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Don’t Waste Your Time!

When Jesus sent the 70 out 2 by 2 he told them that if they were rejected to dust their feet off and leave town. He said to them, “Do not waste your time”! Another time Jesus said, “cast not pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet”!

As a pastor it is very easy to feel that we have cast pearls before swine and that we have been rejected. The fact is, it is not you that has been rejected but Jesus. The Word of God is sharper than a two edged sword. It is quick to cut asunder the truth from the false and sin from the Holy!

Pastor, our question is “where and how do you invest your time?” If you are trying to convince people, perhaps you should consider the 70. If you are speaking to those who are insolent, hard hearted and religious, consider the swine.

As you are reflecting this week, consider the farmer. The farmer will sow his seed, fertilize the ground, water regularly, pull the weeds, re-plant where nothing has sprouted and ultimately harvest in the end. The farmer is quick to recognize where nothing is growing! He may first add a little fertilizer and try to encourage growth but when he sees that all is to no success, he must re-plant! He must start with new seed.

The farmer knows that if the seed is not growing he is wasting his time. Much like Jesus told the 70, don’t waste your time!

Pastor, if 10-20 percent of your flock is doing all the work and is hungry for Jesus, then consider spending 70-80 percent of your effort discipling and feeding them. Make them strong and healthy. Help their passion grow.

If they are the ones who are bearing fruit, then be sure to fertilize and water them as they grow and mature. Be a good farmer so that they will endure until the harvest.

This is why we say, “Invest in the best”! These are the ones who you can count on to stand strong with you and the Gospel!

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Leadership Words!

Leadership Words

Our words can get us into trouble or they can dissolve trouble. How well do you use your words in life as a leader? If you are not sure, just look at the relationships around you. Loving words can be like a warm breath on a lit candle that can easily extinguish a heart simmering with anger. “Please forgive me” can be just as powerful a collection of words as “I Love you with all my heart!”  In this article, we will consider the power of our words as it relates to us as Leaders of the WORD.

My father gave me great advice the day I got married. He said to me, “Son, when you and your wife get into an argument, watch your words. Once you say them, you cannot take them back.” Although I have not always practiced this seasoned piece of wisdom, I do understand the incredible importance of it. As a Leader, we have to stop and consider a few ways we can learn to weigh our words in our heart before they are spoken (or shot) out of our mouth?

In a time of drought, even the smallest bit of water can help a thirsty land. It can also help a drying heart. One of the first ways to weigh our words is to consider if they will be received as a cool glass of water or a mason jar of gas. Like the brittle grass during an absence of rain, is a heart that is hurting. The smallest spark can set it on fire. The words you choose will determine either a blessing or a blaze. Remember in meetings and gatherings, fires are good for roasting marshmallows, not each other.

Another way to weigh our words is to consider what your subordinates expect of you. If you are married, has your spouse ever said “I don’t need your solutions; I just need your sympathy”? Many of us are fixers and when it comes to talking with our spouses and those that work for (or with) us, less is often more. If you are not sure- ASK. This not only determines the content of your words, it also impacts the way you listen. You may even say something like, “How can I best assist you?” Try it next time- you might be surprised at the response.

I remember a poem by H.W. Longfellow that that said, “I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where; for, so swiftly it flew, the sight could not follow it in its flight.” A third way we weigh our words is to consider its target. Will the words be encouraging or confronting? Is the point of the words to affirm a good choice or to expose a bad one? Regardless of the arrow, the string that sends it flying should be that of love and respect. When we speak the truth in love (EPH. 4:15), we never have to worry about a stray arrow causing unnecessary injury.

Musician Tommy Shaw stated, “Timing is everything.” If that is true in music, it is also important in our words because all of life is relationships. Our next way to weigh our words comes not from the ticking of the clock as it is the cadence of the conversation. When you are about to say something to someone, especially when it is a heated discussion, ask yourself, “At this time, will he/she hear what I am about to say?” If you are unsure about the importance of timing, please consider the Prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-13.

As we close, I want to provide one more way to weigh our words and that is at the foot of the cross. Only when our words are first baptized in the waters of worship to God will we be able to bring a proper sacrifice of speech to the Lord’s altar of healing. Words matter. The Apostle John wrote “In the beginning was the word (Logos), and the Word was with God and the word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1, 14). When we run our words through the Word, they will always come out with grace and not growl.

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Developing Leaders vs Gathering Followers

Developing Leaders vs. Gathering Followers

Your ultimate long‐term success as a leader will be determined by your ability to develop a team of leaders…those who know how to lead to the future and not just manage the present. In order to fulfill the vision, you must be able to guide the way the team works together in order to deliver the desired results.

Team success is the ability of their leader to rally all the team members to commit to the vision and common goals ‐ not because they have to, but because they want to.

Forming a team of mentally, emotionally, and spiritually mature leaders is worth your time and effort. The greater challenge is getting them to lay aside personal ambition and ideas for the sake of becoming a team centered only on the mission and vision. A group of followers working on the same effort is far different from a team of strategic‐thinking leaders focused on the same goals with a clear understanding and commitment to the same outcome‐based results.

Independent thinking team members normally focus on their own strengths, abilities and promote their own ideas of what success should look like. Most of the time, this leads to everyone pulling in different directions and momentum is lost, if it was ever there to begin with. As a leader, it is your primary task to inspire individual team members to check their ego at the door, set aside personal agendas and cultivate a passion for teamwork, team solutions and team wins. Look at yourself first.

Your top priority as a team leader, leader of leaders and most of all as a senior leader, is to have your team understand, focus and commit to the outcome‐based goals of the mission, vision, values and strategy. Without clarity about these four key elements, buy‐in by the team and commitment to work together as a team will never happen in any significant with developing leaders out of the followers you have gathered happens best when working together as a team is the only option. Team dynamics cannot develop in solo situations. Lone rangers, overbearing personalities and divisive behaviors have to be overcome and not tolerated for very long. As the leader, you must have the emotional strength and maturity to help clarify non‐productive behaviors in both strong‐willed and weak‐minded individuals. Somehow you must be able to persuade them to see the big picture; how every individual effort is not only valuable, but also vital to the team’s success.

Five principles critical for developing a team of leaders:

Provide adequate and accurate information; clarity about desired results and the rationale used to shape your views.

Anticipate and resolve conflicts quickly. As the leader, it’s your job to make sure overly competitive or domineering team members don’t exploit another’s vulnerability when discussing either positive or negative issues as they relate to the team’s on‐going efforts or final results.

Recruit, teach, train and deploy the right team members. Be slow to appoint so you won’t have to disappoint. No matter how talented they are, if their ego, personality and effort cannot complement the team, you have to decide what’s more important to you —individual contribution or the team’s success.

Provide prompt and adequate feedback. Waiting until the annual performance review means many significant coaching opportunities may be lost. Feedback for both individuals and the team as a whole is most effective in written form. And, I don’t mean the small and big wins on a regular basis.

Recognize and deal with promptly those that I refer to as “Vision Drainers.” The single biggest reason for teams not performing effectively and winning often is the emotional maturity of the leader. It often lies in the discomfort and sometimes the fear of giving honest feedback necessary to develop a group of followers into a team of leaders who win on a regular basis.

Remember, leaders who turn followers into leaders on a consistent basis are leaders who know what they are doing and why. Many times, there are those who give promise of being great leaders because of superficial personality and character traits. Intelligence, confidence and the ability to communicate are important. However, having all these does not mean they have the emotional maturity and ability to make good judgments, which are invaluable in turning followers into leaders.

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How to Complete Your Call when You’d Rather Quit

What makes a pastor rejoice and become thankful? When a pastor sees personal and organizational progress. Progress is when a pastor observes people’s lives being changed, church service attendance increases, spiritual commitment deepens, and finances increase—then the pastor has the freedom to expand serving and evangelizing others and hire the right staff and compensate them properly. I am humbled by the truth that 95% of Senior and Lead pastors whom I coach with the Holy Spirit’s help see an immediate increase in people saved, healed, and delivered as well as solid, responsible stewardship and financial growth. This has created thankful pastors who spread the word around about my ministry and leadership coaching programs.

 

What makes a pastor frustrated? The opposite is true: personal and organizational stagnation. Lack of spiritual hunger, decreasing conversions, attendance plateau or decline, frayed relationships, waning discipleship, and financial struggles. I cannot tell you how many leaders prior to receiving coaching told me that there were days, weeks, or just a few months away from quitting. In fact, many confessed they considered quitting every Monday.

 

Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,

that you may fulfill it (Colossians 4:17).

 

Are you in a season of progress, stagnation or decline? Progress is the constant movement toward your God-given dreams and goals and a better life. Let’s look at the Three Turnaround Strategies that will help you increase your pastoral intelligence so you can move forward and fulfill your ministry assignment.

 

Strategy 1 – See it as it is.

 

The first strategy of turnaround leadership is not to just “be positive.” One of my megachurch pastor clients thought if he would just keep thinking positive, problematic ministry leaders would change in his church. I told him, “If I were you, I would quickly fire some of your disgruntled employees,” and I named a few. He did not listen to me and the negative staff, along with the congregants they influence, actually ran him out of his church after he had started the church and pastored there for thirty-seven years. You can think positive thoughts about your church all day long—but negative things will continue to fester.

 

Tell yourself nothing but the truth.

 

If you want to be successfully effective, you have to start telling yourself the truth. Refuse living in denial. If you are not progressing, then realize that what you have been doing is not working. There is nothing wrong with having a problem…unless it’s the same problem you had last year.

  • It’s hard to admit your church is not growing because your sermons are only “good” simply because you are not spending the time necessary to preach “GREAT” messages.
  • It’s hard to admit that your church is not growing because you have not equipped 100 or more highly qualified leaders in your church, and you have been pastoring 5, 10, or even 20+ years.
  • It’s hard to admit that your church is not growing because you don’t have the leadership skills necessary to lead a church the size of God’s dreams for your church.

 

On the other hand, it’s easy to blame the economy, your geographical area, and your church members for the lack of spiritual, numerical, and financial growth. As I am sure you have preached to others, “The truth will set you free.” Increase your Leadership Intelligence (LQ) by memorizing this:

 

NOTHING CAN GET BETTER UNTIL YOU ADMIT SOMETHING IS WRONG.

 

Strategy 2 – See it better than it is.

 

Great pastors have trained themselves to look beyond “what is” and have learned to use their God-given imagination to see what “could be.” Great pastors only tolerate the present and live in the future. Everything created was actually created twice—first in the mind then in the realm of the physical.

 

Refuse to see things worse than they really are.

 

Some pastors see a thing worse than what it is so they have an excuse for not doing anything about it. It’s time to cut your excuses in half and double the actions you take as a pastor. I don’t know how often I have seen pastors get stuck because they are afraid to either fire a person who is underperforming or too afraid to make the one change they know they have needed to make for a long time.

 

I graciously encouraged one pastor to fire a poor-performing children’s church pastor. He said, “If I fire this person, he will start another church, and I will lose 50-100 people.” After an entire year of working with the disgruntled, lazy associate pastor, he finally fired him. Nobody left the church, and the children’s church doubled in size in four months.

 

I lovingly told one pastor he preached too long. He said, “If I preach for only a half hour, almost everybody in my church would leave next week.” When he finally decided to take my advice and told his leaders he was going to preach for half an hour, the entire team stood up and applauded. By the way, his church started growing after that, and he broke the 1,000-member barrier.

The number one responsibility of a leader is to see. Jesus said you are the blind leading the blind and the blind lead everybody into the ditch. Point people in the direction of a bigger, brighter, and better future. See things ten times better than what they are!

 

WHAT IS SEEABLE BECOMES BELIEVABLE AND WHAT IS BELIEVABLE BECOMES POSSIBLE.

 

Mandate 3 – Make it the new way you see it.

 

The third strategy of turnaround is do whatever it takes to make what you see on the inside manifested on the outside. You need some TRACTION—a TRAC to take ACTION on. In order to turn your ministry dreams into reality, you need a detailed strategic plan to give you the TRAC you need to run on. I have coached some leaders who have notebooks full of plans, but they fail to execute the proper action steps needed to move their churches and ministries forward. It’s of the utmost importance that you get a successfully proven M.A.P.—Massive Action Plan!

 

A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan. –T. Boone Pickens, Texas billionaire and successful businessman

 

A DREAM WITHOUT A STRATEGIC PLAN IS A FANTASY, AND A DREAM WITHOUT TAKING MASSIVE ACTION WILL BECOME A NIGHTMARE.

 

Smart leaders leverage the advantages of a personal consultant or coach. Don’t try to make the changes alone. Don’t rely on your own wisdom. What got you “here” will not get you “there.” Proverbs 15:22 paraphrased says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers [coaches, consultants, mentors] they succeed.”

 

Avoid the biggest lie: I cannot afford a coach. I have seen this lie paralyze several ministry leaders. However, I have witnessed with my own eyes Senior Pastors who have stepped out in faith and hired a leadership coach and the process propelled themselves to the next level…and beyond.

 

Look at the biblical teams that God put together who changed history: Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, Deborah and Barak, David and Jonathan, Esther and Mordecai, Jeremiah and Baruch, Mary and Joseph, the apostles, Paul and Silas, Priscilla and Aquila, etc. You can’t afford not to team up!

 

It’s time for progress. It’s time to move forward toward your ministry dreams. It’s time to enjoy being in the ministry again!

 

About Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson is known as one of the premier speakers on the subjects of Christian leadership, confidence building, and strategic planning. For the past 16 years, his messages, books, and leadership coaching has helped some of the largest and most prestigious churches in the world to experience spiritual, numerical, and financial growth. Keith is an amazon best-selling author and recognized by other leaders as America’s #1 Confidence Coach.
http://KeithJohnson.tv/Helping-Pastors

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The Lord’s Leader: The Cloth of Service

I finally decided to go through my wallet and pull out some items with the hope of making it smaller. Since I have two daughters, I never have to worry about having any cash but the collection of receipts, business cards, and the like seem to make the wallet a bit unmanageable as well as uncomfortable. As I begin the process, what started out as a simple task became an interesting “spring cleaning” adventure. I decided to dump out everything in the wallet and “start fresh” with what was just needed for the day to day journey. As I finished, I felt the wallet and it was then that I discovered a long lost treasure. It was not a 20$ bill (remember, I have two daughters) nor a coupon for a free burger (just used that one) but an old torn, worn, piece of dingy white cloth. I hold the cloth between my fingers and remember when I placed it into the wallet. I placed the cloth into “service” in June 2006 when I spoke at a men’s breakfast at Turkey Creek First Baptist in Plant City, Florida. The “Cloth of Service” event was from John 13:1-16 where Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, took off his outer garment and picked up a water basin and a towel and began to wash the feet of the disciples. Here was the Creator of the universe stooping to pour water over dirty feet and lovingly and tenderly dry them- even the feet of Judas, the one to whom Jesus knew would betray him hours later. It was a powerful picture of what we are called to do as a “chosen people and a holy priesthood”. I challenged each of the men to take a small cloth that had been cut for them and commit with me to live a life of service that is worthy of the “washing of the feet by Jesus”. It is a commitment that I have tried to hold true since that day and the little cloth in my wallet is a steady reminder of that promise. As we enter into this journey of leadership through the All Pro Pastors’ newsletter, we will learn that Godly leadership comes not from the positon we hold, but the person we become. It is also not just about the experiences we will have in life but how we “Express God” by the simple acts of love throughout our life. I want us as Pastors and Ministers of the Gospel to make a commitment to be willing to figuratively wash the feet of more than each other (fellow Christians) but to be willing to wash the feet of those that despise you, persecute you, and even hurt you. You see, the cloth is more than a piece of fabric- it is an article of clothing that requires a commitment and cost. Jesus said in John13:13-16, You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” I desperately desire to not only be blessed by God; I want to be a blessing for Him. Will you join me?

Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks

CEO, Chaplaincy Care, INC

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Stay In The Trench and Do Not Flinch

It has been said that pastoring is not a job, it’s a calling – and I could not agree more. One man once said, “If you think that you are called to pastor, but you also think you may desire to do something else, go do the something else.” Why the directness? Because if you are not truly called by God to pastor, as the pressures mount, you will gladly take any exit ramp possible to alleviate and eradicate the pain.

So for those who are truly called by God to this noble, yet servant leadership (John 13) role of pastoring, how do we press on, day in and day out, in the midst of the struggle? The following are 7 keys from God’s Word that I pray will encourage you, embolden you, and stiffen your spine as you valiantly soldier on in obedience to the LORD:

  1. Remind yourself daily Who called you: The old phrase rings true: “If God brought you to it, He will see you through it.” God doesn’t make mistakes and He has a plan for His glory and your good, yes even in the midst of the challenges and pain that you are facing today. The apostle Paul proves how powerful the call of God is when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” Regardless of what others say about you, remember Who called you.
  2. Remind yourself daily to have calloused knees: The preacher’s power is not from standing in the pulpit, but by helplessly falling on his knees in his prayer closet. Contrary to the world’s thinking, our power is not from ourselves, but when we are on our knees it is of God. If we are not seeking the face of God in all things, we have failed before we have even started. “ 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
  3. Remind yourself daily to wash yourself in The Word: If we are not anchored to the Voice of Truth, we will anchor ourselves to the other voices that are jockeying for our allegiance. Therefore, it is crucial that we daily mine the Scriptures, bind the truth around our necks, write God’s wisdom on the tablet of our hearts, and hide His Word deep within the wellspring of our soul. As Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Daily bathe in God’s Word and your roots will become deep in the LORD, allowing you to withstand the storms of life.
  4. Remind yourself daily to stay Gospel focused: It the midst of the battle, it is relatively easy to completely lose sight of what we are fighting for. The war is not about physical life, but everlasting life. When this mission is constantly top-of-mind, we are more apt to press through the dry seasons of ministry as we rely through desperate dependence upon God to carry us each step of the way. Because the Gospel is potent beyond human thinking, we must cling to Paul’s words in Romans 1:16 when he declared with confidence and fervency, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
  5. Remind yourself daily that suffering for the Gospel is inevitable: Jesus did not mince words when he warned us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The key here is that we would recalibrate our hearts and minds to be in Christ (in Me Jesus says) for peace in the midst of the suffering. And yet, as we rest in Christ during the challenges, we must also remind ourselves the cut-to-the-chase promise that Paul gave to young Timothy when he said in 2 Timothy 3:12, “ Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
  6. Remind yourself daily that the battle is spiritual: Satan desires for us to be deceived into thinking that we are wrestling against flesh and blood. Why? Because if we are focused on overcoming flesh and blood, we are focused on the wrong enemy as the real enemy will seek, steal, and destroy us. Paul poured this deep truth into the Ephesians 6:10-12 when he said, “ 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Keep your heart in-tune with the reality that Satan is not some little guy in a red suit, with a pitchfork, a goatee, and eyebrows gone wild. No, as the spiritual battle rages on, he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and he prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he
    may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
  7. Remind yourself daily that the battle belongs to The LORD: Praise be to God for this reality, because if it was up to us, we would be in big trouble. At the end of your day, no matter challenges we face, when we are in Christ and under His righteousness, we can and must rest in the soul-satisfying fact that the battle belongs to the LORD. You notice I said that we “should.” Of all the 7 keys to adhere, this is the one that I struggle with the most. Oh wretched man that I
    am, who will deliver from this body of death (Romans 7:24)? God will! As we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), may God grant you His perfect peace in the midst of the struggle. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7

Be encouraged in the battle pastor, and count it all joy when the enemy assaults you with his fiery darts of deception and slander (James 1:2-3). Don’t bend, don’t buckle, don’t break, and don’t waver regarding God’s call on your life. Keep your hand to the plow and don’t look back (Luke 9:62). Drive a stake in the ground today with great resolve that even if God doesn’t go your way, you are still going His way (Daniel 3:16-18). Contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), and do not lose heart. Stay in the trench and do not flinch!