7 Biblical Characters and their Leadership Tensions

I know people who shy away from terms such as leadership when talking about church. One comment I hear is they don’t want us to become too business-like. They believe Christ is the leader of the church and we are simply servants under His command.

While I agree with their assessment of our relationship to Christ, I see leadership throughout the Bible. God’s greatest servants were significant leaders with significant examples of leadership challenges I face everyday.

And, as I read their story, I learn great Biblical principles, but also great leadership principles.

Here are 7 tensions of Biblical leaders:

David

Have you ever fought a giant? Did you ever have to recover from a ruined reputation? Do you know what it’s like to feel like the world is against you or that God is slow in doing as He promised in your life?

Joseph

Have you ever prepared for what appeared to be a bleak future? Have you ever been misunderstood by others? Have you ever been betrayed by people who are supposed to love you? Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Have you ever had to reconcile a broken relationship?

Paul

Have you ever been misunderstood? Has your past ever haunted you as a leader? Has a changing culture ever impacted your leadership? Did you ever have problems getting the established leaders to trust you? Do you allow struggles and opposition to fuel your best work?

Gideon

Ever been in over your head? Do you know what it’s like to lead from your weakness? Do you ever feel you are not prepared to fulfill what you know you have to do? Did you land in a position and, honestly, you’re not sure why?

Moses

Is the weight of your responsibility ever overwhelming? Have you been treated with disloyalty? Is someone else getting to complete the work, and enjoy the benefits, of something you started? Did you ever have to finish a leadership role before the work was fully finished?

Abraham

Have you ever led people into an unknown? Do family situations ever distract you from what you feel you must do? Do you ever have to wait? Have people questioned what you believe God has called you to do? Are you ever tempted to take matters into your own hands, rather than depend solely on God?

Noah

Do you ever feel you are standing alone? Does the task in front of you seem impossible? Ever feel you’re on an island where no one understands? Would trusting God in your current context make others think you’re crazy?

Look over the list and see which of these are most representative of your current leadership tension. Then discover things these Biblical leaders did wrong or did right in handling their challenge.

Perhaps some of the best leadership advice is closer than you think.

3 Paradigms For Hiring the Right Staff

I deal with pastors often who are trying to make leadership decisions. One of the most frequent discussions, and honestly one of the hardest things we do as leaders, is attempting to add quality and qualified staff to the team.

When you go to look for a new staff member I think it helps to have a paradigm through which you are seeking the next person. The more homework you do on the front end of the selection process the better chance you’ll have of finding the right fit. Any good selection firm (and this is a great option sometimes) is going to really try to help you discern what type person will be a best fit for the job.

This is not a comprehensive post for this process, but I do hope I can help you think a little bigger picture when hiring the next person. We often think of Bill Hybel’s script chemistry, competence and character. I have added a fourth “C” to those words. You can read it in THIS POST.

But, I think there are even more questions we have to ask ourselves when hiring someone new for the team. One policy change we made when I arrived at the very established church where I lead is that whenever someone leaves our staff (and this is at any level or position) we would re-evaluate everything. We may or may not need to replace the person with the same position or the same type person. This has been invaluable, I believe, in seeing the success we have had in revitalization.

So, the next time you have an open position, let me give you a few more “C” words to ask yourself. Which of these would be most helpful to me at this time in my leadership?

Someone who compliments you – This person can do more of what you do. If you are strategic – they are strategic. If you are a relational leader – they will be very relational. It could be there’s just not enough of you to go around, but you need more of what you bring to the church or organization.

We did this recently in hiring an executive pastor. We actually have two executive pastors now. The one we had is a very relational leader. We absolutely need that for our team. The one we added is like me – more strategic. And, we needed this too, as our church continues to grow and change.

Someone who completes you – What are you missing that you simply can’t bring to the team? It could be because you aren’t wired that way or you no longer have the margin of time to provide it. This person will fill in gaps you have in your leadership. And, we all have them.

The relational executive pastor I mentioned previously does this for me. It’s not that I’m anti-relationships, but I am more of a strategic leader. I can neglect the relational part if I’m not careful.

Another position we hired early in my tenure was a senior adult pastor. We had a part-time one already, but we added a full-time person who was still in the prime of his career. This was absolutely needed. We have a huge senior population and to some they considered me still a kid (at 48 years when I started). Having someone in between me and them they trusted was huge for my leadership.

Someone who competes with you – These types are usually a rarer type, but there are times when you need them. This type person could be needed as you are looking to transition out as a leader or if you are large enough (or missional enough) to be investing in the next generation of leaders.

This person eventually wants your job. They want to do what you do someday, perhaps even more than the position for which you are hiring them. And, if they are really good, they are going to at times appear to be in direct competition for your job.

We just did this one in the hiring of my son, Nate as college and teaching pastor. I expect he will be a senior pastor – certainly a senior leader – someday. He doesn’t necessarily “compete” with me, because he is not the heir apparent replacement for me (even though some think he is). He’s only 26 years old and won’t most likely be ready or want to assume leadership at this church. But, he is a gifted communicator and leader. (I am very careful not to brag on him in the church. I may share the strategic reasons for this in another post.) He’s only been with us a few months and already he’s challenging me to be a better leader.

You could probably improve on my terminology here. The paradigm, however, is what I believe is most important. You have to decide what you want or need in the person you are hiring. This is beneficial for you and the person who will come to work with you. And, it can hopefully help you avoid making a mistake in hiring.

7 Secrets to Being a High Achiever

I get asked frequently how I am able to get so much done and still take care of myself and my family.

I pastor a large church. I maintain a separate non-profit ministry, where I speak at various conferences and events. I have an active online presence. I mentor about a dozen pastors – some in groups and some as individuals, plus I mentor 4 young leaders in our church. And, I try to stay active in the community – serving on a number of non-profit boards. But, mostly, I strive to be the person, husband and father my congregation could seek to follow.

Okay, typing out a list of my activities does remind me I’m busy. Productive would be subject to interpretation, but certainly I have adequate (and more than adequate) activity in my life.

Honestly, I never feel I’ve accomplished as much as I would like, but after receiving the question so many times, perhaps I should attempt to answer.

As I’ve reflected of what helps me accomplish much, I came up with some thoughts as to how I’m able to maintain productivity.

Here are 7 secrets to being a high achiever:

I’m extremely intentional

This is probably number one. I strive to live my life for a purpose, which carries over into everything I do. (Notice there are even 7 steps in this answer. This was intentional.) If you could name one word to describe who I am as a pastor, leader, husband, father, friend and child of God, it would be intentional. (By the way, I’m intentional about resting too.) I even put the last sentence about rest in here intentionally, because I knew someone would wonder.

I don’t sit still long without a purpose

Being still is a discipline for me. Some seasons I’m better at it than others. I realize some people have no trouble with this, but I do. As I said about being intentional, I have to make myself rest. My mind is constantly in motion. If I’m watching a television program, which isn’t often, I’m doing attempting to do something productive while I watch – otherwise I feel I’ve “wasted” time. I wish I could say I’m always doing the “best” things, but certainly more activity leads to the potential for more productivity. Doesn’t always work this way, which is why some of the other points I’m listing are far more valuable than this one. But, I try to be productive even with down time – and, although it’s taken years to understand this, resting is a productive time.

I strive to maintain my health

I’d love to say I always watch what I eat, and I do to a certain extent, but mostly I exercise to stay fit. I’ve learned the more out of shape I am the less effective I am in all I attempt to do. It impacts me physically, emotionally and spiritually when I skip my time exercising. I’m more productive when I’m most physically fit. I’ve recently learned too my body needs to be adequately hydrated to feel at my best.

I work from a plan

Whether it’s long-term or short-term planning, I try to have one. I begin most every Monday morning (or sometimes Sunday nights) planning the week ahead. I find I’m more successful in my week if I’ve put some plans on paper prior to beginning any activity. Daily I begin by reviewing my plans for the day. I begin each day with 5 minutes spent on making a checklist of what I have to get done. At the beginning of a year, I plan the year. I periodically look over larger time spans of my life and plan or review where I’m going. Now, the further I get from the date, the more difficult it is to solidify my plans – life disrupts – but without a plan I find I’m spinning my wheels more than making progress.

I take advantage of opportunities

Did you catch that? It is not complicated, but it is a powerful principle. Networking. Delegation. Time-management. Learning something new. Cultivating dead times. I am intentional (there’s that word again) at looking for opportunities as they present themselves. If I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, I’m probably writing a blog post or replying to emails. Small opportunities lead to huge opportunities. I seek those moments. (By the way, I always have something with me where I can make notes. When ideas come I want to be ready. Intentionally ready.)

I try to stay ahead

This is hard. I’m a procrastinator by nature – like most people are – but the more I can, I try to stay one step ahead of the snowballs in my schedule. They happen to all of us. If I’m prepared when those times arrive I can better keep them from being a disruption in my productivity.

I prioritize my life and schedule

I say no often. It may not seem like it to an outside observation, but I do. I say no a lot. I have come to the realization that I can’t do everything or be everywhere. I’ve tried to figure out what’s most important in my life, my work, and my walk with God and I put those things first. I even schedule some of them to make sure nothing gets in the way. I ask myself consistently questions such as, “Am I the right one to be doing this?”, “Is this the best use of my time?” Again, intentional.

It should finally be noted, I’m in a different season of life these days. I’m an empty-nester. When my boys were home life was different. I was intentional then too, but in different ways.

Which of these would help you the most? Any you would add to help others (and me)?

10 Difficult Lessons Experience Taught Me

Some of life’s greatest lessons come packaged in a hard personal experience.

I’ve learned a few things in life, but truly, the greatest things I know came through mistakes, failures and disappointments.

Here are 10 hard to learn life lessons:

  • A “lesson in humility” teaches far more than an “ego boost”.
  • Often, in my experience, what I don’t want to do is the very thing I need to do the most.
  • The best friends sometimes say the hardest things to hear.
  • Sometimes it’s not until you give up the right to control that a breakthrough comes.
  • People are more honest with you if they can predict your reaction.
  • We hurt most the ones we love the most.
  • Very few people can really comply with “don’t tell anyone”.
  • You never get a second chance at a first impression.
  • God’s way is better than my own.
  • Rebuilding trust is more difficult than keeping established trust.

12 Challenges for the New Year To Make Your Life Better

The verdict appears mixed among the people I know of whether of not they make resolutions for a new year. And, I understand, many have tried before – it didn’t work – and so now they are like “why bother?”.

I believe there are probably some principles in place as to whether or not a resolution succeeds. For example, is it reasonable? Is it measurable? Is it sustainable? Do you have accountability in place? But, I wonder if the term itself is a problem for some people. RESOLUTION. I hereby resolve! Sounds kind of formal, almost intimidating, doesn’t it? I hate to say I’m resolving to do something where chances are good I won’t.

I do believe strongly, however, we should work towards continual improvement in our life, whether this begins at the first of the year or in the middle doesn’t matter as much. But, the new year does provide a nice, clear place to start.

So, I want to offer a spin on the old resolution tradition and offer a new word.

Challenge.

How does that word resonate? Do you ever challenge yourself to do better? It’s easier than saying I resolve to do this. You’re not saying you will – you may not even be able to – it will be a challenge, but you’re willing to give it a try.

Let me give you some examples, some which may be challenges for you want to consider. I can almost guarantee if you meet just a few of these challenges your world will be better. You won’t need to meet all of them, just the ones most “challenging” to you. But, you’ll have to trust me in this – meeting them or even improving upon them – will brighten your life.

Here are 12 challenges for the new year:

Quit trying to be someone else

God made you to be you and He didn’t make a mistake. The more you live the you He intended the more you’ll enjoy the benefits and blessing. There’s something you can offer this world no one else can. Comparison only leads to disappointment.

Quit trying to carry all your burdens

And, the challenge here for you may be to quit trying to carry everyone else’s burden. God designed you (and me) to be insufficient without Him and to have a relational need for others. Sometimes the best thing you can do is admit you can do it anymore – and ask for help. In your weakness He is strong, but you’ll have to admit your weakness before He usually allows His strength to kick into full gear.

Start embracing today

You can keep hoping your life improves – that this would happen or that would happen. The Apostle Paul said he had learned “the secret of being content”. I’ve personally defined contentment in my life as “being satisfied with where God has allowed me to be in life – right now.” When you begin to find contentment TODAY becomes a great day – in spite of the challenges it holds. Perhaps your greatest challenge in the new year will be embracing where God has you now and waiting more patiently for what He will bring in the fullness of time.

Let the past go

As much as we can learn from history, we shouldn’t be bound by it. One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 11:3, “Wherever the tree falls, there it lies.”. So simple, yet so profound! It speaks volumes to me. If the tree fell there it lays. You can’t do anything about it now. It’s done. Finished. On the ground. All you can control now is your response to the tree which fell. If grief is holding you back by all means grieve. It’s healthy to mourn a loss. (Get help if needed.) But, at some point you will need to move forward. If it’s regret then reconcile the loss. If it’s guilt, or disappointment, or anger – whatever “it” is from your past deal with it now. Admit the tree fell. It hurt. It stinks. You probably wish it hadn’t happened, but, I challenge you to move forward in the new year.

Accept God’s grace

It’s always more than we deserve. You can’t earn it. It’s amazing grace. But, denying or refusing it ignores the beauty of it. Is the guilt of your past keeping you from enjoying all the blessings of being a child of God? Has there never been a time you received the gift of salvation? Have you been living more like a prodigal in exile than a child of the King? If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. If the Son has set you free you are free indeed! I challenge you to embrace grace in the new year.

Live free of grudges and bitterness

The lack of forgiveness is a hidden destroyer of joy, peace and happiness. Someone reading this is holding on to a grudge, some bitterness, maybe anger – and it’s keeping you from fully enjoying life. Every time you hear a person’s name or see them you are reminded of the injury they caused. And, it’s hurting you more than it is them. Chances are they’ve moved on and you’re still struggling. Isn’t it time to let it go? (Let it go could be a “Frozen” song you need to sing to yourself.)

Remember other people exist

Don’t be selfish or always command your way. People, even the best people, will never perform to all of your standards. Honestly, is it even fair to expect it of them? They may not even agree with you as to what is important. You cannot hold people to unrealistic expectations and not be disappointed often.

And, here’s a note to those of us disappointed with the things of this world. As followers of Christ, we can’t expect that everyone sees the world as we do. Of course, there are biblical principles through which we view the world and live, but can we really expect people who aren’t believers to embrace them?

Admit mistakes readily

Sincere humility is an attractive quality and it helps to free you from future regrets or guilt. We all can have “perfectionist” tendencies, yet none of us is perfect. If you want to live with less self-induced stress this year, admit you don’t have all the answers and sometimes you have none.

Give generously

Giving opens the heart to joy and contentment. Something happens when we give to others which causes us, though we have less, to feel like we have more. And, there are many needs around us. I challenge you to give more in the new year and see how it makes your life better!

Protect your heart

“Above all else” the Bible says. Where your heart is there your treasure will be also. Most likely there are activities, or people, or places where your heart is most easily injured. You may not be able to avoid them, but you can be aware so you can “guard your heart”. And, when you are aware you may be injured you will build guardrails to lessen the damage.

Take a new risk

The adrenaline of attempting something you’ve never done before fuels you for future success. It could be something you’ve always wanted to try or something you know God wants you to do, but, for whatever reason, you’ve resisted. Especially if it’s God-honoring, not sinful, will make your life or other’s life better, then what are you waiting for? Don’t let fear or thoughts of your inadequacies be your chief motivators in the new year. I challenge you – GO FOR IT!

Think and act eternally

There is more to this life than the world we know today. Thankfully, I might add. Jesus said to “store up treasures in heaven”. Whenever possible, I challenge you to consider the eternal consequences of the decisions, investments, and actions of your life. Jesus said to live in this world, but not be of this world. How are you making a difference in the world to come by your world today? The more intentional you are the more treasures you build for a future reward.

Which of these challenges are you willing to accept?

(I posted this in a similar form a few years ago.)

3 Steps to Setting Achievable Goals

Many people tell me they don’t make resolutions, because they don’t work. They can’t seem to keep them. And, apparently it’s true. Every year I see the same reports telling us how many people don’t keep the resolutions they make. No encouragement there.

So, in the past I have shared some broad resolutions which are more life directions than actual resolutions. HERE is an example. HERE is another. And, ONE MORE.

I know this, however, seldom do we hit a target we haven’t yet identified or located. So, if you want to improve in certain areas of your life, you need some new direction to get you there. You’ll have to make some changes in what you are currently doing.

Call them goals if you want. That seems to be a more popular word these days, but decide a few areas in which you want to see improvement, then put some goals in place to help you get there. Making positive lifestyle changes isn’t easy, but it really does start with that simple of a process.

To help you get started, let me share some thoughts on setting goals you can actually reach.

3 guidelines I use for choosing achievable goals:

Quantifiable

Make sure you can make the goal measurable. Don’t say you want to lose weight. Decide how many pounds you want to lose. Don’t say you want to read more. Say you want to read one book a month – something like that. You want to read your Bible more? Then set a goal to read one chapter per day. Not “save more money”, but save $50 per pay period, etc. Put an actual number to the goal you can track to see your progress towards it.

Reasonable

Set a goal you can actually attain. Otherwise you’ll give up easily. If saving $50 per pay period is completely unreasonable, then decide the reasonable number. It probably should be some stretch to make it worth celebrating later (which is a key component in goal setting), but make sure you can do it. Losing 10 pounds per week is going to be tough – perhaps even unhealthy, but two pounds per week might be a goal anyone can do with a little discipline.

Motivated

Pick goals you are passionate enough about to put the energy and discipline in it to achieve success. Do you REALLY want to lose weight? Do you TRULY want to do better with your finances? Is reading your Bible ABSOLUTELY a goal worth pursuing? Your degree of motivation will likely determine how committed to achieving the goal you remain.

If you think through setting quantifiable, reasonable and motivated goals, and then you consistently practice them for a month, or two, or better yet three – you’ll be we’ll on your way to successfully completing them. And, the satisfaction from that will be worth celebrating. And, please celebrate. It’ll keep you wanting more progress towards your goals.

If you are really serious about this process and want more, read THIS POST on writing a Life Plan.

7 New Year Resolutions Which Could Change Our World

Whether or not you do New Year resolutions, we could all stand to improve some things in our life. And, if we do, I’m confident we could also improve the life of others.

In fact, with a whole lot of improving – it might become contagious – and we might just change the world.

Here are 7 new year resolutions which could change the world:

Let’s resolve to begin everyday with a prayer, a smile, and a humility check.

A 3 part checklist. What if we woke up every morning and began by talking to God – recognizing His power and asking Him to direct our steps, make sure our smile is our attitude, and humbly enter the world not expecting anything other than to be a blessing? It will require discipline – but how we begin a day almost always determines how we end one.

Let’s resolve to return evil with good.

It won’t be easy. In fact, it will be hard. A grudge or sarcastic remark seems so much more fulfilling – in the moment. But, over time, it causes more harm than good – mostly to us – often even more than “them”. Imagine your world when you influence others by how you don’t respond when they “push your buttons” the wrong way.

Let’s resolve to never let the sun go down on anger.

Anger emotions grow overnight. They blossom into more intense anger emotions. We may not be able to resolve all disagreements, but we can drop the right to get even and resolve to be at peace as much as it depends on us. We will awake with level ground to build better, healthier relationships with others. Oh, what a world it would be if we had less anger.

Let’s resolve not use social media as a forum to bash others.

Or even as a forum period. It divides people rather than bringing them together. Let’s resolve for a kinder, gentler Facebook – rant-free even – where we simply stalk – I mean check in on old friends. Let’s act like people – real people -may actually see what we write. And care. And, let’s post in a way which encourages and builds each other up – almost like that’s in the Bible somewhere. (It might even be somewhere around 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – check me on this one.)

Let’s resolve to develop our patience muscle.

Wow! I put this one in the middle so maybe you (or my wife) would skip over it quickly. Just kidding. This is one I need – we all need. I’m not sure we can completely master it this year, but, with intentionality – and Christ’s strength – we can keep getting better. What if we thought about the most common things which test our patience – such as the traffic on the drive home at night – and we asked God to help us deal with it before we experience it – each time? Just a thought.

Let’s resolve to remember it’s not about us.

This one alone would surely change the world. What if we placed into our schema – into our immediate thought process – a simple understanding – OTHER PEOPLE MATTER – just as much as we do? Does it make a difference when you think someone values you? Of course it does. What if we valued others and demonstrated to them by how we treat them, what we say to them, our facial expressions, or even our thoughts toward them? Think it might change a few of our relational encounters this year? I think it might. Certainly seems worth trying.

Let’s resolve to listen more than we speak.

Ouch – if needed! It’s hard to value others when we are doing all the talking. (It’s also hard to hear from God.) It requires an act of humility when we remain silent at times we want to speak. Many times disagreements, arguments, even serious issues like prejudism or racism, have more to do with misunderstanding or miscommunication than anything. When we listen we demonstrate value – but, it also guards the tongue, protects relationships, and we might actually learn something.

Of course, ultimately the change the world needs is the Gospel, but who knows? Maybe if we change the way we treat others – including other believers – others might actually want to hear our Gospel.

I realize I’m simple-mindet, but I do, henceforth, resolve.

Who’s with me?

Start a New Year With A Blank Page

and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:10 NIV

One of my life goals has been to get to a blank piece of paper stage in my walk with God. Ultimately, I want to present God with a blank piece of paper so He can plan my life.

It started like this. Years ago I was explaining to a friend I was at one of those “trying to discover God’s will” points in my life. (I have been there many times before and will be again.) His advice wasn’t something he had thought about a ton before. He admitted it sort of came to him quickly. But, for me it was the word I needed to hear.

He said something like, “Maybe you need to start with a blank piece of paper and give God ample space to plan out the rest of your life. Make yourself completely available to Him.

I left our meeting, however, with a very probing question for myself. Did I really even have blank piece of paper? And, not in the literal sense. I’m sure I could find blank paper somewhere- even in such a digital age. But, in my heart. Had I really released my will to God’s will?

Over the next few weeks, through prayer and discipline, I attempted to get there – at least in that season.

Over the years since then, I have periodically continued the self-examination. To do this I have to be honest with myself and the plans I have for my life. I certainly want to follow His lead, but I think many times my page is loaded with my own agenda. If I want my page to be completely blank, then I need to offer it back to God with nothing on the paper.

But, it leads me to ask you the question:

Have you given God a blank page to plan your life?

Be prepared when you do. God seems to love a challenge. He is great at taking nothing and making something when we let Him draw the picture – write the story of our life. But, I’m not sure as followers of Christ – and, really as humans, whether we know it or not, if we can fully realize our ultimate design until we let the Creator have His way.

Let me offer a few more thoughts on the subject:

The Biggest Mistake of my Life

Making Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

Personal Reflection Questions to Start New Year Right

7 Things Which Have Brought Me Success

The beat thing you can do for yourself when planning for life is to give God plenty of margin to shape your plan. Actually, when we give Him our whole life we are in a better when we come with our own agendas.

4 Do’s and Don’ts to Help Ministers at Christmas

I have posted some of these thoughts several years ago, but decided the subject needed mentioning again. One of my goals in ministry is to help protect the ministers and their family. Through this blog I reach thousands of men and women who serve God in a vocational role. My heart is heavy when I hear from those who are drowning with burnout and whose family is suffering.

Having been on both sides of the pulpit – as a pastor and a layperson – I have a unique view of the pastorate. I am very thankful to be serving in a healthy church, which encourages my family time, but I hope to encourage those who struggle to balance family and ministry.

I also realize the size of my church helps. We have a great staff and dedicated, trained volunteers. We even have several retired ministers in our church who can help fill in when needed.

With the Christmas season here – and really thinking into the new year – I thought I would share a few things you can do and a few things not to do to support the ministers you probably love. The reality is the December calendar is packed with activities – as they are for everyone. The difference is many times a pastor doesn’t feel the freedom to control their schedule. People in ministry have accepted a call of God to care for people. Most ministers have a hard time saying no to people and can easily become overwhelmed with the never-ending demands of their time. That’s especially true during certain times of the year.

If a minister is not careful, they will spend so much time with others their own family will feel neglected.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to support your pastor or minister:

DO:

  • Pray for them during the holidays (and always). Encourage them. People in ministry usually have tons of critics. Find some time to encourage them. It may be their greatest gift. This is an especially stressful time for everyone, but in some professions, such as ministry, it’s not a slower time. It’s a busier one.
  • Let them off the hook from attending every social event. They simply can’t do everything and still be ready for Sunday, care for the rest of the church and their family.
  • Invite them to your social – without an expectation they will come. They will love knowing you thought of them and wanted to include them. And, if they do come, try to you see them as regular people who like to have fun. Don’t make them talk “Church” unless they want to and they don’t always have to be the ones to pray.
  • See if they have specific needs at the holidays. Many ministers, especially in smaller churches, have a hard time financially at Christmas.

DON’T:

  • Expect them to be everywhere. It’s simply impossible – and unreasonable.
  • Make them feel guilty when they can’t make your event. They will likely take it personal and it will weigh heavy on their heart. They wouldn’t be in ministry if they didn’t love people. And, some of them even struggle with being people-pleasers. Don’t take it personal. It probably isn’t. It may simply be practical. They simply can’t be everywhere and do everything – just as you probably can’t – or shouldn’t try.
  • Hold them to a higher standard than is realistic. Remember, they are simply human.
  • Place unrealistic expectations on the minister’s family. They probably enjoy just being a family – as your family does.

Find ways to support those who have accepted God’s call to ministry. You would be amazed how a small gesture can make a difference in their life and the life of their family. Plus, you’ll be playing a part in Kingdom-building – strengthening one of God’s servants.

Pastors/Ministers, what else would you add to my list? Do you feel especially stretched this time of year?

5 Traits of the Aware Leader

The longer I’m in leadership, the more I realize I don’t always fully know the real health of my team or organization at any given time – at least as much as others do.

Don’t misunderstand – I want to know, but often, because of my position, I’m shielded from some issues.

I’ve learned, right or wrong – agree or disagree – that some would rather complain behind a leader’s back than tell them how they really feel. Others assume the leader already knows the problem. Still others simply leave or remain quiet rather than complain – often in an attempt to avoid confrontation.

I’ve made the mistake of believing everything was great in an area of ministry or with a team member, when really it was mediocre at best, simply because I was not aware of the real problems in the organization.

It can be equally true a leader doesn’t know all the potential of an organization. Some of the best ideas remain untapped for some of the same reasons. People are afraid of their ideas being rejected, so they don’t share them. They assume the leader has already thought of it or they simply never take the time to share with them.

If a leader wants to be fully “aware”, there are disciplines they must have in place. For example, as a leader, do you want to easily recognize the need for change and the proper timing to introduce it? That comes partly by being a more aware leader.

Here are 5 traits of the aware leader:

Asks questions

Aware leaders are consistently asking people questions and making intentional efforts to uncover people’s true feelings about the organization and their leadership. (Read a post of questions I wrote called 12 Great Leadership Questions HERE.)

Remain open to constructive criticism

Aware leaders make themselves vulnerable to other people. They welcome input, even when it comes as correction. They realize that although criticism never feels good at the time, if processed properly, it can make them a better leader. (You may want to read THIS POST and THIS POST about how to and not to respond to criticism.)

Never assumes everyone agrees

Aware leaders realize that disagreement and even healthy conflict can make the organization better. They expect differences of opinions on issues and they are willing to wrestle through them to find the best solution to accomplish the vision of the organization, even if that opinion belongs to someone other than the leader.

Never quits learning

Aware leaders are sponges for information. They read books, blogs, or they might listen to podcasts. They keep up with the current trends in their industry through periodicals and newsletters. They never cease to discover new ideas or ways of doing things.

Remains a wisdom-seeker

Aware leaders surround themselves with people further down the road from where they are in life. They most likely will use terms like mentor, coach or consultant. They are consistently seeking the input of other leaders who can speak into their situation, make them a better leader or person, and ultimately help the organization.

Great leaders are aware leaders.