Tag Archives: responsibility

Leadership Discretion Advised

Leadership Discretion AdvisedA few years ago, I posted a light-hearted social media comment about my favorite sports team that was headed to the World Series (go Cardinals!) I jokingly inferred that I might pray about getting tickets to one of the games. I thought very little of it (first mistake) and assumed it was humorous (second mistake.) Shortly thereafter I receive a private message from a colleague who is a few years my elder. He wisely advised me to consider the people I lead as regarding my recent post. His comments went something like this: “Recall that there are men under your leadership who are having a difficult time taking adequate care of their families because of financial limitations. Some are working two or three jobs to pay the bills. Also consider that these families sacrifice some of their income to send contributions to our denomination to support our leaders, like you. Considering the extreme cost of attending a World Series game, some of your team members may be offended that you are willing to spend so much money on a ball game when they can’t buy their kids new shoes. I would encourage you to use great discretion. You have influence, you don’t want to waste it.”

Wow! This man was a true friend that cared enough to share valuable wisdom with me. I received it and thanked him. That has been a couple of years ago but I still recall the conversation, often. I realize that some will come to my defense, will think that this guy should mind his own business and that I have the right to spend my money the way that I want. But, as a leader, I disagree. I must be conscientious. I must be aware of others. I must be willing to sacrifice some of my liberties if I am to be an effective leader. I must use discretion. If you feel as though what you do is no one’s business, you need to take a look at Biblical leadership and Christianity in general. We are responsible for and accountable to one another.

Just last night, I was making some observations on Facebook about a very popular football game. I was trying to make some life and leadership analogies by pointing out the failures of a particular player. You guessed it; some people were upset and offended. I now had three choices: defend myself and blast those who were offended, ignore those who were offended, or apologize. I chose the latter and removed my post. Like it or not, my role as a leader is more important than nonsense talk on social media.

As leaders, everything we do is examined under a microscope, as well it should be. The Scriptures tell us in James 3:1 that leaders (teachers) are held to a higher standard. Of course there can be excesses with this idea and some only want to place impossible expectations on those in authority. But the principle remains true: anyone who wants to lead must be willing to use a different filter for decision-making. Don’t misunderstand – there are issues of morality that we must defend regardless of who agrees. However, the nonessential issues that sometimes separate people are just not worth it.

Leaders are entitled to opinions about everything but it is immature and arrogant to share every opinion one has. As the leadership level increases, so the level of filter needs to increase. Think about this: you only get so much input into the lives of others before they lose interest or they tune you out. What kind of information is worthy of your influence?

I can be right. I can be informed. I can even out-argue some people. However, there is a bigger concern. As a leader, how am I influencing my constituents?

My advice to you? Use great discretion. By the way, you are entitled to disagree with my idea, just use discretion when expressing your ideas. I’ll keep working on it from my end.

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Why Some Churches Don’t Grow

why some churches don't grow 2

It’s not a perfect science. Increasing the impact and influence of a church can be very difficult. We all agree that numerical growth does not necessarily mean spiritual growth. But it is vital that churches around the world reach more people for Jesus. The church is God’s “Plan A” to reach the lost – and we are surrounded by lost people.

Here are 10 simple reasons why churches don’t grow. The list is not complete and these reasons are not written in stone. This is not an attack on pastors who lead plateaued churches. I simply wish to provide some discussion for churches and church leaders who hope to grow.

No passion for growth. Some churches stay the same because there is no desire to reach more people. Possibly there is a lack of awareness or maybe there is a disconnect with the surrounding culture. Many churches seem to be okay with the status quo. It’s business as usual. The tendency is to rely on our abilities more than we rely on God’s miracles. Spiritual lethargy sets in and corrodes a church. Churches that do not want to grow won’t. A lack of intensity will ensure that we stay stuck. We must pray until we receive the fervor; it takes passion to get “unstuck.”

No strategy for growth. It is rare to hear a pastor say that he doesn’t want the church to grow. But without intentionality, a church is not likely to grow. Even when specific strategies are followed, there is no guarantee of increase. But no plan will quickly lead to stagnation. Rather than thriving, our goal becomes to maintain and survive. Have you outlined your blueprint to grow your church?

Unwillingness to change. Some churches know what to do in order to reach more people but they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in order to do so. We do the same things the same way – because of tradition. The past is more important than the future; our rearview mirror is bigger than our windshield. This kind of ministry atrophy is especially difficult to overcome. Lack of change will result in lack of growth. Lack of growth will result in extinction.

Lack of “know how.” Don’t believe the “experts” who tell you that church growth is a matter of taking “these 3 easy steps.” You can do certain things that will gather a crowd but true church growth is much more complex and spiritual than simply amassing warm bodies. Many pastors and leaders would gladly do whatever it takes to grow. Many times, church is a matter of doing the right thing the right way long enough that the results finally come. If you don’t know what to do, keep trying. And find out what to do! Leaders must approach the acquisition of this kind of expertise as a life-long ambition.

Intimidation about culture. The world is becoming a scary place for Bible-believing churches. There is now a level of resistance and animosity that many of us have never experienced. It can be easy to see the church as a fortress that serves as a safe place from the evil world. Jesus did not establish His church to be a hiding place. The church is to be a force in our culture. Only the ministries that are confident enough to engage our culture will impact it. Be bold! God has given you the courage you need to overcome.

Fear of increased responsibility. Some leaders dread the responsibility that comes with more people. Let’s face it – fewer people = fewer problems. However, God did not call us to an easy task. While a larger church equates to more pressure and stress, the rewards are that more people find Christ and experience the joy of being His disciples.

Desire to control. There are a few (or many) control freaks who must hold the reigns on everything that happens in their organization. Growth means shared responsibility and authority. Unless a leader is confident and competent enough to share control, new people will be a very limited commodity. A pastor who is in charge of everything won’t be in charge of much. Please don’t limit the size of your ministry to only a few.

Misidentifying relevance as compromise. This one is touchy. Some churches do not grow because they mistakenly think that if they connect with culture, they are somehow being less than true to the Gospel. This simply is not true. Jesus is always pertinent. The Gospel cannot be irrelevant. The church can, however, make the Bible irrelevant. Our job is to stay true to the Scriptures but to preach them in a way that makes sense to the people who hear it. That is not compromise, it is effectiveness. It’s what Jesus did and that seemed to work pretty well.

Ministry schizophrenia. This is where a church gets its identity from other churches. Whatever the next big ministry bandwagon is, they are jumping on! I am all for successful ministry models and I believe that there are principles that apply across the board. But God does not wish to duplicate in every church what works in well-known churches. Be true to yourself and to your calling. Know what will work in your neighborhood, and do it. Know who God called you to be and whom He called you to reach.

A lack of missionality. Churches that exist for their own good are doomed to fail. Inwardly focused ministry is a major turnoff for people who do not go to church. Jesus came, not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28); the church must give itself to God and to the needs of the people He loves. We are on a mission from God; if we fulfill it, our churches will grow.

Here is the truth about church growth: churches that don’t grow will shrink and eventually die. In our post-Christian culture, church growth is getting more and more complicated. We need to pray and work like never before. It is possible that you can pray and work hard and your church may still not grow. But we do NOT want to be the reason our church doesn’t grow!

Let’s get on with the responsibility of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:19-20).


The Burden Bearer

The Burden Bearer

Long ago, in a faraway country village lived a hard working people known as the rock carriers. Their job was to remove the large stones that blocked the village farmers from plowing their fields. Day after day, year after year, the rock carriers labored at the heavy task of carrying these large stones out of the fields all the way to a distant valley. This was very hard work and the rock carriers grew tired. One day, the rock carriers were delighted to see one of their very own, a young boy, begin to grow and exhibit great strength. As he grew taller and his shoulders grew wider, the rock carriers began to have this strong young man carry their rocks. One by one, they piled their stones onto his shoulders. The larger he grew, the more weight he could carry. He was strong, he could handle the load. He worked tirelessly. Soon, the entire group of rock carriers relied on this one strongman to do their work. They became lazy. And he became tired. Yet they continued to stack up the rocks on his shoulders. After many years, they noticed that the strongman was walking slower now. He began to stoop over while he walked the road to the distant valley. This was no problem for them; in fact, it was easier to just place the rocks on his back rather than all the way up on his shoulders. He was saving them even more work. As the days passed, the strongman stooped farther and farther, until one day he was looking straight at the ground. He was completely doubled over. The villagers continued to pile on their rocks. They hadn’t noticed that the strongman was no longer moving forward. All they knew was that he was such a helper, their lives were so much easier now. The rocks continued to pile up until one day, someone noticed that the strongman had disappeared. How dare he take a day off? Had he gotten lazy and abandoned them when they needed him the most?  So the village rock carriers had to start carrying the rocks again. But they had to carry the rocks all the way around the huge pile of rocks that was now in the middle of the village road. How rude of the strongman to leave the rocks there!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Jesus) Matthew 11:28


Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just the Leader

don't shoot me

Hey leaders, when something goes down within your organization, don’t let people blame you.

Step up and blame yourself!

That’s right. Leaders don’t run from blame and they certainly don’t blame other people. Leaders accept the responsibility for the need for change and they lead it! That’s what leaders do.

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”  There have been times in my career that I have hated that adage. When things are going poorly and the team is not producing, I want to point at someone else and take the pressure off of myself. But it’s my job to lead the team into success. With certain qualifiers, as goes the leader, so goes the team. There will be times when someone else messes up. As the leader, we must be strong enough to shoulder the blame and do what it takes to correct the direction.

I heard a ministries consultant take another angle: If you’ve been at your current appointment for at least 3 years, you own every problem. You can no longer place the blame on your predecessor.  You’ve been there long enough to address it. As the current leader, it’s your duty to deal with it and fix it. We can’t exonerate ourselves from it or abdicate our responsibility.

Let’s use Jesus as our example:

In John 18:10, Simon Peter cut off the ear of Malchus. Jesus rebuked Simon and healed the guy’s ear! He explained that His kingdom was not one of violence.

In Matthew 17:24-27 Peter commits Jesus to paying taxes without consulting Jesus. Again, Jesus fixes the problem.

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus’ disciples failed to remove a demon spirit from a boy. Jesus took care of the issue and set the boy free.

Notice something – not only did Jesus accept responsibility and fix the problems, He also showed His disciples how to prevent the problems from being repeated. He utilized them in the solution, training them for the future.

I love that! Real leaders are willing to meet a challenge head-on. They do whatever it takes to correct the crisis. They utilize the problem to train their team. And as a result, the team grows in its abilities.

So once again, when something breaks in the organization, don’t find someone else to blame. Just lead the change. That’s what leaders do.


real leaders don’t pass the buck

Leaders don’t evade responsibility by passing it on to someone else. I am observing an abundance of – avoiding hurting someone’s feeling by not dealing with an issue – going on by people in positions of leadership.

Legend has it that the term “passing the buck” comes from poker. The dealer, in an effort to eliminate accusations of cheating, would pass the deck to the next player and he would cut it. In the old days, a buck knife was often used as the marker. So, when the dealer would pass the deck, he was “passing the buck”.

Leaders must be willing to accept the responsibility for tough decisions, even when those decisions are not popular. If we are not strong enough to make the tough calls, the organizations we lead will suffer. Don’t push the problem on to the next guy. Muster some backbone and deal with it.  Be strong. Lead.

No more passing the buck!


the health care debacle: who is to blame?

I have a couple of friends that love our President and everything he does. He made their year with his influence over the Supreme Court and their decision to mandate a health insurance tax. However, most of my friends are quite upset with the decision.

For what it’s worth, I have a view I haven’t heard anyone else mention up to this point:

The Bible tells us that it is the responsibility of Christians and the Church to take care of the widow, the orphan, the needy and the poor (see references below). It appears that several years ago, we decided to abdicate that responsibility. So someone has to do it.  Enter – the government of the United States. Back as far as President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, the government began handing our support to needy people. This practice has grown ever since.  The current health care reform emphasis is simply an extension of this.

So what would keep the church from being able to fulfill these responsibilities?

  • Most people are not a part of a local church, therefore we are not even in relationship with them.  This responsibility involves way more than just giving money.
  • Most people who do go to church do not give money to the church so there is nothing to share with the poor. We spend everything we get trying to keep the doors opened.
  • Most Christians simply won’t accept the responsibility. They are more concerned about democracy that they are about obedience to Scripture. So we hand the job over to the government. Yet many complain when it’s not done their way.

This essence of this problem is not political. It is spiritual. We won’t change it by voting. We will only change it by doing what God told us to do.

I think God had a better plan.

Proverbs 19:17 When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord–and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!

1 John 3:17 But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him?

Proverbs 14:31 Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.

James 1:27 The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord–not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world.

Psalms 82:4 Rescue the poor and helpless from the grasp of evil men.

1 Timothy 6:18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.

Luke 3:11 “If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.”

2 Corinthians 9:9 It is as the Scriptures say: “The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever.”

Isaiah 58:7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help.

Isaiah 58:10 “Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day.

Matthew 25: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”