Sitting in an airport for a few hours can easily remind you that people struggle with self-awareness. There is the guy who does stretching exercises in a small and crowed space, the guy who talks extremely loud on his phone, and the person who lays down on the row of chairs without thinking others will soon want to sit there. Self-awareness is hard. Ben Franklin wrote, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Will Mancini, who serves on our team at LifeWay and leads Auxano, recently told me that a lack of self-awareness is the biggest hindrance to a leader’s development. When we are not self-aware, we greatly hinder our own growth for three reasons:
Leaders, especially ministry leaders, have commonly asked me questions about how to process new jobs/opportunities that come their way. What questions should I ask myself? How do I wrestle with changing jobs? Here are six questions, in no particular order, to ask:
1. Am I running from something or to something?Leading is extremely challenging and filled with seasons of frustration and discouragement. Because of this reality, when a leader is pursued for a new role or opportunity, there is a temptation to view the new role as a great opportunity to run from current challenges. But the challenges of the new role will likely match the current challenges in short order, so if you don’t have a passion for the new role, you will find yourself in the same position. Brad Waggoner, mentor and boss, has often encouraged, “When considering a new role, be sure the pull is greater than the push.” You will have “pushes,” but be sure there is a way more compelling “pull.”
2. Have I looked at my current role through fresh eyes?Before you consider another role, privately (in your own mind) resign your current one. Look at your current context with fresh eyes. Do you see the opportunities? Are you still as passionate for the mission as you were the first day? Though you may have seasons of discouragement, the opportunities for impact are likely as big or bigger than they were when you first arrived. Only now you benefit from tenure and better understanding of the context.
3. Am I looking to my job for something a job cannot give me?Your current or future job cannot satisfy the longing of your soul. Only God can. If you look to your job to satisfy you, your job will always disappoint you.
4. Where would I most likely be developed?More than God cares about where you serve and what you do, He cares about your development and maturity. He may use the team around you to be the primary means of your development. Or He may use the challenging and stretching opportunity as the means to drive you to deeper dependence on Him. But as you process, ask yourself where are you most likely to be challenged, developed, and sanctified?
5. Has the Lord given peace?As my wife and I processed a move at one point in our lives, she read in her devotional book a phrase that really resonated with us. “If there is no peace, the answer is no.” The lack of peace from the Lord made it clear that we were not to go where we considered going.
6. Does burden and passion increase the more I pray?As you pray about the new opportunity more and more, does your passion and burden for the people and the mission increase, stay the same, or decrease? If it does not grow exponentially, be very careful you are not considering a new role only because of a “push” (see question 1 again). Read the full article 6 Questions to Ask Before You Change Jobs that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
While you have likely heard that there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, the two are miles apart. Confidence and cockiness originate from very different places. For the Christian, confidence flows from humility, from knowing you are fully approved and qualified because of Christ and not because of your own merit. Cockiness comes from trusting yourself, from believing you are better than others. When we move from confidence to cockiness, we set ourselves up in opposition to the Lord, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). When we walk in humility and confidence because we are His, He takes note. When we stand in our own merit, He only knows us from a distance, for “though the Lord is exalted, he takes note of the humble; but he knows the haughty from a distance” (Psalm 138:6). How can we recognize the drift in our own hearts? Here are four warning signals you are drifting from confidence to cockiness:
1. You start thinking more about your gifting than Him.When you think more about His gifts than Him, you love those things more than Him. When you think more about how He has gifted you than you think about Him, your gifting is making you cocky and you are consumed with yourself, not Him.
2. You rejoice more in what you do for Him than what He has done for you.When you are more excited about what you do for Him than what He has done for you on the cross, you are focused on yourself and not Him.
3. You begin to think you are owed more.When you walk in humility, you are content with what you steward because you know it is all a gift from above. When you believe you are owed more, your thinking is self-centered.
4. You are crushed when your goals are not met.Every ministry or organization defines winning differently based on its unique mission. Thus, every driven leader has different goals. If your goals are not realized and you are crushed, it means you believe you are the one who causes things to happen. The person who takes too much blame is the same person who takes too much credit. And obviously, the person who takes too much credit is cocky. Without continually walking with the Lord, we will drift from confidence to cockiness. When the drift occurs, we are wise to come back to Him again and again. Read the full article 4 Ways to Recognize the Drift from Confidence to Cockiness that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
We get the term narcissism from the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, who fell in love with himself, with his own image. He was a hunter and was well known for his beauty. His arch-nemesis was named, well, he was named Nemesis, and he attracted Narcissus to a pool where Narcissus saw his own reflection. Narcissus was in awe of himself and stared at his reflection until he died. In some versions of the story, he kills himself because his own image cannot quench and satisfy him. Likewise, modern-day narcissists are on a path to their own demise. Of course, they struggle to see it because they are too busy staring at their own reflections. But here are three simple steps to self-destruction.
Step One: Think you are awesome.The first step to self-destruction is to think you are awesome. Look at all the things you enjoy and believe you have achieved them or acquired them with your own merit or effort, not by the grace of God. By thinking of yourself more, you will rely more on yourself and less on Him, and the Lord will oppose you. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Hint: Anytime you want to self-destruct, just set yourself up in opposition to the One who rules everything.
Step Two: Only hang out with people who tell you that you are awesome.Because you have accomplished step one (you are always accomplishing something), you will love step two. Because you are awesome, it only makes sense to be around people who are affirming of your awesomeness. If you want to self-destruct, only hang out with people who are in awe of you, people who tell you that you are awesome. People who think you are awesome won’t confront you on your foolishness. They won’t help you make wise decisions. People who are afraid to tell you the truth will cheer you on as you move toward destruction.
Step Three: Keep looking at yourself.Narcissus died because he could not stop looking at himself. His enemy knew the way to ruin him was to get him to be preoccupied with himself. Your enemy is the same way. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And if you continually look at yourself instead of the Lord, you will self-destruct. If you will take your eyes off of yourself, you will see that He is awesome. You will welcome people into your life who are in awe of Him and not you, people who will help you see more and more how great He is. And as you look at Him, as you seek Him, you will live. The enemy seeks to destroy, but Christ came to give you life—life that is full and abundant. Read the full article 3 Simple Steps to Self-Destruction that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
I love pastors. I love their hearts. I love their commitment to God and to the churches they serve. I also love new pastors. It is fascinating to hear their thoughts after they have served as a pastor for a year or two. I have assembled some of those thoughts in the form of direct quotes from new pastors via social media, my blog, my podcast, and Church Answers. Here, then, are the top ten surprises new pastors have. I offer them as direct quotes with brief comments.
- “It is amazing and challenging to see how quickly my calendar filled up.” A number of pastors lamented how little time they give to evangelism and connecting with people in the community.
- “I really get some weird requests.” I covered this issue in an earlier post. One of my favorites came from the pastor who was asked to euthanize an injured rabbit. But perhaps the request by a church member to euthanize his healthy mother-in-law was even weirder.
- “It’s a lot of work to do new sermons every week.” Yes it is.
- “Funerals are pretty easy. Weddings are a pain.” Most new pastors were not prepared for the opinions and emotions of weddings. Some commented how the rehearsal and wedding consumed an entire weekend.
- “I have been surprised at the incredibly loyal support I receive from some church members.” They were not the members the pastor expected to provide so much support.
- “I have been surprised at the intense criticisms I receive from some church members.” They were not the members the pastor expected to inject so much negativity.
- “I never expected I needed to be knowledgeable in so many areas.” Some pastors commented about their lack of knowledge in church finances and budgeting, counseling, administration, leadership, facilities, and Robert’s Rules of Order, to name a few.
- “There is no such thing as a vacation.” Many pastors shared how they have never had an uninterrupted vacation.
- “I am never prepared for the tragedies.” One pastor was confronted with a tragic automobile accident his third month in ministry. In a family of five, the mother and one of the children were killed.
- “The stress on my family has been so much greater than I expected.” I specifically and repeatedly heard about the surprise of strained marriages.
I’ve seen too many people in vocational ministry fail to launch. Perhaps “launch” is not the best term, because they may stay in ministry for many years. But they never seem to do well. They never seem to have a peace. They seem like they are always trying to prove something. I recently went through my old seminary pictorial directory. I was able to locate 47 people I knew in seminary who I know where they are today. Of that 47, only eight remained in ministry. If you are doing the math, that is an 83 percent dropout rate. Vocational ministry is a calling. It is not just another vocation. If you enter ministry for the wrong reasons, you will not likely do well. Indeed, you will not likely make it. What are some of the terrible reasons to enter vocational ministry? Here are five of the most common failures:
- Escape from a secular job. I know a man who has a huge desire to work fulltime in ministry for a church. But the only reason he ever articulates is his hatred of his middle management secular job. He sees ministry vocation only as an escape from the problems of corporate work. I hope his heart changes before he makes the leap.
- Fulfilling family expectations. About one-third of my peers who dropped out of ministry came from families in vocational ministry. Don’t hear me wrongly. It is admirable to see multiple generations in ministry for the right reasons. But too many in ministry feel compelled to enter that world because of family pressure. One peer of mine told me, “Dad called me into ministry, not God.”
- When your spouse is not supportive. Vocational ministry is demanding and can be exhausting. If ministers do not have the support of their spouses, their lives will be miserable from the point of entering vocational ministry. For those of you who have supportive spouses in ministry like me, count your blessings.
- Not theologically prepared. I recently heard a man preach a sermon that had, sadly, several biblical and theological errors. Those errors did not go unnoticed by many members in the congregation. The role of teaching and preaching in ministry is not to be held lightly. Do not enter ministry theologically unprepared.
- Skewed views of the demands of ministry. I was in a conversation with a 30-something pastor who came into ministry from the secular world. His conversation went something like this: “I had this idea that I would have all this free time and short work weeks. Ministry seemed like a piece of cake compared to the world I was coming from. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is unbelievably demanding. I am on call 24-hours a day whether I admit it or not.”
One big principle in leadership development is to prepare people for their future roles, not their current roles. Ram Charan, in his work The Leadership Pipeline, identifies training people for their existing job instead of their next one as a major gap in most leadership development initiatives. People must be developed for the future, not just for the immediate and the urgent. Several years ago I invited two leaders to join the leadership team I lead, Michael Kelley and Trevin Wax. Many identified them as significant leaders for the future because of their character and competence and their ability to learn and scale. They joined the leadership team in our division even though their current level of responsibilities, in terms of staff they led and resources they stewarded, were far less than the rest of the team. For example, Michael led a small team and oversaw a budget of a couple hundred thousand dollars while the rest of my direct reports led large teams and stewarded budgets in the tens of millions. If you care about equal balance of responsibilities on the team, putting them on the leadership team did not make sense. But it made absolute sense from a leadership development vantage point. In time, with staff transitions and org changes, both Michael and Trevin moved into new roles. Michael now leads the groups/discipleship team at LifeWay and Trevin leads the Bible and reference team. They were prepared for those roles before they were asked to move into those roles. Here are three essentials in preparing people for their next roles, not their current ones:
1. To develop leaders, expose them to future thinking, not only current thinking.Being on the leadership team meant Michael and Trevin read the books our team read, interacted with the thinking that formed decision-making on our team, and learned the language our team used. When the time came for them to move into their new roles, they were equipped with the thinking and language of the team.
2. To develop leaders, expose them to future responsibilities, not only current ones.As Michael and Trevin were exposed to other leaders on the team, they learned how others leaders managed responsibilities, organized their work, and executed in community with others. Through the others around them, they were able to get a glimpse of managing a large team before they were asked to manage a large team.
3. To develop leaders, expose leaders to future pressure, not only current pressure.They were exposed to challenging decisions, difficult discussions, and the overall pressure that comes with leading a large team. Thus, they had a much better sense of what they were going to experience in their new roles. It feels so natural and seems so logical to develop people for the role they currently hold, but leadership development looks to the future. Develop people for their future roles and their current context benefits. Develop people for their current roles and the future suffers. Read the full article One Big Principle in Developing Leaders that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
Leaders can be tempted to isolate themselves, to pull themselves away from the burden of leadership and from people who can be the source of pain, disappointment, and criticism. But the moments we are tempted to run from accountability are the moments we must run toward it. The moments we feel we do not need encouragement and accountability are the moments we most need it. Here are three reasons leaders must seek accountability:
1. Your heartWe need accountability because the heart is prone to wander. Our hearts don’t drift toward great sensitivity to the Lord and awe for Him. They drift away from Him. And whenever we lose our wonder for Him, we wander from Him. Encouragement and accountability are what keep our hearts from being hardened by sin’s deceit (Hebrews 3:13). A leader whose heart has wandered from the Lord is a leader who leads with the wrong motives and with the wrong means of intimidation and domination.
2. Your headWe need accountability because we make poor decisions when we make decisions alone. We need wise men and women around us because isolated leaders are poor leaders whose plans will fail (Proverbs 15:22).
3. Your handsA leader is responsible not only for the direction but also for the execution. If a leader attempts to lead alone, the leader’s impact and the impact of the ministry/organization will be greatly inhibited. Leaders need people around them to help not only with the leader’s heart and head but also with the leader’s hands—with getting things done. Without accountability, your heart will drift, your head will not be filled with the wisdom it needs to lead effectively, and your hands won’t accomplish all they could accomplish because you are attempting to lead alone. Read the full article 3 Reasons Leaders Must Seek Accountability that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
An isolated leader is a dangerous leader. An isolated leader won’t receive care and encouragement to continue leading, won’t receive necessary confrontation, will limit learning, and will lead in a way that is divorced from the people and from reality. How do you know if you are isolated leader? Here are five indications:
1. If you are never confronted you are really in isolation.You have only surrounded yourself with people who are afraid of you or are in awe of you and thus you are never challenged on your blind spots or sin. And we all have blind spots and sin. A life without confrontation is a life without growth. To live without ever being challenged is to live recklessly towards destruction.
2. If you are never uncomfortable you are really in isolation.Christian community is community that is built on Christ and not lesser commonalities. Thus Christian community pulls in people who are different than one another and are united by His grace. Those differences will cause discomfort, and the discomfort will cause growth.
3. If you never hear the word “No,” you are really in isolation.No one should only and always hear “yes,” because no one is perfect. If you have built a life for yourself where you only hear affirmations and only hear “yes,” you have chosen shallow community. And you are surrounded with people who will passively watch you self-destruct one day.
4. If you don’t give yourself to your team, you are really in isolation.Leadership is an incredible privilege and an incredible responsibility. If you aren’t encouraging, serving, forgiving, and praying for others, you are an isolated leader.
5. If you never weep for others, you are really in isolation.Great leaders love the people they lead. And as the pain of this world plagues those on their team, they weep. They weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. If you never weep, you are going through the motions of leadership and really living in isolation. Read the full article 5 Indicators You Are an Isolated Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.
I can’t tell pastors today how difficult it was when I was a pastor. To the contrary, I have to be honest and tell them it is more difficult now. All three of my sons went into vocational ministry after serving in the business world. One of them is in seminary administration and two of them are pastors. I never pushed them in that direction. I knew they could not make it unless they were certain God called them. Yes, it is indeed more difficult to be a pastor today than earlier years. At least ten major issues led to these challenges.
- The advent of social media. As a consequence, private criticisms have become public forums. The fish bowl life of a pastor’s family is now 24/7.
- Podcast pastors. When I was a pastor, there were only a few well-known television pastors as points of comparison to my inferiority. Today, church members have hundreds, if not thousands, of pastors on podcast they compare to their own pastors.
- Diminished respect for pastors. When I was a pastor, most people held my vocation in high esteem, even those not in church. Such is not the case today.
- Generational conflict in the church. While there has always been some generational conflict in the church, it is more pervasive and intense today.
- Leadership expectations. Pastors are expected today to have more leadership and business skills. We constantly hear from pastors, “They didn’t teach me that at seminary.”
- Demise of the program-driven church. In past years, church solutions were simpler. Churches were more homogeneous, and programmatic solutions could be used in almost any context. Today churches are more complex and contexts are more varied.
- Rise of the “nones.” There is a significant increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. The demise of cultural Christianity means it is more difficult to lead churches to growth.
- Cultural change. The pace of change is breathtaking, and much more challenging today. It is exceedingly more difficult today for pastors to stay abreast with the changes around them.
- More frustrated church members. Largely because of the cultural change noted above, church members are more frustrated and confused. They often take out their frustrations on pastors and other church leaders.
- Bad matches with churches. In earlier years, there was considerable homogeneity from church to church, particularly within denominations and affiliated church groups. Today churches are much more diverse. A pastor who led well in one context may fare poorly in another unless there is a concerted effort to find the right match for a church and pastor.