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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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Broken And Beautiful (via Glenna Marshall)

The hopes of pastoral life can spill over into frustration with God’s people, often because the pastor longs to see people experience the freedom Christ gives.
But a focus on the wonder of what God is doing in the lives of his people brings perspective, joy, and hope.

Glenna Marshall writes about an experience of seeing the body being the body, and the beauty that there is to behold in that:

Church ministry is hard stuff, and it is easy to become embittered toward the people God has placed in your spiritual family. But that’s the heart of the issue: these are the people God has placed in your spiritual family. And the call in 1 Corinthians 13, after all the instructions about serving and using our gifts both individually and corporately, is to love the spiritual family serving with you. Love is patient and kind and forgetful when it comes to past wrongs. Love forgives quickly and seeks humility. Love endures. Love is the impetus for grieving with a sister, for washing dishes, for making sure the heat is working.
Beneath the practical outworking of our individual gifts is that enduring affection for the family of God.  And when we get tired of serving or impatient with one another, we dig down a little deeper for the ultimate motivating factor: love for our Father, the One who is knitting us all together with His unfailing, unbreakable love.
The Church is broken because she is made of broken people. But she is also beautiful because she has been healed by a beautiful Savior. I find pieces of my sanctification in serving alongside the members of the broken and beautiful Bride of Christ. He will surely present her pure and spotless before the Father one bright, glorious day.

Read the whole post here.


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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.


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Barriers To Becoming A Simple Church (via Thom Rainer)

Through the beginning of the year Thom Rainer has been posting about churches becoming simple or zero sum.
In practice this involves concluding groups and activities that no longer have a vital purpose.
Put another way: if the church was starting fresh which groups activities would they actually start because they’re needed or serve a purpose?
It is meant to differentiate from effort invested in mission purpose and effort invested in that which exists only to be maintained.
Here he lists five reasons why this process of evaluation doesn’t take place.

  1. Traditionalism. We do the same things we’ve always done because we’ve always done them that way before. If that sounds redundant, it is. We just can’t get out of our boxes of comfort and false security.
  2. Lack of clear vision. We pile on program after program and meeting after meeting because we have no clear plan or vision. A good vision will lead the church to say “yes” or “no” in a healthy fashion.
  3. Fear. Many leaders fear the consequences of even suggesting the elimination of some programs, ministries, or activities. I know of no simple church without courageous leaders.
  4. Coasting. This barrier is similar to fear. Some leaders don’t want to rock the boat. They just want to hang on to their jobs or their peaceful existence. But the courageous leader is never a coasting leader.
  5. Failure to evaluate. I have encouraged churches to consider a zero-based ministry every year. Ask the question: What ministries, programs, and meetings would we have if we had a clean slate? How would it look differently than our current schedule? Too many churches are eager to add but fearful to subtract.

Read the whole post at Rainer’s site, and then look for related posts on the subject.


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The Long Game (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond provides perspective on the up and down experiences of pastoral life.
It’s easy to slip into regrets about the past or apprehensions about the future.
It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed in the present.
Raymond’s counsel is realistic and grounded.

Play the long game and keep your chin up. Have the pastoral job description at hand and remind yourself of it. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and focusing primarily on what we are called to do, then we can be safeguarded against pride in seasons of prosperity and despair during the difficult times. This will certainly free us up to rejoice in God’s sovereignty to make a people for himself—even by means of such unlikely materials.

Read the whole post here.


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Cooperation, Not Competition

Wednesday mornings in Mount Gambier usually begin with pastors of various churches getting together for prayer and then coffee.
For a few weeks over December/January we have a break, but we’ll be resuming soon.
Why?
Well it takes effort, but we want the Gospel to spread in Mount Gambier, and that means through all the churches and local Christians, not just our own places and people.
Hanging out together helps us not to compete, but to cooperate.
As pastors we want to model genuine Christian love and fellowship.
And the effort expands my own heart for the Gospel.

Part of a short post from Sam Rainer sums up why:

Friends assume the best. Cooperating pastors do not assign malicious motives. They hold each other accountable. When pastors hang out, they ask edifying questions of each other rather than viewing each other with suspicion from a distance.
Friends celebrate successes. Cooperating pastors enjoy hearing about their friends making strides for the kingdom of God.
Friends help each other. Cooperating pastors pray for each other. They look out for each other. They champion the work at each other’s churches.
Friends don’t have territories. Cooperating pastors don’t slice up the community into market territories. There is no need to fence off a territory when you desire to be around someone.

Read the whole post here.