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The Healthy Pastoral Leader
By: Author Unknown
In his research of leaders, both historical and contemporary, author Robert Clinton found that few leaders actually finish the race well. His two books, The Making of a Leader (NavPress) and The Mentor Handbook (Barnabas), explain that finishing well could be defined as a life that until its end is increasingly more in love with Christ, more committed to His service and more devoted to godly leadership.
What causes a leader to continue to grow, to stay on track and to finish well in life and ministry?
Five Habits of effectiveness. Effective leaders learn to become intentional about their character growth and formation. In this development of a leader we can make three general observations:
- God develops a leader over a lifetime;
- God uses people, circumstances and ministry assignments to shape the life of a leader; and
- Leadership plateau is often indicative of a growth issue within a leader's life.
To help us become more intentional about our health as leaders, let's explore five insights from leaders who have finished well.
- Healthy leaders are lifelong learners. Leaders pursue three types of training: personal training, (personal growth, projects, personal research); informal training (workshops, seminars, conferences); and formal training (continuing education, degree programs).
- Healthy leaders are committed to serve and develop others. Be alert to potential leaders in your sphere of influence (II Cor. 1:3-4; II Tim. 2:2).
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Are you about to crash and burn because your personal life doesn't measure up to the expectations of the ministry? Here are three warning signals to watch for.
1. Anger. Anger usually results when we feel that we have lost control of a situation or circumstance. Many times we instinctively know that some area of our lives is out of control. That is when we become less tolerant of those around us.
Outward bursts of wrath are easy to detect. Another expression of anger is harder to recognize, but it needs to be viewed as a "red flag" of a troubled heart: sarcasm.
Anger turned inward often comes out in the form of sarcasm. This form of anger is veiled in humor and it may seem harmless, but it has a detectable "edge" to it. It subtly fires darts of hidden criticism.
In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read, "Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (NKJV). This scripture is not giving us a license to entertain the emotion of anger. Rather, it is saying that we must deal with this damaging emotion before the day ends. If we don't, we will give place to Satan.
2. The Elijah Syndrome. A second symptom of spiritual bankruptcy is what I call the "Elijah Syndrome". We first see it demonstrated in the life of Elijah himself. The syndrome is displayed in the infamous church service described in I Kings 18:21-40.
But in I Kings 19:9, we see that in not time at all, Elijah went from basking in the blinding light of God's glory to cowering in the corner of a dark cave. He became imprisoned by despair. When we are facing any kind of difficulty, one of the most effective lies Satan feeds us is that no one can understand what we are going through. "No one else has it as bad as I do," we think.
As a result, we begin to cut ourselves off from those who can offer us wise counsel. We are then left to our own distorted reasonings and perceptions.[ read more...]
Failure – In the business world, this word isn’t an option. But in the church, it almost seems like a requirement. Look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. While the Bible lauds their faithful successes here, check out their Old Testament stories, and you’ll find that God used people who repeatedly failed and doubted him.
So the next time you feel like a failure or even a hypocrite – encouraging your congregation to live one way when you’re failing in that very same area yourself – remember God’s amazing penchant for using seemingly imperfect, irresponsible, and faithless people to further His kingdom. In fact, here are some specific places where you might be feeling like a failure, along with promises for you to claim.
Correcting and confronting people about sin when you know the pitiful condition of your own heart. Remember that God detests sin, but he already knows that you’ll fail Him. Victory doesn’t come through any power of our own, but only from God’s strength over evil. Approach God and admit your weaknesses. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
Preaching on quiet time when you don’t have one. Change the terminology if you need to. A quiet time is just a means of recharging your own spiritual batteries on a semi-regular basis – even if it’s not a daily quiet time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Being still is hard to do if you’re running in the opposite direction. What will happen if you stop and listen to God? “You’ll be made new in the attitude of your minds; and you’ll put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23- 24)
Speaking on bringing people to the Lord when you haven’t led anyone to Him in years. Double-check your source and motivation. Jesus said that only people plugged into Him could be fruitful. “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine; you are the branches. If[ read more...]
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
The following are the results of a poll given by the Barna Research Group. It may shed some light as to why people give. Remember people give their time and talents for similar reasons they give their money to the church or other organizations.
They have a great reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.
Accuracy of this description. (continue for each question)
Very Somewhat Not too Not at all
66% 27% 2% 4%
You feel good about yourself when you know that you have helped others.
59% 31% 5% 6%
The organization is involved in a type of work that is of greatest interest to you.
54% 35% 4% 4%
You have seen or studied the work of the organization firsthand and know they’re trustworthy.
49% 36% 4% 9%[ read more...]
Why is it that in some churches, meeting with the creator of the universe is often a boring showcase for bad music, inept preaching and poor taste? Listed are 9 perspectives that can enhance the effectiveness of your services.
- Put yourself in the congregation’s shoes. Pastor, how long has it been since you just sat in the congregation? How often do you really try to identify with the needs, hopes and dreams of those in your congregation?
- Tell stories. Storytelling was Jesus’ primary method of teaching. He put the most profound concepts into simple and compelling stores that captivated people and changed their lives. Never telling a story is a prescription for putting people to sleep.
- Question everything. Why do you take up the offering the same way each week? Why do you always sing the same hymn of invitation?
- Find some fresh jokes-or don’t use any. How many of you would rather be here in church than in the finest hospital in town? Please discard your moth-eaten jokes. Otherwise your congregation will start laughing out of pity, not humor.
- Go beyond your trusty old sermons of the past. Yes it’s nice to have some standby messages you can rely on. But the danger is that the more you preach the same sermon, the more difficult it is to present it with conviction, originality and excitement.
In his book "How To Increase Giving In Your Church", George Barna gives several key principles for effective stewardship. Our challenge is to create an enviroment and facilitate a mind-set in which people want to donate money to the church for the right reasons. The following are some guidelines toward achieving that outcome.
You are raising money for Life Transformation, not Organizational Survival. Your objective must be to advance the cause of ministry, not to perpetuate the survival of an institution. God can make great things happen in people's lives without an organization through which such ministry happens. Focus on the essential: Seeing lives changed for the glory and purposes of God.
People give to people and causes, not to institutions or programs. If you want to inspire people to become good stewards, help them see themselves as ministers. Their giving is a means of using their resources for the very reason they exist: to know, and serve God with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength. Encourage people to give to the church because it provides opportunities and means of helping people.
Repeat donors must be both inspired and persuaded. Great fund-raisers know how to identify the soft spot that inspires people to give generously. Eliciting such support is more than just finding a "hot button"; it initials penetrating both the head and the heart of the donor. Your goal should be to create a stewardship mind-set. You do not want to have to start from scratch every time you need money; you want to build on a foundation you have worked hard to develop, one that is based on trust, integrity and mutual benefit.
There is no substitute for absolute integrity. None! Honesty, transparency, accessibility - these are the characteristics on which a great stewardship campaign - and genuine, life changing ministry - are based. Integrity is not something to be fooled with. lose it and you will pay a major price for an extended period. Once the people's trust has been violated, the relationship cannot be restored until many years have passed and the donors who were hurt by the infraction are gone. Ministries cannot outlast that era.[ read more...]
How do you evaluate your performance as a Christian leader? I hope it’s not just by how hard you work or how good your intentions are. Listed are 15 points to use as a gauge of leadership effectiveness:
- Leaders know their No. 1 assignment is to develop others. The find joy in giving a new skill to someone they have a glimmer of vision for. Leaders develop other leaders; non-leaders are interested only in self-development.
- Leaders understand the “WOW factor.” The WOW factor means a commitment to a standard of excellence that goes beyond the call of duty.
- Leaders see what is really going on. They understand that parking-lot attendants aren’t just parking cars; they are forming a first impression and winning friends. Effective preachers realize that when they are preaching, something more is happening; They are building faith and bringing healing. Anointed musicians know they aren’t just playing music; they are opening hearts.
- Leaders are people of action. They do. They don’t just talk. This is one of the key factors that sets the leaders apart from the followers.
- Effective leaders have dealt with their insecurities. Leaders make room for others. They seldom feel threatened and are happy to make room for the growth of those they lead.
- Leaders don’t care who gets the credit. The success of the cause is more important than the need for a personal ego boost.
- Leaders constantly find new ways to include people in the action. Only a small portion of the work is done by the leaders themselves.
1. Clutter can slow you down by distracting you from what you want to do. To take control, begin in one corner of one room and straighten up. (No cheating! Don't just move the clutter to another corner!) Afterward, give yourself a reward for your good work. If you continue this pattern over time, you'll get the job done.
2. Do you arrive at your office most mornings frazzled from too much rushing around before leaving the house? Prepare for your departure the night before: put your coat, car keys, and briefcase by the door, ready to grab, and set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. You'll start the day feeling more in command.
3. The next time you pass a card store, stock up on a supply of "thank you," "congratulations," and "great job" cards. Keep a supply at the office and some at home. Remember how you feel when a good word is sent your way and be generous in your compliments to others.
4. Do you keep "to do" lists that run on for pages? If you often feel discouraged by what's not crossed off your lists, make them shorter. The most effective managers identify only three top priorities each day. And their self-esteem is stroked repeatedly when they cross off all three tasks, day after day.
5. In today's world of so-called advanced telecommunications, more people identify "telephone tag" as their biggest time waster. When you leave a phone message on someone's voice mail or answering machine, remember to cover the four W's: who called, why you called, what you'd like the receiver to do, and when you're available to receive a return call. A specific request with detailed information increases your chances of a reply. Furthermore, on the incoming message of your answering machine, direct callers to leave you answers to the four W's.[ read more...]
When working with those who are volunteers in the church, it’s important to remember a few things. Consider these…
They are not paid to work in your church. Very few businesses are operated by volunteerism. The church is one of the few organizations who operate because of volunteers. A volunteer is a gift from God to the church. However small a person’s contribution may be, is a great gift as it costs the church nothing.
They do it because they want to. What causes one person to volunteer may be something that would not cause another person to volunteer. The bottom line is they want to do it. You cannot make a person volunteer. You can however help them to want to volunteer by finding the “motivational button” that would cause them to want to volunteer.
They do it because it makes them feel good. People receive a sense of value by volunteering. It makes them feel like they have invested a part of themselves. Volunteering in the church makes one feel like they have truly helped a worthy cause.
They do it because they want to please God and Pastor. Always remind the volunteer that you are thankful for their help and that it means a great deal to you that they helped. Remind them also that God is pleased with their contribution.[ read more...]