All posts in leadership

15 Encouraging Thoughts for New Pastors

Last week, and young pastor who is about to transition to New England wrote to me asking for advice. This post is simply the first random fifteen thoughts that came to mind when looking back on my own transition. I’m admittedly NO expert! I’m still limping my way along, trying to be faithful in all the areas I need to grow. But, perhaps, if you are a young pastor (or older) pastor facing a transition, these thoughts will encourage you. Fifteen random thoughts about transition into a new pastorate: 1. Every state or region is a very different culture, so…

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Six Steps to Kill a Church

I recently came across a powerful quote from an 18th century English pastor named Job Orton. Ironically, he wrote to the ministers of his day about doctrinal compromise. The struggles of churches nearly 300 years ago are the struggles of churches today. Read what he says: “I have long since found (and every year that I live increases my conviction of it), that when ministers entertain their people with lively and pretty things, confine themselves to general harangues, insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical motives; while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel,…

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The Church I Dream of Pastoring

Joy and optimism ought to characterize every Christian and every church family. The fact is, a lot of Christians are miserable and they show it—they project it. Their lack of joy is like a giant negative billboard for Jesus, the gospel and His church. The same could be said for many churches—they radiate defeat, judgmentalism, and carnality. If they preach a gospel, it’s a joyless, unattractive gospel. The gospel is attractive! Jesus is wonderful! Peace with God is astounding! The grace, love, and community we enjoy, as Christians, is untouchable! It’s like nothing to be found anywhere else in the…

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Understanding Anointing…

Do you ever feel called to responsibilities that are BIGGER than you? Do you ever cry out to God, “I can’t do this!” You’re not alone! Think Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others. Much of my Christian life I’ve heard the word “anointing” presented in public contexts. Few Biblical words are so skewed and misappropriated than the word “anointing.” Can we explore it for a minute? Go with me. (And thanks for giving me some time to speak into your life.) If you ever bounce between feeling completely self-sufficient and feeling utterly insufficient—these words will encourage you! Jesus said to His…

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How God Revives a Dying Church

Recently, I fellowshipped with a missionary couple who served for more than 40 years on the foreign field. A huge portion of their focus, for many years in the UK, was to help restore dying churches. In post-Christian America, in this and coming generations, we must not only plant churches—we MUST see older churches renewed and restored by God’s grace. Recent studies from those who track church closures would indicate that we couldn’t plant churches FAST ENOUGH to replace the churches that will die in the coming decade. I believe God is raising up a generation of young leaders with…

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The Crisis of God’s Call

Examining the Disruptive Call of God… Not long ago a young ministry leader facing a clear call wrote to me and asked about dealing with the painful reality when God’s call collides with everyone and everything you love and have given your life to. He is being called to leave people he dearly loves and a life he has spent years building by God’s grace. Now God is saying, “Follow me…” In my opinion, and personal experience, there are few things so difficult in life as that moment when God calls you away from good things. It’s truly a “lovest…

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15 Reasons Spiritual Leaders Should Rest

Ministry doesn’t stop—EVER. When do the needs of people “clock out?” When does opportunity to witness “pause?” When do emergencies take a “break?” When are all the church members fully discipled? It doesn’t happen. Therefore, there are only two ways to find durability and sustainability in ministry. The first is to be Superman. (Notice I didn’t even say Jesus—because He actually needed rest.) The second is to deliberately, intentionally, strategically REST. I’m preaching to myself in this post. Resting is hard! But NOT resting is harder! Resting is humbling. It is dependence. It is submission to God’ authority and control….

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Are You a Spiritual Leader or Fleshly Leader?

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a wonderful servant of God who has worked for several “high-profile” Christian leaders in the past two decades. This is a person for whom I have the utmost respect—an individual with a very gracious spirit, incredible gift mix, and true servant’s heart. And this is a person who has expended sacrificial service to the Lord with great poise and faithfulness. Yet, in our conversation, I was sad to discover the mistreatment and disrespect that this person had endured from a well-known evangelical leader. The conversation was brief, appropriate, and rather vague, but…

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A Story of Guardians and Innovators

I was wonderfully surprised and grateful for the overwhelming positive response to Thursday’s post about Millennials. I believe understanding these generalizations is critical to benefiting from godly relationships and growing in effective ministry in our day. Thank you for your kind responses and encouragement! I was surprised that what I wrote resonated so intensely, and was deeply grateful that it did. Now, onward to the follow up… Spiritual leaders of all ages are my dearest friends, mentors, and counselors. There’s nothing in my last post or this post that wasn’t TAUGHT TO ME by godly men older than me. I…

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Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders

I believe in the millennial generation—perhaps because I worked with young adults for over two decades! Because of my age, I regularly find myself on the receiving end of “concerned” conversations from two generations. Those older than me are fearful of where the millennial’s will take the gospel and biblical Christianity. Those younger than me feel they aren’t being given a fair shot—they are discouraged by and often feel compelled to run from unbiblical attitudes and hostile dispositions of previous generations. I’m not referring to doctrinal concerns—the millennial’s that I know are committed to gospel purity and biblical integrity. They…

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Passion—Life-Changing Lessons from Caleb!

Recently, in conjunction with our Sunday evening series from Joshua, I’ve been studying Caleb. Man, I love this guy! He just didn’t stop. He was a powerful picture of biblical, God-orientated passion in action. In Joshua 15, Caleb is 85 years old, and he’s waited for more than forty years to receive his promised inheritance. He’s one of the quiet “good guys!” He wasn’t front and center for most of his life, but he was passionate and faithful. He grabbed ahold of God and never let go. By the time we come to Joshua 15, Caleb is finishing strong. His…

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Who’s Doing Your Thinking?

Pharisees say “Don’t think!”  A manipulative person says “I will think for you—listen ONLY to me.” A spiritual leader leads you to think biblically for yourself, with discernment. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men…” (Matthew 23:13) “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9) Jesus says, “Think deeply!” Come and see! Search the scriptures—see for yourself! Jesus is not afraid of your questions. He expects you to use the brain that He created. “And beginning at Moses and all the…

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13 Critics You Should Listen To…

Critics are a dime a dozen, some should be heard but many are self-appointed sounding brass. The internet and anonymity empowers them. I’ve had my share is covert critics, and generally they are the same—intentionally deceptive and gifted at distortion. One thing is consistent, they NEVER contact me to get the truth. Truth would nullify their game. More than a decade ago I determined some guidelines regarding “who’s criticism I would hear.” Giving a “hearing to a critic is like giving the key to your spirit. You are not obligated to hear every random cynic. You are not under biblical…

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Manage Your Exhaustion for Other’s Sake!

Exhaustion is a physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual state. It’s not just one, but all of these. We make a big mistake to think it’s just physical. Responding properly means responding biblically to each dynamic. Exhaustion impacts others—and not in a good way. If you are serving God, raising a family, or meaningfully engaging in 21st century life, you will face exhaustion, if only from pure information overload. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be terminal! Here are some quick suggestions for managing exhaustion for the sake of others… Physical 1. Rest—It’s practical, biblical, even spiritual to rest. Don’t buy the…

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20 Things You Should Know about Your Pastor

Here are twenty things I believe are true about most pastors I know. I hope you will work together with your pastor for the good of the gospel! 1. He loves God and you a lot. (Be mindful.) 2. He is a painfully limited human being. (Be realistic.) 3. He probably has a pretty low view of his “performance”. (Be kind.) 4. He wishes he were a better preacher. (Be awake.) 5. He really does want God’s best for you and your family. (Be open-hearted.) 6. His work knows no time or locational boundaries. (Be patient.) 7. He hears much…

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On Listening to God (Repost)

Are you listening to God? Are you wondering what He’s saying? Here are a few things I’ve learned recently about listening to God’s voice and discerning what He’s saying: He speaks clearly and wants you to know His will—if you don’t know what He’s saying, it’s either because you aren’t listening, or He’s waiting to tell you. If you are sure you’re listening, then just be patient. He’s not in a hurry. We are. You will know what He wants you to know when He wants you to know it. (See Psalm 27:14)

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Have You Ever Been Hurt at Church?

Have you been hurt somewhere in your past—at church? At the one place on the planet that was supposed to be an oasis, a safe-zone, a place of rest and restoration—were you somehow bruised or broken? While a more brutish person would say, “Get over it and get right with God”—it’s just not that simple is it? That’s the very spirit you ran from to begin with. Church is a bit of a paradox. It’s a placed filled with broken people, but it’s to be a place of love and grace. It’s a place where flesh comes to die. But…

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Crazy Church—Why Christians Fear for Their Guests!

Churches are a study in variety. Some are grace-filled, gospel-centered. Some are judgment-filled and man-centered. Some are controlling and abrasive. Some are safe and healthy for spiritual growth. Some are Spirit-led, some are Spirit-quenching. Some are formal, some are relaxed. Some are stiflingly stiff, some are refreshingly personable. Some are caustic and critical, some are godly and gracious. Some are hostile and some are happy. Some are issue-oriented, some are gospel-oriented. Some are cold and unfriendly, some are warm and welcoming. The list goes on. Funny thing is, no matter the church—ALL the Christians that attend there are just regular,…

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How to Make 2014 Successful in the Extreme!

appy New Year! Thanks for stopping by and reading my weekly ramblings. It’s a privilege to touch your life in this way, and I appreciate you extending to me that privilege. Today begins 2014! Aren’t you glad to be ALIVE?! Isn’t God good?! He probably answered a ton of prayers for you last year—even those seemingly little ones like “Help us to have a good day today…” He probably provided a lot of meals, a lot of oxygen, a lot of heartbeats, a lot of breaths, and a lot of physical strength to serve Him and enjoy life! So, do…

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What Mary Teaches Us About God’s Will

In Luke 1, Mary’s world is disrupted by a Heavenly call. She had well-laid plans and dreams. Love, engagement, marriage, and a future. She had a good name and a gracious character. But God shattered her world with “His will.” You know, that fearful interruption to “our plans.” Why are we so scared by those terms—”God’s will?” Why does the unknown of God’s intentions bring such paralysis and self-protective instincts to the surface of our psyche? Why do God’s interruptions threaten us? And what does Mary’s response teach us about the will of God? Let’s consider it for a moment……

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