Tag Archives: Leadership

Multiplying Results

I believe that the church, when it follows a Biblical model, is an unstoppable force in the community.  It can make a difference in every aspect of it.  As individuals, we all play a part in accomplishing this.  God designed the church to be made up of individual parts, but work in unison together to accomplish something that is bigger than all of us.  When everyone joins together to become who God made them to be, Scripture tells us that even the gates of Hell will not be able to stand up against the church.  We can have power in our lives and in our church, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

He is the Creator of all things and still works to hold it all in place.  He is the Sacrifice who gave his life and died in our place.  He is the Savior who rose from the grave.  He is our Redeemer who personally forgives our sins.  He is our strength to live beyond ourselves each day.  He is our hope of what can be when we put our trust in Him.

Because of him, I believe that the church can do great things.  I believe that it can make a difference.  As the church, God can work through even small things to accomplish great things.  Imagine a place where hurt people can find peace, where the poor can find relief, where the grieving can find hope.  Imagine a place where those who are broken can be made whole again.  That place is the church.

In the book of Acts we find that at different times there are descriptions given on how the church is growing. Acts 1:15 tells us the church numbered 120 believers.  In Acts 2:41 we find that believers were being added daily.  This continues to grow as we look at Acts 5:14, believers were increasingly added to the Lord.  Acts 6:1 notates that the number of disciples were increasing in number.  Then in Acts 6:7 we find that the number of disciples were multiplying greatly.  It is obvious that the church here is beginning to move from simply picking up a few people here and there to growing exponentially.  Multitudes are turning to the Lord.  There are a few things that I see happen in Acts 6:1-7 that causes some increased momentum for the early church and can have the same effect for our churches as well.

Four Simple actions that can create multiplying results.

1.  Solve problems quickly.  Anytime you have growth, you have growing pains.  And we see that the church is definitely growing.  So much so that some of the widows were being neglected.  This was a real problem.  In the context of scripture, this was a matter of life and death for many.  But we find in the passage that the apostles didn’t drop everything to take care of this.  They realized the need and knew something needed to change, but also knew that they weren’t the ones to handle the change.  Problems have a way of forcing change in any organization, but it doesn’t have to stop the forward progress of what may already be happening. If allowed to, problems can lead to focusing on internal needs of the church rather than the external mission of the church.  As things change in our church, we have a choice of whether to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.  Our goal should be to glorify God and be used by Him to solve problems quickly.  When problems arise, we can take those problems as opportunities to further the work of the church but at the same time  keep the focus of the church in check.

2.  Set your priorities correctly.  The apostles set their priorities as prayer and the ministry of the word.  They knew that these were two areas of the church that could not be neglected for any reason.  Stepping away from these two areas would have devastating effects on the spiritual life of the growing church.  Prayer releases the power of God in our lives and in our church.  Without it we essentially cripple the work we are trying to do.  The ministry of the word gives us the only true source of truth that can change people.  It is easy to get caught up in running programs in the church and lose sight of the main purpose of the church.  When the program or system becomes the end goal, we have lost sight of our purpose.  We should be seeking to reach people at all times, laying a foundation of prayer and ministering the word as we go.

3.  Share the responsibility.  The apostles delegated portions of the ministry needs to others.  They didn’t try to do it all themselves.  We should be always in the process of including more people in the work of the ministry.  There are a lot of good things to do in the church, but each of us will only have a few God things that He has called us to.  The apostles knew what their God thing was and stuck to it.  They could have added some more good things in, but that would have taken away from their God thing.  At the same time, God had men He had been preparing to do this specific God thing that was needed in scripture.  Let people take ownership of specific areas.  We should encourage people to do their part and find a place to serve within the church.  This actually multiplies the results and effectiveness of ministry.

4.  Saturate everything in prayer.  I know we have already looked at this, but it’s worth repeating.  The very first thing they did when they started wasn’t getting a food pantry started, developing a Widows in Need program or getting a list of names of all of those who were being neglected.  They didn’t just jump in and start working.  We see in the scripture that the apostles laid their hands on them and prayed.  We could see a lot more happen in our lives, in our families, in our churches and in our communities if we would really take hold of the power of prayer.  Prayer has a way of changing the world around us.  It can and does make a difference.  Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask.  This requires us to admit we don’t have all the answers and we aren’t in control.  But it also requires us to admit that we know that God is in control.  He can make a difference in our churches if we let Him.

If we want to see a multiplication movement take place in and through the church, we must place prayer and the word as a priority.  Also we must make it a part of our culture to raise up leaders who will share the load.  When we do things in our power, we get what we can do.  When we do things through prayer, we get what God can do.


5 Important truths for a Spiritual Leader

A few years back I was reading a book on leadership by John MacArthur.  In that book there was a statement that leadership wasn’t the ability to manage people or details, but the ability to inspire others to follow.  It went on to communicate that leaders don’t exist without followers.  This thought challenged me because I had always been a good “manager”, but had to start evaluating how effective I was at being a leader.  As I started to think through this, some areas started to become obvious to me as a pastor.

1.  We are not managers, but Spiritual Leaders.  A manager can direct traffic in any organization simply by conveying a list of things that need accomplished.  As spiritual leaders, we have the opportunity to move people from following out of a sense of obligation, to following because they believe in the goals we set out.  We must convey the goals and the overall vision in such a way that it inspires people and motivates them to become something more than they could ever have imagined.  We can’t just do this with good, persuasive words.  It must be accompanied with much prayer and discernment on our part.  We should see that, as spiritual leaders, we must spend time daily with our Leader and Lord.  This should be a priority in our schedules if we ever hope to accomplish anything for Him as we lead.

2.  Relationships Matter.  A manager can function apart from any real relationship with those that are managed.  Again, it’s simply conveying a list of things that need to be accomplished and the people who do it are just a means to an end.  As a spiritual leader, we must follow the example of Christ in what we do.  If we examine how He was able to have such a broad impact, we can see that He invested His life in people through relationships.  We can look at His relationship with the disciples and see that these were the people He poured into.  How were they able to go on and turn their world upside down? It’s because they had been inspired by their leader through their relationship with Him to become leaders of others.  We should make it a point to invest in the lives of the people and leaders we lead.

3.  Direction Matters.  We must be able to cast a vision for where we are going.  For those who follow, they want to know that what they are doing has value.  They want to see that it accomplishes an overall purpose or goal.  No one likes busy work.  No one wants to look back and see that they have just been working in circles and have nothing to show for it.  We must constantly remind those we lead where we are leading them to.  What is our purpose? How will this grow the kingdom? How will this impact the church? How will it help those who are hurting?  As we have one on one conversations with people, lunch with people, meetings with groups, we must always restate the vision in different ways and in different settings.  This allows us to remind them, as well as ourselves, where we are going.

4.  Grace is necessary.  As a manger in the work force, I would often find myself in situations where policies were broken by employees and action would have to be taken.  There were often times where I had to go in and demote people or terminate people from their positions because of their actions.  But as a Spiritual Leader, it’s not just a matter of enforcing policies. Although, we do desire that people work within the boundaries laid out.  We must be consistently communicating with those we lead.  If there is a situation or confrontation that needs to take place, it must be done in grace.  This doesn’t mean that we allow people a free pass to do whatever they want or to work against the vision or direction of the ministry.  It simply means that we are not the judge and jury.  We all do the wrong thing sometimes and we need people to come into our lives and lovingly guide us and correct us.  In these times we should follow Matthew 18 and talk with those who may have offended us one on one.  I have discovered that some clear communication at this time can go a long way to restoring and refocusing everyone on the overall vision and direction.  I’m reminded of Peter’s denial of Jesus at the cross.  Jesus knew it was coming, but it must have been devastating to Peter.  But Jesus showed him grace and Peter became one of the key leaders in the early church.  Grace can go a long way.

5.  Truth matters.  We should always be honest as we lead.  Everyone wants to follow those who have a strong character and live in integrity.  Grace is important, but it must always be measured with truth.  If someone is living in sin and/or refusing to follow spiritual leadership it must be confronted sooner rather than later.  If we sweep it under the rug or just hope it will go away, we can actually do more damage than addressing the issue.  We shouldn’t confront people in anger, but in truth.  If our emotions are high, we must take some time to pull away and pray.  It’s amazing how some time alone with God can change our perspective on situations.  Often, it becomes less about us and more about Him.  When this happens, we can address people from the truth of God instead of a personal agenda.

These aren’t intended to cover everything about Spiritual Leadership, but is a good place to start.  Just working through these has reminded me of some areas that I can focus on more in order to be a better leader.  What are some thoughts on Leadership you might could add to this?


Plan to Reach More People with the Gospel this year!

I’ve worked on developing missions strategy and structure within the church for the past couple of years.  I found there wasn’t a lot of basic structure  on how to develop and/or promote missions into the lifeblood of the church.  As a result, I developed the following approach to missions and evangelism through the church.  I am including this here as a reference for anyone who might be developing this within their church.  This structure may give you a good starting point for developing a structure for your ministry.  Feel free to copy, take and use any portion of this.

Missions & Evangelism Ministry Breakdown

Overview:

The basis for our missions’ ministry is found in Matthew 28:18-20.  The passage tells us to “Go and make disciples of all nations …”.  It is our responsibility to “Go”.  Every child of God is commanded to “Go”.  This is not dependant on some calling to foreign, national, state or other missions.  God did not leave this as an optional area of service.  He has told each and every one of us to share the gospel throughout the world.   The structure for this ministry is found in Acts 1:8 – [Jerusalem (Local) / Judea& Samaria (Regional)/ Earth (National & International)].

Our purpose is to involve every member of our Church in missions as an effort to encourage personal fulfillment of the Great Commission, both locally and globally.  The foundation of this ministry will always have a goal of sharing the gospel and demonstrating the love of God in radical ways.  The vision and desire of the missions’ ministry is to increase the passion of our Church for personal evangelism, local, state & foreign missions, and missions efforts in general for the glory of Christ through training and involvement in missions opportunities.

This ministry will function under the direction of the Missions Pastor working with the Point Person of each area of missions to determine needs and plans for spreading the Gospel.  The foundation of this ministry should always have a goal of sharing the gospel and demonstrating the love of God in radical ways.

Trip Selection & Planning

Finalization of Trip Selection is to be determined by the Pastors and Point Person of each area.  These trips will be the church promoted/sanctioned trips for the year.  There may be some trips that are one year trips while others commit to a longer relationship with the field.  Those with longer relationships should be planned with the intentions of a multi-year commitment to the field.  These trips should be designed with the intention of developing relationships with the field.  Types of these trips could include: Evangelism, Construction, English teaching, Pastoral Training, Medical, Leadership Training, Life Skills, VBS, Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Orphanage, Church Planting, and more.  The goal of all missions’ trips should be to support and/or help establish local churches with indigenous leadership.  National and International trips should be prayerfully selected, approved and scheduled by July 15 of the previous year.

Trip Funding

Missions Ministry Leadership will annually prioritize ministry objectives to determine funding.  Portions of church sanctioned trips will be offset by the Missions Fund. (The Missions Fund is supported by the annual missions offering and special gifts given throughout the year to the Missions Fund.)  Each trip’s offset amount will be independently determined by the missions/stewardship team based upon the total cost of the trip, type of trip, availability of funds, and total mission efforts that need to be funded. Because of the missions ministry offset of the trip cost, each team is asked not to conduct a corporate fund-raiser aimed at the Church membership until after the annual offering is received.

Trip cost offset funds are only available to members of our Church.  And team members must contribute a minimum of 50% of the cost of the trip before offset funding will be considered.  Offset funds may cover anywhere from 0% to 50% of the trip depending on fund availability and trips to fund.  There is NO guaranteed percentage or amount for support.  Offset funds are guaranteed only for a set number of participants.

Deposits should be made by all participants on dates determined by team leaders.  Plane tickets may not be ordered until there are sufficient funds (including offset) to cover price of ticket.

NOTE:  Funding assistance for non-sanctioned missions’ trips by church members will be considered on an individual basis. Support will be determined by the missions’ team/pastoral staff with consideration given to other trips and funds available.

Trip Participation

  • The necessary qualifications including age, physical ability, mental & emotional stability, missions’ experience, and spiritual maturity of participants should be determined by the team leader in advance of advertising the trip.   This should be determined based on the requirements of the trip and type of trip.
  • Team participants should submit application including personal testimony to participate on trip.
  • Must be willing and able to share a gospel witness if needed (training will be provided)
  • Must attend mandatory pre-trip meetings
  • Must have or acquire a valid passport at their own cost prior to purchase of tickets. (If trip is International)
  • If the team capacity is not filled from the our membership, openings may be filled by individuals of similar faith. All other requirements remain other than church membership.

Trip Leaders / Trainers

Leaders and/or Trainers must be a faithful member of our Church who meets the qualifications for the First Lead level of ministry.  They must have participated in at least one other church sanctioned trip and/or been approved by the missions leadership and pastoral staff. They must also have served as a co-leader with an approved trainer before leading their own trip.  Additionally, they should have good organizational skills including the ability to contact local missionaries, make all travel arrangements, and manage the team while on the field.  They will be responsible for planning the trip itinerary, team size, project costs, and leading the necessary training sessions prior to the trip.  Team trainers are church pastoral staff members and other leaders who have the experience necessary to qualify as a trainer as approved by the missions leadership and pastoral staff.  Those going as co-leaders may receive additional financial assistance from missions’ funds because of an increased level of involvement as determined by missions’ leadership and pastoral staff.

Structure Developed

National & International

  • One to two main areas of focus will be developed for the church with the possibility of other relationships being developed on a lesser scale.

Regional

  • Church Plants will receive high consideration in this area as a way to multiply churches throughout the region.  We will discover ways to partner with and help various church plants.

Local

  • As part of the full spectrum of our missions’ obligation we must participate in missions efforts on a more local level.
  • The Missions Ministry will promote and help coordinate local mission projects throughout the year to help involve more our members in missions.
    • Servant Evangelism (use groups as a vehicle) – these are acts of kindness with the purpose of showing God’s love.
    • Community Involvement (church wide events) – these are opportunities to team up with existing ministries (i.e. food pantries, foster care, homeless shelters, etc…) to assist them in their efforts.  We don’t need to recreate the wheel that someone else is already doing well.  Also, should look for opportunities to partner with other churches to increase our overall efforts and reach.  Our goal is Kingdom growth!
    • Quarterly Collection Projects – (coats & blankets, food for holidays, cereal for kids, etc…)
    • Work Days @ Park / City clean up / etc.
    • Big Days – 3 or 4 per year.  These are more attraction type events that allow our people to bring their friends and family into our environment for worship.
  • One Dayin the community (make use of Servant Evangelism ideas)
    • Prayer Walking and Neighborhood canvasing Teams (get Easter door hangers)
    • Kite Day @ Lake Willastein (children’s and Family outreach event)
    • Car Show (community event)
    • Evangelistic FREE Car Washes (find location)
    • Evangelism at car washes and Laundromats
    • Yard Work/ Minor Home Repairs – Various Locations
    • Bottled Water Team (parks, etc…)
    • Senior Adult Ministry – (Nursing Homes)
    • Block Party (children’s and Family outreach event)
    • Dental & Health Clinic
  • Evangelism Group or Team
    • The vision for the group is to reach outside our comfort zones to share the gospel and build our faith and trust in God at the same time.
    • The tools for the group will use an evangelistic survey, evangecard, tracks (from E3) and invite cards to the church.
    • Demonstrate the tools to the group and how to use them.
    • Have those who have gone out tell stories about what has surprised them the most about going out and what opportunities they have had.
    • Have the group break up and practice scenarios including: How to approach people, What to say and How to close the conversation
    • Challenge the group to learn the E-card before the next meeting because it will be time to go out and put it all into action.

Missions Rally

  • This is designed to cast vision, promote opportunities, celebrate what God has done and pray for the harvest.
  • Missions Rally Plan (once or twice a year … below is an example layout for the meeting)
    • 6:00 – Welcome (Excited about what God has done)
      • Upcoming Opportunities in Missions
      • Praying for fields we have ministered in
  • 6:15 – Pray
    • Testimonies from missionary teams

Evangelism Training

  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY should function as an evangelism arm of our Church.
  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will lead / help promote at least one evangelism training study or event annually to encourage the church body to become more able at personal evangelism.
    • Evangelism Explosion / Share Jesus Without Fear / FAITH / Way of the Master
    • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will work with the Groups Pastor to ensure that Servant Evangelism is a part of groups every semester.

Prayer in Missions

Daily prayer is necessary if we want to see something happen that only God can do.  We must encourage our church to pray as they are involved in missions opportunities.

  • PRAY for God to give you patience and flexibility as you minister.  Prayer is an important part of any missions effort.  There won’t be any wasted time as we minister … just more time to pray!
  • PRAY for God to bring us people who need to hear about Him and His salvation.  Pray that God will use YOU to share your faith with another person.
  • PRAY that God will bring people in the ministry area to be saving faith in Him.
  • PRAY for the churches of your area.  Ask God to guide them as they ALL seek to reach the city for His glory.
  • PRAY for church as a whole and the leaders of the church.  Ask God for wisdom, guidance, opportunities and safety for those who serve.
  • It is also vital that each person participating in a missions project have a prayer team of at least 5 people who will commit to praying for them daily.

Miscellaneous

  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will lead and help coordinate along with the pastoral staff an annual missions’ season to promote the missions efforts of the church.  (November through January)
  • The Missions Ministry should seek out new and better ways to promote missions among our church family.
    • Missions’ conference / Missions Rally / etc.

 

Church Missions

Team Participant Application

Name _________________________________________________________

Email __________________________________________________________

Best Phone ____________________________________________________

Are you a member at our Church? Yes      No

Will you commit to pray for this trip daily beginning today?         Yes      No

What do you hope to see God do in the mission field on this trip?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What do you hope to see God do in your life personally on this trip?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My personal Testimony: (Including Salvation Experience)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Organizing Your Time

Organization would be at the top of most of our to do lists if we had time to make a to do list.  But the fact is that most of us go through life each day just trying to survive.  We live as though we are a passenger in our own lives.  We’re simply along for the ride.  We go through each day with no real direction other than the urgent demands of our days.  And then we often wonder why we aren’t moving forward in many areas of our lives.  What would your life look like if you began to live intentionally? What would change if you made an effort to become organized in how you approach your days and weeks?  What would be different for you if you began to try to organize things in every area of your life?  Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

In the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee of the United States Senate was assembled to discuss the topic of time management. Essentially, the best experts in the field were concerned that with advances in technology the biggest problem by the end of the century would be what people would do with all their free time. It was actually suggested that workers would have to cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, or else they would have to start retiring sooner. The truth is that the average workweek is now 47 hours – up from 43 hours two decades ago. A recent Gallup Poll found that 44% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.  As a pastor, I am no different.  I see the needs of people around me and because I haven’t set up boundaries in how I will use my time, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions at once and feel guilty when I can’t rise to the demands.  But this isn’t a biblical perspective of how we use our time.

Would you classify yourself as a workaholic?  It’s not something that we should brag about.  In fact, to be a workaholic is to be out of God’s will for your life. Part of his plan for your life is to have downtime as well as time with family and opportunities to build relationships.  The reason we find ourselves in these situations and often facing burnout is because we don’t discipline ourselves with how we use our time.  Organization is discipline in action.  Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”.  The questions we should ask ourselves is are we being careful? Are we being wise? Are we making the most of every opportunity?  How we organize our day will determine how well or how wisely we will live that day.

This is why I have four basic areas I work through when I am trying to make sense of my days, weeks and months.

  1. Itemize.  Be detailed in your plans.  This is where you randomly write down everything that you have going on.  What is it that is consuming your thoughts.  Write it down (i.e. pay bills, get groceries, pick up kids, write sermon, etc…).  We often fail to start with this very simple step of actually writing down what it is we have to accomplish throughout the day or week.  Then when we remember it, we go into panic mode because we are rushed for time to accomplish everything.  So I would encourage you to take some time to write it down.
  2. Categorize.  Assign relevance to the details.  Once you have your list of items written down, you will start to notice areas that go together on your list.  You may notice some main categories like Ministry/Work, Personal, Family, etc…  Then you may also notice some subcategories with these.  Under Personal, you may notice several Financial things that must be accomplished and can group them accordingly. (I would put it on my priority list as follows – Personal: Financial: Pay bills.)  As I began to pull all the personal things together, I would also group the financial areas.  You can do this in every area to start to gain clarity in what is really taking place. This also works great in ministry when you are working in multiple areas within the church to begin to gain clarity and focus of objectives.
  3. Prioritize.  Determine the order of importance.  Let’s face it.  We have a lot to do every day.  But the truth is there are some things that we do that could be done at a later time (or eliminated all together).  Place importance on the categories that match up with who God made you to be and what He wants you to accomplish.  There may be some things on your to do list that have nothing to do with where God is leading you in your family, ministry, work, etc… These are areas I usually start eliminating because they are simply noise in my life.  Once you have successfully itemized, categorized and prioritized what is going on in your life, there is one last area that can’t be missed.
  4. Strategize. Plan your day and work your plan.  It’s great to have an idea of what is going on and even to assign priority to it.  But what does this look like on a daily basis?  This is where the strategy comes in.  I think it’s important for us to realize that mentally and emotionally, we can only go in a few different directions in one day.  Because of this, we need to be strategic in what we allow ourselves to be focused on each day.  It may be that you group all of your Personal:Finance items into one day along with a few other personal categories and make that a part of that days strategy.  You may have different areas of focus in ministry.  I would encourage you to have certain days of the week designated for certain areas of focus.  (i.e. Monday Ministry: Communication: all emails, phone calls, newsletters etc…, Tuesday Ministry: Sermon Prep: Finalize sermon for Sunday, continue to develop sermons for following weeks, Wednesday Ministry: Staff: Work with staff concerning areas of need, etc…)  The key is when we get phone calls to pull us into a different area that we push those into the days where we are actually going to be working in that category.  (There may be emergencies that come up, but most of the urgent demands that come up can actually wait.) This will help reduce stress and also help us stay focused on what needs to be accomplished that day.

Now, I know you may be thinking that this will cost me more time and I can’t spend time doing this with everything else I have going on in my life.  I would say that you will actually gain time by making this process a priority.  This approach to my schedule has helped me stay focused even in some of the most chaotic times of my ministry.  I’ve heard it said, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”  And I believe this to be true.  When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I can usually look and realize that I have stopped being wise with my time and I am letting others control my time for me.  A good example of this process in practice is found in Genesis 1 when God created.  He took chaos and gave it order.  He didn’t create all at once, but allowed different things to be accomplished on different days.  He had details that he wanted accomplished, but worked through categories and priorities to accomplish His strategy.  I would encourage you to read through that chapter again and see how God organized that one week according to the above areas and see what changes you could make to model that in your life.

Update to blog:  As requested, I have put together a sample to do list of what a finished week might look like.  You will need to discover your own categories and priorities, but maybe this will help you as you are putting it together.  You can download it here: Sample To Do List

Note: I use evernote one my phone and have used docs to go to keep track of this electronically.  It’s easier to manipulate once it’s in the computer.


I don’t measure up!

Tape measure

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know how many times I’ve let this one thought keep me from going forward.  Too often I have thought that, for a variety of reasons, God shouldn’t be able to use me.  That for some reason “I don’t measure up.”  Because of this, I’ve spent way too much time wondering about what others think of me and not enough time realizing what God thinks of me.  And to be honest, this process has kept me from being entirely who God has made me to be.

I have listed a few traps that I have fallen into that have limited my potential to be used to reach others around me…

1.  I wish I were like _______. This is a tough one.  I look at other pastors and other leaders around me and see how easily some things come to them and how sometimes it seems like ‘they have arrived’.  But as I have gotten close to some of these men, I have seen that they have struggles and areas that they want to improve on as well.  No one will ever ‘arrive’ while we are pilgrims in this world.  I’ve decided to focus more on being who God made me to be and am learning to enjoy it!  There are gifts and abilities that you and I have that are valuable to the body of Christ.  I can’t limit myself by trying to be someone else.

2.  I’m not good enough or smart enough. By being a leader, I have often thought that I also had to have all of the answers or I had to be really good at something.  When in reality, I can look around and find a lot of people who can do things better than I can or have answers to things that I don’t even know the questions to start asking.  I’ve learned that this isn’t a bad thing.  My role is that of an equipper and an enabler.  As a pastor, I don’t have to have all of the answers or be the best at doing something.  But I do have to be able to empower other people to take ownership of areas and equip them to accomplish it within their gifts.  I have learned to love handing ministries off to others.  It’s amazing to watch them grow and even watch the ministries grow past where I could have taken them.

3.  My past limits my future. Let’s just go ahead and admit this together:  we all have made mistakes and have regrets that we wish we could change.  But the truth is that God doesn’t use us in spite of our past but often because of our past.  It’s through our past that we gain a clearer understanding of who God is and what we are capable of doing.  It’s through our past that we can have empathy in the present and meet people where they are.  I’ve decided to stop living in fear of my past and let God use it to show others about His loving grace in our lives.

4.  I wonder what they think of me.  I don’t know how many times, because of an awkward conversation or situation, that I have spent time wondering what people thought about me.  As if they spend any time at all thinking about ME.  I have let this thought slow me down because I have been afraid of people’s perception.  But I have come to realize that I cannot control someone’s perception of me.  What I can control is my character, my response to a situation, my integrity, and a few other things.  But I have stopped trying to manage other people’s perception and even my reputation (which is simply other people’s viewpoint of my actions).  I can only be the best me I can be and let God handle the rest.  It’s Him that I serve and I want to give Him glory and praise in and through my life.  I’ve realized life is too short to try to control everything else.

5.  I need to be perfect.  God did not call us to perfection, but to a relationship.  He doesn’t want us to be fake, but to be genuine before Him and others.  I can’t live up to a standard of perfection, but I can live in a relationship with Him daily and seek Him at every turn.

All of these areas above could keep me from being who God has called me to be if I let them.  And the truth is I have found out that “I don’t measure up”.  But actually nobody does.  Romans 3:23 tells me that everyone has sinned and because of this we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (NLT).  So I no longer try to have all of the answers or to be perfect or to dwell on what others are thinking.  Because this isn’t the point of my life or ministry. I’m not the first one to pick up a stone when someone else falls short, because I know that it is because of the grace of God that I am who I am today. I am important and valuable not because of me but because of God in me!  It’s not about my past mistakes or my current shortcomings.  It’s about God and who He is.  Because of this, I’m learning to focus on what’s important in life and that’s people.  Let’s love them with all that we are and let them see God in us everyday.


Equipping: The Leader’s Job

English: Two persons shaking hand

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One of the biggest mistakes I have made through the years in ministry is ‘doing’ ministry rather than equipping others to do ministry.  I would often tell myself, “I’m the only one who can do this”, or “If I want it done right, I have to be in the middle of it.”  One of the biggest traps was feeling that “This is what is expected of me in this position.”  I’ve talked to many other ministers who have fallen into the same traps.  It seems as though we have a martyr complex or an extreme need to feel needed.  This drives us to ‘do’ more than we should and ‘equip’ others less.  We rationalize that everything I am doing are good things.  And the truth is they probably are good things.  But your good things may be someone elses ‘God’ things.  By not letting go we overwork ourselves and rob someone else of what they were made to do.  On the bright side, this leads to a type of job security when we make ourselves indispensable.  But this is a short term approach to ministry because we can’t keep up this pace.  This is why out of every 10 who start out in ministry, only 1 will actually retire in ministry.

So I have decided that, as best I can, I am going to do ministry as scripture outlines in Ephesians 4:11-16.  Verses 11 and 12 are worth spending some time exploring, because these verses help those who are pastors and teachers understand their purpose.  I am going to work hard at replacing myself in ministry so that I can continue to build others up and help them become who God made them to be.  I am going to ‘do’ less and ‘equip’ more.  This doesn’t mean that I am taking the easy way out.  It is actually harder at times to let go and equip than it is to just ‘do it yourself’.  But I am not looking for a short term solution.  I desire to build and invest in His kingdom and see results that will outlive me.

I have kept a portion of a page copied out of a study bible posted in a visible place on my desk to remind me of what it is I am supposed to be doing.  Below is what I copied. (I would site the source, but I am not sure which bible it came from.)

Equipping is a tough job, much harder than shepherding.  The leader is to equip others for ministry.  Paul explains the goal for the shepherd (Ephesians 4:12) and the goal of the sheep (4:13), he then describes the result (4:14-16).  If leaders wish to equip their people they must give them certain gifts:

  1. I must CARE for them (Communication, Affirmation, Recognition, and Example).
  2. I must work on their weaknesses, but work out their strengths.
  3. I must give them myself (time, energy, and focus).
  4. I must give them ownership of the ministry.
  5. I must become a resource person (atmosphere, training, support, tools).
  6. I must make expectations clear.
  7. I must eliminate unnecessary burdens.
  8. I must catch them doing something good, then reward them.
As we let go of more things, there will be a season where it may not be done as well as we could have done it.  But I have found that to be a very short season.  Usually I find that those I have equipped end up ‘doing’ the ministry better than I could have.  We need to start looking at the things we do and begin asking ourselves, “Is there someone else in my church that could start ‘doing’ this role or that area?”  As we begin to hand off different portions of ministry it will allow us to focus on being better at the few things that only we can do.  You will enjoy developing others to be who God made them to be.

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