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On Silence As The Currency That Can Purchase Pastoral Formation (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton provides counsel about formation as a minister of the Gospel in the guise of advice to a graduate, just about to begin pastoral ministry.
The observations he makes about preparation, pride, paradox and patience all ring true – and can be lessons that take a long time to learn. They are also applicable to many other areas of life.
From his introduction:

Silence can become a treasured and hard-earned currency in our sacred vocation. Silence is the legal tender that will buy the necessary implements for your greatest pastoral assignments: the salvation of others and the salvation and sanctification of yourself. I don’t mean to say that proclamation is secondary. It is not. Preaching is the use of words to declare the intent of God in the world. Silence is the way we best discover the words. Or, I should say, silence gives us the voice to speak and the capacity to understand what we mean. Silence may seem to be not only tenuous, inutile, but also a foolishly indistinct coinage of little value. Should you have that view now it will change later; that is, if you are to be used of the Lord. In your silence today, and I define silence as both a stillness of mind as well as tongue, a teachable posture of receiving, I want you to listen for the voice of God speaking to you through the sound of an old man. Hearing with the ears of your spirit will take more time to process. Spiritual listening is slower. But “slower” is something that you must acquire. In that process of hearing with your spirit, you will also discern what is the voice of the old man and what is the voice of God. The former can be used to fertilize your ministry or to be recognized as “spent” nutrients, with little proleptic power remaining. The latter is to be obeyed.

Read the whole post here.


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Why Plurality In Church Leadership? (via Dave Harvey)

The church I belong to believes that local churches are served by a group of leaders, a plurality in older language.
It’s not led by paid leadership or staff, with lay leaders performing like a consultative focus group or a board of directors.
Why would we believe that God desires this model of ministry for the local church?

Dave Harvey at Desiring God:

Of all the ways God could organize local church leadership, why plurality? It is not about simplicity, ease, or efficiency. When one considers all of the polity options God could have chosen for governing churches, it’s easy to see that he gave the church a plural leadership with a different set of goals in mind. But I believe God chose plurality because he loves humility.
“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
If I’m right, God chose this method of church governance because, to work well, plurality requires what God values. Humility, contrition, word-trembling leadership — these are the kind of leaders to whom God looks. It’s no surprise to discover that these are also the values he requires for an effective plurality.

Source

It’s been my privilege to experience that plurality, that grouping of leaders again tonight.


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The Difference Between Change And Transition (via Jeff Iorg)

Change and Transition are not the same.
One will involve the other and healthy experiences of each need to identify both aspects and plan for their implementation distinctively.
Failure to acknowledge one or the other will hinder successful experiences of change and transition.
From a longer list drawn from Jeff Iorg by Ed Stetzer:

Foundational to helping people through major change is this seminal idea: change is different than transition. Change is the new circumstances introduced into organizational life, i.e. a new staffing plan going into effect on a specific date. Transition, on the other hand, is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual adjustments people go through when change is implemented.

Read the rest of Iorg’s list here.


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Healthy Leadership Is Humbling (via Eric Geiger)

Healthy leadership is a humbling experience. When it ceases to be humbling leadership is heading into dangerous territory.

From Eric Geiger:

Leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be humbling, when success comes to the leader. When a leader starts to thrive, when the Lord grants success, and/or when things go better than planned, the leader can easily drift toward pride.
And pride always precedes a downfall.
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So how can leaders recognize our drift from humility to pride?
Look for entitlement. Entitlement always rises as pride rises. It is impossible to be filled with humility and a sense of entitlement at the same time. Whenever we feel we are owed something, it is because we have forgotten that God is the One who gives all good things.
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Humble leaders realize the only thing we are entitled to is death and destruction because of our sin. Yet God in his mercy has given us himself, taken away our sin, and offered us everlasting life. In the same way, everything we steward, every opportunity we have, every season we are able to lead and serve others is only because of his grace. To remind us of this truth, the apostle Paul rhetorically asked, “For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive?” (1 Cor.4:7). Humble leaders remind themselves of this truth over and over again.

Read the whole post here.


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Six Reminders On The Importance Of Pastoral Leadership (via Erik Reed)

Erik Reed developed a six item list to remind himself of the importance of pastoral leadership.
I’m conscious of building in preparation for those who will follow after me; and know that my role gets me a certain amount of trust and influence but only time and relationship will nurture deep trust and influence, so these two really stood out to me.

Remember the short life span of my leadership opportunity.
Someone is going to replace me. I am pastoring someone else’s future church. While recognizing this is sobering and humbling, it also motivating to lead well and courageously while I have the opportunity. I need to lead recognizing that I am a steward of something bigger than me.
Remember that my position gives me a seat at the table, but my actions determine the extent of my influence.
I am the Lead Pastor at The Journey Church. This gives me a seat at the table on leadership discussions and decisions. I have built in authority because of my position. But my position does not determine my influence, my actions do. This leads me to focus on what I do instead of where I am on the org chart. The most influential people are not always the ones with the most authoritative positions.

Read the whole post at Lifeway Pastors.


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How Leaders Can Recognise A Drift From Humility To Pride (via Eric Geiger)

Eric Geiger writes about leadership as being a deeply humbling experience.
If it’s not humbling, or if it ceases to be humbling it is no longer healthy leadership.

Being a leader can be deeply sanctifying because humbling opportunities abound.
The messiness of life gets in the way of the vision leaders articulate. Plans rarely go exactly as they are outlined. And the daily burden of responsibility for caring for others is enormous. When one signs up, or is drafted, to be a leader, the person engages in a very humbling endeavor.
Leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be humbling, when success comes to the leader. When a leader starts to thrive, when the Lord grants success, or when things go better than planned, the leader can easily drift toward pride.

Geiger spells out the danger sign that a drift from humility to pride is taking place:

Here is the key: Look for entitlement. Entitlement always rises as pride rises. It is impossible to be filled with humility and a sense of entitlement at the same time. Whenever we feel we are owed something, it is because we have forgotten that God is the One who gives all good things.
Leaders, especially in seasons of success, can develop a sense of entitlement.

Read the rest of the post at Christianity Today.


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Leading And Managing (via Leadership Freak)

Dan Rockwell provides some helpful insight about the qualities of leaders and managers.
Pastoral ministry isn’t either of these, but it does involve aspects of each.
An observation in general is that those who carry out management roles well can often find themselves in leadership roles without having the needed skills to do that role well.
An observation about churches is that people with leadership capacities can find themselves being expected to carry out management functions without having the aptitudes to perform that role well.
Personally I feel the management functions are more natural to me than the leadership functions.
It’s a constant struggle.

From Dan Rockwell:

Manager or leader:
John Kotter’s book, “That’s Not How We Do it Here!” is a fable that addresses tension between the divergent functions of management and leadership. The following lists are inspired by his work.

You’re managing when you:

  1. Plan and budget.
  2. Solve day-to-day problems.
  3. Track processes and measure results.
  4. Hire, fire, and concern yourself with job descriptions.

You’re leading when you:

  1. Set direction.
  2. Align people.
  3. Inspire.
  4. Seize opportunities.

Insights from Warren Bennis:
“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.”

  1. You’re managing when you concern yourself with how and when questions.
  2. You’re leading when you concern yourself with what and why questions.

Over-led organizations end up chaotic.
Over-managed organizations end up bureaucratic.

Read more insights at Leadership Freak.