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6 leadership mistakes most pastors make by Margaret Marcuson

Are you making any of these church leadership mistakes? If so, you’re in good company. I’ve made them all, and you probably have too.

  1. You take responsibility for things that aren’t your responsibility.  

Many church leaders do this. It’s called overfunctioning. Pastors and other church leaders do this both on behalf of the congregation as a whole, and for individuals (staff and members). Then they get frustrated because others aren’t responsible enough. Here’s the guideline to remember: those who are under-responsible (underfunctioners) don’t step it up until those who are too responsible (overfunctioners) step it down.

  1. You get caught in triangles. 

This is a variation of number one, in which you take responsibility for other people’s relationships. You can’t change a relationship you aren’t a part of. You can only work on your relationship with each of the other parties. Here’s a post that explains more about relationship triangles in ministry.

  1. You don’t disconnect enough. 

But with today’s technology, it’s harder and harder to find quiet time and space. But constant availability is not good for you – nor for the people you lead. They need to figure things out without you. Take Jesus as your model – if he needed time alone, so do you. Try this: wait at least 30 minutes after you wake up to check your phone.

  1. You think the answer is out there somewhere. 

Sure, there is plenty to be learned from others. But remember to value your own creativity and the ingenuity of your people. What ideas do you have for making a difference in your own situation? No one else knows your ministry setting the way you do. Try this: take a current challenge and generate a list of 20 possible ways to solve it. Pick the top two or three and try them.

  1. You get infected by the anxiety of others. 

People say to you, in effect, “Pastor, you should be upset about this because I am.” It’s easy to take that on. Yet just because someone is anxious doesn’t mean you should try to calm them down (and go away more anxious than you were). This rarely leads to productive thinking. Think it through: is this really your responsibility? Can you take it a little less seriously? Is there some way to push the anxiety back?

  1. You take the short-term view.  

We’d all like a quick fix, and we live in a society that wants instant results. But the things that count take years to develop. And many of the things we worry about don’t matter much in the light of eternity – and won’t even matter in a year, or a month. How can you extend your vision: five, ten, thirty years?

You can start today to remedy any one of these mistakes. Take a deep breath, find a little space, and prayerfully think through your role, your responsibility and your vision.

From Biblicalleadership.com

 

 

 

How to become a grace-powered leader by Steve Lawson

For Christian leaders, there is a (potentially untapped) power available that can set each of us free from the inability to accurately and, in a healthy way, assess ourselves. An understanding—heart understanding—and reception of the fullness of God’s grace can revolutionize our self-image and position us to grow.

An expanded definition of grace

Grace, as it relates to Christians, has traditionally been defined as “unmerited favor.” While that is true, grace goes much farther than that. The first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus is a great place to begin to understand what grace does in us. In this chapter, Paul begins to use a variety of words to describe our new identity. He calls us; saints, blessed, chosen, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and gaining an Inheritance (Ephesians 1:1-11, ESV). He has made us alive and honored us by seating us in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5, 6).

God’s grace does more than “save” us. It restores, transforms, and honors us. It redeems us and makes us valuable. A perfect example is found in the book of Ruth. Ruth is the story of a young woman from Moab whose Jewish husband dies, and she goes home to live with her mother-in-law, Naomi.  While she is there, she meets Boaz, a member of Naomi’s family. Boaz becomes Ruth’s “kinsman-redeemer.” It becomes his responsibility to marry Ruth so that the family line is preserved.

While this story is great in and of itself, what makes it even more powerful is the blessing spoken over Boaz at the end of the book. The city elders bless him, and at the end of the blessing they say; “And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.” On the surface, this may not mean anything. However, what is interesting is that Tamar is mentioned. Tamar’s husband died too. In addition, to carry on her family line, she disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law! In addition, she is mentioned here as part of a blessing. In a patriarchal society that ignores women, Tamar is mentioned in a blessing. It was not “Perez, son of Judah.”  It was “Perez, son of Tamar and Judah.”

Moreover, that is not even the end of it. The gospel of Matthew lists both Ruth (a non-Jewish woman) and Tamar (a prostitute) in the lineage of Jesus. This is an amazing picture of redemption.  To take something is worthless and make it valuable. For both Ruth and Tamar, they were worthless because they were women (in that culture) and they should have been despised as well – Ruth because she was not Jewish and Tamar because she prostituted herself with her father-in-law. However, they were made valuable by being included in the lineage of Jesus. It is amazing how the Old Testament treats them but then to be included in Matthew’s report of the lineage of Jesus.  That is incredible. The power of grace should never be underestimated.

Grace and leadership

Why is that important to pastoral leadership? Because a leader that understands that they have been redeemed – they have been made valuable by the power of grace – will never approach the concept of their own self-awareness the same way again. They become aware of their new identity in Christ. Their weaknesses no longer look like failures because they see them through the eyes of redemption. Their strengths do not produce arrogance because they are also aware of what they have been redeemed from.

When it comes to how they lead, the grace-filled leader begins to see others differently. Because they are beginning to understand that God sees them through grace-filled eyes, they can see others in that way as well. They are not threatened by differences. They can believe the best about others. Grace enables them to build the skills necessary to communicate, love, resolve conflict, etc., through the culture of the one(s) with whom they are interacting. They can truly and fully engage in servant leadership because they no longer need a job, a position, or the outcome of an exchange to elevate them. They have already been elevated. They have been redeemed.

That is the power of grace.

From Biblicalleadership.com

The overcommitted church  by Thom Rainer

Many churches have become too busy for their own good.

They have so many activities, programs, events, and services that they are wearing out their congregations.

Here is the irony. Most of the activities in these churches began with a noble cause to make a difference in the congregation and the community. But the members became so busy they don’t have time to connect with people in a meaningful way.

Ineffective congregations 

The overcommitted church has become the ineffective church.

So, how did our churches get in this predicament? The causes are many, but here are seven of them:

  1. Our churches equate activity with value. Thus, busy churches are deemed to be churches of value. Not surprisingly, busy, exhausted, and frustrated church members are also deemed to be Christians of value.
  2. Programs and ministries became ends instead of means.I recently asked a pastor why he continued a ministry that had dwindled from 220 participants to 23. “Because,” he replied, “this program is a part of the history and heritage that defines our church.” Warning: If a program defines your church, your church is in trouble.
  3. Failure of churches to have a clear purpose.Even the best of churches can only do so many things well. Once a church has no clear and defining purpose, it has no reason to start or discontinue a program or ministry. That issue then leads to the next two reasons.
  4. Church leaders have failed to say “no.”Some church leaders can’t say “no” to new programs and ministries because they have no clear or defining purpose on what they should do. Other leaders simply lack courage to say “no.”
  5. Fear of eliminating.Once a program, ministry, or activity has begun, it can be exceedingly difficult to let it die. Sometimes leaders lack courage to kill programs. Sometimes they are blinded to the need to kill programs. Sometimes they hesitate to kill a program because they don’t know a better alternative. We need more churches in the program-killing business.
  6. Church is often defined as an address.As long as we think “church” means a physical location, we will try to load up that address with all kinds of busyness. Many churches are ineffective at reaching their communities because their members are so occupied doing things at the building they call the church. That’s both bad ecclesiology and bad missiology.
  7. Churches often try to compete with culture rather than reach culture.A church in the deep South had a dynamic basketball ministry, where they fielded community basketball teams comprised of church members and non-believers.

However, once the church built its own gym and recreation center, church members started spending all their time playing at their new facility. In attempting to have a gym as good as those in the community, the church ironically became less effective in reaching those in the community.

Busy churches. Activity-driven churches. Overcommitted churches. Ineffective churches.

In my next article, I will share some ways churches are becoming less activity-driven and more effective.

 

 

From Biblical leadership platform

3 steps to shift from success to significance by Gerry Lewis

 

I wish I had paid better attention as I was growing up. There are so many lessons I had to learn by trial and error as an adult that happened right in front of me as a youth, but I wasn’t interested.

I expressed that thought to my stepfather in a recent conversation. One of those handy guys who can figure out how to fix just about anything, he could have taught me a lot in those early years. However, I was too busy and didn’t see the relevance of all that stuff, so it was faster and more efficient to do it himself. Unfortunately, the pattern continued and my grown-up son is having to learn things that I didn’t take the time to teach him either.

I’m not experiencing any regrets or angst over this; just acknowledging lessons I wish I had learned earlier. I think I learned—and passed on—the things that matter most. But, if I had it to do again …

There are other lessons I wish I had learned earlier, especially as a young pastor. Now that I spend time coaching and consulting pastors and church leaders, I am trying to pass on some of those. I think they are also applicable to a broader vocational spectrum.

Everyone I know wants to experience vocational “success.” We want to achieve and be noticed. We want to be “in.” I am at the point in life where the desire for success has been replaced by the desire for significance. As I’ve been thinking about that today, I’ve thought of a three-step sequence of significance that perhaps seems a little counterintuitive, but stay with me to the end.

To be a part of the significance IN crowd:

Step 1 – Make yourself IN-dispensable. Become the go-to person, the one who can be counted on. Exceed expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver. Demonstrate integrity and build trust. Someone will be watching you and learning.

Step 2 – Make yourself IN-cognito. Getting noticed feels really good. It can be intoxicating, but those who remain IN-dispensable risk fatigue and burnout. They can become control freaks who never elevate those around them. The idea of making yourself IN-cognito is that you are elevating and empowering those around you to the point that you are giving leadership, stepping in when necessary, but sharing both responsibility and recognition.

Step 3 – Make yourself IN-visible. You know your effectiveness as a leader when success may be accomplished without your presence, when recognition goes to your team, and when those you have taught advance beyond your abilities.

Second Timothy 2:2 (New International Version) says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 

Our lives matter so much to God that He wants us involved IN His eternal purposes. That’s a good crowd to be in.

Question: Where are you currently IN-dispensable?  IN-cognito?  IN-visible?

 

Gerry Lewis
From Biblicalleadership.com

Once and for all

He offered himself once and for all.’ Hebrews 9:26 CEV

 

There were many pieces of furniture in the tabernacle, and each served a different purpose. But there wasn’t a single seat. Do you know why? Because the priest’s work was never finished! The people sinned constantly, so lambs had to be constantly sacrificed to atone for their sins. However, when Jesus died, rose again and went back to heaven, the first thing He did was sit down (see Hebrews 10:12). That’s because the work of salvation was finished! The Bible says: ‘Christ did not have to offer himself many times. He wasn’t like a high priest who goes into the most holy place each year to offer the blood of an animal …instead…he offered himself once and for all, so that he could be a sacrifice that does away with sin’ (Hebrews 9:25-26 CEV). And because of Christ’s ‘once and for all’ sacrifice on the cross, you have direct access to God at any time. The moment you say, ‘Father, I come in the name of Jesus,’ you’re made welcome and all your needs are met. There’s a story from American Civil War days about a soldier sitting on a bench outside the White House looking depressed. A little boy passing by stopped and asked what was wrong. The soldier told him he needed to see President Lincoln but the guards wouldn’t let him in. Hearing this, the boy took him by the hand and led him directly into the president’s office. ‘Father,’ he said, ‘this man really needs to speak with you.’ That boy was the president’s son; he had direct and continuous access to his father. And because you belong to Jesus, you do too!

 

Word for Today Nov. 1, 2017 by United Christian Broadcasters

How to lead with confident humility

By Bob Russell

God will bring people and experiences into your life that will keep you humble. Instead of resenting those people, welcome them, laugh about them—or, better still, listen to them. They may be just what you need to keep you from becoming arrogant and self-centered.

Stay close to Christ. The Scripture records that every time someone saw the Lord in His glory, their first reaction was fear and self-loathing. “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” said Simon Peter. “I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of people with unclean lips,” Isaiah cried.

The closer you are to Christ, the more aware you are of your own sinfulness and inadequacy. That’s why the apostle Paul wrote, “I am the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

There’s a balance that’s needed here. Some go to the extreme and don’t take advantage of the leadership role God has given. When Joseph was promoted from the prison to the palace in Egypt, he accepted the perks that came with the position and used them to lead effectively. He wore Pharaoh’s signet ring, linen robe, and gold necklace. He rode in Pharaoh’s impressive chariot with its security personnel. He didn’t confuse humility with reluctance. He recognized that God had gifted him and equipped him to lead.

When Esther was selected as the queen, she didn’t refuse to reign or take advantage of her lofty position.  She acknowledged that God had brought her into the kingdom “for such a time as this” and used her influence to save her people.

A general needs to wear additional stars.  The orchestra director needs to be the only one with a baton.  The President needs to be surrounded by Secret Service.  There’s a place for proper dignity, authority symbols, and leadership perks.  The High Priest in the Old Testament days was to wear distinctive clothing.  The Bible does say we are to respect those who are over us in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:12).   A local preacher needs to be esteemed and loved.  The idea of leading from behind is mostly a myth.

Spiritual leaders are most effective when they feel comfortable in their own skin and yet lead with a servant’s heart. The great stage and film star Sir Laurence Olivier was once asked what it took to be a great actor. He responded, “Humility enough to prepare and confidence enough to perform.”  That’s the balance that’s needed in ministry. Enough holy fear to remain dependent on God every day, yet enough confidence in our divine call that we remain strong and courageous no matter how challenging the assignment.

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5-7).

Excerpted from After 50 years of Ministry: 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same by Bob Russell

From biblicalleadership.com

The Schemer

Satan, the adversary is a schemer. A schemer makes clever and secret plan with intent to deceive. It is on this note that Paul clearly admonished every believer to be properly attired with the whole armor of God. The whole armor of God is not for fashion parade or exhibition. It is given so that you “may be able to stand against the schemes (wiles) of the devil. A wile is a craftily, framed and cunning strategy to deceive. The devil’s scheme is framed within the boundaries what is of the world system; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. All of these things are not of the Father. 1 Jn 2:16. Even if the devil masquerades as an angel of light, it will still operate within this frame.

Satan the schemer is also known “like the roaring lion” that roams about seeking for someone to consume. For this reason, we watch out for the accusatory, devouring schemes of Satan and stand against such vehemently. Many prayer sessions are conceived to resist the Rottweiler-like attack of the adversary as in Job1 and Zech 3. However, there is another scheme that is as potent as the accusatory, devouring scheme. It is the alluring, complementary, flattery of the devil. This is meant to achieve the same purpose. It is also framed within the boundaries of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

It was this second strategy that the devil deployed against Jesus in the wilderness of temptation. Mt 4: 1-10. Rather than attacking Jesus, the tempter came with enticement: “If you are the Son of God…” He was enticing Jesus to satisfy his need for food independent of His Father. Although all the attempts against Jesus were framed within the boundaries of what is in the world, they were alluring, complementary and flattering.

The whole armor is given for all the schemes of the schemer. Satan will love that you only know him as an attacker and not as encourager. If he can encourage you to succeed independent of God, he has succeeded in his agenda. If he can succeed to help you achieve anything seemingly good without depending on God, he has succeeded in his agenda. If he can encourage you to make it all about your glory and not God’s or even a little of God’s glory and yours mixed together, he has succeeded in his agenda.

Let’s not forget this admonition; finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Eph 6:10-11

Have a blessed week