Archive for the ‘pastoral leadership’ Category

There are a ton of reasons you should pick up and walk away from your commitment to your church family. I’ve narrowed it down to the top 5. Be on the look out for these signs….if you see them get out!

1. Someone offended you.  At any point that you feel your feelings are hurt you should leave. Make sure you look for the subtle signs that people don’t like you: someone walking by and not saying “hi”, not being invited along with a group, not being thanked for something you did, a point in a sermon that made you feel uncomfortable, someone doesn’t notice that you weren’t at church because of the other hundreds of people in the room. If you’re offended it must be a good enough reason to leave. Go with that emotion.

2. You don’t “feel” like you’re being fed. This is really important. You need to purposely forget that your pastor is moving a large group of people from across a wide spectrum in their faith experience to maturity. Make an effort to avoid other discipleship opportunities like Life Groups and classes. It’s completely understandable that you would blame your pastor for your lack of discipline in feeding yourself the Word during the week. Make it a point to have a view that it’s really all about you instead of investing in helping others around you grow.

3. Your Son or Daughter isn’t happy there. In today’s child centered world this makes sense to leave your church if you’re child says they don’t want to go. What’s great about this one is it gives you an opportunity to model for your kids what you should do when something is not done your way: leave. Besides your child must know best….I mean they are the child. Whatever you do don’t teach them to adapt, appreciate the differences in others or model ongoing faithfulness. Get out before they plant roots.

4. Your area of passion is not being promoted enough. If the leadership team at your church doesn’t promote your area of involvement you should find the nearest exit sign. It’s obvious that the reason the pastor is refusing to do this is because he doesn’t like you and not because he has a million other important plates that need to be spun. Here is your chance to read sign #1 and be offended.

5. You made a mistake and a leader brings accountability. When you committed to follow the pastoral leaders of your church you certainly didn’t mean you wanted them to help you grow by holding you accountable. Who needs to submit? Not you! Don’t be sharpened by the experience or walk through restoration. Why should you when there’s another church down the street that doesn’t know anything about your issues and will welcome you with open arms.

(Important Note: If you decide to hit the door because of these valid reasons, make sure you share your reasons with as many people as possible. What’s better than leaving your church? Answer: Taking People with you!)

What about you? Have any other signs of when you should leave your church? Please share below.

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Last week while upstairs ironing a shirt I heard a pop downstairs followed by yelling and crying. My oldest son had hit my youngest son in the face out of anger. I sent him to my room to wait for me. He knew what was coming. I took my time. (I never spank my kids while angry.) Once in the room I shared with him my deep love for him and why he was being spanked. My 7yr old understood clearly that I loved him and because I loved him I needed to correct his behavior.

No one likes to be corrected. I know I don’t. Even if I know I’m wrong I can feel my pride invading every fiber of my being when someone points out a  mistake (even a small one) to correct me. Why is that my 7yr old can understand the idea of sowing and reaping, poor judgement and correction, but as adults we many times don’t have the ability to receive correction well?

Obviously, pride is the main issue and hardly needs explanation. A secondary issue that I believe is not addressed is motivation. Many of us cannot receive correction from others because we don’t honestly believe that the person bringing the correction truly loves us. Our insecurity shines through as we tell ourselves, “They’re just on a power trip”, “Who do they think they are?”, “They don’t have the right to….”, “Why don’t you come talk to me when you’re perfect!”

But what if they really love you? What if they truly want God’s best for you? What if God is speaking through them?

Hebrews 12:5–7  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?   (ESV)

Proverbs 12:1  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,but he who hates reproof is stupid.   (ESV)

Experiencing dysfunctional correction by others in the past doesn’t make correction in the present bad. God many times uses people in our lives to bring loving correction to us: spouses, friends, pastors, co-workers and even strangers.

It’s such a beautiful thing to witness someone receive correction with humility and truly own it. God help me stay in that place.

What about you? How has God brought correction to you through others? Would you mind sharing below?

Have you ever had a difficult time ending something? It could have been moving past a dream, a relationship, an employee that wasn’t contributing, a strategy or program that wasn’t working, a way you’ve always done something. This last month I started our Elder board on a journey through a book by Dr. Henry Cloud, “Necessary Endings”. In it Cloud discusses some of the obstacles that keep us from “ending” these things in our lives. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to face reality, maybe we don’t want to admit defeat or maybe it’s just because we don’t know how. Cloud points to pruning in a garden as an example of what happens when we don’t prune the things in our life or organization. These situations end up draining energy and resources that are needed else where so there can be thriving growth.  For a Christ follower Jesus is the vine and He points to the “Vine Dresser” our heavenly father who desires to “prune” what is not helpful or necessary in our lives or in the life of a church.

As a pastor I’ve seen churches be so in love with their strategy that they could not “end” it when it was clear that it was not working. Pastor and author, Andy Stanley, states that “we should be in love with our vision but only infatuated with our method. I don’t want to be that leader that can’t see when something needs to end.

I’ve asked our elders to go on a journey with me over the next few months to pray and think through any areas that might need to be “ended”in our lives personally or in our church so that we can thrive.

What about you? What areas in your life are you holding onto that just need to be ended? A friendship, relationship, an employee that does more harm than good, a dream, a goal, a strategy? My prayer is that God would give us the courage to do what’s needed.

Pruning is painful, but necessary,

Nathan

Most pastors I know are very likable guys. Not to say there aren’t some out there, but most people that go into pastoral ministry are not jerks. In fact, many pastors that step into ministry struggle with the “Please Like Me” disease. They’re in ministry because they love God and love people. They also enjoy being loved back.

Here is the rub: To pastor is to lead and that means decisions sometimes have to be made that people will not like. I use to struggle dramatically with people being upset about the leadership decisions I made. Sleepless nights would ensue, upset stomach, short tempered. Unable to focus on further leadership tasks, I was stopped dead in my tracks. As it turned out it was not about them not liking my decisions as much as it was my reaction to my perception of them not liking me. I was taking it personal.

Even if someone hates your decision because they just don’t like you, it’s not personal. It is their issue. You cannot control someone’s emotions or reactions. You cannot make someone like you. Don’t waste your time trying to get people on the bus that don’t want to go on the trip.

Bottom line: 10% will be hardcore “You” fans, 10% Will just not like you, and 80% will be “Fine” with you. 

When we stop making difficult decisions so that we’ll be adored, we in essence are not serving Jesus any more. We’re serving ourselves.

Go Lead,

Nathan

My personality type lends itself to always wanting to move forward and excel. In fact, most people that are naturally drawn to leadership are driven by the desire for personal achievement. While personal achievement can be a great motivator, it in itself cannot be confused as leadership. Many leaders after realizing personal success in the trenches of the battle field cannot make the leap to a broader leadership role because they believe they need to be the “hero” every time.   These type of leaders don’t allow others to grow and will sometimes actually sabotage their follower’s efforts and/or steal the credit.

Bottom line: If leadership is about leading others, the highest form of leadership success is succeeding through others. A leader that can equip, develop, and position others for success HAS succeeded.

What about you? What have you learned about leadership in this area? Join the discussion below.

Nathan

When I assess a leader or someone that desires to be in leadership, I always ask them what area do you need to grow in. If they can’t give me a clear answer I know right away that the person has a self-awareness issue. They’re blind to their weaknesses as a person. While a person might have some natural  talents and abilities you cannot continue to just run your leadership on these alone.

If you desire to grow in leadership you cannot continue to sit on your hands and wait for a “Super Ninja Mentor” to come ask you if he/she can mentor you. Take ownership of your own development. Here are 3 ways you can make some growth happen:

1. ASK: If you don’t know what areas you need to grow in; ask someone. Go to someone that has seen you in action and ask them to give you some feedback.

2. Grow through reading: This is a great way to have mentors at a distance with some of the best minds in the world.  (Side note: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”)

3. Seek Out Mentorship: Grow through getting together with someone that’s farther along the journey then you are. Maybe take them to lunch or buy them coffee and ask for help. Good leaders want to invest in up and coming leaders like someone invested in them.

Go Grow,

Nathan

Every pastor I know (including myself) lives for Sundays. We live for Sunday because we desire to see Jesus Christ  lifted up in worship and in the preaching of His word!  It’s our game day.  During the week we are praying, counseling, studying, writing, meeting with leadership, putting out fires and at times dealing with crisis in the lives of others. No matter what happens during the week, Sunday is still coming and while it’s not the only thing the church is about it is a major component.

Cue the Emotional Curtain to be Pulled Back)                                                                                  

As much as I love Sundays, Mondays are a huge let down. Let me explain. A pastor goes 90mph during the week and hits Sunday like a Mac Truck because he’s passionate about the church and what he believes God’s calling the church to. Monday’s are my current day off. For me Monday at times hangs on my like a wet coat…..a downer….a drag. There have been seasons when I felt like having a day off was pointless. I would have times when I didn’t even know how to use my day off. I would just sort of wander around the house or run errands that just seemed lame compared the overarching mission of leading and making disciples. When I feel that way, I hate it. I hate it because I know my wife and boys have to live with some of the residual effects of that Monday let down in my world. I’ve got to be intentional about making sure my view of my day of rest is not hooked up to that emotional roller-coaster that is pastoral ministry.

Bottom line:  God longs to be exalted in our Sundays and our Mondays. The ups and the downs. He’s just as present in both.

What about you? How are you managing the “let-downs” in your life? Are you allowing your emotions to rule you or are you digging deep into that shelter that is Christ Jesus?

Have a good Monday,

Nathan