Tag Archives: leadership

Hope for Moody Pastors (Mark 3:3-6)

One reason I resisted being a “pastor” for so long was all the stereotypes I had in my head for what pastors are supposed to be like. My image always looked something like Mr. Rogers in a sweater and khakis. Warm, personable, emotionally steady, gentle and never, EVER moody.

I don’t know where I picked up that image of the pastor, but it certainly wasn’t in the Bible where God’s leaders are all over the map with their varying personalities and wild mood swings.

Moses’ temper tantrum (striking the rock) cost him the Promised Land. Jeremiah was depressed. Elijah withdrew and almost quit ministry. Peter was impulsive and often put his foot in his mouth. James and John had a violent streak earning them the nickname “Sons of Thunder.” John the Baptist was loud and abrasive, maybe wore a camel hair sweater but definitely not Mr. Rogers’ khakis. Paul was prickly and at times butted heads with others.

Ok, even admitting this diversity of characters, I at least thought I could count on Jesus to be the perfect picture of the unflappable, zen-like pastor who was always calm and collected. Or, could I?

Today I noticed and appreciated the little episode in Mark 3:3-6 where Jesus going about his ministry….and we see him breaking my Mr. Rogers-like pastoral mold. For fellow church leaders, its refreshing to see that even Jesus faced some very irritating ministry moments and difficult people. (I have a perfect church, but I’ve heard other pastors have difficult people.)

Let’s take a quick look and I’ll offer some off-the-cuff leadership insights at first glance. Continue reading Hope for Moody Pastors (Mark 3:3-6)

God’s Economy: Give Him What You Have (Mk 6:35-44)

I recently was invited to attend another church’s leadership council meeting to present the needs of MainStreet as we move into the next phase of launching this new church. These dear “mission friends”  have embraced our little MainStreet team with a big bear hug, reaching into their pockets to support us, letting us use their printer/copier, giving me some office space, giving the proceeds of their fall Harvest Dinner Fundraiser toward our mission, inviting me to preach a couple times and invite individuals to prayerfully consider getting involved in our mission.  They are even throwing Keri a baby shower this coming Saturday!

On this occasion we came together to discuss and further define the nature of our growing partnership, to discuss the level of support they’re feeling called to provide moving forward, and how to communicate this to the entire congregation.

Leadership in the church, or any volunteer organization, is largely about mobilizing enough people to meet all the needs around us. The needs seem to always outnumber the number of volunteers willing to take them on. There never seems enough to go around — enough money in the budget, enough volunteers, enough days in the week, enough energy in the tank, and so on. But in the “economy of God” we must have faith that God will constantly be working behind the scenes to miraculously provide what is lacking in order for us to accomplish the ministry tasks He has given us.

This kingdom principle is illustrated vividly in the story of the loaves and fishes.  Here’s the situation:

1. The disciples recognize an enormous need facing them: thousands of people need to be fed.  They are overwhelmed and don’t believe they can possible meet this need before them.  Can you relate?  As the leadership team and I sat in this room talking about all the needs we’re faced with in fulfilling each of our church’s calls, we could easily sympathize with the disciples.  This church could easily have concluded that “there’s no way we can possibly support another church when we’re busy enough trying to keep up with our own ministry load.”  So, faced with this overwhelming need of thousands of hungry people in their midst, what solution do the disciples recommend?

2. WORLDLY ECONOMY: Let them help themselves. “Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat,” the disciples tell Jesus. This sounds like good common sense.  This mindset gels beautifully with the American way of capitalism.  “No free handouts.”  “God helps those who help themselves.”  This is a proto-Darwinianism solution: Let those who can fend for themselves survive.  As a church planter at the mercy of other people’s generosity, and overwhelmed with the enormity of the task before us and not knowing where we’re going to find enough people and resources to survive, I sat in that meeting hoping our partner church would not choose this option.  “Sorry, Jeremy, we can see that your needs are overwhelming (like trying to feed a crowd of 5,000 people with only a few loaves and fishes), but we’re going to have to send you away to provide for yourself.  Good luck!”  This was NOT how our friends responded. Continue reading God’s Economy: Give Him What You Have (Mk 6:35-44)

QUOTABLES: Tozer on Bold Leadership

This excerpt from Tozer made my heart burn as I read it today. Lord, may MainStreet become a church that makes disciples such as these! -JB

“Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” —Acts 21:13
The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men, bold men….We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances; their only compulsion will come from within—or from above.
This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men, 11-13.

You Have to Die to Make Disciples (by Ben Sternke)

Thanks, David, for passing this on to me. Enjoy. -JB

In reflecting on the process of making disciples that I’m learning to practice, I’ve realized that it involves a real death to self for the leader at every stage along the way. As Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” This is certainly true in making disciples.

In fact, the success of the discipling process depends largely on the leader’s willingness to die to their own desires, laying down their lives for those they are discipling. The death is slightly different in every stage, but it is a death nonetheless, which perhaps explains why many find it easier to just keep doing ministry as usual. Here are my observations about how a leader dies to self in the first couple stages of the discipling journey.

Death in the First Phase

A discipling relationship starts when a leader decides that they are going call someone else to follow them (typically this is done in small groups, like Jesus did it, but let’s just focus on a leader and a disciple for now). This is when a leader gives a strong, clear vision for others to follow.

The leader dies in this phase by casting clear enough vision for people to say “No thanks.” The temptation is always to sugar-coat the vision in order to rally more people around it, because it feels like you’ll have a better chance of success with more people. Plus it feels like a validation of the awesomeness of your vision! This is what you need to die to. Continue reading You Have to Die to Make Disciples (by Ben Sternke)

NEHEMIAH 2: They Came From Abroad

We’re studying the life and mission of Nehemiah at MainStreet this fall. I’m amazed at Nehemiah’s sacrifice, prayerfulness, leadership abilities and perseverance.  I have used Nehemiah as a role model as Keri and I have set out with our own burden to rebuild in Mound — not physical walls but a new church community to glorify God’s Name in this city!

One of the biggest surprises on this journey has been where much of the  help has come from so far.  We’re inviting local friends and families to join MainStreet’s mission in Mound, but so far few of them have jumped in. I still believe, as Paul discovered in Corinth, that God “has many people in this city” (Acts 19) and they will come in God’s time. But, as I read about Nehemiah’s enormous project to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, I was encouraged to discover that many of Nehemiah’s team members were also drawn from a variety of different locations outside of Jerusalem. People came from eight different places up to a fifteen- or twenty-mile radius — and that’s centuries before automobiles and the interstate! Raymond Brown summarizes,

Continue reading NEHEMIAH 2: They Came From Abroad

Find Your Passion in 3 Steps (by Mary DeMuth)

I found this post at Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership site very fun and insightful. Enjoy! -JB

As a book mentor, I’ve read plenty of passionless prose. And as a fellow pilgrim, I’ve listened to many people who shyly look away when I ask them what their passion is. Why is that? I have a hunch that many of us have a hard time identifying our passion. Why? Several reasons:

    • Our insecurities define us more than our hidden, suppressed dreams.
    • We are afraid to boast.
    • We see the vastness of the world and feel insignificant or overwhelmed to make a difference.
  • We feel it’s selfish to become introspective.
  • We’re extremely busy maintaining an overbooked life and don’t have time to reconsider why we’re working ourselves to death.
  • We think it’s wrong to do what we love.
  • We feel the sting of rejection the last time we tried operating in our passion, and we’ve let that rejection scare us.
  • We are afraid if we identify it, we’ll have to do something, to act on it (and that means risking failure).

Which excuses resonate with you? Why?

I don’t write this to impugn, though. I write this to entice and instruct. You can find your passion. In fact, you will find it. Here are three simple steps.

  1. Where does need and joy collide? Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote this: “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” I would add to that: our ministry is the intersection of our passion and the world’s greatest need. One way to determine your passion, though, is discovering what you believe to be the world’s greatest need. The passion flows from that.For instance, I believe the world’s greatest need is to heal from the past to live freely today. My passion is to write in such a way that I can help people live free.

    So, what is the world’s greatest need, according to you? What you hope to do about that gets at your passion.

  2. Do the three-movie exercise. One of the favorite things I do with groups is to do this exercise I learned about on a writer’s loop. Without thinking too much, list your three favorite movies. Here are three of mine:
    • Star Wars
    • Lord of the Rings
    • To Kill a Mockingbird

    Now, examine those three movies and determine the common thread that runs through each.

    Mine? Outcasts who overcome their past to absolutely change the world.

    This statement closely resembles (if not mimics) your passion in this life. Try it. You’ll be stunned at how closely the thread hints at your passion. I’d love for you to share your three movies and the common thread in the comments below.

  3. Ask others about “one thing.” When I struggled to find my passion, I knew I was too close to myself to identify it. So I emailed several of my friends and posted on my Facebook wall this question: “What is my one thing?”Though I received tons of responses (thankfully), I was surprised at how very similar the responses were. I know this might seem awkward or self-serving, but I found that people were much more open to my request than I initially believed they would be. And they were entirely insightful. Take a risk and ask. What can it hurt?

    Your “one thing” answers will strongly indicate your passion.

A final thought: Once you’ve identified your passion, you can begin to reorient your life around it. You can make difficult decisions in order to do the thing God has uniquely created you to do. Just think of how the Kingdom of God would explode if we dared to live from our passion!

Pastor 2 – More than a Manager

From William Willimon’s definitive book on ordained ministry entitled Pastor.

“The history of pastoral care in America is a history of the adoption of inappropriate models of leadership by the clergy. This stands as a warning to us of the perils of uncritical adoption of secular techniques and models of leadership…..”

“The pastor as manager can be an all too appealing image for pastors who lack the creativity and courage to do more than simply maintain the status quo of the church — to keep the machinery oiled and functioning rather than pushing the church to ask larger, more difficult questions about its purpose and faithfulness. Pastors are called to lead, not simply to manage. Many of us serve churches that have become dysfunctional, unfaithful, and boring. Having lost a clear sense of our mission, we diffuse ourselves in inconsequential busyness. Lacking a sense of the essential, we do the merely important. Any pastor who feels no discontent with the church’s unfaithfulness, who is too content with inherited forms fo the church, is not just being a bad manager, but has made the theological mistake of surrendering the joyful adventure of pastoral ministry for the theologically dubious office of ecclesiastical bureaucrat.”

p. 63