For a number of years I would put a quote from my current reading on our weekly staff meeting agenda. We are in the process of collecting them into a single document, which has been very interesting to review, and somewhat convicting. Here’s a few that have some insight to church leadership:
“Leaders stand alone, take the heat, bear the pain, tell the truth.” Max Dupree
“Poor leadership and administrative goofs can and do lead to interpersonal problems and spiritual chaos. Trying to resolve personal and spiritual conflicts in a church or mission group without correcting leadership problems is an exercise in futility.” Anderson and Mylander
“The methodology of ministry (today) often has more to do with Madison Avenue than the Sea of Galilee.” Millard Erickson
“In most decisions the root problem is not so much in knowing what to do as in being prepared to live with the consequences.” Oswald Sanders
“Ministers are for churches, not churches for ministers.” Charles Spurgeon
“What a minister is on his knees in secret before God almighty, that he is and no more.” John Owen
“The real test of our servanthood comes when someone treats us like a servant.” John Fischer
“A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying responsibilities.” Anonymous
“A vision with no underlying sense of purpose, no calling, is just a good idea.”
My daughter lives in Scotland.
They have a national dish.
It’s called Haggis.
I have avoided it on my visits.
I will continue to avoid it.
USA Today will help you understand.
Thousands of Americans had to make do without the real thing Friday night when they sat down to what should have been a filling meal of boiled sheep’s stomach stuffed with minced sheep lung, heart, liver and oatmeal.
I guess the oatmeal would be ok…
2 Samuel 15:1-7 (ESV)
1 After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,”
3 Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”
4 Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”
5 And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.
6 Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
I’ve been a “second chair” leader in the church for over ten years … either as an associate pastor, a senior associate pastor, and now, as an executive pastor. Probably the single most helpful piece of advice I received about working well in this role was to “guard against being an Absalom standing in the gate” seeking to ingratiate myself to people while seeking to take over the kingdom (or, the church). A former colleague and I used to regularly remind each other to guard against this destructive tactic. He even wrote a couple of columns about it about it for Leadership Journal here and another here. Another of my mentors (Fred Barshaw) from my days at Grace Community Church would consistently encourage those of us who were young and upcoming leaders to guard our hearts and motives from the sin of Absalom. More than once he told us that one sure way to “crash and burn” as a leader was to somehow think that God made a mistake in not making us the one in charge.
All of us in the second chair ministry need to keep Mark Wheeler’s words in mind:
If we are not careful, associates easily become an Absalom at the gate, stealing away the hearts of Israel (2 Sam. 15:1-6). Like King David’s son, we begin to think that things would be different if we were in charge, that we are the answer to the problem.
We’re tempted to think we’re more “in touch” than the senior pastor. We discover there’s support for our way of thinking, and we can become the catalyst for a power struggle or church split!
I don’t get to preach very often, but I very much believe in the importance of expository preaching. I have spent my entire “ministry life” serving under two pastors who, to this day, continue to preach through the Scriptures verse-by-verse. In my various ministry roles I’ve also had the opportunity to encourage men to pursue the task of biblical preaching. That’s why I appreciated this post by Irish Calvinist about using the Bible, but failing at exposition.
Expository preaching is simply taking the biblical text and explaining the authorial intent while providing faithful and loving teaching and admonishment. We may say a lot of other things about the amount of text to be chosen, the tone of the preacher, and other things, but suffice it to say, in its simplest form, expository preaching is heralding what God has said in the text and heralding it in such a way that people understand and apply it to their lives to the glory of God.
Sadly what too often happens is a guy will walk up to the pulpit, open up the Bible and read a passage and then launch into a systematic theology or a counseling lesson. Now we give most of these guys a free pass because they are essentially reformed and their theology is right. We end up with good life application because their theology is biblical. However, they have not preached the text. I do not understand the passage better than when he walked up to the pulpit. I remember sitting in an auditorium and hearing a man make true biblical application, it was God exalting and man humbling; however, it was not in the text that he read. The text was a launching point to talk about what he wanted to talk about. I came away wondering how this text related to the rest of the book, what it taught me about God, my sin and how I needed to change. He did not preach expositionally.
Thabiti has a “proverb” to share. He begins:
“Three things confuse a Christian; Yeah, four confound any man.“
I have been confounded by three of these
recently and I appreciate his insight that puts words and understanding to what might really be happening.
Thanks to Anne Jackson for her reminder today about contentment. Thanks to the pastor who modeled such great contentment. We really do tend to think that we need more and more and more. And the more we think we need more, the more we find complaints and whining growing in our hearts. And the less we find gratitude for the gifts of God that are beyond what we “need.”
Lord, help me live graciously with unmet needs!
From Preventing Ministry Failure by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann:
Ministry for leaders lacking integrity is simply another act in the performance of holiness–walking, talking dressing, acting and responding in the clergy way. Unfortunately, some religious communities create a set of establish “spiritually correct” behaviours that actually discourages real integrity in leadership. This is done by placing hyper-focus on a half-dozen or so “super sins” and effectively ignoring the rest. Those successful at abstinence from the super list are publicly praised as models of integrity–regardless of how far off the mark the rest of their lives might be.