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. ◀︎◀︎

Does A Vocational Job Help A Pastor?

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. 

After I had shared a little of my background about how God directed me into the pastorate, John asked us our thoughts about pastors working some sort of vocational job before stepping into the role as a pastor. 

I thought this exchange of ideas was pretty solid. Check this out… 

One of the things I highlight in my book Shepherd Leadership is the danger of business metrics creeping into our churches. I think a pastor who has both vocational and ministry training is better equipped at spotting this shift of metrics and then making the necessary adjustments. If you are a pastor, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of my book. 

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. ◀︎◀︎

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. ◀︎◀︎

Amen Indeed

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. 

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.  

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. 

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

Practical Health Questions

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 wanted to know if I had a favorite chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. That’s an easy question to answer because it is the chapter I didn’t write—the Preface of the book was written by Dick Brogden and sums up my book better than I could have on my own. 

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)
  • Which is ultimately realized in our relational health (favor with men) 

This is why, when I am coaching other pastors that are struggling with relationships with their board or parishioners, I start with…

  • …mental health questions like: What are you reading? What are you meditating on? 
  • …physical health questions like: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising? Are you eating right? 
  • …spiritual health questions like: What did you read in your personal devotions today? Are you setting aside enough time to have a meaningful conversation with God every day? 

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.

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

Links & Quotes

My wife and I just celebrated our anniversary. We enjoyed the many words of congratulations we received, but that got me thinking about marriages where only one spouse is a Christian and I then recorded this thought—

I was so honored to receive another great endorsement for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

“It is not your business to succeed, but to do right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God.” —C.S. Lewis

“Homosexuality is not about some issue to debate; it’s about people to love.” —Dr. Preston Sprinkle, Living In A Gray World 

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” —Herman Melville 

More fascinating news for creationists. Plants know how to defend themselves. “There are two main types of threat-detection mechanisms in plant cells—the ability to recognize distinctive chemical patterns that signify an invader, such as components of a bacterial cell, and the ability to recognize a disruption caused by invading pathogen.” Check out the full article here.

I shared an important reminder with my fellow pastors—

“God, give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst.” —George Whitefield, prayer when sailing for Georgia, December 30, 1777

A Pastor’s Personal Preparation

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

Pastor, I’m sure you are busy this week. But then again, aren’t you always busy? 

I’ve got a quick but powerful question to ask you that will make a world of difference in how you are prepared to meet the demands of your week. Check this out… 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We are reading the Word of God as God’s Word for us. Therefore, we do not ask what this text has to say to other people. For those of us who are preachers that means we will not ask how we would preach or teach on this text, but what it has to say to us personally.” 

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

Sunday ≠ Sabbath

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. 

Kyle and I wanted to help pastors get a better understanding of the value of a sabbath rest, but also an understanding of the challenges that come with trying to sabbath. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God taking the Israelites to task for their unwillingness to rest, which ultimately led to them having to take a forced rest.   

As I mentioned in this interview, just because the calendar says “Sunday” doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a sabbath day. This is especially true for pastors who are busily engaged in ministry activities on Sundays. But I take comfort in the example of Jesus who showed shepherd leaders how to make sabbathing an active and integral part of effective ministry. 

I have a chapter in my book Shepherd Leadership called “A Healthy Shepherd’s Sabbath,” and then I have a follow-up chapter called “Can’t, Won’t, or Don’t” which addresses some changes pastors can make to ensure they are getting the vital rest they need. 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’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. ◀︎◀︎

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