The reason I wrote Shepherd Leadership is because my heart was aching for my fellow pastors who were feeling frustrated maybe even to the point of contemplating resigning their churches. The principles I teach in this book are ones that will get all of us back to a biblical standard of what God says is successful in our ministries.
Toward that end, I love praying for pastors. Every week I send a Sunday morning prayer to my fellow pastors in my hometown to encourage them to find satisfaction in serving the sheep the Chief Shepherd has placed under their care.
As we wrapped up our time together, Rusty referred to a prayer I shared in my chapter entitled ‘Stick-to-it-iveness.’ This prayer is adapted from Psalm 23 and is intended to be a source of strength for pastors.
Take a listen…
I hope this prayer is helpful and energizing to you. I also hope that you will pick up a copy of Shepherd Leadership to infuse some more encouragement into your ministry efforts.
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)
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.
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.
The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series.
Selah can mean…
a pause from the noise to reflect;
a preparation for an exciting accent; or
a reflective time of consideration
Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang.
Summertime is typically a time for us to pause from our regular routine. Perhaps it’s a vacation, time with friends and family, driving around with the windows down and the music blasting, or just a quiet walk through woods or along a beach. In any case, whether we realize it or not, we’re actually doing Selah in these break-from-the-routine activities.
Join me this Sunday as we continue our summertime look at each of the Psalms that ask us to Selah. I think you will find that this Sunday summertime pause will be both refreshing and encouraging. You can join me either in person or on Facebook or YouTube.
Since this is a continuation of our summer series, you can check out the Selahs we discussed by clicking here for the 2018 messages, here for the 2019 messages, here for the 2020 messages, and here for the 2021 messages.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or Audible.
Josh had just graduated from high school when I came to pastor in Cedar Springs. As I sat with this outstanding young man I asked him what he wanted to do next.
“I’m not exactly sure,” he told me, “but I really feel like it’s something involved with ministry.”
“Great!” I responded. “Let’s start experimenting.”
I told Josh that our church was going to be a safe place to experiment: to plan new things, to try new things, to prayerfully evaluate the results, and then to use those results to plan new things. Josh jumped in right away, and over a short period of time we were eventually able to ascertain just how God had wired Josh for his niche of ministry.
But this would have never happened without some missteps along the way.
Leaders need to create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes, because mistakes are a vital component of learning.
Leaders can help those around them grow through their mistakes by constantly reinforcing these six principles:
When someone complains, “This is too hard,” remind them, “This may take some time and effort.”
When someone says, “I’m not good at this,” prompt them to ask, “What am I missing?” and then encourage them to add, “I’m not good at this yet.”
When someone wants to settle with, “It’s good enough,” challenge them to ask themselves, “Have I given this my best effort?”
When someone wants to throw in the towel by saying, “I made a mistake,” remind them, “I failed is not the same thing as I am a failure,” and then remind them, “Mistakes help me learn.”
When someone is exasperated and says, “I give up,” come alongside them with, “Let’s try a strategy we’ve already learned.”
When someone says, “I can’t do this,” you need to lovingly encourage them with, “You can do this!”
These responses will help foster an abundance-mindset environment where people aren’t defeated by their mistakes, but they’re energized to reengage and try again. As the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.”
Leaders, let’s make our spaces the safest places for the mistakes that lead to discovery, growth, and success.
I have a chapter dedicated to this called “Going Farther.” Here’s a short excerpt—
You will not only extend your leadership by having other servant-hearted shepherds around you, but you will also have a guard against the aloneness that led to such ugly warts on the biography of otherwise powerful leaders such as David, Elijah, and Peter.
Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers into the field (Luke 10:2). In a similar attitude, I believe we can pray to the Chief Shepherd to send out more under-shepherds into the pastures; specifically, we can pray for those under-shepherds to be sent into the pasture where we labor. The early church showed us the example of prayer being the priority when new shepherds were needed (Acts 1:21-26, 6:3-6, 13:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:3-6). We would do well to make it a priority to pray for God to send us godly leaders that can serve alongside us.
If you are a pastor, please pick up a copy of this book, as I truly believe it will encourage you. If you love your pastor, please give him or her a copy as a gift. I promise you that this book will bring such a fresh perspective to their ministry.
And whether you are a pastor or a lay leader in your church, please continue to pray for God to send more laborers into your harvest field.
When Faith Frodsham was teaching at the Peniel Bible Institute, she wrote home to tell her father Stanley about her frustration over the small size of her class. She wondered if she was really being successful with such a small class.
“We received your good letter yesterday. Don’t get discouraged by the small size of the school. The Lord spent much time ministering to the ones. Read the third of John and see His ministry to one soul. Then in the fourth chapter His ministry to another. Then how wonderful it was when He had just an audience of one, Mary, who sat at His feet. With six students you have six times the audience He had.”
Success is not about big numbers, but about quality time invested faithfully and for God’s glory.
I wrote my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matterto address this misconception which discourages so many pastors and other ministry leaders. If you are involved in ministry, I truly believe this book will give you a new encouraging perspective.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or Audible.
Do you keep a journal? I’m not talking about a diary of your daily events, but a journal of your ongoing dialogue with God. This is a discipline I began over 25 years ago, and it’s been immensely helpful to me.
Every time you read the history of Israel in the Old Testament, you are really reading a written history—a journal—of what God did for His people.
In Luke 1:46-55, we read Mary’s song about the soon-to-be-born Jesus that someone journaled to record for posterity. The same thing is true for Zechariah’s song about his son John in Luke 1:67-79. I am sure that many people found great comfort in reading and recalling these songs, perhaps even Jesus Himself and John the Baptist.
The board was making a major decision. They were considering a change in their leadership to one who had completely different credentials and training from all of their previous leaders. Because this change would be so momentous, the board interviewed me for more than four hours. When they finally felt they had deliberated long enough, they asked me to leave the room while they prayed and voted. I stepped out into the lobby for just a couple of minutes when the door opened again and they asked me to step back inside.
“Well, Craig,” the spokesman began, “we prayed and we feel you are the one God has selected for this position.” I told them I would be happy to accept their offer. After they prayed over me, I began to pack up my things to head home.
“Hold on a minute,” one of the board members said to me, “we’re about to discuss the budget, and we think it would be good for you to be a part of this discussion.” I agreed and resumed my seat at the table.
I was handed both the year-to-date financial report and the projected income and expenses for the remaining quarter of the year. “As you can see,” the treasurer began, “we are projecting a $70,000 loss for this year.” Then he turned to me and asked, “What are you going to do about that?”
I gulped, tried not to show that my stomach was doing flips, and said, “Honestly, I don’t know.” I paused, and since no one else said anything, I continued, “But I’ll let you know what we come up with.”
All the way home, I kept thinking, “What have I gotten myself into? I’m walking away from a successful business to oversee an organization that’s going to go bankrupt before I even get started?!” But then I began to remind myself of something else: God chose me.
When I returned home, I immediately went to my journal. I flipped to the page where I had written down all of the reasons why I had concluded that God chose me for this position. I looked at the way God had spoken to me and to my wife, and the way friends who knew nothing about this decision spoke a confirming word to me. I looked at the pages where I had written down the vision I believed God had given me for this new organization, and how the board chairman’s handwritten vision for the organization matched mine thought-for-thought. Looking at these words—at the specific dates and ways God had spoken, and confirmed, and re-confirmed His direction—gave me the confidence to step into this assignment, even when facing such a huge financial mountain. (excerpt from chapter 5 “A Humble Leader’s Attitude Adjustment”)
If you haven’t journaled in the past, I encourage you to begin this spiritual discipline today. I can tell you from both what I read in the Bible and my own personal experience how valuable this will be for you.