CEO Or Pastor?

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

CEO stands for “chief executive officer” and usually designates the person who is at the top of the organization’s flowchart. Those who occupy that office frequently exhibit a top-down mindset, where everyone below them is only in that position to serve the CEO. 

This may work well in the corporate world, but this is not at all the heart Jesus demonstrates toward us. Therefore, it shouldn’t be the mindset or practice of Christ’s under-shepherds—those whom He has called to pastor His sheep. The sheep aren’t in the pasture to serve the shepherd, but the shepherd is in the pasture to serve the sheep and to provide what they need to be healthy. 

Check out this conversation I had when I joined a pastoral staff that is using my book Shepherd Leadership as a study guide. 

Jesus was confident in who He was and what His Father’s plan was: “Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God” (John 13:3 NLT). 

Yet Jesus also said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NLT). 

If you are a pastor, you have been charged with caring for the sheep under your care, and not the other way around—

Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is your responsibility, not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits belonging to the office, but eagerly and cheerfully; not domineering—as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons—over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation). (1 Peter 5:2-3 AMP)

If I can serve your staff by meeting with you, please contact me. I also have a special offer for pastors (and for those who love their pastor) which you can check out by clicking here.

My book 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. ◀︎◀︎

When Confidence Becomes Hubris

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, I take two chapters to dive deep into the healthy tension that is helpful for leaders. This is an important tension to maintain our effectiveness as leaders. 

When I was interviewed on the Leading From Alignment podcast, we took two episodes to talk about this healthy tension.  

As I said in this interview, every leader should take the proactive steps to make sure that our healthy leadership confidence doesn’t cross the line and become unhealthy leadership hubris. Keep healthy friends around you, enlist the help of a wise mentor, pray that searching prayer from Psalm 139, and pick up a copy of Shepherd Leadership. 

I have a special offer just for pastors (and for those who love their pastor). For just $12 I will send you an autographed copy of my book and a download link to get the audiobook of Shepherd Leadership free of charge. All you need to do is complete this form and I’ll have the materials right out to you.

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

Links & Quotes

When Jesus says, “I need you,” will you be able to say, “I’m ready for You”? Here is a great example of a man who stayed ready year after year for that precise moment when Jesus said, “It’s time.” Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Pastors, I was challenged by the insight from T.M. Moore, and I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read the full post and even subscribe to his regular emails. “John Calvin explained that one of the marks of a true church is that the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and heard. He did not consider a church to be fulfilling its mission simply by sound preaching. Sound preaching had to be coupled with sound hearing and obedience, for only as believers do the Word to they receive it as God intends.

“In this, Calvin and Columbanus are in agreement: ‘While we preach often we improve slowly; often are we offended, seldom patient, often conquered, seldom conquerors, often led astray, seldom wise. Then what will help us, like weak and unskilled fighters whose weapons turn and wound them, while it is no credit to hear these things, but to accomplish them? For the law does not make holy by hearing, but doubtless by performance; each should honour the Lord, not simply by words and bodily toil, but by ripeness of character and purity of heart’ (Sermon II).”

Encouragement For Pastors

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

Are you a pastor who is feeling discouraged? Or do you know a pastor who has become frustrated by what isn’t happening in their church? If so, please read on because I have something special for you. 

When I was interviewed on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady, I tried to speak an encouraging word to my fellow pastors, especially those who were discouraged to the point of wanting to throw in the towel. If that’s you, I hope that you will take two minutes to listen to this short clip (click the audio link above). 

I’ve never seen the actual research, but I’ve heard the story enough to believe that it’s probably true that more pastors write their letters of resignation on Monday morning than on any other day.

That’s understandable. 

All week, pastors prepare to deliver a message on Sunday, and then they pour out their hearts as they minister to those who have come to church. But when they look around for those who didn’t come to church, or when they see only apathy in those who did come to church, or (perhaps worst of all) when all they hear are complaints, it’s understandable how frustration and discouragement can creep in and even overwhelm. 

So back in their office on Monday morning, facing the prospect of another week that seems to be shaping up to feel unsuccessful again, many pastors choose to resign. 

My heart goes out to these pastors. In fact, I had these very pastors in mind as I wrote my book Shepherd Leadership. 

As we are at the start of a new year, I would like to make a special offer for pastors. For just $12 I will send you an autographed copy of my book and a download link to get the audiobook of Shepherd Leadership free of charge. 

All you need to do is complete this form and I’ll have the materials right out to you. I’m praying for you, my friend, that you will allow God to use the message in this book to encourage you to persevere and thrive despite the challenges you are facing. 

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

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Judging By First Appearances

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. 

Judging By First Appearances 

     A good horse cannot be a bad color, and a really good preacher can wear what he likes, and none will care much about it; but though you cannot know wine by the barrel, a good appearance is a letter of recommendation even to a plowman. Wise men neither fall in love or take a dislike at first sight, but still the first impression is always a great thing even with them; and as to those weaker brethren who are not wise, a good appearance is half the battle.

     What is a good appearance? Well, it’s not being pompous and starchy and making oneself high and mighty among the people, for proud looks lose hearts, and gentle words win them. … When a man is as proud as a peacock, all strut and show, he needs converting himself before he sets up to preach to others. The preacher who measures himself by his mirror may please a few silly girls, but neither God nor man will long put up with him. The man who owes his greatness to his tailor will find that needle and thread cannot long hold a fool in a pulpit. …  

     At the same time, the preacher should endeavor, according to his means, to dress himself respectably; and, as to neatness, he should be without spot, for kings should not have dirty footmen to wait at their table, and they who teach godliness should practice cleanliness. … A worn coat is no discredit, but the poorest may be neat, and the men should be scholars rather than teachers till they are so.

From John Ploughman’s Talks of Plain Advice For Plain People

Like it or not, people do form first impressions on external appearances, and all leaders (and especially pastors) would do well to measure these words from Charles Spurgeon. 

I think Spurgeon is talking about honesty here. I need to be honest with who I am, while at the same time being honest about the office that I hold. I’m not playing dress-up, but I also need to be aware that I am representing the King of kings so an appropriate dress and lifestyle are required. 

I also need to be honest that people are forming first impressions the moment they see me, but also that I cannot try to dress or act in a way to please or attract people. 

I remember meeting a group of “seasoned saints” who all showed up at our church one morning. When I engaged them in conversation, they told me that their new pastor appeared to be too young for their style. They formed an opinion about him before ever giving him a chance. I told them that I knew their pastor and that I liked him a lot. I directed them to return to their home church and give their best support to their pastor for at least six months before they made any decisions. Thankfully, during that time they got to know this pastor and remained in that church with him. 

I am in the position I am in because God placed me there. I am working to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I don’t want my appearance to get in the way of people hearing the message. I don’t want to try to be someone I’m not. I need to remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction in how I should dress, talk, and live. If my conscience is clear before God, then I won’t have to pay attention to the opinions of others.

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

Links & Quotes

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down to savor the good stuff. And if there’s something you don’t understand, ask the “Chef”—the Holy Spirit loves to make God’s Word clear to you.

On a recent Breakpoint broadcast, John Stonestreet reported, “Even while many nations pump the brakes on radical transgender ideology and healthcare practices, Americans at both the state and federal level continue to push culture-wide affirmation, social transition of minors, hormone therapies, and harmful surgeries. Advocates frequently claim that so-called and misnamed ‘gender-affirming’ treatments—including surgery—‘save lives,’ that gender dysphoria is a permanent condition even among minors, and that regret by those who undergo such treatments are minimal or non-existent. Increasingly, research suggests otherwise.”

“Hazael’s historicity has never truly been in doubt; there are far too many inscriptions from the ancient world testifying to his existence.” Check out this archeological biography of King Hazael who appears several times in the Bible.

Dan Reiland notes, “Leaders navigate within the realm of pressure; it’s part of the landscape. It’s how we handle the pressure that makes all the difference.” Dan shares four ways the pressure of leadership is needed and helpful.

Be careful with non-biblical rules! I went much deeper with this idea in an exclusive video for my Patreon sponsors. If you want to get access to these exclusive lessons, it’s just $5/month. Check out my Patreon page to subscribe → https://www.patreon.com/craigtowens.

John Piper explains that there are three levels of how to live with material things. He then dives deeper into what the purpose of prosperity really is.

T.M. Moore has a stern word for pastors: “If we are faithful in telling the whole truth of the Gospel, not everyone will be thrilled with our preaching. We need to make sure Jesus is. When it comes to sin, let’s not mince words, and let’s not act like it’s not the big deal it is. No progress in faith can be made where sin is not consistently and thoroughly confessed, repented of, and forsaken.”

We’re Not Anti-Growth

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 Leading From Alignment podcast with Jim Wiegand and John Opalewski. 

Jim pastors a very large church, I pastor a small church, and John coaches pastors who pastor every size church in between. We are all in agreement that when it comes to the vitality of both the church and the pastor, the size of the church or its budget is not the best metric to monitor. Take a listen…

None of us are anti-growth when it comes to the church, but we are pro-health. Jim said it well: We will get what we focus on. If we just want numbers, the numbers may explode, but people may explode (or implode) in the process. But if we focus health, we will get healthy—both the pastor and the congregation. 

This idea is the reason behind my book Shepherd Leadership, especially the subtitle “The metrics that really matter.” I am so grateful to hear that my book is helping pastors and church boards realign their thinking along biblical practices, and that Shepherd Leadership is even being used as a textbook in a pastoral training school. I believe my book can be of assistance to you too.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Leading From Alignment 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. ◀︎◀︎

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. ◀︎◀︎

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. ◀︎◀︎

My Church Hasn’t 10x’d

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 Leading From Alignment podcast with Jim Wiegand and John Opalewski. 

Jim asked me to share the motivation behind my book Shepherd Leadership. I especially wanted to highlight why we used the subtitle “The metrics that really matter.” Check this out…

As Jim pointed out, far too many pastors get frustrated because “my church hasn’t 10x’d in the last 10 years” and so they feel like a failure. Nowhere is this type of measurement for church effectiveness found in the New Testament. Instead, pastors are called to faithfulness and excellence. 

If you are a pastor, please pick up a copy of my book. I have recently been joining church staff meetings as they use Shepherd Leadership as a discussion starter. If you would like me to join you either in person or via a Zoom meeting, please get in touch with me. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Leading From Alignment 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. ◀︎◀︎

%d bloggers like this: