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It’s easier to make a change when you know what to do.

Four Considerations for Baby Boomer Pastors

I am one of you. We are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. Until the Millennials came along, we were the largest generation in American history. Our influence is still great. But most of us are surprised our older years arrived so quickly. We can remember when we didn’t trust anyone over the age of 30. Now we think 30-somethings are kids. Many of us have difficulty dealing with this phase of our life and ministry. Older age was for “those people.” It never was supposed to be about us. And now we are here. Our ages range from 54 to 72. We are in our fourth quarter. How do we end well, especially if we are in vocational ministry? Allow me to make four suggestions.
  1. Make your life one of mentoring. You have rich experiences. You have served as pastor of good churches and tough churches. You know the joys of ministry. You know the pains of ministry. You know what it is like to be ready to throw in the towel. Find a Millennial pastor. Grab a coffee with him. Go with no agenda other than to get to know him better and to pray for him. See what God will do with that relationship.
  2. Don’t let your vocation be your identity. Your identity is child of the living God. Your identity is Christ. It is not your title or your position or your church. We Boomers often get so caught up in our work and ministry that it begins to define who we are. As a consequence, we have trouble letting go when it’s time to leave. That brings me to the next point.
  3. Know when to leave. We Boomers won’t retire in the classic sense. We want to keep making a difference. But sometimes that means we hold on to a position too long. You are not indispensable. Trust God to find your successor. Trust God to help you with your finances. Trust God to find you a place where you can make a difference. But don’t hang on so long your church or organization declines and wonders if you will ever leave. It’s not about you. Make room for the next person. Make room for the next generation.
  4. Consider a fourth quarter ministry in another place. Perhaps it’s time to move on and serve under a younger pastor in another church, even if it’s part time. Perhaps it’s time to be highly intentional about mentoring, coaching, or consulting with other churches and pastors. Perhaps it’s time for you to take a subservient role even though you have led as a pastor for years. Consider all the options God may put before you.
We are about to see a great exodus of Boomer pastors and church leaders through retirement and death. The data indicates we don’t have enough church leaders to fill these vacancies. Maybe we Boomers can be highly intentional about raising up this next generation of church leaders. It’s time, fellow Boomers. It’s time for us to consider how to transition in this phase of our life and ministry. Don’t hold on to those things where God has told you to let go. It might be a scary next step. But, like your original call to ministry, the God who gave you a path and opportunities will do the same in this new, and possibly, last phase of ministry. It’s time to let go, whatever that may mean, and trust God. He will provide.
Read the full article Four Considerations for Baby Boomer Pastors that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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2 Qualities in All Great Leaders

Great leaders are both intentional and intense. Great leaders bring focus and fury, precision and passion, wisdom and work ethic. With wisdom and discipline, they identify what matters most. And with passion, they continually pursue what matters most. Intentionality coupled with intensity makes a leader very credible and very effective. We see both intentionality and intensity in the biblical account when God first gave humanity the responsibility to lead. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). After God created the creatures in the sea and in the sky, He told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:22), but He did not tell them to subdue and lead. God reserved that command for the crowning work of His creation—humanity. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden with the instructions to “work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15). God-given leadership, before sin tainted everything, was simply watching over and working. And still today, effective leadership requires both intentionality and intensity.

Watching over requires intentionality.

Leadership without intentionality results in chaos for the people on the team and for those being served. Leadership without intentionality wastes an incredible amount of energy and resources. Intentionality means having a clear understanding of your mission, your culture, and where you are headed. Great leaders fight the drift away from intentionality and toward a plethora of competing directions.

Working requires intensity.

The passion of the team will rarely rise above the passion of the leader. Leaders who work hard will likely lead teams that work hard. Leaders who struggle with apathy for the task and mission will likely lead apathetic teams. Leaders must not choose between intentionality and intensity. Both are essential. Read the full article 2 Qualities in All Great Leaders that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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4 Types of People on Your Team (Only One Is Effective)

In his classic work Pensees, Blaise Pascal profoundly wrote:

Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge; knowledge without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; both zeal and knowledge. The first three condemned him. The last acquitted him, were excommunicated by the Church, and yet saved the Church.

Clearly Pascal was affirming those who are filled with both knowledge and zeal. Those with both knowledge and zeal, according to Pascal, are the ones who saved the Church, and those without both qualities are the ones who condemned Jesus. Applying Pascal’s framework to leadership, there are two essential qualities in all great leaders: Intentionality (knowledge) and intensity (zeal). In your context, you have met these four types of people. And only one of them is really effective.

1. The Internal Consultant (Intentionality without intensity)

I have been a consultant and benefit currently from utilizing consultants, so I am not bashing the discipline. Consultants help you with clarity and with understanding that leads to an intentional direction. They are valuable. But internal consultants attempt to speak into the work without doing any of the work. They come with ideas but lack the intensity to implement any ideas. You don’t want people on the team who offer their heads but not their hearts and their hands.

2. The Chaos Creator (Intensity without intentionality)

The chaos creator wakes up ready to execute something today. And something entirely different tomorrow. Sometimes the “something different” is actually in the opposite direction, but the chaos creator does not care. A person on the team who is passionate yet lacking in wisdom easily creates unnecessary work for everyone else.

3. The “Why Are You Here?” Guy (Neither intentionality nor intensity)

Once you see a person without intentionality or intensity, it is hard to un-see what you have seen. Neither great ideas nor passion for the mission are brought to the table. Meh. You can’t help but wonder why the person is still around. Surely there is some mission or cause in the world that person can be excited to join.

4. The Person You Trust (Both intentionality and intensity)

Intentionality coupled with intensity makes a leader very credible. And not only the leader but any person on the team. The person you trust, the person who adds incredible value, who makes everyone else better, is the person who is both intentional and intense. This person deploys thinking, energy, and skill in the same direction. People who are passionate about what matters most are highly effective. Read the full article 4 Types of People on Your Team (Only One Is Effective) that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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6 Mistakes Leaders Make in Their First 90 Days

While there is nothing magical about the number, many have used the “first 90 days” to describe the important first days in a leader’s new role. In his helpful book The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins encourages leaders to adjust their leadership to the context and life cycle of the organization: start-up, realignment, sustaining success, or turnaround. As an example, leading in a start-up or turnaround requires a very different approach than a seasoned and sustainable organization. But no matter what context you find yourself in, there are six common mistakes you can avoid during your first ninety days.

1. Not listening

If you enter a new context without listening, you are entering a new context without learning. And without learning your context, you will be unable to lead effectively. You will make decisions that are out of sync with reality and your ideas will be ideas for some other context, not the one you find yourself in.

2. Only listening

However, if you only listen, you will miss the opportunity to provide the value a new and fresh set of eyes can bring to the team. Listen, but also act.

3. Over-declaring

Mark Twain is credited as quipping, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” When entering a new role, be careful you don’t declare specificity without first understanding the context. You can and must declare general direction, affirm the past, and state your commitment, but granular first impressions will likely change a lot in your first ninety days. Don’t over-declare.

4. Not declaring anything

However, you must declare something. Even if you declare a period of learning and evaluating, you must provide clarity to how you will be leading.

5. Making too many decisions too quickly

An older man in Miami who became a friend and mentor told me a story about the first grocery store he managed. The district manager told him, “You can change the positions of displays, but not for two months. Because if you change it earlier, you will change it again right away.” In other words, evaluate before you take the big swings.

6. Not making any decisions

But you must make decisions and leadership calls; it is what leaders do. Even if you don’t desire to make decisions at first, every single context will demand a leader to decide. An indecisive leader sends the entire organization into paralysis. A turnaround or a start-up requires more rapid decision-making, but every context requires some. Read the full article 6 Mistakes Leaders Make in Their First 90 Days that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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How Much Time Do Pastors Take for Vacations?

This topic was hotter than I expected.

I asked pastors and other church staff about the amount of time taken for vacations each year. Most of the responses came from pastors, and many of those pastors were pretty intense about it.

They spoke of their dire need for vacation time; of the constant interruptions during vacations; of learning the hard way about forfeiting vacation time; and about some church members who don’t believe pastors should take any vacation time.

After I put the survey out on social media, I received many responses. Here are the reported annual vacation times, mostly from pastors:

  • None to 1 week 21%
  • 2 weeks 28%
  • 3 weeks 14%
  • 4 weeks 25%
  • 5 or more weeks 12%

The results were fascinating, almost forming a perfect bell curve. But note that nearly half of the pastors take only 0 to 2 weeks of vacation.

We also heard several other issues related to vacations:

  • Very few pastors take all of their allocated vacation at one time.
  • Many of the pastors were very sensitive about how many Sundays they missed. Some of them were in churches that would not let vacation time be inclusive of Sundays.
  • Two factors typically contributed to more vacation time: size of the church and length of pastoral tenure.
  • One-third of the pastors volunteered that they always take fewer vacation days than the church permits.
  • Some of the pastors are challenged to take vacation time if their spouse works. Coordination of schedules is not always easy.
  • Bi-vocational pastors, as a rule, have much greater difficulty taking vacations than other pastors.

What is your vacation schedule? What are some of your thoughts about vacations?

Let me hear from you.

Read the full article How Much Time Do Pastors Take for Vacations? that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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Seven Common Reasons Pastors Get Cold Feet

Many people have this naïve view that a pastor just has to preach and love people. Not so. Pastors certainly have to give a priority to preaching and ministry to others, but the pastor’s week is filled with unexpected and multifaceted demands. Many times pastors need to lead the church in a new endeavor, something that gets the members out of their comfort zone. And sometimes it gets pastors out of their comfort zone. Relocation. A new ministry. A second campus. New staff and changing staff positions. Purchase of property. These are but a few examples of leadership challenges some pastors have not seen before. These challenges not only require basic leadership skills, they require leadership skills in often-untested areas. Change leadership. Financial risk-taking. Breaking of routines. New paradigms. When pastors face these new challenges, it is not unusual for some to get cold feet. They decide the pain is not worth the potential gain. They get cold feet and settle for the status quo. Why? Here are seven of the most common reasons.
  1. The critics. Major change often engenders major criticisms. Too many leaders will stick with the status quo until their churches are on the path to death. They just want to avoid the critics. Remember, the vote to go to the Promised Land lost 10 to 2. They naysayers yielded to the critics, the whiners, and comfort-seekers.
  2. The energy drainers. These are the people ready to vote no before they hear the motion. They always have a better idea. They want to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And they will wear the pastors out . . . if the pastors let them.
  3. Lack of knowledge. Pastors are often placed in positions of leadership and relatively large budgets with no preparation. It’s hard to lead a challenging project if you can’t read a financial statement. And while pastors can find more seasoned laypersons to help them, the pastors’ lack of knowledge can be a showstopper.
  4. Prayerlessness. With God all things are possible. But if pastors have gotten too busy for God, they are too busy to lead forward. Frankly, pastors should have cold feet if they have not prayed about their own leadership and the endeavor they are about to lead.
  5. Short-term view. Pastors who don’t plan to hang around long can have cold feet about leading projects that may have a longer view. I have advised many pastors not to move forward on a major endeavor unless they plan to see it through. So cold feet in this case is probably the right temperature.
  6. Inadequate staff and lay leadership. I get this one. I spoke with a pastor this week who expressed concerned about the leadership around him. He was not sure he would have the right team for a major and visionary endeavor. I urged him to look behind his present team and see if God would raise up some other leaders in the church.
  7. Faith-as-idea. It really sounds exciting to take steps of faith . . . until it’s actually time to take those steps. To continue the Promised Land metaphor from point number one, leaders get to the edge of the Promised Land and freeze in their tracks when they see the challenges (see Numbers 13). Any step of faith will have its challenges. The question is: Is your faith bigger than your fears?
We need an army of church leaders who are bold and courageous. We need the spirit of Joshua 1 instead of Numbers 1. I pray for our pastors. I pray they will truly be the courageous people God has called them to be. We really need to move forward to our Promised Land.
Read the full article Seven Common Reasons Pastors Get Cold Feet that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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Five Difficult Pastors to Succeed

“That’s not the way Pastor Bob would do it.” The church member may have meant well, but her words stung the new pastor. After all, he had been at the church for only three months, and he had already heard that sentiment expressed more than a dozen times. He knew he would be living in the shadow of a legend. He just had no idea how big that shadow would be. There are several succession situations for pastors that are often more difficult than others, I know. I hear about them almost every day. Here are five of the most common:
  1. The long-term pastor. If a previous pastor has been at the church ten or more years, you can be assured the current pastor will hear many comparisons. Every pastor brings a new culture to the church. It often takes church members a few years to adjust.
  2. The church-splitting pastor. This pastor left mad. Perhaps the pastor was fired or left angry about something that happened in the church. Instead of finding another church in another community, the pastor decides to start a church in the same community. Church members follow the pastor. When the new pastor arrives, he often has to deal with hurting and angry members. Some of the members will actually have family splits over choosing churches. It’s not a fun situation to lead.
  3. The moral failure pastor. When there is pastoral moral failure, church members are hurt. Some are angry. Many of the congregants don’t know if they can trust a pastor again. The new pastor walks into a very difficult situation. He now has to pay for the sins of his predecessor.
  4. The omnipresent pastor. This pastor seemed like he visited every member every month. He was in homes. He attended all events. He visited the hospital fifteen times a day. He counseled people every day. He went to funerals and weddings he did not officiate. He was the superman pastor. Except that his family suffered greatly. Except that the church suffered because he would never let go. He just enjoyed the attention too much. And now the remaining members want to know why the new pastor is not visiting them in their homes nine days a week.
  5. The oratorical pastor. The previous pastor could preach with seemingly unmatched excellence. His sermons were legendary. He had more downloads to his podcasts than the current pastor has hairs on his head. Comparisons are frequent and not flattering for the new guy. And downloads are lower by 97 percent.
Does this situation sound familiar to some of you pastors? Remember, your identity is in Christ. Be comfortable in how God made and wired you. You have nothing to prove in the comparison game. Persevere. This season of dealing with the past will fade into new opportunities that will cause members to look to the future with excitement and anticipation.
Read the full article Five Difficult Pastors to Succeed that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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The Biggest Hindrance to a Leader’s Growth

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:

1. A lack of self-awareness prevents understanding of what needs development.

All leaders have growing and maturing to do. None of us have arrived to the point where we don’t need adjusting and learning. A self-aware leader knows this about himself/herself and works to improve. A leader without self-awareness fails to improve because the leader fails to see what needs improvement.

2. A lack of self-awareness numbs receptivity to feedback.

Leaders grow with feedback, when they receive coaching from others. It takes self-awareness to receive and apply coaching. Leaders who are not self-aware are numb to feedback. They may look like they are listening but the lack of adjustment reveals their receptivity to feedback has been numbed.

3. A lack of self-awareness mutes the impact of others.

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively… It consists of four fundamental capabilities: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills.” A relationally intelligent leader is self-aware and simultaneously benefits from the people around him or her. A leader without self-awareness will struggle relationally and mute the influence others can have. The biggest hindrance to a leader’s development is not intelligence or work ethic. It is a lack of self-awareness. Read the full article The Biggest Hindrance to a Leader’s Growth that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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6 Questions to Ask Before You Change Jobs

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.

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4 Ways to Recognize the Drift from Confidence to Cockiness

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.

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