Tension Can Be A Good Thing

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 Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon.

Usually leaders want their lives and their organizations to be tension-free. But I’m advocating that healthy shepherd leaders actually embrace the tension. 

God has wired us all uniquely, but I’ve found that many leaders are slightly unbalanced in their wiring. That is, most of us are naturally more confident or naturally more humble. God made you that way on purpose, but confident leaders are allowing the Holy Spirit to temper their confidence with humility, and humble leaders are allowing the Holy Spirit to bolster their humility with confidence.

The seed thought for this concept that figures prominently in my book Shepherd Leadership was one that I’ve been wrestling with for over a decade. If you’re interested, you can check out this post.

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. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Standing Firm

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

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

Standing Firm 

     Superficial brilliance is always afraid of fire, but gold is not. The paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true diamond fears no test. People who have a kind of confectionery godliness will wish to be preserved from temptations, for they cannot endure them. But the Christian counts it all joy when he falls into different trials, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (Romans 5:3-5). My dear friends, if your faith is only a sunshiny faith, get rid of it! … 

     So our gracious God, beloved, glorifies Himself by permitting His people to be subjected to trials and by enabling them to endure the strain. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched. We would never enjoy the juice of the grape if it were never trod in the winepress. We would never discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten. And we would never know the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The excellence of the Christian is brought out by the fire of trouble. The wisdom of the great Workman and the glory of His skill and power are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. … 

     Depend upon it, beloved, those who suffer as I have described are the children of God, for they show it. They show it by the way in which they bear their trials. In the worst times there is always a clear distinction that marks them as separate from other men. If they cannot shout, ‘Victory!’ they bear patiently. If they cannot sing to God with their mouth, yet their hearts bless Him. There is a degree of light even in their worst darkness…. If they get into the mire, they do not perish there. They cry for help when their woes surround them, and in the very nick of time, when everything appears to be lost, their heavenly Father hastens to their aid.

From The Believer Sinking In The Mire

I shared a series of messages called Thankful In The Night. Another psalmist wrote, “Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me” (Psalm 42:8). 

Notice that this psalmist was praising God IN the night, not praising Him FOR the night. Many people have gone through what has been called “the dark night of the soul.” I don’t think anyone has ever given thanks because of being in a dark time, but certainly they have given thanks afterward because of the lessons learned in that dark time. 

Quite simply put, there are some things God wants to teach us that we can learn in no other way than to go through a dark night. So we can learn to be thankful even IN those nights. IN those nights, we can learn to say, as Spurgeon did, “I believe in my Lord because He is a God who cannot lie. He is faithful and true to His every word and, therefore, let the whole creation go to rack and ruin, my faith will not waver or give up its confidence.” 

Amen! Let us stand firm in that confidence.

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What If My Organization’s “Numbers” Aren’t Growing?

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

At a recent Q&A, I was asked how leaders in smaller markets or communities can avoid becoming discouraged if their measurable metrics aren’t continually rising. 

I answered this by pointing to a simple three-word phrase that God laid on my heart a number of years ago.

This is an idea that I unpack throughout my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. Please pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift for your friends who are in leadership positions. My book is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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The Origins Of Plunger Man

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: The Metrics That Really Matter I take two chapters to talk about how confident leaders need to add humility to their confidence, and how humble leaders need to add confidence to their humility. 

For me, I created and became a character named Plunger Man to help me learn some humility. 

At a recent Q&A and book signing event I was asked about the origins of Plunger Man. Take a listen to my explanation of how Plunger Man came to be, and then stay tuned to hear the epic adventure of Plunger Man himself! 

Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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Balanced Leadership

Many pastors limit their leadership effectiveness by clinging to either confidence or humility. The better option—and one that Jesus Himself demonstrated for us—is to be both confident and humble. 

I unpack this idea in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. It’s available in print, ebook, and audiobook. 

Get more info, or order a copy of my book for yourself, at ShepherdLeadershipBook.com. 

The Confident-Humble Tension

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 Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis and Dace Clifton. 

When I was trying to explain to my friends why I was writing Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I found that many were quite intrigued by the idea of the confident humility—or the humble confidence—that Jesus so perfectly demonstrated for us. 

Almost every leader I’ve met tends to be naturally wired as either a confident leader or a humble leader. Our effectiveness as a shepherd leader comes in allowing the Holy Spirit to help us maintain a healthy tension between those two poles. Jesus did this perfectly, and we are to follow His example. 

I have two chapters in my book discussing this tension. Here’s how I introduce the topic in the chapter “A confident leader’s attitude adjustment: 

God has created each of us uniquely—implanted with the temperament, talents, and personality He wanted each of us to have. God made you on purpose, and He made you for a purpose. But that being said, shepherd leaders are almost never perfectly balanced. If you’ve ever taken a temperaments assessment or any other kind of personality test, you know that you had some attributes that were more prominent than others. God never gives us weaknesses, but our areas of strength can become a self-imposed weakness if we rely on our strength instead of on our Strength Giver. 

Leaders tend toward two poles: confidence or humility. God made us this way on purpose. But to be the best shepherd leader, we each must allow the Holy Spirit to help us learn to lead in a more balanced way. If we lean too much toward confidence, we can come across as arrogant and even tyrannical. But if we lean too much toward humility, we can appear to be weak, indecisive, and unsure of our leadership direction. None of us will be perfect in this at every single moment, but with the proper attitude adjustments, we can learn to more consistently stay at the balanced point of being humbly confident or confidently humble. 

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? ◀︎◀︎

Plunger Man!

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: The Metrics That Really Matter, I take two chapters to talk about a leader’s confidence and a leader’s humility. Effective shepherd leaders are learning to balance their confidence and their humility. 

In chapter 4, I tell a true story about an alter-ego superhero I created as a way to remind myself of the importance of adding humility to my confidence. I hope you’ll watch the video featuring the artwork of Adam Comrie and the excellent production work of my son-in-love Ian Murphy. And I also hope that you will pick up a copy of Shepherd Leadership for yourself or for a ministry leader in whom you would like to invest. 

Now, here is Plunger Man! 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Assurance Of God’s Love

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

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

The Assurance Of God’s Love

Tell me, O you whom I love, where you feed your flock, where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself by the flocks of your companions? (Song of Solomon 1:7)

     It is well to be able to call the Lord Jesus Christ by this name without an ‘if’ or a ‘but.’ A very large proportion of Christian people can only say of Christ that they hope they love Him. They trust they love Him, but this is a very poor and shallow experience to be content to stay here. It seems to me that no one ought to give any rest to his spirit till he feels quite sure about a matter of such a vital importance. We are not content to have a hope of the love of our parents, or of our spouse, or of our children! We feel we must be certain there. And we are not to be satisfied with a hope that Christ loves us and with a bare trust that we love Him. … 

     ‘I know whom I have believed,’ says Paul (2 Timothy 1:12). ‘I know that my Redeemer lives,’ says Job (Job 19:25). ‘You whom I love,’ says Solomon in the Song as we have it here. Learn, dear friends, to get that positive knowledge of your love to Jesus, and be not satisfied till you can talk about your interest in Him as a reality that you have made infallibly sure by having received the witness of the Holy Spirit and His seal upon your soul by faith that you are born of God and belong to Christ. …  

     Why do we love Jesus? We have the best of answers: because He first loved us! … Why do we love Him? Because before this round earth was fashioned between the palms of the great Creator, before He had painted the rainbow or hung out the lights of the sun and moon, Christ’s delights were with us. He foresaw us through the glass of His prescience. He knew what we should be….

From The Church’s Love To Her Loving Lord

God wants you to know how much He loves you. He went first because we didn’t have any way to approach Him. But Jesus made it possible for us to come close to God through His substitutionary death on the Cross for our sins. And now the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly to your heart to trust that this is absolutely, irrevocably true: GOD LOVES YOU! 

As Spurgeon said, don’t be content with merely thinking this is true, but ask the Holy Spirit to help you know this is true! 

Listen to these words—This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. … This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. … We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:9, 13-14, 19)

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Podcast: Are We Using The Right Metrics?

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • Greg toots my horn for me! [1:00]
  • I talk about how my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter came into being [1:45] 
  • Greg wonders why leaders get trapped using metrics of success that don’t really matter [4:10]
  • I talk about why the subtle shift from “servant leadership” to “shepherd leadership” is important [4:50]
  • Greg and I discuss the tension between a leader’s confidence and a leader’s humility [6:25]
  • I explain how my wife helped me see my leadership in a better light [8:00]
  • my favorite definition of humility comes from C.S. Lewis [9:45]
  • Greg asks how leaders can develop the right kinds of relationships that will help them continue to grow [10:35]
  • I share the dangers when leaders try to fly solo [11:40]
  • Greg talks about the vital need for leaders to refresh themselves [14:00]
  • who will benefit from reading Shepherd Leadership? [14:50]
  • I share a humorous story of a way I advised a church to grow their numbers overnight [16:54]

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Is The Great Worker

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

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

God Is The Great Worker

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9) 

     God Himself is the Great Worker. He may use what laborers He pleases, but the increase comes only from Him. Brothers, you know it is so in natural things—the most skillful farmer cannot make the wheat germinate, grow, and ripen. … And in the spiritual farm it is even more so, for what can man do in this business? … We can tell out the truth of God, but to apply the truth to the heart and conscience is quite another thing. … 

     Well said our Lord, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). What is the effect of all this upon your minds? Briefly I would draw certain practical lessons out of this important truth of God. (1) The first is, if the whole farm of the church belongs exclusively to the great Master Worker and the laborers are worth nothing without Him, let this promote unity among all whom He employs. … 

     (2) Next, notice that this fact ennobles everybody who labors in God’s husbandry. … 

     (3) But lastly, how this should drive us to our knees! Since we are nothing without God, let us cry mightily to Him for help in this, our holy service!

From Farm Laborers

I learned long ago of both the confidence and the humility in reminding myself that God chose me to work in His field. Here’s how I describe that in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter

     There is nothing wrong about aspiring to a leadership position. The apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy, “This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position’” (1 Timothy 3:1 nlt). Yet this desire needs to be tempered by Jeremiah’s words to his scribe Baruch, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them” (Jeremiah 45:5). Taken together, a shepherd leader’s passion for greater leadership should be to gain greater things not for himself but for others. 

     Shepherd leaders need to remind themselves frequently of this simple statement: God chose me. The confidence comes from remembering “God chose.” If God has chosen me, then He has also equipped me. He foresaw the needs of this organization, and He has prepared me to step into this role for such a time as this. The humility comes from remembering “God chose me.” Who am I that God would think so highly of me? Of all the people on Earth that God could have placed here, why did He pick me? This confident humility will do two things for us: keep us confident to continue to lead when doubts or naysayers arise, and keep us humble to continue to serve people when pride or applause arises. (except from chapter 2 “Secure To Serve”) 

How important it is to remind ourselves that God makes things grow—not us. Our role is to perform the highest-quality labor possible, and to remain faithful at our post until God gives us a new assignment.  

This isn’t true just for church leaders, but for every member of the Body of Christ

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