What is your spiriutal position in relation to God?
Which group do you most desire to live Jesus’ mission with?
While discussing this question, Kevin Haah and I considered how God’s definition of success may be the antithesis of man’s. As men, we easily become caught up in the physical size of the launch team, opening Sunday, one year anniversary, baptisms, and stories of changed lives. To us, success is often measured by what we can count. But God looks beyond the physical realm and considers the attitude of our hearts which leads to the conclusion that success by human standards may often be seen by God as failure. Where as, failure in the eyes of men, may be seen by God as success. It is in our failings and humility that God leads us to a place of greater dependence on His Spirit and power – success.
With this in mind, Kevin captured the meaning of success and ended our conversation with one word – “OBEDIENCE”. When we are obedient to God, physical outcomes are immaterial because God’s purposes are achieved. Success is obedience.
In a recent article in “Mirror”, Patty Park quoted Kevin saying, “Success is not defined by results, how the church does or how many people come,”…. “The definition of success is not about moving up in the world; it’s about obedience. I’ve realized that success just means figuring out what God wants me to do, and doing it.”
You can also listen to a message given by Kevin titled “The Definition of Success”.
Larry Osborne – North Coast Church
Empower people and then platform people – this gives people power with authority.
Random thoughts and musings:
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“Pastor, listen to your wife. She is usually the Holy Spirit. When you disagree with her, she IS the Holy Spirit.”
The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, it is to make you holy. Listen to her. Let her be a counselor to you.
“You don’t have to have a building to grow a church.” Saddleback did build a building until they had 10,000.
“Never compare yourself to anyone else.” “God wants you to be you.” Don’t listen the the critics or the complements.
Suggestions on how to build a reproducing church:
Andy Stanley’s talk on Apostolic Vision at the National New Church Conference – Exponential – is the outline of his book “Making Vision Stick“. As Andy encouraged us, listen to this session (or in your case – read this blog post), save your money, and don’t buy the book. Here it is…
How do you make vision stick as a church planter?
Vision – a mental picture of what it could be, fulled by some passion of what could be
Vision always begins as a burden for what could be – we do what we do because of a burden for the way things should be.
The challenge of leadership is to take what is clear in our head and make it clear to others. How do we bring others to do what needs to be done?
1. State it Simply
2. Cast it Convincingly
3. Repeat it Regularly
4. Celebrate Systematically
5. Embrace it Personally and Publicly
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Two years ago, David Murrow stirred conversation in evangelicalism with the publication of his book “Why men hate going to church“. Church leaders across the country tried to crack the code on reaching men. Mark Driscoll began speaking about “the ‘Chick-i-fied’ church” (see video below).
AND … nothing changed. Most churches are still emasculated. Why? Perhaps pastors have spent so much time discussing what they need to “do” to attract men, they have forgotten that leaders attract people like themselves - a feminine man will attract femininity. Brian Jones addresses this in his recent blog titled “Effeminate Pastors“. The issue of the emasculated church may be found in the nature of today’s church leaders.
I’ve just finished reading “Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels – a great book for church planters, mission minded pastors, and high capacity volunteer leaders. In this book, Bill provides ministry and leadership wisdom from both his success and failure. He provides what seems to be an authentic look at his struggles in pastoral leadership and the lessons he has learned through the journey. I pray that God continues to weave these pastoral leadership principles into the fabric of my own life and leadership.
Following are the cliff notes I gleaned from “Courageous Leadership”:
“Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.” page 33
During my years as a Willow Creek Association conference speaker, I would teach Willow’s definition of “vision” as “the ideal picture of the future”. This is true, but limited. I greatly appreciate how Bill has modified the definition to include passion. Vision is not just a picture of the future; it is a picture of the future that produces passion and excitement within the church body for accomplishing Jesus’ mission. If you know me, you know that I am a very passionate person and leader. It’s no wonder this expanded definition resonates so strongly within me.
The selection process for building Kingdom dream teams is based on ‘three Cs’: “first character, then competence, and finally chemistry…. Character, Competence, Chemistry.” page 81.
In hiring ministry staff, I have always focused on character and competence, but I learned the hard way that chemistry is essential. My most recent staff teams have possessed all ‘three Cs’. Ministry certainly is easier and more enjoyable when I labor in ministry with people I enjoy sharing life with. Relational chemistry on ministry teams brings added joy in fulfilling Jesus’ mission – even when the journey is hard.
“…leaders are at their very best when they are raising up leaders around them. Or put another way, leaders are at their best when they are creating a leadership culture.” page 122
One of my greatest passions in ministry is empowering leaders. I love coming alongside emerging leaders and coaching them to a place where they experience the fullness of God’s power through their spiritual gifts in accomplishing Jesus’ mission. This is why reproduction of leaders is an essential part of our spiritual formation process in the new church and community based organization we are starting. Click here to read a brief overview of our CPR2 spiritual formation process.
“Who is your toughest leadership challenge?” “YOU.” page 182
How true! Great leadership begins with great self-leadership. If we can’t be disciplined enough to lead ourselves, how can we ever expect to be great at leading others? For me, this is holistic. Self-leadership involves my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. How can I lead, encourage, or disciple others into the fullness of life that Jesus offers if I am unfit in any of these areas of my own life? I want others to be able to follow my example. Like all pastoral leaders, I have to focus with un-wavering determination to live healthy. It doesn’t come easy. But I have found that the ongoing practice of spiritual disciplines goes a long way in helping me maintain my physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health.
Another chapter worth noting, but not quoting, do to it’s reflective nature is “Discovering and Developing Your Own Leadership Style”. chapter 7
Bill first presented this chapter years ago at a WCA Leadership Summit – a message I have heard multiple times over in various context, and now again. But it never gets old. I love coming back to the fundamentals of how God has wired me up. Even if you have heard this message before, get your hands on this chapter, and let God speak His truth of who you are into your life and leadership. My primary leadership styles are the “motivational”, “team building”, and “entrepreneurial” and shift smoothly as the environment and needs of the ministry change.
And now for the home run. “Developing an Enduring Spirit – Staying the Course”. Chapter 12
After 14 years of full-time ministry, I have seen far too many peers benched due to moral failure or exhaustion. So how do pastoral leaders develop an enduring spirit and stay the course. Bill suggests three courses in the graduate school of endurance – 1) “Make your calling sure and stay focused”, 2) “Enduring by developing the courage to change”, 3) “Enduring by discovering safe people”.
The principles presented in “Courageous Leadership” are essential in developing pastors and churches that reach their fullest potential reaching people with the irresistible love of God.
“A man can only receive what is given him from heaven…. He must become greater. I must become less” (John 3:27,30, NIV).
The crowds were made curious by his unconventional clothing and daily diet of raw locusts. They were intrigued by his teaching, and they marveled at his bold message. Word of his ministry spread like wildfire – causing multitudes of people to travel great distances to see this man who preached repentance, promoted the greatness of God’s kingdom, and claimed to be preparing the way for Christ. By the time Jesus started his ministry one year later, John the Baptist already had a strong reputation, large number of disciples, and the forefront ministry in the region.
It wasn’t long, however, before the ministry of Jesus surpassed that of John in popularity and prominence. This was an obvious concern and threat to John’s disciples who saw their ministry market share slipping away. Before loosing it all, they addressed their leader with the apparent stagnation of their ministry: “Rabbi (John), that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him.” (NIV) Listen to their concern: “Everyone is going to Jesus.” What was their problem? Their personal kingdom was shrinking; their personal image was being deflated; their personal greatness was melting away. A new ministry in town was outgrowing theirs! These guys where perplexed with a personal and organizational dilemma!
Can you see the picture? John’s closest friends, his disciples, his ministry partners for God’s kingdom had become disillusioned by the growing greatness of God. They, more than anyone else, should have understood the mission of John’s ministry, but they missed it!
Listen to John’s passion, as his words cut straight to his followers’ hearts to address their concern and sin: “A man can only receive what is given him from heaven…. He must become greater. I must become less.”
Does this send a chill up your spine? It should. With these few short words, John re-defines greatness. Greatness is realizing that I don’t build God’s church – He does! Greatness is realizing that I don’t win the lost – God does! Greatness, in God’s kingdom, is about God and others becoming greater as I become less. Greatness is not obtained through personal drive, skill, or gifts, nor is greatness measured by building projects, financial capital, weekend attendance, or ministry prominence. Greatness is obtained when we blaze a trail for God’s greatness as we fade into the background of His glory.
As Christian leaders, we often find ourselves in an awkward position: we desire to build God’s kingdom but in doing so we get distracted by our own kingdom – a kingdom of personal image, personal prominence, and personal greatness. Whose kingdom are you building?
Do you feel a silent competition with other churches in your area for larger ministry market share? Do you partner with other ministries to build God’s kingdom, or do you remain relatively isolated? Do you silently compare your ministry to the strength and weaknesses of other churches or ministry leaders? Do you expect your children to live at a higher standard than other children because of your position?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you may struggle with the pursuit of personal greatness. Ask God to search your heart and check the motives of your ministry and leadership.
God, it is so easy for me to pursue my own greatness while serving to expand your Kingdom. I find myself depending on my personal drive, skills, and gifts instead of on you to win the lost and build your church. Please help me set aside my personal image, prominence, and greatness that you might become greater as I come less.
“Do you set goals?”
I smiled, knowing my friend had no idea just how goal oriented I am, “Absolutely.”
A moment of silence ensured as we continued setting our ropes and gear, “How often do you accomplish your goals?”
I grinned, “100% of the time.”
No pause this time. “How in the world do you reach all of your goals without failure?”
Looking up with a short chuckle, “Simple. I move the target.”
My climbing partner was now confused, “What do you mean, you ‘move the target?’”
“As I see it, goals are fluid – not rigid. Goals exist to serve us. We are not to serve them. If a goal is rigid, then we become subservient to the goal. When goals are fluid, they become subservient to us, which is how it should be.”
I bent down, picked up a small rock, and began scratching a diagram on the cliff we were about to climb. “When we set and begin moving toward a goal, we need to understand, we are on a journey. In this journey, we gain new information, glean insight, discover more clearly who we are and the community of people we are working with or seeking to serve. If we fail to refine our goals as we gain new insight, we either miss the goal all together or hit the original goal while failing to serve ourselves or others well. Why? Because we have served the goal. If on the other hand, we modify the original goal, as we gain new information, we are bound to hit it every time, while serving ourselves and others better in the process. Why? Because we have been flexible enough to let the goal serve us.”
“Are there times that our goals should remain unchanged or moved?”
“Yes. Sometimes in the journey we learn that the original goal is the right goal and should remain unchanged to best serve ourselves and others. Yet, sometimes we discover that the original goal was completely unnecessary and should be eliminated – why waste our time? After tying in and setting the belay, I looked at my friend, I asked, “So, what’s your goal this morning?”
He smiled, “To reach the summit.”
“Where at the top of the cliff are you going to summit and what route are you going take to get you there?”
“I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I reach my goal.”
In this image the goal setter (•) moves toward accomplishing the goal (G). In the journey, he either gains no new information that deems goal modification or he ignores new information gained in the process and proceeds to accomplish the original goal regardless if it’s potential need to be modified.
In this image the goal setter (•) moves toward accomplishing the goal (G). But in the journey (J2), she gains new information that deems goal modification. She assimilates the new information which modifies the original goal. When she reaches the goal it is now a modified goal (MG) based on the assimilation of gained insights from her journey.
One of the most frustrating comments I can hear from a parent or someone older than 35 is “I don’t want to serve in Student Ministries because the students prefer to have leaders that are young”. I don’t think these students would agree.
Each statement below is written by a different student pertaining to their small group leader – who, by the way, is 35 or older and in many cases the parent of a student who is in junior or senior high. This year my small group leader…
Youthfulness is a mindset, not an age. We should never let age disqualify us from ministry. Students are simply looking for love. On the other hand, if student ministry isn’t the best place for someone to serve based on their gifts and passions, they should just say it! No excuses necessary.
For more on what God is doing to transform our students’ lives read:
For anyone who is offended because I refer to 35 year olds as “older”, relax. I’m 36. Remember youthfulness is a mindset.