Leadership or Management

Shel this is a great article on what leadership does in terms of vision form Dave Kraft.



Here is a bit of philosophical wisdom for you:

“I’ve got my faults, but living in the past isn’t one of them. There ain’t no future in it.”

- Sparky Anderson, former Major League Baseball manager.


Leadership is about the future and about how to bring into existence something that doesn’t yet exist. Management is often about making better what currently exists.


All leaders need to be able to manage, but every manager is not necessarily a leader.  Leaders know how to rally people to a better future (Marcus Buckingham). Someone in a group, church or organization needs to be future oriented. Here are some excellent ideas on looking forward as a leader!



Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

One of the responsibilities of a leader is to be consistently looking forward for the organization. A leader has to continually be asking the question: What’s next? That’s a critical key to continued growth of the organization.

The problem for me comes with the immediate demands on my time. The now cliché statement goes “Sunday’s coming” is always true for a pastor. There are always immediate needs of people in the church. It seems there is something that continually occupies my immediate attention.


Still, if our church is to continue to grow and face the challenges of a changing community, I must discipline myself to pick my head up from the daily routines to think long-term.


Here are eight ways I keep myself looking forward:


1.  READ

I try to read something everyday and I read an equal balance of leadership and Christian books. In addition, I follow dozens of blogs with a variety of focuses, from technology, to culture and leadership. I take notes of ideas sparked along the way using Evernote.



I attend several conferences each year. I go to discover new techniques, strategies and ideas, but also to network with people doing what I do. The world of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) has made it easier to connect with other leaders and I take advantage of the opportunities and ideas presented.



I love the idealism of youth. The newest ideas always seem to come from the younger generation at the time. One reason I like to be around college students is that they keep me fresh in my thought process.



I often need to be where creative energy isn’t limited by practical reasoning. There’s a place for that too, and I’m a realist by nature, but I don’t want to quit dreaming the impossible either. I certainly don’t want to be around those who have “It will never happen” as their first response. That’s another reason I love the idealism of youth. The newest ideas always seem to come from the younger generation.



As I invest in others I am personally energized. I feel I have even more to offer and have a stronger desire to keep a fresh approach when I think others value what I have to add to the discussion.



Sometimes I have to release power to others on my team and allow them to lead me. I’m stretched to dream bigger by the people on my team. I also have several people who regularly speak into my life. I surround myself with good, creative, seasoned leaders. When I stop dreaming, I find it necessary to allow others to push me.


7.  REST

When I’m tired or stretched personally I’m less likely to dream.  I have to discipline myself to stop sometimes, but it’s always productive when I do. In the busiest seasons, I am most likely to build into my schedule a day away more frequently.



The best mind-stretching time for me is when I am running or exercising. The key for me is to break the monotony of busyness and allow my mind room to think. Something about exercising gets the blood flowing through my body to my brain. On especially busy days, I try to build in an hour in the gym or on the road. I keep exercise clothes at my office.


How do you keep focused on the forward picture, without being bogged down in daily routines?


From Internet Monk: Icebergs, Onions and Why You’re Not As Simple As You Think


From April 24, 2008.

“My theology is simply what I read in the Bible.”

Sure it is.

“What I believe and practice is simply what the Bible teaches and nothing else.”

Of course. What else could be simpler?

I’m sure several of you won’t be surprised at all to learn that I meet with a pastoral counselor on a regular basis. It’s one of the best things I do. We talk about all sorts of things, and we’ve developed a very beneficial dialog around many of the the issues that are part of a Jesus shaped spirituality.

Almost every time we meet, one of us will wind up saying that human beings are far more complex than anyone realizes. And that goes double for our view of ourselves. We’d like to think that we’re quite simple in our motivations and behavior. Our self-description is almost always biased toward “what you see is what you get,” even when we are well aware that such is not the case.

Working with a counselor constantly reminds me that there is far more to what I feel, perceive, think and do than I ever recall at any moment. It’s not unusual for me to leave my counselor’s office with fresh illumination regarding memories, events and various influences that have contributed to who I am. Insights into my family of origin, primary experiences as a child, uncritical acceptance of some proclamations of reality, even manipulation and brainwashing: all of these may appear on my radar after a session with Bob, made obvious by our conversation and God’s Spirit.

What’s stunning is that all of these things were no less part of me when I walked into the office, totally unaware of their existence and influence. Where were all these things before? With me and part of me, but unknown to me.

onion-layersThink about that. It’s just as true of you.

If I ever tell you that all I do is just read the Bible, then believe and do what it says, you have permission to laugh at me. Pay a small fee and you can smack me and say “What’s the matter with you?”

I’m an iceberg, an onion, a mystery. I’m complex and rarely insightful into myself. Thousands of experiences co-exist in me at the same time. I’m a library of presuppositions and passively accepted versions of the truth. When I write a post, preach a sermon, respond in a conversation or give advice to a student, I am anything but simple. I’m complex and only partially aware of that complexity.

This doesn’t mean I can’t understand the simple statements of the Bible or believe and act on them with integrity. It does mean that I need to stop talking about myself as if I am a blank slate, and begin accepting myself as a human being.

I am a person on a journey. That journey has been rich and diverse. It began before I was born. It’s gone on when I was aware and unaware of all that was happening to me. I’ve been shaped by God through a variety of influences, and in one way, there is a sacredness to how God has chosen to shape my life. At any moment that I present myself to God, I am accepted as the “iceberg” of known and unknown influences that make me ME.

I don’t need to fear my complexity. I don’t need to ignore it or misrepresent it. There’s no point in speaking as if my understanding of truth is unaffected by all that preceded this moment and what is going on at this moment.

The Holy Spirit works with us as the human beings that we are. “Search my thoughts O God” is an invitation for God to work with me and all that makes me a person at this moment.

Is this an endorsement of some postmodern skepticism toward propositions? Is it another emerging denial of truth?

No. It’s simply an observation that I don’t “just” read the Bible and do what it says without bringing along all my personal influences and multiple layers of my personal history and experience.

There’s a reason certain ideas appeal to me, others are uninteresting to me and some never will make sense to me.

There are reasons I’ve come to the “obvious” conclusions that I have.

There are reasons I perceive some truth and can’t see other truth.

There are reasons my understanding of being a Christian falls easily towards some things and is repelled and conflicted by others.

I am complex. I have a history. I have influences. I’m not a robot. I am a person.

Knowing God’s truth is always a miracle of the Holy Spirit. I’m beginning to appreciate that more and more as I come to understand all that’s made me the person I am today.

Because Evangelicals Need Attacking…10 Years Late to the Party…Long Live Evangelicalism!

I just read three posts/blogs the other day from unrelated friends, who are about 10 years late to the “beat down the Evangelicals” party. I too struggle with what is called “Evangelical.” However some points need to made:

(1) Most Evangelicals are not white-privileged-music-church-industrial-complex* folks. Evangelicals are largely brown, growing and not in the power centers of middle-class privilege. They are not represented by the “heads”. (Just check out the “happening” conference circuit and bands you won’t see the true nature of Evangelicalism – other than tokenism) In fact the part of the Evangelical movement that is exploding globally and in the US is largely Southern Hemisphere and those who have immigrated here from those nations and peoples! Most African-American and Hispanic  believers are also Evangelical in the real sense.

Excursus: Did you know Evangelicals are on the fore-front of immigration reform? https://www.nae.net/ Why – because most of them are 1,2,3rd generation immigrants!

Any given week at Mercy Church we have two other congregations (very Evangelical) that use our facility and we partner with for various things, with 40-60 people whose first language is not English.

So WHENEVER you start out anything implying negatively “ALL Evangelicals…” and it’s not something very precise – you are probably speaking an intentionally misleading statement. What DOES unify the movement (ha it’s a movement, so precious little, but I will make an attempt below)…

(2) Evangelicalism is not monolithic – contrary to what the talking heads say. One of the better summaries of the Evangelical movement is from historian David Bebbington who identifies four primary characteristics of evangelicalism:

  • Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a life long process of following Jesus.
  • Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts
  • Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority
  • Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity

(3) Attacking the Evangelical church is the easiest thing to do! Let’s all go verbal-violent on her as we stand up in our (self)righteous might!

It’s tasked to Share Jesus by being “in the world, but not of the world”. Communicating spiritual life in ways people can start to respond to who are in the world. And so it also picks up the brokenness/sin as it tries to communicate the Love of Jesus. It could be a LOT more honest about it’s own brokenness – but guess what it’s figuring that out in “post-christendom” America. The attractional-show-industrial-church-complex-crowd will take longer – but once they learn how to ‘sell’ it they will too at some level. There’s hope for us all! :-)

(4) Repeat: It’s not a monolithic movement either. Fundes and Libs attach themselves to it and claim they are the “true it” from time to time – then kick “it” when their friends change or they realize the tent of Evangelicalism has a bunch of seedy characters in it too. Back to the messiness of the world and false judgement based on a belief in “clean and clear lines.”

So I would say when we attack it – we are really attacking the parts of it most like the…drum roll…world we find soul-crushing and reacting inside ourselves.

(5) You become what you think you’re judging. It’s the old bait-and-switch of the real Enemy who thrives on judgment and hate. So if you think you’re acting “justly” watch out justice is always the weapon of genocide and death. There is need for truth AND grace to make things better. Getting identity out of judgement is the idol WE ALL wrestle with (ME TOO! I am “Chief of Sinners” and I really believe prophetic denouncement is important, Biblical (ha RHE), and needed – BUT ALWAYS with the turn to hope and holy imagination of newness! If you can’t make the prophetic forward imagination turn – then it’s just unholy judgment idols dressed up for the party – not prophetic).  You cannot love something to health when you’re full of self-righteous judgment.

Want to REALLY wrestle with Justice (whose justice? What justice?)? I would say start by reading Miroslav Volf’s book Exclusion and Embrace – then buy me coffee.

Love wins.


*Nashville has been removed…to be fair there are several places with such concentrations of industrialized-Evangelicalism…

The Doctrine of Subsequence

Shel: I have taught on the doctrines of Subsequence and Initial Physical Evidence (IPE) with Tongues or Language/prophetic speech at Mercy Church and at Sioux Falls Seminary in the Intro to Charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity courses on numerous occasions. It’s nice to a write up from Roger on this one (see below).

(BTW the C&MA affirms subsequence with the initial evidence of many possibly gifts. AW Tozer while not affirming “tongues” as “THE IPE” DID argue for Initial Physical Evidence in a broader way stating, “No one was ever filled by the Spirit in the Bible and did not know it!” Luke-Acts is central to this theological approach as developing a distinct/different YET complimentary theology of the Holy Spirit.)

One Area Where John Piper and I Agree: Subsequence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I grew up Pentecostal and have now been Baptist for, oh, about forty years. The other day I was talking with students (mostly Baptists) about the doctrine and experience of the “second blessing” that grew out of the ministry of John Wesley. Wesley himself never equated entire sanctification (“Christian perfection”) with Spirit baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit, but he clearly did believe in a post-conversion experience of sanctification “in a moment” (preceded by a process and followed by a process). His follower John Fletcher developed this into a doctrine of Spirit baptism subsequent to conversion. Throughout the nineteenth century so-called “Holiness” (broadly defined) Christians embraced this and promoted it. In the mid-nineteenth century Phoebe Palmer led holiness meetings in her home in New York City where people who were already converted received the infilling of the Spirit–their own Pentecost, so to speak.

This doctrine (that Spirit baptism or infilling subsequent to conversion) became a hallmark of a certain branch of evangelicalism in the later nineteenth century. Christian leaders as diverse as Charles Finney, R. A. Torrey, A. B. Simpson, and others embraced and promoted it well before Pentecostalism burst on the scene. In fact, one could argue that Pentecostalism ONLY added the doctrine of speaking in tongues as the “initial, physical evidence” of Spirit baptism, the “second blessing.”

Well before Pentecostalism, however, and outside of it, many evangelical Christians have believed in and promoted an experience subsequent to conversion (although most would say it can happen at conversion) the launches one into a “higher” or “deeper” spiritual life marked by supernatural, Spirit-endowed power to overcome sin and engage in service to Christ’s mission. Bill Bright, for example, founder and leader of Campus Crusade for Christ, regularly led participants in his evangelism training events in receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit–after conversion.

All of these people, including Pentecostals, believe conversion to Christ by faith includes “receiving the Holy Spirit.” They look at the pattern of John and Acts where Jesus breathed on his disciples imparting the Holy Spirit to them, to be in and with them, and then told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the enduement with power that would make them witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Many evangelical (and other) New Testaments scholars and theologians criticize this “two stage” Christian initiation. One main argument they use is that Scripture teaches “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” But believers in subsequence do not deny that. They regard the “one baptism” as referring to water baptism. The basis for calling subsequent Spirit infilling “Spirit baptism” lies in Jesus’ promise that John baptized people with water but he, Jesus, would baptize them the Holy Spirit and fire (power).

I think a lot of the controversy has been caught in wrangles about terminology. To the best of my knowledge, most scholarly believers in subsequence of the fullness of the Spirit to conversion do not particularly care what it’s called. “Infilling of the Spirit,” “enduement with power,” are valid alternatives to “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Appealing to experience, but connecting it with the pattern of Acts, I believe in subsequence of receiving the Holy Spirit in a new and special way–call it what you will. I observe that many, many evangelical Christians struggle to live Christian lives without joy, liberty, or power. Their attitude betrays that being a follower of Jesus Christ is a duty rather than a pleasure. Then I have often observed (and experienced) a quantum leap beyond that into passionate, joyful, inwardly committed, powerful Christian life following a special, personal outpouring of the Spirit–usually upon laying on of hands by Christians who live in that higher or deeper life of the Spirit.

Two things led me to reject tongues as the sine qua non of this subsequent experience of the Spirit’s infilling. First, I could not find that clearly, unequivocally taught in Scripture. Second, I saw many, many avid tongues-speakers lacking joy, power, liberty and all the things that Spirit infilling should produce.

I also came to believe that there is no “once-for-all” infilling of the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time experience but a “punctuated process” (to borrow from and paraphrase my late friend and mentor Clark Pinnock). There is always more. And it is possible to lose the Spirit’s infilling and be filled again.

John Piper clearly believes in what I am describing here. See his 1990 sermon “You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit”–easily found on the internet using a search engine.

I tell my students, much to their amazement, that subsequent infilling of the Holy Spirit, “Spirit baptism,” is not just a Pentecostal doctrine. Many, many Baptists and other evangelicals believe in it,too. The difference is whether speaking in tongues is its essential, necessary “initial, physical evidence.”

Unfortunately, most Baptists and and other non-Pentecostal Baptists have dropped Spirit-baptism because they associate it with Pentecostalism. But subsequence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit pre-dates Pentecostalism and has always existed, at least doctrinally, among non-Pentecostal groups such as Nazarenes. And it has been believed, taught and experienced even among Baptists–especially those “touched” by the Keswick Movement.

I feel exceedingly sorry for Christians who find the Christian life to be a struggle, drudgery, boring, mainly just a way of avoiding hell and eventually landing in heaven. What they need is an infilling of the Holy Spirit (not just “spiritual formation” although there’s nothing wrong with that).

A problem is that experiences of the infilling of the Spirit are often accompanied by physical emotional reactions–laughing, falling, shaking, shouting, jumping, etc. What we need is two things: 1) to realize that these are MERELY physical manifestations and do not have ANYTHING at all to do with Spirit infilling itself. They are no different from what happens to many sports fans when their team wins the championship, and 2) emphasize that the true signs of the Spirit’s infilling are the fruit of the Spirit and one or more gifts of the Spirit.





Join Mercy Church for Good Friday/Tenebrae 7pm Easter Sunday 9am and 10:30am

Join Mercy Church for Good Friday/Tenebrae 7pm Easter Sunday 9am and 10:30am

From Ken Collins:

What is a Tenebrae Service?

The word ‘tenebrae’ is Latin for shadows. The purpose of the Tenebrae service is to recreate the emotional aspects of the passion story, so this is not supposed to be a happy service, because the occasion is not happy. If your expectation of Christian worship is that it should always be happy and exhilarating, you won’t appreciate this service until the second time you attend it.

The service was originally designed for Good Friday, but it can be used for Maundy Thursday as well. Both services have long scripture narratives, which for this service are divided into seven, eight, or nine parts, each one assigned to a different reader.

The service may include other parts, such as solemn hymns, a sermon, and Communion, but the core of the Tenebrae service works like this: It starts out with the church in candlelight. There are as many candles as there are readings, plus a white Christ candle. The readers go up one at a time, read their assigned selections, and extinguish one of the candles, until only the Christ candle remains. Then someone reads the first part of Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted on the cross. Then the Christ candle is put out, leaving the congregation in near total darkness—and near total devastation. At this point, the service ends. There is no benediction and the people leave in silence. (The lights are turned up but remain dim so that people can see their way out.)

The purpose of the service is to recreate the betrayal, abandonment, and agony of the events, and it is left unfinished, because the story isn’t over until Easter Day.

The first time I went to a Tenebrae service, I thought it was awful, because I didn’t understand it. But I went a second time and now it is my favorite service in the year! After I became a pastor, I had one at my church. It was the first time they experienced a Tenebrae service, so I prepared them for it. Everyone who attended said it was the most moving service they had ever been to.

If you see only the happy ending of a movie, everyone who saw it from the start is elated, but you go away saying, “So they were all hugging each other? So what?” But if you see the beginning and the middle part, with all the suspense and grief, you understand what the characters overcame, and the happy ending is all the happier. So to me, attending the Easter service without attending the Holy Week services is like watching the happy ending of the movie without seeing the middle—you only rob yourself of joy.

Martyr Longinus, the Centurion who Stood at the Cross of the Lord

Martyr Longinus, the Centurion who Stood at the Cross of the Lord

Shel – this is a tradition in the Eastern Church (from http://almoutran.com/2011/10/4339#) about the Centurion. Enjoy!

 Martyr Longinus, the Centurion who Stood at the Cross of the Lord

 October 16th 

He stood transfixed at the foot of the Cross, watching and wondering, full of awe and amazement.  And then all at once, something was born in him – a spark of faith, a brand-new beginning.  And his life was changed forever.

The divine Matthew the Evangelist describes the moment of his conversion to Christianity with enormous power:

So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).

The centurion’s name was Longinus, and he was in command of the Roman soldiers who presided over the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ on Golgotha.  According to some Church traditions, Longinos was also the centurion who pierced Christ’s side with a spear, in order to confirm his death – after which the wound discharged a rush of blood and water that healed an eye infection which had been troubling Longinos greatly.

Soon after the events at Golgotha, St. Longinus would play a major role in helping to establish the veracity of Christ’s Resurrection . . . after the Jewish elders who had ordered the death of the Holy Redeemer bribed several soldiers to spread the false report that the Savior’s disciples had stolen his body under cover of darkness and made off with it.

St. Longinus ruined their devious plan, however.  Refusing to be bribed, he also insisted on telling the world the true story of how Christ’s body had risen into the glory of the Resurrection.  After learning that the Roman soldier wanted no part of their conspiracy or their money, the Jews decided to rely on their usual ploy: They would simply murder this truth-telling centurion in cold blood.  But the solider was a man of courage and integrity – and as soon as he heard about the plot against him, he took off his military garb, underwent baptism with several fellow-soldiers and then hurried off to Cappadocia, where he spent many hours in prayerful devotion and rigorous fasting.

Responding to the former centurion’s compelling piety, many pagans in the region were also converted to the Gospel and underwent Baptism as a result.  St. Longinus lived and moved among them freely for a time, then eventually returned home to live on his father’s estate. But the perfidious Jews were not finished with him – and their lies soon provoked Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea under the emperor Tiberius Caesar, to issue a draconian order to his troops: Find this renegade centurion and behead him immediately!

Once again, however, the resourceful St. Longinus anticipated a plan against his life.  Hurrying out to the roadway, he greeted his adversaries as friends.  Without letting them know who he was, he invited them back to his own residence. He fed them lavishly, and when they fell asleep, he prepared himself for his execution by praying throughout the night and then clothing himself in spotlessly white burial garb.  As dawn approached, he drew his loyal companions to his side and instructed them to bury him at the top of a nearby hill.

The stage was now set.  Moving swiftly, the martyr approached the awakening soldiers and revealed his true identity; “I am Longinus, the man you seek!”

Amazed and mortified by their host’s honesty, the Romans were knocked completely off balance – how could they behead a man of such noble character?  But even as they protested against the execution, this greathearted soldier insisted that they should carry out their orders to end his life.  In the end, St. Longinus and the two fellow-soldiers who had stood with him at the foot of the cross were taken to Jerusalem and beheaded, and the centurion’s destiny as a martyr for Jesus Christ was fulfilled.

Sighing mournfully over the tragedy they had been required to act out, the execution squad carried Longinus head to Pilate, who immediately sent it on to the scheming Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside Jerusalem.  St. Longinus was dead – but the legends that would follow this valorous warrior had only just been born.

The power of those legends can be seen in another story that has persisted down through the ages.  According to the narrative, a blind woman who was visiting Jerusalem in order to pray at its holy shrines experienced a mysterious dream in which St. Longinus appeared and told her where to find his head, which she should bury.  The blind woman obeyed instantly, and found a guide to lead her to the dung heap.  There she located the saint’s head and reverently transported it back to his native land of Cappadocia for burial.

The story of the Roman soldier who watched Christ die and was then martyred himself lives on as a treasured narrative in the long history of the Holy Land saints.  The life of this revered Christian reminds us that God the Father does not hesitate to award His saving grace to anyone who sincerely asks for it – including even those who were engaged directly in ending the life of His own beloved Son.

The idea that such healing grace is freely available to all has become a central tenet of the Christian faith – thanks in part to the courageous loyalty of the valiant soldier who died for the Lord Jesus Christ.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.


Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on the festive memory of blest Longinus, the all-famed and godly prizewinner. And she doth cry out: O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.

Father Forgive Them

Father in Heaven!
Hold not our sins up against us
but hold us up against our sins,
so that the thought of You when it wakens in our soul,
and each time it wakens,
should not remind us of what we have committed
but of what You have forgiven,
not of how we went astray,
but of how You have saved us.

- Soren Kierkegaard, 1813-55

Why I Believe the Local Church is the Hope of the World

Rambling thoughts on the local church.

I love the local church, I am in the Kingdom of God because of a local church where people served, gathered weekly to worship in a space open to the public (a church building), fought, tithed, gave to missions, evangelized, ran sunday school classes and small groups, prayed wildly. Yet I get burned out now and again.  Usually it means I am over functioning and then over-judging.

Church burnout is real – but also easy to pull out of without ditching the church.  It does require intentional self-assessment and re-alignment within the local body.  If you see it as a family or team – it’s knowing your role and leadership responsibilities in that group which helps overcome burnout.

Jesus promises to be present uniquely when we gather in regular face-to-face community.  1 Corinthians chapter 12, 13, and 14 along with Matthew 16 tell us that there is power, gifts, grace made uniquely available in the gathering of the church.  So in some ways I think burnout occurs when we think the church is simply a restaurant or store instead of a living body.

The local church is first and foremost a living organism.  The organization changes some over time – but it’s to support and sustain to new generations of believers the organism.  Paul also uses the imagery of parts of the body for persons IN a local church.

Parts can burn-out – but they don’t drop off – unless the part itself is totally dead and diseased.  So burn out could mean that a part is over-functioning or someone else is under functioning.

One answer is to help the others become alive and function in their gifts.  Making platforms for all members to function.

If one gets to the point of death – then deep healing may be needed – and some sabbath recovery.


Dare Greatly: Encouragement for Monday morning pastors

Dare Greatly: Encouragement for Monday morning pastors

Monday mornings are challenging for pastors. Maybe the sermon tanked yesterday, attendance was down, or a key leader quit. Or it may have been a great Sunday, but now another weekend looms only six days away. The hardest part is the flood of criticism, both internal and external, a pastor feels on Monday morning. Many pastors say they want to quit every Monday morning, sadly about 1500 actually do quit every month.

As I think about and pray for all my pastor friends this Monday morning I’m reminded of this amazing quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Here are a couple of takeaways:

  • The critic doesn’t count. Regardless if the critic is an elder, a volunteer or the little voice in your head if he isn’t in the arena he doesn’t count. Sure, we all need to get better, but only those engaged in the battle have a voice in the outcome.
  • Being in the arena means being knocked down, getting dirty, making mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes, striking out, coming short you’re not in the game. The only clean jerseys at the final whistle are worn by players on the bench. “…there is no effort without error and shortcoming”
  • You may succeed or you may fail, but the biggest loss is to sit in the stands.

Regardless of how your weekend went or how you feel this morning, my prayer for you is the final line of Roosevelt’s quote; if you fail, fail daring greatly. Don’t give in to the critics, don’t let discouragement or fear drive your decisions.

What do you believe? What do you feel in your heart? What decision would you make if you weren’t afraid to fail? Don’t let the fear of striking out, fear of criticism, fear of failure keep you from swinging for the fences.

If the Apostle Paul were in your office right now he’d tell you to ask and imagine and see what happens:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph 3:20, 21)

If you are a pastor, a church planter, a leader in your church don’t let fear, discouragement or fatigue drive you from the game on Monday. Get up, dust yourself off and get back into the arena.

Executive Decisions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Executive Decisions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Geoff Surrat http://geoffsurratt.com/

January 10, 2014

The Executive Decision, that moment when a leaders says, “I have all the information I need, I’m making the call.” President Obama sending in Seal Team Six to take down Osama Bin Laden, Edward Snowden calling the Washington Post with secret NSA files, Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves; these are all Executive Decisions. These kinds of decisions fall into three categories:

The Good

A leader has listened to people on both sides of the issue, studied the research and spent some time soul-searching. It is now time to make a call. These are the loneliest but most necessary moments of leadership. The decisions aren’t always right, but they are always needed.

The Bad

A leader has pre-determined what he wants to do, but he feigns listening to others, he reads articles that agree with his viewpoint and then he makes the decision he could have made days earlier. This type of Executive Decision, right or wrong, is demoralizing to other leaders in the organization.

The opposite is the leader who simply makes decisions without even the appearance of input. Their decisions are often bad and the morale around them is abysmal. The bad Executive Decision is incredibly destructive.

The Ugly

The ugly Executive Decision is the one that is never made. The leader listens, studies, reads, meditates and listens some more. But he never pulls the trigger, or he defers to others to make decisions that only he should make. Sometimes this kind of Executive Decision can be hidden under the covering of collaboration. At the end of the day a decision has to be made and a leader has to make it. When the leader can’t or won’t the results are ugly.

Do you have to make Executive Decisions? Are they good, bad or just plain ugly?

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