t lose it! It’s the central spring of your influence. read more

Tony-Morgan

4 Reasons Why Churches Don’t Have a Strategy for Life Change

Booz & Company just recently completed a study asking leaders about their business strategy. Based on their research, they found that most executives don't believe their company's strategy is understood by their employees and customers. Even more astonishing, 54 percent of executives do not believe their company's strategy will lead to success.

Can you believe that? More than half of businesses are being led by executives who don't believe their organizations have a plan to experience success. I can only assume these businesses are going through the motions today, hoping (and maybe praying) for better future results. read more

Kyle Searcy: Enter Into His Rest

I am a proud grandfather of two rambunctious grandkids. Like many grandparents, my wife and I are often amused by their candid innocence.

At a young age, kids are so eager to please and to help out wherever possible. I can remember a time when my grandson decided to assist me with my laptop bag. Picture a 4-year-old attempting to lift a 40-pound bag.

Although I told him several times that it was too heavy, he insisted that he could carry it. Needless to say, although he tried with all of his might, the bag barely budged. So I walked over and grabbed the bag by the handle with my grandson yet holding on. When we reached our destination, he looked up at me and proudly said, “See, Pop-pop, I told you I could do it!”   read more

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