It has been well documented that today’s culture craves authenticity in leadership. It shouldn’t be, but many times it is hard to find in leadership, even in the church. One of the fastest ways for a leader to lose loyal followers is to fall short in the area of authenticity.
I was talking with a young staff member of another church recently. She said the reason she struggles to follow her pastor is the pastor isn’t off stage who he claims to be on stage. I get that. I think all of us struggle with that one … both in living authentic lives and in following an inauthentic leader.
How do we remain authentic as leaders? Here are 7 thoughts on remaining an authentic leader:
Jesus' brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can't become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!"— John 7:3-4
The pressure was on. Michelle was really being pushed to launch the new product in the spring and get a jump on the competition. Everything was ready--almost, but not quite. It was the "not quite" that caused Michelle to hold back and reexamine the data. By the time the product was ready to be launched in the fall, the product had required critical changes. In the end, Michelle's ability to stand firm against outside pressures ensured the viability of the product and preserved the integrity of the company.
Jesus faced similar pressures in John 7. His brothers were pushing him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles early and show off his miracle-performing abilities. Like many Jews, these brothers were looking for someone to "wow" the crowds and eventually lead the people in a rebellion against the Romans. The Feast would have been an ideal platform for launching Jesus' political career.
But Jesus could not be persuaded to become a crowd (or brother) pleaser. Jesus knew that his mission on earth was not to win fans, but to redeem people from their sin. Keeping his ultimate purpose in mind, Jesus chose to go to the festival, but in secret. In his wisdom, Jesus could not be persuaded to veer from his purpose, not even for one day of earthly glory. His choice to enter the festival quietly, instead of with a fanfare, led to a day of heated debates with his enemies and intense discussions with the crowd but no flashy miracles. By the end of the day, "many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him" (v. 31).
Regardless of the agenda others have, a leader needs to stand firm and keep her goal in focus. Leaders with integrity know that they cannot allow themselves to be persuaded to cave in to people-pleasing or glory-grabbing decisions. Pursuing integrity may not always be the popular or easy path, but it usually proves to be the wiser path.
For more than 15 years, I have studied the biblical reality of spiritual warfare. Many of my writings (e.g., Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor) address this topic that evangelicals have often neglected. I regret that evangelicals have been afraid of this topic because the enemy is nevertheless real.
Recently, a church leader asked me what tactics I’ve seen the enemy most use against leaders. In no particular order, here are the 10 most common strategies I’ve seen.
If you love to learn, improve and grow, think back on who helped to ignite that fire within you.
A mentor in my late teen years, Ray Crowell, was the first person to inspire me to grow as a person. He taught me to think, and he challenged my thinking. From philosophy to human nature—oh yeah, and girls—we talked about everything. My world became larger because of Ray.
John Maxwell is my longtime friend and mentor in life and leadership. I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary thinking I was ready to pastor and lead. Little did I know—and it’s a good thing John was there. From attitude to relationships, he poured into me as a young leader. My life would never be the same.
Everywhere I go, I hear that song playing. It’s on TV, radio, at ball games, in convenient stores—all over.
It’s gotten stuck in my head. So I started thinking on the title and reflecting on past experiences and conversations.
I started thinking about how many pastors stay up late Saturday night working on their Sunday morning message, hoping to get “lucky.” Hoping they will deliver and come through with excellence. Friends, it doesn’t work like that.
Many leaders don’t see the fruit that is about to manifest in those around them. All they can see is the tree. A tree can look strong, weak, ugly or handsome, but that’s just the tree. The real test is what will it put forth.
Especially in a small town, I’ve found there are three kinds of people (trees) that I have to constantly be on the lookout for in order for our church to go where God intends it to go. They are:
Leadership is hard and every decision a leader makes is subject to opinion—lots of different opinions. Every hard decision a leader makes excites some and upsets others. At the same time, most of us who have positions of leadership want people to like us personally and in our role as a leader.
That leads many leaders into becoming victims of people pleasing. When we fall prey to pleasing people as a goal, we seldom lead people into what is best and are led more by opinion polls than vision.
Every pastor and leader I know agrees that people pleasing is not a good quality for a leader. Talking with hundreds of pastors every year, however, I’d have to say that this has to be one of the most frequent weaknesses pastors admit to me. For the pastor, when our aim is to please people, many times we are motivated more by what people want than even what God wants for the church. That’s dangerous. Hopefully I don’t have to build that case.
Did you know there is a very common word that is used in our culture that you cannot find in the Bible? It is the word competition. Jesus never talked about it, but He did talk about the opposite of that word.
What is the greatest catalyst that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn’t prayer, though this is important. It isn’t good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn’t good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons.
This is the fourth blog post in a series (intro, Part 1, Part 2) regarding pastors developing healthy boundaries in their ministries. I’m sharing four key points in the process, thinking of them as four fence posts around a healthy ministry.
The next may be the hardest to implement in our culture. Also, I imagine it will generate the most disagreement. However, I think it demonstrates a biblical approach to the shepherding of a congregation, rather than turning the church into a place where a group of customers demand their area of interest be paramount.
The third post supporting a healthy ministry is guarding your flock, even if it is from other Christians.
The title of this article may seem both presumptuous and audacious. Do I really believe every pastor should have a blog? Yes, I do.
I speak to pastors in numerous settings, and I am able to share with them the benefits of such a discipline in writing.
Understand that writing a blog can begin simple, with little time pressure. The pastor can commit to writing 400 words a week in one post. I do recommend that the number of posts increases to at least twice a week later, but you need to start somewhere.
I think you will be amazed how much the blog benefits the church and your ministry. Here are seven reasons why it is so important:
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:
Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.— Mark 4:33-34
The fine, the deep mid, the silly, the short square, the leg slip, the gully . . . If one is not familiar with these terms, he will find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and will certainly lose the game of cricket for his team. Where would one learn the terminology for the game? It is readily available in the encyclopedia. But learning the terminology and actually playing the game are two different things entirely. Playing the positions well can only come from experience on the cricket field.
Jesus was a master at speaking in riddles for the public while at the same time teaching his disciples valuable lessons. He spoke with words that both taught and challenged. He taught those who could hear with faith and challenged those who were trying to trap him.
There were times, however, when even the disciples were unable to understand Jesus. Then Jesus would patiently explain everything to them in detail. Jesus knew that as the disciples gained experience in the mission field, their understanding of his parables would grow. Meanwhile, Jesus took the time to spell parables out for the disciples by defining terms or by retelling the stories more simply.
Sometimes it may seem that things would go faster if we just used shortcuts to get the task at hand over and done with. However, in the long run, spelling things out and bringing new people along can be more efficient than doing it all on our own. Growing people into their positions takes patience and diligence. It requires commitment to the betterment of that other person. It requires the ability to see beyond the task at hand to the value of the person at hand.
Are we as patient as Jesus was with new Christians at church, or even new people at our workplace? The patience we show to our teammates can make the difference between a weak team and a strong, maturing, effective team.
Some of the people who sit before the pastor on Sundays have open, untreated wounds on their souls.
The church can really help them through today’s ministries. Or it can damage them to the point that they will never recover.
Your work is so critical, church leaders.
If you are the pastor, your sermon can make a world of difference. If you are worship leader, the choices of hymns and choruses and Scriptures, and the manner in which they are conducted, can be a balm to those in great pain. If you teach a Sunday school class, ask the Father to go far beyond the lesson you will be commenting on and do something miraculous in the hearts and souls of all who will sit before you.
There is a counterintuitive marketing concept that we, as pastors, should spend some time contemplating: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.”
When you are promoting an event or sermon series, who is your target audience? Are you focused on a 35-year-old man who works in construction and has two kids, or are you focused on all men who might possibly see your sign or know someone who does?
When you focus your advertising (announcement) on a particular target audience instead of trying to reach everyone possible, you create energy and momentum.
I’ve worked for bullies that demanded trust. I’ve worked for weaklings that demanded trust. I’ve worked for very few that legitimately worked to build my trust in them.
Trust, like loyalty, is a two-way street that instead often looks like people driving three cars down the wrong lane, headed in the entirely wrong direction. As a leader, one has to think of trust as something built, not won in the lottery. It’s done in so many different ways.
1. Show people that you care about them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Is that saying cliche? Yes. Is that saying correct? Yes.
Over the last several years, we’ve been collecting data from the churches with which we consult. One of the key questions we were interested in had to do with serving.
We wanted to find out how many people are volunteering in one of the church’s ministries, either inside or outside the walls of the church. Here’s what we’ve found:
The average church engages four to five people out of 10 in some sort of serving role. For the purposes of this research, we assumed kids aren’t serving, and therefore they aren’t included in the percentage. However, there are a few churches that are creating serving opportunities for older children as well.
Pastors, nowhere in Ephesians 6 are we given any protection for our backsides! I think there’s a good reason for that—we aren’t given permission to retreat.
So the answer to "When should a godly leader retreat?" is "Never!"
Understand, I’m not talking about repentance, a changing of the mind or an encounter of real truth, where we turn from wrong beliefs and actions. I’m talking about turning back from the God path.
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.