Encouragement For Pastors

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Are you a pastor who is feeling discouraged? Or do you know a pastor who has become frustrated by what isn’t happening in their church? If so, please read on because I have something special for you. 

When I was interviewed on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady, I tried to speak an encouraging word to my fellow pastors, especially those who were discouraged to the point of wanting to throw in the towel. If that’s you, I hope that you will take two minutes to listen to this short clip (click the audio link above). 

I’ve never seen the actual research, but I’ve heard the story enough to believe that it’s probably true that more pastors write their letters of resignation on Monday morning than on any other day.

That’s understandable. 

All week, pastors prepare to deliver a message on Sunday, and then they pour out their hearts as they minister to those who have come to church. But when they look around for those who didn’t come to church, or when they see only apathy in those who did come to church, or (perhaps worst of all) when all they hear are complaints, it’s understandable how frustration and discouragement can creep in and even overwhelm. 

So back in their office on Monday morning, facing the prospect of another week that seems to be shaping up to feel unsuccessful again, many pastors choose to resign. 

My heart goes out to these pastors. In fact, I had these very pastors in mind as I wrote my book Shepherd Leadership. 

As we are at the start of a new year, I would like to make a special offer for pastors. For just $12 I will send you an autographed copy of my book and a download link to get the audiobook of Shepherd Leadership free of charge. 

All you need to do is complete this form and I’ll have the materials right out to you. I’m praying for you, my friend, that you will allow God to use the message in this book to encourage you to persevere and thrive despite the challenges you are facing. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

The Pinnacle Of A Leader’s Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership, I take five chapters to unpack the lessons we can learn from the health of Jesus. Yes, Jesus was mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally healthy. 

On the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady we talked about a chapter in my book called “The Pinnacle of a Shepherd’s Health.” In that chapter I wrote—

     The phrase Dr. Luke uses about Christ’s growth is, “Jesus grew in favor with men” [Luke 2:52]. People liked having Jesus around. The word Luke uses for favor is from the same root word that is also translated “grace.” Jesus was a graceful Man. Or we could say that He was a Man so full of grace that when He was jostled, only grace spilled out of Him. 

     What does it mean when someone is graceful? It means they are pleasant to be around. It means you feel safe around them, knowing they will never belittle you or put you down. It means that their focus is on your agenda, not their own agenda. It means they are a “there you are!” person, not a “here I am!” person. The bottom line: grace-full people are full of grace for others. 

The way we react as leaders says more about our health than our planned actions do. Once again, let me share with you a passage from Shepherd Leadership

     Let’s return to our perfect example in Jesus. He was treated rudely and spoken to condescendingly, even by people who should have been His allies. Then there were those on a constant mission to try to trip Him up or get Him to say or do something that would have undermined His credibility. Yet Jesus never spoke inappropriately nor acted childishly. Jesus never had to say, “My bad, I misspoke there,” or “Sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” 

     We can make all of our plans to behave in loving ways toward the sheep under our care, but what happens when the sheep ignore us, bite us, or leave us? As boxer Mike Tyson noted, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Surely the best indication of our overall healthiness and servant-like attitude is not so much our actions but our reactions. 

If your reactions are less than what you would like them to be, I believe you will find a lot of excellent content in my book that can help you. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here, and I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Optimal Spiritual Health

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I spent a good chunk of our time talking about the health of pastors. I think it is very important for shepherd leaders to be wholly healthy because we cannot give to our flocks what we don’t possess ourselves. 

One of the things that is very interesting to me is the parallels between maintaining our physical health and maintaining our spiritual health. When it comes right down to it, our physical health can be optimized by getting a handle on four key elements: (1) proper diet, (2) regular exercise, (3) appropriate rest and recovery, and (4) regular times of evaluation and adjustment. 

Our spiritual health is optimized with these same four elements. 

As my friend Josh Schram reminded me, “Health is not just a big one-time choice. Health is small daily choices.” Jesus made these daily choices to eat well, exercise regularly, rest when needed, and make the adjustments His Father spoke to His heart. He set us an example for healthy spiritual growth that will keep us in a place to grow our shepherd leadership capacities. 

I have found that we are much more likely to make and stick to a plan to get physically healthy when we have a workout friend or someone who is holding us accountable. The same is true for our spiritual health. So pastor, don’t try to get and stay healthy on your own, but get a trusted friend or two working out alongside you. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership, I have five chapters that focus on a leader’s mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health. I hope you will pick up a copy to help you operate at peak healthiness. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here, and I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Practical Health Questions

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff wanted to know if I had a favorite chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. That’s an easy question to answer because it is the chapter I didn’t write—the Preface of the book was written by Dick Brogden and sums up my book better than I could have on my own. 

But there is a chunk of five chapters in Shepherd Leadership that I keep going back to quite frequently. This section is also one that has resonated with other leaders who coach and counsel pastors. 

Dr. Luke summarized the wholly healthy development of Jesus in just one verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and in favor with men (Luke 2:52). I think this gives us the perfect pyramid for our healthy growth—

  • It starts with our mental health (wisdom) 
  • Which helps us make good decisions for our physical health (stature)
  • Which creates an ideal environment for our spiritual health to flourish (favor with God)
  • Which is ultimately realized in our relational health (favor with men) 

This is why, when I am coaching other pastors that are struggling with relationships with their board or parishioners, I start with…

Oftentimes the answers to these questions reveal a deficit in mental, physical, or spiritual health that is preventing a breakthrough in strong, healthy relationships. As soon as health is being restored at the lower levels of this pyramid, positive changes in spiritual and relational health begin to blossom as well. 

Pastor, please pick up a copy of my book to help you get into the healthiest place you can be. You cannot give health to the flock under your care if you are not at optimal health yourself. 

If you want to catch up on some of the other clips I’ve already shared from this interview, you can find them here. I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

My Unique History

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I talked about my unique background and how that contributed to not only the book I wrote but also to the activities in which I am presently involved.

God took me on a long journey before I came to be a shepherd in Cedar Springs, MI. There were times in my younger life when I questioned why my path didn’t look like a straight line that was heading toward a career or vocation, but God showed me the truthfulness of the promise in Romans 8:28—He is using ALL THINGS to accomplish what He needs for me and for His Kingdom. (Check out the short video below where I share a bit of my autobiography.)

I hope this is a word of encouragement for you too. God IS directing every single one of your steps, He IS using all of your education and experiences to accomplish His purpose. Don’t bail out of this process, and don’t ever get discouraged that your path seems different than those around you. God is being as unique with you as He is with everyone else. 

If you are a church leader, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. I believe you will find many more encouraging thoughts that will keep you engaged in the work to which God has called you.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

“Let Us” Be The Church

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff asked me what was different for our church during the pandemic shutdowns. I explained to him how our season of change had begun long before anyone was even talking about a coronavirus.

Of course one of the big things in my personal life during the last year was authoring a #1-selling book called Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. As I commented to Jeff, those “let us” phrases in the Book of Hebrews so struck me that I wrote about it in my book. 

     Have you noticed that the word “saints” in the New Testament is always in the plural, never the singular? That’s because we need each other to bring out the saintly qualities in each other. This is why the writer of Hebrews stresses the camaraderie of “let us” so many times (Hebrews 10:22–25). I’ve found that many shepherd leaders tend to isolate. They are so involved in their own pasture of ministry that they seldom make the time to interact with other shepherds. In fact, isolation is one of the devil’s favorite tactics. I encourage you to find friends—fellow saints—who are also committed to healthy spiritual growth and avail yourself of their friendship and insight. —an excerpt from the chapter ‘Four Elements to Optimal Spiritual Health’ 

“Let us” be the church wherever God places us and however He chooses to use us. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

“Doing” Church

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I talked about some of the changes pastors and churches were forced to confront during the COVID shutdowns. For me, this was a time for my leadership team to examine why we “do church” the way we do. These shutdowns helped us identify the things that were biblical and non-biblical. 

One of the reasons I gave the subtitle “The Metrics That Really Matter” to my book was because of the frustration I saw in so many pastors who were feeling unsuccessful. I discovered that their frustration was largely due to trying to live up to metrics that simply aren’t found in the pages of Scripture. As I wrote in the preface of my book—

My larger concern is that churches, parachurch organizations, and nonprofit ministries that are largely founded to fulfill a biblical mandate are straying from the simple, freeing truths found in the Bible. Or maybe I should say that they are adding things to their ministries that aren’t in the pages of Scripture. Whichever way you want to say it, the result is the same: We are using the wrong metrics to define “success” for our ministries. I fear that in our focus on unbiblical practices, we are missing the joy of really doing ministry. 

Our ministry should be joyful to us as leaders and joy-giving to those to whom we are ministering. If it’s draining instead of fulfilling, that may be an indication that we are trying to gauge success by monitoring non-biblical metrics. 

If you want to dig into this a bit more, check out two previous posts I wrote: 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

What Do We Mean By “Grow”?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff asked me how the challenges of the last couple of years affected the thoughts that went into writing my book Shepherd Leadership. I explained to him how my conversation with a local pastor actually created the subtitle of the book: The Metrics That Really Matter.  

In another recent conversation on The Craig And Greg Show, I talked about a comical conversation I had with a church board about their definition of the word “grow.”

In Shepherd Leadership, I wrote, 

Growth and success may need to be redefined in your church or ministry. If you’ve been thinking that success is a steadily upward climb in attendance or donations, or a bigger facility, or more people on staff, then it would appear that the ministries of Philip, Paul, and even Jesus were highly unsuccessful. We’ve already seen that Philip went from a large revival in Samaria to one person in the desert. Paul came to the end of his life telling Timothy how many of his companions had abandoned him. And Jesus started His public ministry with twelve emerging leaders, only to see one betray Him, nine run away when He was arrested, and one deny that he even knew Him. When we come up with our plans to “grow” our ministry, or we say “success” is all about what we can count, aren’t we really just self-promoting? 

Godly shepherd leaders need to make sure that they are concentrating not on more sheep, but on greater health. Remember: the shepherd doesn’t give birth to sheep, but the shepherd creates a healthy environment for the sheep to reproduce.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

From “Servant” To “Shepherd”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff asked me how I got started writing my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. As I’ve shared before, the best way to start writing is just to start writing. That’s what I’ve been doing for almost 13 years, racking up close to 5100 blog posts, numerous articles for other publications, and now a #1 selling book. 

In this clip, I explain how I went from writing a blog to writing a book, and how the working title of my book went from Servant Leadership to Shepherd Leadership.  

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is now available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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