Links & Quotes

When someone wants to “grow” an organization, what exactly does that look like? Is growth only numeric or is it something that’s perhaps a bit more difficult to count? The leader needs to have this clear in their mind, and they need to regularly communicate this metric to their team. I unpack this in greater detail in my book Shepherd LeadershipCheck out more of this message hereAnd be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.

It appears that creativity is largely fueled by two things: proper sleep and finding your “sweet spot” each day. If you are an early bird, protect that creative time. If you are a night owl, don’t try to become an early bird to emulate someone else, but lean into your productive time. Check out this full post.

I love reading, but even I have trouble finding time to sit down with my books. But this insight from John Piper totally rejuvenated my thinking about reading. “Suppose that you can read about 250 words a minute. Now, that’s not real fast; most of us can do that—250 words a minute. And suppose that you set aside fifteen minutes a day to read a great book—a classic or some book that you’d been longing to read that would help you grow in your wisdom, your understanding. Now, fifteen minutes a day for 365 days is 5,475 minutes a year. Now, you multiply 5,475 times 250, and you get 1,368,750 words that you could read in a year at fifteen minutes a day. Now, an average book has about 300 to 400 words on a page. So we’ll take 350, which is kind of in the middle, and divide that into 1,368,750. And you know what you get? You get 3,910—almost 4,000 pages a year. An average book has about 200 pages. You see the implication of that? You could read twenty books by this time next year by setting aside fifteen minutes a day.”

An ancient Hebrew inscription consisting of 48 letters was discovered on Mt. Ebal in Israel and is centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. This is yet another archeological discovery that speaks to the historicity of the Bible.

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements of my book Shepherd Leadership. His thoughts here about the role of godly shepherds is right on the mark: “The work of shepherds consists of helping the people of God to connect with Him—to know, love, fear, and serve Him in every area of their lives. This work cannot be fulfilled by one who is merely a good speaker, an effective organizer, or an inspiring motivator. This work must be done by one who truly knows the Lord. For unless we know the Lord, the Lord will not know us, and He will not honor our labors.”

You are one-of-a-kind! There has never, ever been anyone like you, and there never will be. God made you on purpose and for a purpose. And God wants to reveal the purpose He has for your life. You be you—that is how God is most glorified through you.

Conquering Two Roadblocks To Sabbathing

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

I thought it was very appropriate that I got to be a guest on the Thriving In Ministry podcast with Kyle Willis while his podcast partner Dace Clifton was on sabbatical. It was appropriate because Kyle and I talked about the importance of pastors finding time to rest. 

Proper rest is absolutely vital for longevity and vitality. I hope you will listen to this short segment from this conversation. 

I shared with Kyle two main roadblocks to sabbathing. 

(1) Trying to be something you’re not. 

We are all wired differently. God wired us that way on purpose. So if you’re an early bird, guard those morning hours for your creative work and use the evenings for rest. If you’re a night owl, don’t try to copy the early birds, but rest early in the day and do your creative work when you are at your best. 

→ So the key concept to overcoming this roadblock is personalization. 

(2) Getting distracted by the non-essentials. 

Two things have really helped me with this one: Sticking to sustainable daily routines, while at the same time being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s redirection (check out my post on the idea I call I.T.L.W.). 

→ The key concept here is flexible focus. 

I talk more about this concept of sabbathing and a leader’s overall healthiness in my book Shepherd Leadership. You can also check out some other posts about sabbathing by clicking here.

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Links & Quotes

God made you uniquely YOU on purpose. So you can ask Him to show you why He put you together as He did—with all of the gifts that make you YOU. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

In my Halley’s Study Bible, I read this commentary on Matthew 24-25—

“It is best not to be too dogmatic about the events surrounding [Christ’s] second coming. But if language is a vehicle of thought at all, it certainly takes a good deal of explaining and interpreting to make anything else out of Jesus’ words than that He Himself looked forward to His coming again as a definite historical event in which He will personally and literally appear to gather to Himself and to eternal glory those who have been redeemed by His blood.

“And it is best not to cloud the hope of His coming with too detailed a theory as to what is going to happen when He comes. Some people may be disappointed if Jesus does not follow the schedule they have mapped out for Him.”

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” —Ronald Reagan

“We are not called to punish the people for whom Jesus was already punished.” —Kevin Berry

Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote, “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? … I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?” Check out his post to read how he calculated this astounding number. This is just another link in the chain of evidence for the historicity of the Bible.

I shared this commentary on YouVersion this week: We are made in God’s likeness. Ever since sin entered the world, man’s sinful nature is to flip this around—to make God in our likeness. Literally to say, “This is what I want God to be. I want Him to approve what I want.”

“Pure humor is the most difficult of all of comedy. Late night humor is funny because it is mean. It is relatively easy to be crude, cynical, and sarcastic. It comes naturally to our fallen natures to criticize, tease, mock, and scoff. It’s much harder to make people laugh by lifting others up.” —Dick Brogden, in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, commenting on Proverbs 1:22

Helping Our Teammates Destress

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

An interesting comment that Jesus made that should catch the attention of every leader is this: “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me” (John 10:14). Jesus is telling us that He knows the uniqueness of every person. 

Combine this with David’s encouraging words about Jesus as our Good Shepherd in the opening words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT). 

This tells me that quality shepherd leaders…

  1. …are around their teammates enough to know them personally. 
  2. …can quickly ascertain when their teammates are feeling stress or anxiety. 
  3. …know how to give their teammates what they need to destress in a healthy way. 

My friend Greg and I discussed how leaders can use playtime as an effective tool to keep their teammates at their healthiest. Check out this short clip—

If you would like to watch this full episode from The Craig And Greg Show, please click here. 

I also talk about how wise leaders take care of those under their care in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. It’s available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video and subscribe on YouTube.

“The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” —Charles Spurgeon

I love this thought from T.M. Moore: “We sometimes use the word reflect to express what we want to see happen in our lives as Christians. We say we want to reflect Jesus to the world, like a mirror reflects an image. As agents of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, believers are not so much like mirrors as they are like prisms. Mirrors reflect light. The light strikes them and bounces off, without bringing anything of the mirror with it. Prisms refract light.” Please take a couple of minutes to read Moore’s post Prisms of the Light.

You Are A Unique And Unbalanced Leader

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

I read a report that said today the world’s population hit 8 billion people. Demographers estimate that in the history of our planet, 120 billion people have lived on Earth. Amazingly, every single one of these 120 billion people have been unique creations! 

Let me state that more personally: There has never been anyone like you, nor is there anyone like you now, nor will there ever be anyone like you. God made you unique from all others. 

And God made you uniquely unbalanced. 

If you’ve ever taken a personality test or any other kind of assessment you probably noticed that there were areas that scored very high, and perhaps some areas that barely even registered. This is a part of your unique composition. 

Your uniqueness was given to you by God on purpose—He knew exactly what He was doing when He made you you. I recently chatted with the pastoral staff of Faith Wesleyan Church as they are doing a book study on my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. I joined them for their discussion of chapters 4 and 5, in which I talk about the way God has wired leaders to be naturally more confident or more humble. Check this out…

Shepherd leaders, you can best individualize your care of the sheep God has given you when you understand how God has wired you. Don’t make excuses for your unbalancedness, but don’t let your uniqueness hold you back either. Get around other healthy leaders who can speak firmly and lovingly to you. This will allow your uniqueness to be leveraged for God’s glory as you lead His flock that He has entrusted to you. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this training session soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, if you would like me to join your team in a similar discussion of Shepherd Leadership, please get in touch with me. Shepherd Leadership is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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Links & Quotes

John Stonestreet wrote, “The moment Roe v. Wade was overturned last month, desperate activists began to dust off the oldest and oddest arguments for abortion. These “gotcha” scenarios are supposed to prove that pro-lifers don’t really value human life or consider preborn babies from the earliest stages of development to be human. Instead, these pretend scenarios demonstrate that pro-lifers are simply hypocrites.” Check out the rest of his post 

“When the facts are not clear [in a relationship issue] it is better to consider someone innocent until proven guilty. That is the law of mercy, which we all want applied to us as well.” —Dr. John Townsend, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons

Pornography is contributing to the over-sexualization of young people, which is reaping some painful consequences…

I love when archeology confirms yet another facet of the historicity of the Bible! Check out this archeological biography of King Menahem.

Just a reminder that YOU were made on purpose …

A good friend of mine, Pastor Kristi Rhodes, is in a battle with cancer and I’m fighting alongside her! If you want to join Team Kristi, join the team by clicking here.

Completing The Body

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

One of the miracles we talked about last week was the Holy Spirit giving gifts to people that evangelize the sinner and edify the saint. Let me be more specific: YOU are God’s gift to the world if you are using God’s gift to glorify God in the world. 

You are a one-of-a-kind creation. God is infinitely creative so He never has to duplicate any of His creative works. He saw your life and implanted in you what you need to glorify Him (Psalm 139:13-18). But we need to think about this uniqueness the right way. 

Lucifer, an archangel, became satan, the Christian’s archenemy, because of his oversized pride. Pride is what turned Lucifer into satan, and it’s a tactic he still uses today on God’s creations. His other tactic is slander: attempting to get us to think we are insignificant and have no real purpose in the world. 

Just like Jesus did, we overcome satan’s lies with the truth in God’s Word.  

In Romans 12, Paul talks about our lives being used as a living, breathing, God-honoring sacrifice. But Romans 12:1 begins with the word “therefore,” so we need to back up a few verses. The final four verses of chapter 11 are a beautiful doxology that is praising God for His wisdom and sovereignty. Paul then offers this conclusion: Therefore we need to think correctly about our place in the world, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thoughts. 

Paul uses the word “think” twice in this passage. The root word is the same in each place (phroneo in Greek), but the prefix is what sets them apart from each other. The first has the prefix hyper-. That means it’s overly-analyzed thinking, overly self-concerned thinking, or self-focused.

The second time the prefix is soph- (which means “wise”). This is sound thinking, big-picture thinking, or others-focused. The Holy Spirit wants to give us sophroneo thinking to reveal our God-implanted gifts and talents that are to be used to benefit others—in fact, to benefit the whole Body of Christ.

In Romans 12, Paul uses the phrase “one body” twice as he talks about our spiritual gifts. He uses the same “one body” praise three times in 1 Corinthians 12 as he again talks about spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20). 

All of our spiritual gifts are to be used in love and to build up others (1 Corinthians 12:31—13:3; 14:1, 12, 26, 40). 

The Holy Spirit gives gifts to individuals so that individuals can edify the whole Body of Christ. It’s not competing with one another but completing one another. 

Remember: Saints is always plural in the New Testament! I need you to bring out the saintly qualities in my life, as much as you need me to bring out the saintly qualities in your life. 

This summer I will be offering an in-depth teaching on the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. We’ll take some assessments and discuss how these gifts can best be invested in the Body of Christ. I hope you can join me for an hour of learning on Wednesdays. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our Pentecostal roots, you can find all of those messages by clicking here.

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Links & Quotes

I came across a passage from a blog post I wrote 10 years ago, but it is still so timely for today: “Pastors, we can become so focused on the next sermon, the next appointment, the next Board meeting, the next outreach that we are actually worshiping the ministry instead of worshiping God through our ministry. When we are more focused on the work than on God, we can easily begin to feel over-worked and under-appreciated.”

“Stay with your Lord, however long the night, for only in Him have you hope of the morning!” —Charles Spurgeon

“I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.” —Clyde Kilby

Sean McDowell has an informative conversation with Titus Kennedy on the archeological evidence for the people and places in the Bible.

Jonathan Edwards wrote words that resonate with my message about pastors following the example of the Great Shepherd Jesus. “The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of: the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly-mindedness and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world: they should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God: they should follow the example of His prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of His retiring from the world, away from the noise and applauses of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father….” —Jonathan Edwards

“Wonderful things are told in this book [Daniel]. To those who find it difficult to believe these things, we say: let us remember that for one thousand years God had been nurturing the Hebrew nation for the purpose of establishing, through that nation, in a world of idol-worshiping nations, the idea that God is God. Now God’s nation had been destroyed by a nation that worshiped idols. That was plain evidence to all the world that the gods of Babylon were more powerful than the God of the Jews. It was a crisis in God’s struggle with idolatry. If ever there was a time when God needed to do something to show who He is, it was during the Babylonian exile. Strange indeed it would have been if nothing unusual had happened. Hard as it may be to believe these miracles, it would be harder to believe the rest of the story without them.

“At least the Jews, who from the very beginning had always been falling into idolatry, were now at last, in the Babylonian exile, convinced that their own God was the true God. These miracles also had a powerful influence on both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius (3:29; 6:26).” —Halley’s Study Bible

The Importance Of Margin

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. 

Jesus demonstrated an important principle for all leaders: In order for us to lead effectively over a long period of time, leaders must be healthy. Jesus showed us His mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. 

In my discussion with Kyle and Dace, we talked about the value of creating margins in our life to keep us at our full potential.  

I have five chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter where I dive deep into how leaders can work on being wholly healthy. I encourage you to check it out. You can also check out a short clip from a recent Craig And Greg Show episode where we discuss the importance of self-care.  

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.

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