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The Antidote To Domineering Leadership – Leading By The Beauty Of Example (via Sam Allberry)

Sam Allberry writes that culture on either side of the Atlantic Ocean contributes to two different strands of authoritarian leadership taking root in the church.
In concluding, his point is not that the antidote to bad leadership is not no leadership, but servant leadership – a leadership that leads by example. And that example comes not from an individual, but a team.

It is common in American churches to borrow leadership wisdom from the business world. The pastor is the CEO. His role is to bring success, often and especially measured in numerical terms: The church needs to grow in membership and giving. In the UK, it’s slightly different. The church tends toward a military model. The pastor is the three-star general who directs everyone to do the right things.
There is obviously much to be learned from both successful CEOs and also great generals, but both models can quickly become toxic. When either becomes the primary model for Christian leadership, is it any wonder that domineering pastors result? The pastor-as-CEO approach might foster entrepreneurialism and risk-taking, but it easily becomes results-oriented. The pastor-as-general approach might foster perseverance and grit, but it easily becomes task-oriented. One produces swagger: Their word is law because they’re economically indispensable to the church. The other produces presumption: Orders must be followed because the general “knows” what is best for every person. In each case we either tolerate or fail to see traits of bullying, because ministry ends justify ministry means.
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The antidote to being domineering, then, is to lead by example rather than by coercion: “Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3).
The flock is to be led, yes, but not by force of personality. The flock is to be led by beauty of example. Being domineering is bad leadership; and the answer to bad leadership is not no leadership but the right kind of leadership.

Read the whole post at the Gospel Coalition (USA).


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The Importance Of The Christian’s Secret Life (via Derek Thomas)

Derek Thomas on the mark of Christian authenticity: our secret life.
For those whose calling involves public expressions of the Christian life, the challenge is to live as a disciple of Jesus when people can’t see us.
From the article:

Six times in the Sermon on the Mount, alluding to three distinct exercises, Jesus employs the term secret:

  • Give “in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:4).
  • Pray “in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (v. 6).
  • Fast “in secret…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (v. 18).

The Sermon on the Mount is addressing the issue of authenticity. Just how genuine is our relationship with the Lord Jesus? It is altogether possible to practice an outward display of piety—to “talk the talk”—without demonstrating any inner reality of godliness. This is true of every professing Christian, and it is especially true of those engaged in Christian ministry.

Read the whole post at Ligonier Blog.


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Gospel Ministry Should Be Collaborative, Rather Than Competitive (via John Stevens)

This article contrasts ‘aces’ with ‘average’ pastors and observes the pitfalls of trying to normalise the achievements of the gifted at the cost of marginalising the efforts of the ordinary.
From the post:

We need to repent of jealousy and envy of others in our ministries, and to avoid glorifying their achievements and comparing ourselves to them. Gospel ministry should be a collaborative, rather than competitive, activity as we all work together to build the kingdom of God. We can all too easily be envious of others’ greater gifting or the easier context in which they are labouring. We can even fall into a historical envy that leads us to wish we had been working in an earlier era of greater gospel progress, or which mistakenly assumes that the results of the past would be replicated in the present if only we adopted their methodologies.

Read the whole post at John Stevens.


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Walking With Saints As They Near Home (via Zac Harrel)

Zac Harrel writes that amid a needed focus on discipling the young and newer Christians, there is a privileged ministry of pastoring senior saints as they near the end of their lives.
One of the ways we do that is through the ministry of presence:

Our wider culture wants to ignore and hide the dying, but the church cannot do this.
God has called us to shepherd his people in these last moments. Our presence reminds those we visit of God’s presence. It reminds them he is always there and will never leave nor forsake them.
God doesn’t call us to have all the answers. He calls us to be present. God doesn’t call us to have the right thing to say. He calls us to show up and to show his love.

Read the other two ministries at Gospel-Centered Disciples.


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Healthy Pastors Are Peacemakers At Heart, Not Pugilists (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

There’s a difference between a peacemaker and a conflict avoider.
David Mathis writes about How Do Pastors Pick Their Fights? and makes some points about the character of pastors, which is meant to be a model for the character of Christians.

Healthy pastors are peacemakers at heart, not pugilists. They don’t fight for sport; they fight to protect and promote peace. They know first and foremost — as a divine representative to their people — that our God is “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33); our message, “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15); our Lord Jesus himself made peace (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:20) and “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), preaching “peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17).
And making peace is not unique to Christian leaders. Rather, we insist on it in our leaders so that they model and encourage peacemaking for the whole church. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said our Lord, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). “Let us pursue what makes for peace” (Romans 14:19). “Strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14). “If possible, so far as it depends on you” — all of you who are members of the body of Christ — “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
This kind of peacemaking not only means leading our flocks in preserving and enjoying peace, but also in making peace that requires confrontation. Some controversies cannot be avoided — and we engage not because we simply want to fight (or win), but because we want to win those being deceived. God means for leaders in his church to have the kind of spiritual magnanimity to rise above the allure of petty disputes, and to press valiantly for peace and Christ-exalting harmony in the places angels might fear to tread.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Faithful Friendship And A Life Marked By Jesus And Redemption – A Songwriter’s Spirit, A Pastor’s Heart

This is from a review of Everything As It Should Be, a new album by singer/songwriter Andy Gullahorn.
Fellow song-writer Andrew Osenga muses about Gullahorn’s capacity to keep producing album after album of personal and poignant vignettes that resonate with real life.
To keep doing so requires life lived well with others.
It resonates closely with what a pastor does.
From Osenga about Gullahorn’s songs:

Well, you have to live them. That’s how. You have to actually love people. And be the kind of person they turn to when life falls apart. You have to know how to listen more than you speak, and then not try to fix them when you do.
You have to know people for years. You have to forgive them when they let you down. You have to let them forgive you, too (which is, of course, the hardest thing. Until you’ve done it).
You have to walk closely for a long, long time with your spouse, your kids, your friends. With people in your congregation and your neighborhood and your bowling alley and some other church’s basement with old carpet and hard plastic chairs.
You have to ask hard questions without judgment. And ask them again when you’ve been shut down the first dozen times. You have to hold your friends when they’re crying and not look away when it’s uncomfortable.
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But beneath all of that wonderfulness there is faithful friendship and a life marked by Jesus and redemption.

Read the review of Everything As It Should Be at the Rabbit Room, where you’ll find more information about the album.


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Zack Eswine on The Busy Pastor (via Jared C. Wilson)

If you can find time, this podcast featuring Zack Eswine on The Busy Pastor would be worth listening to.
It can be found at For The Church.