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Eight Areas Where Pastors Wish They Were Better Equipped

I thank God for pastors. They are often criticized, second-guessed, underpaid, and expected to do too many things. Pastors would be perfect if they were simply omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

Indeed, the expectations of pastors can be overwhelming. In that light, I asked seasoned pastors to share with me the areas they wish they could be better prepared and better equipped. The results were voluminous, and the needs are great. Here are the top eight:

  1. Leading the church in evangelism/reaching the community. Many pastors felt as if evangelism and healthy growth are neglected topics. They admitted their own sense of inadequacy in leading their churches to reach more people with the gospel.
  2. Leadership development. Pastors know they can’t do the work of ministry alone. But many of them shared poignantly how they wish they could become better at developing leaders in the church. They understand both biblically and intuitively that more leaders are imperative for a church to be healthy.
  3. Finances/business issues/administration. “I never considered how much of church life is running an organization,” one pastor shared with us. “I was never trained for that aspect of ministry, and it has come back to haunt me again and again.” Another pastor confessed that he had never learned to balance his checkbook, but he was expected to lead a church with a half-million-dollar budget.
  4. Leading staff. We heard it again and again: “I have no idea how to lead my staff. I have no idea how to evaluate my staff. I have no idea how to deal with conflict among my staff.” In fact, one pastor told me he joined Church Answers for one reason: so he could ask questions about dealing with staff.
  5. Counseling. Many pastors shared how much their congregations demand in counseling. They also said the demand seems to grow every year. They not only lack the training to know how to counsel, they often don’t know when to refer people to professionals.
  6. Dealing with change and conflict. It is a common theme among pastors. They were told to expect conflict before they became pastors, but the reality was consistently worse than the warnings. They long to know how to lead change and deal with conflict better, but they often feel inadequate in those areas.
  7. Dealing with their own depression. A number of pastors admitted surprise when depression hit them. They simply did not expect it to happen to them. Many also admitted shame and embarrassment in talking to others about their struggles. Some even shared confidentially with me their own thoughts of suicide in the past.
  8. Equipping others. This particular need is similar to number two, leadership development. But in this case, pastors desire to equip the entire body of Christ, not just leaders. But many pastors feel woefully inadequate in doing so.

It was fascinating to see what topics did not make the list: Bible, theology, ethics, and preaching, to name a few. The pastors expressed gratitude to the Bible colleges, seminaries, and books that prepared them well in the classical disciplines. But the cries were for better preparation in practical issues and practical ministries.

How about you? Where do you think pastors need to be better equipped? What would you add?

Let me hear from you.

Read the full article Eight Areas Where Pastors Wish They Were Better Equipped that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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Eight Areas Where Many Ministers Are Unprepared for Ministry

Eight Areas Where Many Ministers Are Unprepared for Ministry

  1. Relational intelligence.
  2. Leadership skills.
  3. Dealing with critics.
  4. Family matters.
  5. Finances.
  6. Consumer mentality.
  7. Uneven expectations.
  8. Uneven spiritual growth.

Some highlights from today’s Rainer Report:

  • You have to have a high level of relational intelligence to connect with church members of all ages.
  • You must be a continuous learner if you want to be a better leader.
  • How you deal with critics will test your leadership mettle.
  • Many ministers fail in ministry because they fail with their families.
Read the full article Eight Areas Where Many Ministers Are Unprepared for Ministry that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders

One of my mentors, Brad Waggoner, has regularly quipped, “Most people struggle with self-awareness, so why would I think I am somehow different from everyone else?” He is right. Everyone struggles with self-awareness to a degree, and we are foolish if we think we are immune. Our lack of self-awareness in life and leadership is often referred to as our blind spots. I have been leading other leaders for a long time, watching them interact with their teams and with the team they serve on, and I’ve seen three common blind spots in leaders:

1. Many leaders talk longer than they realize.

Many leaders talk longer than they think they do. They can easily dominate meetings because of their convictions, their ideas, and the sheer amount of work to report. But by over-talking in meetings, leaders can unintentionally stifle the team. One practical way to combat the temptation to talk too much is to set a time for yourself and hold yourself accountable not to cross it.

2. Many leaders sound harsher than they mean.

Because leaders can underestimate the power of their position, they can sound harsher than they realize. Every word from the mouth of a leader is received with amplified impact, so leaders who bring sharp critiques to their teams must do so very carefully. If the leader thinks the rebuke is a “5,” the people likely hear it as an “8.” Wise leaders steward their words very carefully.

3. Many leaders change direction more than they know.

Leaders are often about new ideas, change, and vision. Because of that, leaders can err by constantly bringing new direction to the team. The team can sometimes feel as if they have yet to execute properly the last batch of ideas or see the fruit of the last direction before a leader brings a new direction. Effective leaders know that consistent direction over time is far better than constantly shifting the direction of the team. Of course, there are other common blind spots, but these three can easily hamper a leader’s effectiveness. Blind spots can’t be corrected if the leader doesn’t know they exist. For blind spots to be corrected in a leader’s life, the leader must be in community and humbly listen to others whom the leader trusts. Read the full article 3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins

Creating a church’s distinct culture is one of the most important but difficult aspects of leadership. Culture really comes down to shared behavior or values. We embed these shared values through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style.* Each component correlates with our leadership pipeline framework. Leadership pipeline does not focus solely on top levels of leadership. Leadership pipeline is a long-term investment in a church’s most valuable resource: people. It provides a clear process of development for every volunteer, leader, coach, ministry director, or senior leader in your church. When these components are implemented, you create a culture that reproduces leaders at every level of your leadership pipeline. Creating a culture for development begins with Scripture. Ephesians 4 clearly states the role of church leaders is to be equippers. Our job is to develop others. But consider passages like Matthew 28 that remind all believers to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. Development is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of leadership level. After establishing a conviction for development, you move into strategy. What’s your development process? Often what we call “training” is instructions to get someone started in a new role. We must shift to ongoing development that helps each person learn the role, then lead out, then multiply themselves in that role. You then know they’re ready for the next level of your leadership pipeline. If a person doesn’t want to advance, celebrate how they invest in and equip new leaders in their ministry role. The next two phases are often difficult to implement: structure and systems. Your church may have a nice structure on paper, but in reality, your church operates in ministry silos. When we lack clarity and alignment, we create confusion for our people. The same is true for systems. Over time, churches drift toward complexity, not simplicity. We add new processes without evaluating or restructuring our current ones. Establishing a leadership pipeline creates clarity and alignment in your church’s language, leadership levels, and processes so your people understand where they are, their responsibilities, and their next step of development. So how do you develop people? Through skills and style of training. You must identify core competencies required for every leadership level of your pipeline. For example, a small group leader and a parking team leader should be equipped in conflict management. Core competencies are universal, but skills also include role-specific skills unique to each ministry area. Style is how you train and develop your people. We encourage flipping the classroom. In traditional training, people gather to learn from a church leader who is a “sage on stage.” In the flipped classroom, people watch training on a topic prior to the gathering time. Training is appropriate to each person’s level of competence, not the same for all. When the group gathers, they discuss their training, and the “sage on stage” becomes a “guide on the side,” allowing the group to process and grow together. Recall again Paul’s command in Ephesians 4 to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” If we want to get serious about creating a culture of leadership development, we must do so through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style. Our legacy is not about what we do as leaders but those we develop. Let’s build an army to do just that. *Adapted from Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 9-10. Read the full article The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader

I have enjoyed and benefited from the theological books that present multiple views on important theological vantage points. They have helped provide clarity on differing positions and caused me to research further and even challenge my own viewpoints. Today I want to offer two different views on severance or financial support for a fallen ministry leader. This is such a narrow and practical topic that it should not be a book, but there are multiple views on how to treat a fallen ministry leader financially. In recent years I have been asked numerous times for my thoughts on severance or financial support for a leader after the leader has been disqualified. There are two polar opposite views, and there are some who work hard to take a middle position or a third-way approach. Of course, each situation is different and there are levels of disqualifying behavior, but here are the two general views, the latter being the one I hold:

View one: Stop paying the ministry leader immediately.

Some have articulated cutting the leader off from financial support immediately. Multiple reasons are given for the approach. By cutting the leader off, the leader is forced to feel the weight of the sin and perhaps more likely to hit “rock bottom” more quickly. We have all seen leaders push through their fall with pride and blaming of others, so this approach holds that anything that helps a leader wake up to reality is a good thing. Another reason people hold to this view is the desire for justice among those who have financially supported the ministry. They discover that they have been financially supporting the leader while sinful and distracting behavior was consuming the leader, so they can feel as if their generosity was taken for granted. The leaders who remain feel they can regain some credibility with supporters and donors by not allowing any more financial resources to be invested in someone who took paychecks while living a double life.

View two: Be as generous as possible, especially to the family.

While I understand the motivation and the thinking behind the first view, I land on the second view, which is to be as generous as possible to the fallen leader and the leader’s family, even if the leader is not yet fully repentant. (Some have articulated generosity if there is repentance as the third option.) I hold to this view for multiple reasons. For one, it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and I hold to the hope that God will overwhelm the fallen leader with His grace, and perhaps, depending on the offense and the process of restoration, restore the leader to some type of ministry position in the future. Also, I think of the family of the fallen leader. They are in the midst of extreme pain as their world has been radically impacted. Most of the time they had no clue of the disqualifying behavior and are holding on moment by moment after hearing the devastating news. In many cases, they have depended on the ministry leader’s role for food on the table and clothes on their backs. They are suffering immensely, and I want the ministry to think about them as the leader is removed from the role. I wish we did not have to wrestle with this topic, but if you are leading a team you will likely be confronted with the issue of severance for a fallen leader someday. Regardless of which view we hold, we surely find ourselves saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, and fix this mess.” Read the full article Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves

With the recent passing of the great preacher and evangelist Billy Graham, many are celebrating his finishing well. He remained faithful to God’s call on his life, fought the good fight, and finished the race. He avoided scandal and accusations against his integrity and was above reproach as he faithfully served the Lord throughout his life and ministry. We should be thankful for the example. And Billy Graham’s example stands in stark contrast to what, at times, seems to be epidemic among leaders—tragic, self-inflicted disqualification. Leaders seem to be disqualifying themselves at alarming rates, and if you disqualify yourself from leading, one of these three failures will be true:

1. Moral Failure

Coaches, politicians, teachers, pastors, and other leaders are routinely disqualified because of moral failure—failing to live up to the moral standard of the office they hold. Often those who own their sin and turn from it later confess a slow and consistent weakening of their character before their moral failure was fully born. The moral failure is the outer manifestation of a heart that has wandered from a deep commitment to leading oneself. Billy Graham’s commitment to his own personal integrity was applauded by some and mocked by others, but the fruit cannot be denied. The practice of avoiding being alone with someone from the opposite sex other than your spouse has been called “The Billy Graham Rule” because of his commitment to do all he could to avoid even a hint of questioning his character or his commitment to his wife. Because our hearts are prone to wander and none of us are above falling, we must daily turn from trusting ourselves and turn to trusting the Lord to keep us pure.

2. Ethical Failure

Leaders often disqualify themselves for ethical lapses. It is common to read of a leader who has been released from his or her duties for violating policies, for lying about one’s educational or professional accomplishments, for using the role for personal advancement, or for abusing the power of the office. Those who ask the leader to step down know that when a leader loses trust, the leader loses the ability to lead effectively. And seemingly small ethical lapses will likely degenerate into larger ones. Perhaps the best counsel I have received came in terms of ethical decisions in a leadership role from a Christian CFO of a large company. It is a cliché but true: “If it is gray, stay away.” In other words, don’t risk your leadership for something that is unclear.

3. Relational Failure

In recent years more and more leaders have disqualified themselves for leading with anger, for manipulating, and for creating relational strife and disunity among those they lead. In leadership, healthy relationships matter. Without them, trust quickly erodes. If you sense yourself waning in patience with those you serve alongside, get out of the office and take a break. If you sense your heart growing cold, don’t ignore it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive and seek forgiveness. Read the full article 3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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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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