Quality Over Quantity

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. 

Rusty referred to the opening chapter of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter where I talk about how many of our churches and church leaders are attempting to climb the wrong ladder of success. Rusty noted how many people become frustrated because they are not seeing the success the way that so many people define it.

Before addressing frustrated pastors, I first spoke to the board members that are supporting that pastor. 

In Shepherd Leadership I wrote,

“Businesses think in terms of quantitative gains—things they can count—but churches and nonprofits should be thinking in terms of qualitative gains—a quality improvement that isn’t as easily counted. I think we all know this, and yet we still persist in wanting to define success in a church or a nonprofit by those quantitative standards such as attendance growth, donations, and the like. When we think qualitative over quantitative, suddenly what seemed “small” is so significant and so valuable that it cannot be calculated!”

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. If you would like to check out the other clips I have already shared from this podcast, please check them out here. 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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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Encouragement For Preachers

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. 

Encouragement For Preachers

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     We preach because ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah’s thought—neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. … The true preacher, the man whom God has commissioned, delivers his message with awe and trembling because ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ … 

     Woe unto us if we dare to speak the Word of the Lord with less than our whole heart and soul and strength! Woe unto us if we handle the Word as if it were an occasion for display! If it were our own word, we might be studious of the graces of oratory. But if it is God’s Word, we cannot afford to think of ourselves. … Because the mouth of the Lord has spoken the truth of God, we therefore endeavor to preach it with absolute fidelity. …  

     Believing that ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ it is my duty to repeat God’s Word to you as correctly as I can after having heard it and felt it in my own soul. It is not mine to amend or adapt the gospel. …  Again, dear friends, as ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ we speak the divine truth with courage and full assurance. Modesty is a virtue, but hesitancy when we are speaking for the Lord is a great fault. …  

     We preach not the gospel by your leave. We do not ask tolerance nor court applause. We preach Christ crucified, and we preach boldly as we ought to speak because it is God’s Word not our own. … We cannot use ‘ifs’ and ‘buts,’ for we are dealing with God’s ‘shalls’ and ‘wills.’ If He says it is so, it is so. And there is the end of it. Controversy ceases when Jehovah speaks [Jeremiah 1:17-19].

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

Preaching God’s Word is not for the faint of heart. It takes one who is confidently humbled—confident that God has spoken and humbled that He would choose someone like me to speak His Word to His people. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I wrote: 

Check this out: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Who wrote the book of Numbers? If you answered “Moses,” you are correct. Doesn’t that sound a bit brash to declare that you are more humble than anyone else on the earth? Yet, God allowed Moses to pen those words, making that a Holy Spirit-inspired statement of fact. Humility is a double-edged sword: it can serve a leader well when it is balanced with appropriate confidence, but it is a detriment to an organization’s health if it is self-de-basing humility that undercuts a leader’s credibility. 

The God-honoring preacher gets his message from the mouth of the Lord, and then confidently endeavors “to preach it with absolute fidelity.” Whether others praise of criticize, the humble leader says, “I am only God’s servant speaking God’s Word.” 

Preachers, let’s make sure that everything we confidently and humbly share from our pulpits is the whole counsel of what has been spoken by the mouth of the Lord.

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Links & Quotes

Dan Reiland shares 5 reasons leaders stumble and fall.

Max Lucado addresses the sickening news of sexual abuse coverups in the church. He wrote, “[Jesus] defended the weak, stood up for the forgotten. The idea that His church would be unsafe for His sons and daughters disturbs Him deeply. And you can bet your Bible that He’ll turn a few tables. If history teaches us anything it is this: Jesus will not sit idle while His church drifts from His cause. ‘I will rescue My flock from their mouths,” He declared through a prophet. ‘It will no longer be food for them’ (Ezekiel 34:10). 

“Repentance is necessary; heartfelt, tear-stained, face-on-the floor repentance. By all of us in positions of leadership. Will we see it? I pray so. Regardless, I pray that you will pursue the difficult path of seeking Christ in spite of Christians who have let you down. His pastors have failed to pastor. But when they don’t, He still does. Let Him pastor you.”

Darren Carlson wrote, “Healthy pastors experience the fullness and complexity of their emotions, and then hold them up against the sinlessness of Christ. How might Jesus respond to the pain and loss and victory and neediness in front of me? We grow emotionally as leaders by studying the heart of Jesus as he walks among sinners and sufferers.” His post ‘Healthy Pastors Have Emotions: How to Test and Cultivate Your Feelings’ is an excellent read. I explore the emotional health of shepherd pastors in my book.

Nicky Cruz’s story is a fascinating one. His message for America today should be heeded!

My friend Greg Heeres and I had a helpful discussion about leaders and forgiveness on our Craig And Greg Show podcast. Here is a brief snippet:

Don’t Be An Unloving Pastor

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

In my personal devotional time, I have been reading and thinking my way through the book of Amos. 

This minor prophet especially resonates with me because we have a similar background. Amos was a farmer and a businessman when God called him to be a preacher (Amos 1:1, 7:14-15). My story is quite similar, as I was a businessman when God called me to follow Him along a path that eventually culminated in me becoming a pastor. 

Amos’ calling was a heavy one: He had to speak to God’s people who had strayed away from God and were on the brink of God’s righteous judgment. It wasn’t a time for Amos to play games, water down the message, or shrink back from making God’s message perfectly clear. To be certain, it wasn’t a popular message. In fact, one of the priests of Bethel brought a message from King Jeroboam that basically said, “Stop preaching this way or I will have you killed!” (Amos 7:10-13). 

But the most unloving thing any pastor or preacher could ever do is hold back from telling people the truthful consequences of repeated, unrepented sin. 

The Holy Spirit confronted me with the words recorded in Amos 3. After I had pondered these words for myself, I felt I needed to share them with my fellow pastors. I pray that you will prayerfully consider these words. 

My friend, I’m praying for you that God will give you loving boldness to speak His truth to whomever He sends you. I pray that the Holy Spirit will anoint His words as you deliver them so that Jesus will be exalted. 

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Lubricate The Message With Tears

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

Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, “Why are you groaning?” you shall say, “Because of the news that is coming.” (Ezekiel 21:6-7)

Judah’s sin had exhausted God’s patience. Now punishment was coming in the form of the invincible Babylonian army, and Ezekiel was tasked to deliver the news. 

I and my fellow pastors often have to speak a heavy word. How we speak this word may make all the difference in the world in how it is received. We cannot speak brashly nor robotically. The Word of God should break our own hearts first, just as it did to Nehemiah.  

I must tell people about the consequences of their sin, but I must tell them with groaning. 

I must warn people of the horrors of hell, but I must warn them with bitter grief. 

I must confront a wayward brother or sister, but I must do so with a broken heart. 

I hope all my fellow pastors will join me in praying this: Holy Spirit, help me! May Your word break my heart before I open my mouth. May tears always lubricate the painfully loving words I must speak! 

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It’s What Shepherds Do

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

T.M. Moore shares my heartbeat for pastors to align their minds, hearts, and wills to leading as shepherds. T.M. graciously wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter by saying, 

“The combination of Craig’s Biblical understanding, practical insights, and consistent personal practice make this a book every pastor should read. Unless our goals and practices in ministry line up with those Jesus taught and exemplified, we cannot expect Him to bless us with world-uprighting power.”

In a recent blog post, T.M. shared these poignant words—

     “Many pastors today seek to model themselves and their ministries along the lines of whichever pastor and whatever church seem to be the most ‘popular’ or ‘successful’ in attracting people. The result is, increasingly, worship services are starting to look alike, and pastors are starting to preach alike. And those who aren’t are wondering what they might do to become more like everybody else.

     “We ought not model ourselves on our contemporaries, be they ever so ‘successful.’ Such comparing and adjusting, Paul suggested, is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Jesus is our great model for ministry, and we should look to Him to wash, shape, enliven, empower, and employ every aspect of our lives and ministries for His glory.

     “In his sermon, ‘Christ the Example of Ministers,’ Jonathan Edwards offered a concise summary of the reason people submit themselves for ordination to ministry: ‘The work and business of ministers is as it were that of servants, to wash and cleanse the souls of men: for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business, Ephesians 5:26. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” … It is the duty of ministers of the gospel, in the work of their ministry, to follow the example of their great Lord and Master.’ 

     “Elsewhere Paul talked about spending and being spent for the souls of God’s people (2 Corinthians 12:15). The challenge that faces us who have accepted the call to ministry is to follow the example of Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1) and strive to see Jesus, become like Jesus, work and serve like Jesus, lay down our lives like Jesus, and trust in Jesus to make our labors fruitful for His glory.” 

I wholeheartedly agree! 

Pastors, let’s get back to the shepherding model the Scriptures show us. This is truly the heartbeat of my book. You can get more information on Shepherd Leadership by clicking here. 

If you feel my book would benefit you (or your pastor) I would be happy to send you the ebook version free of charge. Just email me to let me know. 

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

Links & Quotes

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. This is another challenging word T.M. gives to pastor shepherds: “Shepherds and the sheep they serve stand together under the authority of God’s Word. But the shepherds have a greater obligation of study, learning, living, and disciple-making because God entrusts His sheep to their care (James 3:1). He intends that, by our teaching and example, His sheep should increase in eternal life. Let’s make sure our ministries are directed toward that end.” —T.M. Moore

More research showing just how dissimilar are the genes are between humans and chimpanzees. Humans are a unique creation just as every other speices of plant and animal are.

“Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness.” —F.B. Meyer

“It is a good thing to be engaged in holy work, but if you are in holy work before you are in the Lord, you will have no heart for it; neither will the Lord accept it! It is not essential that you should be in this church or in that church, but it is essential that you should be ‘in the Lord’!” —Charles Spurgeon 

Fight The New Drug shares 10 fast facts about the real effects of pornography.

In my “Best of…” post this week, I share a conversation with a new Christian about church infighting, and the resulting poem. Check out Brothers And Sisters The Same.

The Babylon Bee always cracks me up! For those of you who know the story of Abraham and Issac, this (ahem!) alternative story is quite a hoot!

Heathy Sheep Need A Healthy 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 Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis and Dace Clifton. 

Their podcast is all about helping pastors avoid burnout. That’s definitely a message that resonates with my heart too! Long before I stepped into the pastorate, I was actively involved in encouraging pastors and helping protect them from the many slings and arrows that get thrown at them. 

Pastors, we need to remain healthy. Only healthy shepherds can create a healthy environment for the sheep under their care. Jesus not only gave us the example for mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health, but the Holy Spirit wants to help us today to be that kind of wholly healthy leader. 

If you’re a pastor, I believe you will be energized by reading or listening to my book. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

If you love your pastor, get a copy to give as a gift. If you believe that your pastor would benefit from reading my book, but you don’t have the funds available to purchase it at this time, please leave me a comment below and I’ll make sure I get a copy to you. 

It takes everyone in the Body of Christ being actively involved for both the shepherd and sheep to remain healthy! 

If you’ve missed any of the other clips I’ve shared from this interview, please check them out here:

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Links & Quotes

I love the humanitarian work of Convoy of Hope wherever there is a need. They are on the front lines of Ukraine right now. If you are looking for a good organization to support financially, please check out their current efforts and click the Donate button on their page.

“[God] does not need us. If we stay away He is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But He magnifies His mercy by giving us free access through His Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, Himself. ‘You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11).” —John Piper 

“Good preachers are good learners, and not just of the Scriptures. They need to understand the times and the ways the times impact the people they are called to serve. Preachers who know their sheep well, as our Good Shepherd exemplified for us, will hear their concerns, understand their thoughts, discern their hopes and fears, and be able to preach in a way that speaks directly to their souls with transforming grace and power. Let us strive to be sons of Issachar when it comes to the ministry of God’s Word.” —T.M. Moore 

I love the Babylon Bee! Here is something that should make every pastor say, “Aha!”—Scholars Discover Introductory Notes To Paul’s Epistles That Dismissed The Children To Youth Ministry So The Adults Could Hear The Message

This week I shared another exclusive video with my Patreon supporters. Please consider supporting this ministry at just $5 per month. I also shared this public video especially for my fellow pastors:

John Stonestreet wrote about our amazing brain. What a marvelous thing our Creator has given us! Here is just one example: “In 2013, a collaboration between Japanese and German scientists created one of the most realistic brain simulations ever attempted. They used what was, at that time, the world’s fourth-largest computer, containing over 700,000 processor cores and producing an eye-popping 1.4 million gigabytes of RAM. The machine worked at top speed, crunching numbers for over 40 minutes. In the end, it produced just one second of simulated brain activity.”

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Heaven In My Face

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. 

Heaven In My Face 

     Sepulchral tones may fit a man to be an undertaker, but Lazarus is not called out of his grave by hollow moans. … I know brethren who from head to foot, in garb, tone, manner, necktie and boots are so utterly parsonic that no particle of manhood is visible. … Some men appear to have a white cravat twisted round their souls, their manhood is throttled with that starched rag. … An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. … I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls; not levity and frothiness, but a genial, happy spirit. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar, and there will be more souls led to heaven by a man who wears heaven in his face than by one who bears Tartarus in his looks.

 From Lectures To My Students

When I was in Sunday School we used to sing a little ditty that perhaps you’ve sung as well: 

If you’re happy and you know clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands 
If you’re happy and you know it
Then your life will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands

This should be true for every Christian, but how much more so for the pastor who in many ways is the “face” of his congregation. I want people to see the joy of the Lord in my face. I want them to hear His joy in my voice. I want them to feel the joy of Jesus every time they interact with me. 

I want, as Spurgeon said, for them to see heaven in my face. 

In fact, I would go so far to say I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs Him of glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too! 

So let me ask you, my friend, can others see heaven in your face?

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

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