You Have To Be Tuned In To Yourself

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 while his podcast partner Dace Clifton was on sabbatical.

From all of the podcasts and interviews they had done, Kyle shared with me how so many pastors find it difficult to take a Sabbath break. Kyle noted that a pastor’s day of rest seems to bump into everyone else’s day of work. 

I’ve found this to be true for anyone in leadership, even if they’re not a pastor. It seems that a leader’s work is never done, making it very easy to try to maintain a 24/7 availability. If you feel like rest is a difficult thing to maintain, you’re in good company because Jesus had the same struggle. 

That passage in Mark 6 that I mentioned is instructive for leaders in a couple of ways. First, Jesus was looking out for His teammates. He saw that they were tired and He called them to a place of rest. Good shepherds are always tuned in to the needs of the flock around them. As David said in Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd knows when to lead us to quiet pastures and still waters. 

Second, I see that Jesus was also tuned in to Himself. Even though He was trying to get to a quiet place, He took time to minister in teaching and food to a crowd that was described as “sheep without a shepherd.” When this time was finished, Jesus took time alone to pray (Mark 6:46). 

I think sometimes leaders have sabotaged their own health and effectiveness by saying things like, “This is quitting time” or “This is my day off.” Instead, we should listen to the Holy Spirit giving us insight like, “Take a break now. It’s time to go to a quiet pasture. It’s time to recharge in prayer.” 

Leaders, don’t stick rigidly to your schedule but stay tuned in to yourself. Listen for the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit giving you wisdom. I have a section of five chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership that deal with every aspect of a leader’s health. Please pick up a copy today.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Thriving In Ministry 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. ◀︎◀︎

Podcast: Leaders Are Readers

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

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

  • [0:27] Leaders are readers
  • [1:16] High-level leaders read more than just what’s in their industry
  • [1:42] A challenge all leaders face: Finding time to read
  • [2:33] What benefits come to leaders who read widely?
  • [4:20] What kinds of books should leaders choose?
  • [7:25] Don’t get stuck in a rut with our reading selections
  • [10:13] Leaders need to keep a learner’s mindset
  • [11:00] Where does reading play into our leadership development?
  • [12:52] Greg shares a quote from Dr. Seuss about reading
  • [13:36] What am I currently reading? The books I mention in the podcast are Calvin Coolidge’s autobiography, Hank Greenberg’s life storyWho’s Pushing Your Buttons, and one of my most recent books of poetry.
  • [16:40] What is Greg currently reading?
  • [18:22] Leaders should be “book givers”
  • [19:25] What can we do with the notes from the books that we read?
  • [21:53] Greg has a new book coming out soon. Stay tuned for Sage Advice

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.

When Leaders Need To Call A “Time Out!”

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

I’ve discussed quite a bit the two ways that organizations—especially churches and non-profit ministries—can measure success: By quantity or by quality. And I think a good case can be made for both of these metrics from the Bible. 

My bigger concern is when we try to use bigger numbers as the sole gauge of success. In a training time I had with some ministry interns, we took a deep dive into the reasons why the metric of bigger and ever-increasing numbers became the sole measurement for success in our churches. During this training time, I took these interns to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians and two Old Testament examples where people got this wrong. Take a listen…

It’s important for shepherd leaders to call a “time out” to get their teammates to step back for a moment to consider what metrics they are using. My book Shepherd Leadership can be a good resource to use in this evaluation process. I am currently working with pastors who are using my book as a discussion-starter for their team, and I would be happy to do this with you as well. If I can be of service to you, please contact me. 

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. ◀︎◀︎

A High And Holy Calling

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

When God spoke to the “princes of Israel,” He was speaking to those in leadership positions. They were men who had wealth, position, and a high level of influence. God called them to live up to their title as “prince” because leadership is a high and holy calling given by God. 

Leaders are to set an example for others. They are to provide what is lacking so that others can live up to their own God-given potential as well. Here’s the way God describes His leaders in Ezekiel 45-46:

They are to be peacemakers, never men of violence nor oppression (45:9). 

They are to be fair, consistent, and impartial in their interactions with others (45:10). 

They are to generously provide for the people under their care (45:15-17, 22; 46:13-14). 

They are to have a “get to do it” attitude toward their duties, not a “have to do it” attitude” (46:5, 7, 11). 

They are to be among their people, not aloof nor isolated from them (46:10). 

They are to provide for their family without impoverishing the people under their care (46:18). 

Since God calls leaders, He will also call them to account. Jesus made it clear that there are only one-of-two assessments that leaders will hear from God:

  1. Well done, good and faithful servant 
  2. You wicked, lazy servant

Let me say it again: Leadership is a high and holy calling. So…

A mark of a godly leader is one who joyfully and faithfully fulfills God’s leadership call. 

This is part 67 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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

Podcast: Motivated Leadership

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

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

  • [0:48] What does the dictionary say about motivation? What do we say about motivation? 
  • [2:03] Motivation comes in “different packages”
  • [3:48] How can we individualize motivation?
  • [5:53] How does coachability mesh with motivation?
  • [7:20] Is 100% self-motivation possible?
  • [7:49] Greg’s story about a leader’s frustration with unmotivated people 
  • [9:44] Does yelling ever motivate people?
  • [12:52] A teammate’s love language can give you insight into how to motivate them.
  • [13:56] How do leaders “call out” what’s in our team members?
  • [16:01] A leader’s self-assessment is key to how well we motivate others.
  • [18:23] Are company-wide benefits demotivating? How can we switch this up?
  • [20:30] Does the carrot-or-stick method of motivation actually work?
  • [21:10] Greg shares a quote about how dreams can help motivation.
  • [22:51] Great leaders don’t assume, but they ask important questions.
  • [23:53] Our coaching huddles can help you individualize your leadership motivational skills and practices.

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.

Links & Quotes

The churches in my hometown have banded together to get food to students who need it for the weekend. Would you like to help us? We can use both your food donations and your financial support as we serve nearly 200 students every week.

Jesus said we are hypocrites when we give, pray, or fast only outwardly. He called our prayers “pagan” when we try to pray unnaturally. Jesus desires for our giving, praying, and fasting to be natural parts of who we are. This is a short clip of a full-length teaching called “Keepin’ it real” that I shared exclusively with my Patreon supporters. If you would like to sponsor me too for just $5/month, check out the details here.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” —Audrey Hepburn

“Astronomers are thrilled by the extraordinary images provided by the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—but some of the data already contradict Big Bang expectations. … Creationists have long noted that the Big Bang suffers from the mature distant galaxy problem. Big Bang theorists assume that light from the most distant galaxies took more than 13 billion years to reach Earth. By Big Bang reckoning, we should be seeing these very distant galaxies, not as they are today, but as they were more than 13 billion years ago. Hence, these galaxies should look ‘unevolved’ and ‘immature.’ Yet this expectation is routinely contradicted, and preliminary data from Webb continues the trend.” Check out more from this ICR article.

“Our leadership will always be second to our followership of Jesus.” —Pastor Ben Stoffel

Have you ever been cursed out? Here’s how Jesus wants Christians to respond. It’s pretty easy to say something nice to someone who has done something nice for you. But Jesus tells us to say nice things to people regardless of how they have treated us.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—that’s where it’s at.” —Jesse Owens

“Your walk walks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks more than your talk talks.” —Anonymous

Go Deep—Gift Of Koinonia

John uses the word “fellowship” four times in 1 John 1:3, 6-7. This is the Greek word koinonia, which means intimacy of relationship. The whole purpose of the motivational gifts, the operational gifts, and the leadership gifts is to bring maturity and unity to the Body of Christ. This maturity brings out the fruit of the Spirit. 

All of these gifts of the Holy Spirit are intended to help us demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in ways that make the Kingdom of God visible and desirable. A key component is our koinonia that draws us together as one Body. Two key phrases that appear generously throughout the New Testament Church are one another and each other. 

Download the participant’s guide for this lesson here → Gift of koinonia handout

Here’s how koinonia is supposed to be demonstrated—

  1. Loving one another—John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12
  2. Sharing in each other’s practical needs—Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35 
  3. Devoted to one another—Romans 12:10
  4. Honoring one another—Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3 (AMP); 1 Peter 5:5
  5. Living in harmony with each other—Romans 12:16 
  6. Not judging one another—Romans 14:13 
  7. Building each other up—Romans 14:19 NLT 
  8. Empathizing with each other—Romans 15:5 AMP; 1 Corinthians 12:25 AMP; 1 Peter 3:8 TLB 
  9. Accepting each other—Romans 15:7 
  10. Instructing one another—Acts 2:42; Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16 
  11. Agreeing with one another—1 Corinthians 1:10 
  12. Encouraging one another—2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11; Hebrews 3:13, 10:25
  13. Serving each other—Galatians 5:13 
  14. Patiently bearing with one another—Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:3 TLB 
  15. Speaking the truth in love to one another—Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 3:9
  16. Forgiving one another—Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13 
  17. Submitting to one another—Ephesians 5:21 
  18. Acting like Jesus toward each other—Philippians 2:5 
  19. Doing what is good for one another—1 Thessalonians 5:15 
  20. Spurring one another on—Hebrews 10:24 
  21. Regularly meeting with one another—Acts 2:46; Hebrews 10:25 
  22. Looking after each other—Hebrews 12:15 AMP 
  23. Confessing sins to one another—James 5:16 
  24. Showing hospitality to each other—1 Peter 4:9 
  25. Doing the hard work of getting along with each other—James 3:17-18 MSG

Those things lead to #26, which starts the cycle over again at #1. 

  1. Increasing our love for one another—1 Thessalonians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 4:8 

Our koinonia in the church is encouraging for the saints and it is a blessing for the unsaved because of all of the good things a unified, strong, loving church can do. Koinonia ultimately becomes one of the greatest witnessing tools. Jesus prayed—

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. (John 17:20-21)

The Best Laid Plans

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

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” 

This is a line from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1785 called To A Mouse. The story behind the poem is Burns had been plowing his field and destroyed a nest that a mouse had been working all day to build. His poem was written as an apology. The famous line from the Scottish poet actually is written like this—

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
     Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
     For promis’d joy!

That phrase “gang aft agley” means often go awry. 

Do you ever feel this way? Like your perfectly planned agenda got derailed before you even finished breakfast? Or that your To Do list never quite gets “To Done” by the end of the day?  

I had a great time on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis while his podcast partner Dace Clifton was on sabbatical. We had planned to discuss how to help pastors get some rest so they could be at their optimal health, but our best laid plans definitely “gang aft agley”! We had multiple technical issues before we could even start recording, and then just as we talked about how pastors could find a way to rest, well, this happened…

Ah yes! Plans gone awry, indeed! 

But here is an important principle for all of us to remember. The Bible says this: We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9). That means the thing that I call “an interruption” may be something or someone God has sent my way. 

I used to really struggle with this, saying things like, “My plans never work out.” Until one day I heard the distinct voice of the Holy Spirit ask me, “Whose plans?” 

Right—I plan, but God directs. 

And He directly perfectly. 

So now I write the initials I.T.L.W. on the top of my well-crafted daily To Do list. That is shorthand for “If the Lord wills” which I took from this passage—

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15) 

Pastor, look at the life of Jesus. He often tried to get away for a time of rest, but people with needs showed up. His well-laid plans appeared to go awry. But He had compassion on them because He viewed them “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34). Jesus then found time to sabbath later. 

Don’t view people with needs as an interruption or as something that derails your plans, but thank God for sending them your way. Then listen to the Holy Spirit showing you how and when you can get the rest you need to be energized to accomplish the rest of the items on your agenda.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Thriving In Ministry 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. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

I co-host a leadership podcast with my good friend of 30+ years Greg Heeres. In an episode that came out last week, we were discussing the importance of friendships for leaders. All of us need friends that are investing in our lives. You may check out the rest of the conversation Greg and I had by clicking here.

Jonathan Woodward writes, “The right use of authority or power can make people glad. In our age, however, power is often immediately viewed with skepticism or outright disdain.” He also talks about our responsibility to the incorrect use of leadership authority: “It’s absolutely necessary to identify, challenge, and rebuke sinful leadership. It ensures that people are cared for and God is honored.” Check out The Power to Bless: Six Dimensions of Good Leadership.

More and more scientists are dissatisfied with the lack of evidence supporting the theory of evolution. ICR reports, “Indiana University Biologist Armin Moczek told The Guardian, ‘We still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat.’”

The churches in my hometown of Cedar Springs, MI, have partnered together to make sure students who are food insecure on the weekend are supplied with nutritious food to carry them through the weekend. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to help us, please check out the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association website.

“Because we love something else other than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.” —C.S. Lewis

This is one of the best interviews I have done. I so enjoyed this! And the good news is this is only part 1. We had such a good conversation that the hosts asked me to stick around to record another episode with them. Here is the first session…

“Here’s the deal: the better you get, the harder you have to work.” —Albert King, speaking to Stevie Ray Vaughan

Here is a brief clip from a teaching I did for some ministry interns. You can check out more of this by clicking here.

Podcast: Leaders Need Friends

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

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

  • [0:31] Can a leader have friends at work?
  • [1:22] Can a leader mix work friendship and personal relationships?
  • [2:25] You can’t be friends with everyone.
  • [3:21] How many true friends can you maintain?
  • [4:47] Bringing someone into your confidence can be a challenge.
  • [6:01] Tell people their story, not someone else’s.
  • [7:45] Greg talks about getting naked with your team.
  • [8:58] I explain why you need a Paul and a Barnabas in your life.
  • [10:01] Leaders need play time to recharge and refresh.
  • [11:08] I make the case for “sabbathing” to be a verb in my book Shepherd Leadership.
  • [11:55] We discuss being intentional about how you spend your time.
  • [14:31] I describe the qualities I look for in a strong leadership friend.
  • [16:45] We discuss how a “yes man” isn’t a true friend.
  • [18:12] Leaders need to be careful not to end up on an island.
  • [21:52] How do you navigate friendships through organizational groups and silos?
  • [23:20] I shares a humorous note Greg left me to illustrate the friendship tradeoff.
  • [24:22] Greg says you need a trusted friend to help you monitor your energy level.
  • [25:30] I say it’s important to thank friends for paying attention to you.
  • [26:14] We use Jesus’ relationships with His disciples to model their own friendships.
  • [27:40] We would love to be your leadership friend in our coaching huddles.

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.

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