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4 Signs a Team Member Is a Distraction

Jimmy Butler is an amazing basketball player and he seems to be fitting in very well with his new team – the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier this season, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves but publicly stated he did not want to play for the Timberwolves any longer, that he did not trust or respect the management. Amazingly, despite his demands to leave the team, he insisted he was not a distraction. No one, of course, believed he was not a distraction. If you declare you don’t want to play on a team, it is impossible to not to be distraction. Here are four signs a team-member is a distraction.

1. The person is negative.

It is impossible for a negative team-member to not be a distraction. They suck energy from the room and from the team. Instead of contributing to the culture, a negative team-member corrodes the culture.

2. The person has to be over-managed.

Jim Collins wrote that “if someone has to be over-managed, you have the wrong person in the role.” When a person requires over-management, time that could be deployed towards mission and opportunities is constantly syphoned away towards less important things.

3. The person doesn’t believe in the mission and values.

A team-member who does not believe in the vision of the team is going to slow down the team from realizing the vision. A team-member who is not moving in the same direction as the team is going to create distraction from the direction or worse cause the team to shift direction.

4. The person sends signals they are not “all-in.”

Jimmy Butler created work for his team, when he was with Minnesota. The other players had to answer questions about him. Instead of solely thinking about games, they were forced to think about him. When someone sends signals that they are not “all-in,” the team will suffer. Eventually Jimmy Butler, and all-star player, was traded for non-all-stars, and the team is playing better without him. A committed non-all-star is infinitely better for a team than a non-committed all-star. He is doing great with the 76ers, which shows that a distracting team-member on one team is not necessarily a distraction on a different team. Life is always better, for all of us, when we are on a team where we contribute and don’t corrode, where we add to the team and don’t take away from the team. Read the full article 4 Signs a Team Member Is a Distraction that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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4 Ways to Avoid Being a Distracted Leader

An effective leader is a focused leader. A distracted leader greatly limits his or her effectiveness. Instead of leveraging influence, intellect, and inspiration towards a great purpose, a distracted leader divides resources across a plethora of priorities. A distracted leader commonly diffuses attention and focus and chases too many goals. Distractions can come masked as “good opportunities,” but if they pull you off mission, they are distractions nonetheless. So how do you avoid being a distracted leader? These four practices can help:

1. Remember where you add the greatest value

Focused leaders have a healthy understanding of who they are, of where they make the biggest contribution. Distracted leaders are typically confused leaders, not only confused about priorities but also confused about themselves – confused about their gifting and passion. To be focused and to remain focused, remember where you add the greatest value. If you are unsure, ask others you trust and reflect on where you have made the biggest impact in the past.

2. Keep your top goals in front of you

If you don’t have a list of goals or current top priorities, then it is highly unlikely you are a focused leader. But having goals and filing them away is very different from using them as a filter for decisions and actions. If you keep your top goals in front of you, they are much more likely to become a filter for what you say “yes” to and of where you invest your time. Chose several important goals and then let those goals boss you around.

3. Always align to the mission and values of your ministry or organization

When you goals and your gifting are in sync with the mission and values of the ministry or organization, then focus and impact are exponentially multiplied. If your goals are not in sync, then you are in the wrong place. If you don’t align to the mission and values of your team’s culture, not only will you be distracted, but you will also be a distraction.

4. Filter learning through your context

Yes, it is true that “leaders are readers” and that great leaders show “learning agility” – the ability to acquire and assimilate new information and scale their leadership. But there are times when new learning can unintentionally pull leaders away from effectiveness. Undisciplined and unfocused leaders can read one book or listen to one podcast and attempt to change the entire direction of their ministry or organization. Learn but filter and apply learning through your context, through your goals, and through how God has designed you as a leader. As your focus increases so does your effectiveness. Read the full article 4 Ways to Avoid Being a Distracted Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Five Reasons Some Long-term Pastorates Fail

Please hear me clearly: I am a strong proponent of longer-term pastorates. I love hearing about pastors passing tenure thresholds of five, ten, and fifteen years. All other things being equal, I would much rather see a pastor have long tenure in a given church than not. But recently a member of this community challenged me. He is a longer-term pastor himself, and he candidly and transparently shared some of his struggles of serving so many years at one church. I took his admonition to heart and reviewed several long-term pastorates that did not turn out well. I saw five common themes in their struggles:
  1. The pastor can coast. Because longer-term pastors have earned the trust of members over many years, it can be tempting for them to go through the motions of ministry and leadership. They may also be weary of the ministry and, thus, have little desire or energy to lead the church to a new level.
  2. There can be too much familiarity among the staff. It is not unusual for longer-term pastors to have longer-term staff. It is possible this staff becomes too comfortable with the pastor and the pastor’s leadership. Simply stated, they no longer look at the pastor as their leader as much as they view the pastor as their friend.
  3. The pastor can stay for the wrong reasons. In some cases, the longer-term pastor hangs on for financial security or fear of finding another place of ministry. The call to ministry thus becomes a defensive call rather than a proactive vision-laden call.
  4. Church members can get too comfortable. The longer-term pastor becomes a source of routine and tradition for the members. The pastor becomes a symbol of longevity, stability, and change aversion.
  5. The pastor can stop learning. Longer-term pastors must be highly intentional to learn about the world outside their own churches. Because they have been at one church for so long, they can see their particular experiences as normative. One pastor shared with us, “After twelve years at my church, I started learning about other churches, even visiting a new church once a quarter. I was amazed to learn how much had changed in church practices that I had missed the past several years.”
For certain, longer-term pastorates have great advantages. I have written about those advantages and spoken about them on my podcasts several times. But it is possible for a longer-term pastorate to have its own challenges. It seems that those longer-term pastors who avoided these problems were highly intentional in moving in a positive direction. I would love to hear your perspectives on pastoral tenure, and specifically on longer tenure. Let me hear from you. Read the full article Five Reasons Some Long-term Pastorates Fail that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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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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Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors

Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors

  1. Giving their families deserved time.
  2. An unhappy spouse.
  3. The glass house.
  4. Lacking competencies in key areas.
  5. Personal financial needs.
  6. Responding to criticisms.
  7. Lack of a confidant.

Some highlights from today’s Rainer Report:

  • If a pastors has any of these seven stressors, church members and leaders can help to relieve them.
  • A pastor’s first line of ministry is their family.
  • Undue stress on a pastor’s spouse can directly impact the health of a church.
  • Most pastors are grossly underpaid, and too many church members do nothing to help that.
Read the full article Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make

Sometimes being a leader feels like living with a split personality as leaders must think about the future while also executing today. And then there are the emotional challenges of leadership, as being a leader often requires leading with two emotions at once. Leaders often must grieve the loss of something while also holding to hope for the future. They carry a deep burden while also being filled with joy for the opportunity. They address problems with sober-mindedness while also rejoicing that good things are happening.

As I have grieved the loss of ending one season of ministry and rejoiced in the beginning of another, I have thought a lot about the tension of leading with two emotions at once. And of the mistakes we are prone to make. Here are three common mistakes leaders make emotionally.

Mistake One: Ignoring emotion

It is not healthy to ignore an emotion because it will likely surface later without the benefit of processing and learning from it in the season. For example, if a leader buries and ignores grief—the grief can manifest in unhealthy ways. Or if a leader ignores the joy of leading because the leader worries that celebrating will take too much time away from work, the leader can easily create an unhealthy culture.

Mistake Two: Minimizing emotion

My current tension has been this: I have been tempted to minimize my excitement about my new assignment for fear of being disrespectful and dishonoring to my current team. In the same way I have been tempted to minimize the feeling of loss for fear that people will think I am not ready to go. It is hard to hold two emotions at once but minimizing them robs the leader of important moments and conversations with the team.

Mistake Three: Being ruled by emotion

Leadership is emotional. In fact, there has been a lot written on emotional intelligence—the ability to connect with others, show empathy, and effectively communicate non-verbally. While leaders are emotional people, wise leaders are not to be ruled by their emotions. Emotions can take us down dangerous paths and into unwise decision-making. The great news for the Christian is that we are able to continually submit our emotions to our Savior. We don’t have to let our emotions rule us, but we can preach the truth to our emotions. Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God.

Read the full article 3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective

Gary Vaynerchuck is a successful entrepreneur, author, and CEO of VaynerMedia. Among marketing professionals, he is known for his skill in social media marketing and brand building in the digital space. He is also known for tireless work ethic. He has frequently pointed to gratitude as his motivation. He wrote:

Knowing that I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union, probably the least capitalist place in the whole world—and having had the serendipity of being able to come to the most remarkable country on earth when I was three—I have a full perspective on where I come from. I got really lucky that what I’m great at (entrepreneurship and business) is really appreciated in the U.S. My perspective on both the health and wellness of my family, as well as where I came from, allows me to handle anything and everything. My gratitude allows me to step away from any issues and remind me of all the great things I’ve been given. It’s impossible not to stay motivated or get too down when you’re feeling grateful.

I appreciate his perspective and fully agree. Here are three reasons that gratitude makes leaders more effective:

1. Gratitude fuels work ethic.

When we are grateful, we want to maximize the opportunities that have been given to us. When we are ungrateful, we waste countless amounts of time being frustrated that we have not received what we are owed. Instead of attacking each day with appreciation for the opportunity, ingratitude causes people to complain they are not getting what they deserve or have earned.

2. Gratitude is attractive.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” We want to be around leaders who are happy and optimistic, who are excited and thankful for the opportunities. No one wants to follow a leader who is always complaining, who is unthankful. When we are grateful we are simultaneously encouraging. By how they approach life, thankful leaders are always reminding people that there are things to be thankful for and moments to enjoy.

3. Gratitude crushes pride.

Pride always leads to destruction. It robs people of perspective and emboldens foolishness. Therefore, effective leaders are humble and realize they have not earned all they have. They realize that they have received, that they have been given. One of Cicero’s most famous statements is: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Just as pride has been called the parent of all sins, Cicero called gratitude the parent of all virtues. Gratitude is the opposite of pride because gratitude is joyful admission that we have received, not that we have achieved.

If you are a Christian, you are commanded to be grateful. Gratitude is part of our faith because we believe we have received everything we have. The Christian faith is a receiving faith, not an achieving faith. We receive His forgiveness and grace. We don’t earn it.

The apostle Paul reminded a group of Christians that lived in the city of Corinth that everything they had was from the Lord, not something they earned or deserved. He wrote: For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? (I Corinthians 4:7)

Life is so much fuller when we remember that all we have is a gift from our good and perfect Father. Our leadership is much more effective when we remember that our roles and opportunities are from the Lord.

Read the full article 3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays

“Why do you take a day-off during the week? The devil doesn’t take a day off!” said one cranky old man to a young pastor.

“Because I am not trying to be like the devil” quipped the pastor.

Well done, pastor. Well done.

Ministry leaders must take a day off each week or they lack the moral authority to encourage those they serve to rest. Ministry leaders must take a day off each week for the sake of their own health, both physical and spiritual health. Without a time to rest, leaders will burn out or implode. Churches that make it difficult for church leaders to take a day off are harming the leaders and the church. Thankfully I have always served in churches that value the ministry leaders having time to rest. Thankfully the people who thought negatively about “days off” for ministry leaders weren’t in positions of decision-making.

If you are one of those people who think ministry leaders only work on Sundays, God loves you in the midst of your foolishness. But you are really, really foolish.

I had always taken Fridays as my “day off” before leaving the local church and serving as senior vice-president at LifeWay Christian Resources. Other friends of mine took Mondays off. Those seem to be the most common days off for ministry leaders. When I left local church ministry to serve at LifeWay, I learned what an actual weekend was. I had no idea what that word “weekend” really meant till not being on staff at a local church. Now that I have gone back to the local church, my current “day off” is Monday but I am going to experiment with Friday again too.

I have asked others which day is the best “day off” for ministry leaders and here are the best arguments I have heard for each day:

Take Mondays off:

  • Sunday is the end of your week. Take Sunday night and Monday off and rest before you start a new week.
  • The “Monday blues” can be real for ministry leaders. You are more susceptible to making bad decisions and express frustration to others. Take off and come back in a better place. You will have fewer regrets for your decisions and your interactions with others.
  • If you take Fridays off, you will be tired the entire week in the office. Rest up on Monday and you will enjoy the week more. And you will be more productive.

Take Fridays off:

  • On Mondays, you will not be able to resist problem solving from the weekend services, so you won’t really mentally be “off” on Mondays. On Friday, there is a better chance your task list is more complete
  • You put yourself behind on sermon prep if you take Mondays off.
  • You are exhausted on Mondays. Don’t give that time to your family. Give them Friday.

Which day is best? I recently polled church leaders on Twitter and 70% of those who responded chose Fridays over Mondays. It likely depends on the rhythm and the personality of the leader. You can experiment and see which works best for you. Or you can stick with what you have always known. The most important thing is that you are actually taking your day off.

Read the full article Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Six Attitudinal Adjustments Scrappy Church Leaders Made

God’s not done yet.

That is the subtitle and theme of my new book, Scrappy Church.

It’s a book about real churches that had real turnarounds when most people said it was impossible. Most had given up. Many were ready to shut the doors.

But when we interviewed the leaders of these scrappy churches, we noticed a pattern. These leaders at one time had been discouraged and despondent. Many were ready to leave the church. Some were ready to leave vocational ministry altogether.

Then God grabbed them powerfully and persuasively. In a myriad of different ways, He told them He was done with their churches yet. They began to believe Him. They began to have hope. And they began to have major attitude adjustments.

Here are the six major adjustments they made. They were all profound and life changing,

  1. From excuses to ownership. The neighborhood is changing. The bigger churches are taking all of our members. The denomination is not helping us. Those are some of the excuses these leaders had. Then God gave them a new perspective, one of hope. He had called them to the church for a reason, and the reason was certainly not to make a litany of excuses. They took ownership of the call God had given them. Indeed, by taking ownership, they made a statement that they believed God was not done with them or their churches.
  2. From obstacles to allies. You’ve heard the well-worn joke. Leading a church would be fun if it wasn’t for the members. The reality is we’ve all had those thoughts. Scrappy church leaders, though, saw the critical and difficult members as allies instead of obstacles. God brought them to the church for a reason. They became determined to help the members find those reasons.
  3. From limitations to abundance. Scrappy church leaders got it. Their churches have enough money. Enough people. Adequate facilities. Enough people to reach. The right aged people in the church right now. They no longer complained about scarcity and limitations. They saw they were serving the God of abundance, the God who supplies all their needs according to the His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (see Philippians 4:19).
  4. From despair to joy. Marcus served a dying church. He lost his joy. Then, in a study of Philippians, familiar words hit him with fresh conviction: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). He made a major attitude shift. He stopped focusing on the negatives. He made a commitment of joy and the church followed.
  5. From fear to courage. Roger’s wife, Peg, was God’s instrument in his adjustment. “She told me I was living in fear,” he said. “I was disobeying God because I was not trusting in Him. I was more concerned about my paycheck than obedience. My security was my job, but not my God.” That was Roger’s paradigmatic moment. That began his attitudinal adjustment.
  6. From impossible to possible. “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). All things. Impossible things. Dying churches. Difficult church members. Every. Single. Thing. How did these scrappy church leaders do it? It began with six major attitudinal adjustments. They truly believed God is the God of all possibilities.

God’s not done yet.

That’s the story of Scrappy Church.

And I am convinced it is the story of tens of thousands of churches yet to be told.

The church revitalization revolution has begun.

The scrappy church revolution has begun.

To be continued . . .


Scrappy Church will be available exclusively in LifeWay Stores starting October 2. However, you can order your copy today at LifeWay.com.

Read the full article Six Attitudinal Adjustments Scrappy Church Leaders Made that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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Six Major Tax Mistakes Ministers Make

Six Major Tax Mistakes Ministers Make

  1. They take an automobile allowance.
  2. They fail to take full advantage of their housing allowance
  3. The opt out of Social Security for the wrong reasons
  4. They don’t keep a mileage log
  5. They don’t use a tax accountant or bookkeeper who understands ministry finance
  6. They fail to take a housing allowance from their retirement funds, such as a 401(k) or 403(b)

Some highlights from today’s Rainer Report:

  • Ministers can’t legally receive an automobile allowance. You can claim automobile reimbursements for mileage, however.
  • The minister’s housing allowance in non-reportable and non-taxable. Ministers should take advantage of this.
  • Every minister should be keeping a mileage log for anything other than his/her commute to the church.
  • If you’re in ministry, you need to have a tax accountant who understands ministry income taxes. It can save you a lot of money and headache.
Read the full article Six Major Tax Mistakes Ministers Make that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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