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.

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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. ◀︎◀︎

Call Me Pasture Craig

In my book Shepherd Leadership, I tell a humorous but very enlightening story of a student who called me “Pasture Craig.” It was done innocently enough, but it taught me an invaluable lesson. 

Check this out…

And since that day, I have never minded being called Pasture Craig because it reminds me of what I’m really supposed to be doing!

If you want to check out another hilarious story about my alter-ego Plunger Man, please click here. 

Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is an excellent resource for both pastors and non-profit ministry leaders and is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Our Healer

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. 

God Our Healer

O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3) 

     God is the best Physician, even for our bodily infirmities. We do very wickedly and foolishly when we forget God. It was a sin in Asa that he trusted physicians and not God (2 Chronicles 16:12). If we must have a physician, let it be so, but still let us go to our God first of all. And above all remember that there can be no power to heal in medicine of itself; the healing energy must flow from the divine hand. …

     If our watch is out of order, we take it to the watchmaker; if our bodies or souls are in an evil plight, let us resort to Him who created them, who has unfailing skill to put them in right condition. As for our spiritual diseases, nothing can heal these evils but the touch of the Lord Christ: if we do but touch the hem of His garment, we shall be made whole….

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

God has created us as a soul with a body. I believe that physical ailments can be attended to by a medical doctor, emotional distress should be addressed by a counselor, and spiritual issues should have the wisdom of a pastor. 

But let’s always remember that since God created our body, soul, and spirit, He is the Ultimate Source of wisdom for any areas that are out of alignment. So as Spurgeon says, seek out a doctor, counselor, or pastor, but go to God first. 

God may bring divine healing that requires no other intervention, or He may heal through medicine or counseling, but ultimately He is THE Healer.

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The Non-Profit Clash

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

I have been involved in church ministry in one form or another for most of my life. Even when I was involved in the business world, I frequently helped non-profit organizations, offering my time, finances, and wisdom. 

To this day, I remain a huge supporter of what our front-lines non-profit organizations are doing, especially our local churches. 

However, there is often a fundamental disconnect between the board of these ministries and the director or pastor. This disconnect can easily escalate into a full-blown clash—believe me, I’ve seen it firsthand when I’ve been called in as a consultant—if this issue isn’t quickly addressed. 

The main issue is the mindset of measuring success by quality or by quantity. Both have their place, but often times the board members are thinking primarily in terms of quantity while the director or pastor is thinking primarily in terms of quality. 

Here’s how I addressed this topic when I taught a group of ministry interns…

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I have a chapter called “Don’t Try To Grow Your Ministry” in which I note: 

This is a common disconnect in nonprofit organizations and churches. Many of the boards of these organizations are wonderful, godly people who fully believe in the mission of the organization. These board members are often successful business people who have both wisdom and wealth to contribute to the organization. But here’s the problem: the way we define success in a for-profit organization isn’t the same way we define success in a nonprofit organization. And often the way we define success in any of our ministries doesn’t line up with the Bible’s definition. 

For both pastors of churches and directors of non-profit organizations, and for their respective board members, I would recommend using Shepherd Leadership as a discussion-starter to address this potentially ministry-derailing topic. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

If I can help as a consultant in your church or non-profit, please get in touch with me. 

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

The Proper Value Of Words

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

I once knew a businessman who was one of the most silver-tongued talkers I have ever met! He could persuade just about anyone to join him in one of his “can’t miss” business ventures. 

And even after they did miss (which was all of them that I was aware of) he could still convince many of his backers to continue. I never knew him to fulfill what he had promised. 

Eventually, this caught up with him. And so did the law, and he ended up serving a prison term. 

It has always been intriguing to me how much value we put on the words of leaders. It seems as if they can “talk a good game,” we feel a need to exalt them to a higher level. It’s not the one who gets things done, or the one who has the best ideas, or the one who can bring increased efficiency or effectiveness, but the one who can talk the most convincingly. 

I think about in my own profession as a pastor. Churches will select a pastor based on how he sounds from the platform. And yet the sermon is only a tiny fraction of a pastor’s work each week. 

The danger comes when the leader thinks that his highest value to the organization is the words he speaks. Inevitably, then, he will put more effort into what he says than into what he does. He will spend a lot of time figuring out the right words to say, and how to move people’s hearts. 

The apostle Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:4). And he told the Christians at Thessalonica, “For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:2), not Paul’s own authority. 

I don’t want people to be impressed with me. I don’t want my authority to come from my vocabulary. I simply want to be known for speaking the Word of God, and then living a life that matches the Word of God. 

As King Solomon said, “A truly wise person uses few words” (Proverbs 17:27). The wisest words are not mine but God’s. Then “your faith [is] not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). 

Words do have their place. But let’s always make sure that that place isn’t in place of God’s Word. 

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Soul Watchers

I share T.M. Moore’s heartbeat for the role of shepherd leaders in the Church today. I highly recommend that every pastor subscribe to the newsletters that are available through the Fellowship of Ailbe. 

A recent article called “Soul Watchers” really caught my attention. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite… 

Elders are called “overseers” and “shepherds” in their relationship to the congregations of the Lord (1 Peter 5:1-3). … Elders were charged with the responsibility of watching over the flocks of the Lord (Acts 20:28), preserving sound doctrine and right practice in the churches (Acts 15:1-6; Titus 1), and, in particular, keeping watch over the souls of God’s people (2 Corinthians 12:15; Hebrews 13:17). … 

The elders appointed to serve the churches of the New Testament were called to be shepherds, leading the Lord’s flocks into fuller realization of His Kingdom and promises. In fact, so vital were elders to the churches of the New Testament that Paul insisted that any church that didn’t have elders was to that extent not “in order” (Titus 1:3).

(Check out the bible verses T.M. references in this piece by clicking here.)

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, and I recently appeared as a guest on his Ailbe Podcast.

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.

“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”

“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”

“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”

“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”

“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” 

“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”

“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”

“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”

“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”

“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”

“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”

Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.

9 More Quotes From “Keep Your Love On!”

Keep Your Love OnKeep Your Love On! is an outstanding resource for anyone who wants to repair or strengthen a relationship. As I said in my book review, I think pastors and marriage counselors should definitely get a copy of this book. Here are a few more quotes.

“If you want to preserve relationships, then you must learn to respond instead of react to fear and pain. Responding does not come naturally. You can react without thinking, but you cannot respond without training your mind to think, your will to choose, and your body to obey. … Powerful people are not slaves to their instincts. Powerful people can respond with love in the face of pain and fear. This ‘response-ability’ is essential to building healthy relationships.”

“If you were raised with a powerless, fear-driven mindset based on the belief that you can control people and they can control you, then you will naturally perceive God as a controlling Punisher. You will take the laws of the Old Testament—all the verses and stories about wrath, judgment, and the fear of the Lord—and conclude, ‘See, God wants to control us, and we need to be controlled.’ … The problem is that the Bible doesn’t show us a God Who is pursuing the goal of distance between Himself and a bunch of scary sinners. Instead, the Bible reveals a God Who is relentlessly closing that distance and paying the ultimate price to repair the disconnection we created in our relationship.”

“Fear and love are enemies. They come from two opposing kingdoms. Fear comes from the devil, who would like nothing more than to keep you permanently disconnected and isolated. Love comes from God, Who is always working to heal and restore your connection with Him and other people and bring you into healthy, life-giving relationships. … When Paul told Timothy that the spirit of love is also the spirit of power and a sound mind, he implied that its opposite, the spirit of fear, is the spirit of powerlessness and a weak, divided mind. When you grow up partnering with the spirit of fear, as most of us do, you learn to simply hand over your brain and your power, letting fear take control. But as soon as you decide to partner with the spirit of love, you have to think and make powerful choices.”

“Do you want to win the battle between fear and love in your relationships? You can start by making these two fundamental commitments: (1) It’s my job to control myself. I do not get to control other people. (2) My number-one goal and priority in relationships is building and protecting connection.”

“Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment, replaces it with freedom and safety, and invites each person to bring his or her best self forward in the relationship.”

“True honor is the practice of two powerful people putting one another before themselves, empowering one another, working together to meet one another’s needs, and adjusting as necessary in order to move together toward the shared goal of the relationship.”

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying ‘Yes’ to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say ‘No’ to. … When we find ourselves with more freedom than self-control, then that freedom erodes the quality of our life and friendships. Self-control is what allows us to manage increasing levels of freedom in our life and relationships.”

“When you put a person in the position of God, you set him or her up for failure. … Mysterious as it is, making ourselves accountable to God and putting ourselves under His authority is the only way we can become powerful and learn to govern ourselves. … When two people are consistently pursuing a connection with the Perfect One, that connection will set the pace for their connection with each other. They will be learning to love from Love Himself, which can only bring the best into their relationship.”

“The faster you can get to the question, ‘What do you need?’ the faster you can start doing something about it. Unfortunately, because many people are not used to being listened to, they don’t know what they need, or how to communicate it. They think they have to present a solid case for someone to help them, agree with them, or change for them.”

You can read the the first batch of quotes I shared here.

My book review is posted here.

7 Quotes For Preachers

PreachingI love getting counsel from been-there-done-that people, because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve. I was reading these quotes for myself, but I thought my fellow pastors might enjoy them as well.

“A sermon is not like a Chinese firecracker to be fired off for the noise which it makes. It is the hunter’s gun, and at every discharge he should look to see his game fall.” ―Henry Ward Beecher

“That is not the best sermon which makes the hearers go away talking to one another, and praising the speaker, but which makes them go away thoughtful and serious, and hastening to be alone.” ―Gilbert Burnet

“Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher. Good preaching leads to people to praise the Savior.” ―Charles G. Finney

“The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, with the jargon of Plato, or Aristotle, and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.” ―Thomas Jefferson

“The sermon edifies, the example destroys. Practice what you preach.” ―Abbé de Villiers

“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.” ―John Wesley, in his journal

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” ―George Whitefield

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